Monday, January 15, 2018

Past Perfect: Jan Patek

Liberty Garden by Jan Patek

This month's Past Perfect star is Jan Patek. 


Jan lives way out west in western Missouri near Kansas City on a small farm where the major livestock is a bulldog or two. She and husband Pep recently celebrated their 48th anniversary.

Eagles & Roses

It would be hard to overstate Jan's influence on a certain style combining muted color, geometric prints, plaids, flannels, innovative sets, stylized florals and stars, stars, stars.

Jan does many things. She interprets traditional design (above, one of my favorites) and she creates new takes that owe something to tradition but are distinctively hers.

The earliest book (1989) I could find with Jan's designs.
Country Days published by Gerry's Red Wagon Quilts but
Jan says she was working with Red Wagon in the early 1980s

She's always been a collaborator, working over the past 35 years with designers like Gerry Kimmel-Carr and Sue Spargo and particularly her design partner in fabric and quilts Linda Brannock.

Jan & Jenny's Garden 
a recent collaboration  with Jenny Doan
 and her long-time machine quilter Lori Kukuk

Linda Brannock (1938-2015)

Linda is sorely missed. Jan recalled working with her in a recent blog post: 
"We both loved the way antique quilts look but you can't really use them so we started overdyeing new fabric to make it look old."
 (I remember doing this too---the new prints in the 1980s were so alarmingly white in figure and ground.)

Coming Home Again, 1985
"I bought that red striped fabric at one of Linda's garage sales, removed the color and then overdyed it - the blue plaid in the border came from one of Brians' - my son's - madras shorts."---Jan

(Rit sold a lot of Color Remover in Kansas City in the 1980s and '90s.)

It wasn't only Jan's muted colors that were distinctive it was the use of woven and printed stripes and plaids, something quite novel in an era of calico quilts.

Standard style about 1980.

The new look came to be known as Primitive. Kansas City was the center. 

United Notions, seeking new directions for their fabric line Moda, found just what they were looking for in Jan and Linda. Jan has been designing fabric for Moda---about 2 collections a year---for over 20 years. 

Jan's collections are now classic Moda style,
classic Primitive coloring. One emphasis
is reproductions of large-scale cretonnes from the
end of the 19th century.

Above the large scale print from Sycamore;
Below from Coral Bells

Coxcombs & Pomegranates by Jan

It's not just fabric that makes a Jan Patek quilt. She is a great draftsperson. She can draw anything and she often stylizes traditional images to make them her own. Like stars...

Design for Harvest Home

And Birds
Garden Kisses & Hugs

And Flags

And trees

Hawthorn Ridge

She often sets her samplers off the grid, another hallmark
of Primitive style.

And even when she keeps close to tradition
her own design sense shows.

Tulips & Leaves & Stars & Bees
A rather recent design

Is that white!?!
She keeps up with the times.

Many thanks to an amazingly productive, innovative designer for lots of inspiration.
Here's her blog: 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Circular Reasoning

Detail of a quilt made by Zella Ingram in Dayton, Ohio
found by the West Virginia Project. Photo from the Quilt Index.

Zella's quilt looks to be about 1910. The pattern is
fascinating (to those of us fascinated by pattern). I can't find it
in BlockBase although it has relatives, including the Improved Nine Patch

See this weeks Cloud of Quilt Patterns post on that design at this link:

You first see a circle and a sort of lozenge shape, a squeezed square, but 
she pieced it as a square block.

The block alternates with a plain white block. I drew it in EQ.

It looks do-able, especially if it were pieced over paper.

So how did I draw that pattern for a design that has no BlockBase number?
I'm not that good at drawing curves and complex structures in EQ. If it's more than a 9-patch I usually import a pattern from BlockBase and use that structure. Then erase and/or add lines.

So I found the nearest thing with the same basic proportions.

Far More Complex 
It's a curved shape in a block.
Chimney Swallow from Clara Stone about 1900.

2691a or 2691b
A pattern with a lot of names in a design that hardly anybody ever made.

Well, Carrie Hall made one block.

From her block collection at the Spencer Museum of Art.

I imported BlockBase 2691a into Electric Quilt and erased a lot of lines.


Print this on an 8-1/2" x 11" sheet of paper for a pattern
for an 8" block.

I really couldn't find any vintage examples of the more complex 2691---Chimney Swallows. When I did a search in the Quilt Index no vintage quilts came up. But this impressive 21st-century quilt was recorded in the Arizona project.

Swallows in the Garden by Karen Bogardi

Another pattern structure is to do it as an all-over design with no square block. It looks like
that's the way Karen did her Chimney Swallows.

And here's an early 20th century variation done that way.

Seam lines?
Very cool how the corners make a design going north/south and the
centers make the same design on a diagonal.

See Zella's quilt here:

Karen's here

And look at the new EQ8 here:

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

American Textile History Museum Update

Quilt once in the collection of the American Textile History Museum.

The American Textile History Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate, closed last year.
2017 was spent transferring collections to other museums and institutions.

The museum in Lowell, Massachusetts, did not have many quilts. What they had in abundance were records of the textile printing industry. I spent a few days there many years ago looking at their swatch cards and sample books.

"The first delaine that ever came in to Lowell 1830"

Eliza Ann Cunningham's Sewing Diary with
a page of prints from 1861

Bolt label from Hamilton Print Works

Their library collection called the Osborne Library has been transferred to the Cornell University Libraries in New York. While in Lowell at the ATHM the Osborne library included printed, pictorial and manuscript material: books, pamphlets, government documents, trade catalogs, advertising material, prints, photos and business records.
"portions of the library, archive, and museum collections – including its extensive holdings of maps, dye books and recipes, patents, and trade literature, as well as curatorial collections, including machinery and costumes -- will be transferred to other institutions."
"The majority of the collection of historic textile machinery has been sent to the Randolph Heritage Conservancy (RHC) in North Carolina."

Sample card from Allen Print Works with a lace print/border print.

Materials related to textile production, science and agriculture are now part of the Albert R. Mann Library, which specializes in agriculture, the life sciences, and human ecology. Much of the library is at the Kheel Center at Cornell. "Though the items will become part of the collections of Mann, Kheel and [Rare Manuscripts] most will be housed at the Library Annex."

Trade catalogs, trade sheets, and trade cards have been transferred to The Henry Ford Museum in Michigan.

"The remaining collections have been dispersed to museums and charitable organizations across the country."

UPDATE: Virginia B. notes this list of transfers. Looks like the quilts went to the Winterthur and the Henry Ford Museums.

Here's a press release:

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Early Circular Pieced Designs

Online auction
Found in Richmond, Virginia

When you come across a quilt like this and want to estimate a date there are a few excellent clues,
the most obvious being the fabrics. The white-ground chintz tells you the quilt is probably before 1850 (maybe before 1830).

The fringed border is another clue to "before the Civil War in 1860." Both design characteristics fell out of favor about 1850 so are useful in establishing a late date.

The pieced pattern is also a clue, but tells you more about the earliest possible date, rather than the latest. Could the quilt above be 1820s?  How early were Americans piecing repeat-block, wheel-shaped patchwork?

Early, as evidenced by this quilt date-inscribed 1818 signed Mary Jones Orgaine.

See more about this quilt in the collection of the Briscoe Center here:

Another online example, this one from Susan W. Greene's collection.
She estimated the date as about 1820 with
both fabric and pieced design contributing to that conclusion.

Quilt date-inscribed 1833 S.S. Larkin.
Old Sturbridge Village

Mary Esther Smith,
Connecticut project & the Quilt Index

Collection of the National Museum of American History,
Smithsonian, Gift of Patricia Smith Melton.

The pattern was apparently quite popular (think
of all the 1810-1850 examples that have disappeared!)

It is interesting that all the blocks above have 16 spokes.
#3480 in Block Base. 
(The proportion of the diamond shape is a little long here but I'd still call it #3480)
The pattern has been published many times under different names. We might call it a Sunflower but that's probably not the early-19th-century name.

The number of spokes is not always 16. Here's one
dated 1832 with 14 spokes.

Again, 14 divisions (not the geometry I'd be choosing) from
the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

From Stella Rubin's gallery of sold quilts: 18 diamonds
and not a square block.

I've been posting photos of early date-inscribed quilts to Pinterest so
I can get an overview of patterns decade by decade. I noticed the
development of circular pieced repeat designs in the teens.

Have none in the 1820s but seven circular designs of various construction in the 1830s.
Notice the red arrows.

Making me think that rather complicated circular patterns
were among the earliest in establishing an American patchwork style.

Block from about 1950

The pattern tells you nothing about the latest possible date. Quilters continue to use it. If you are inclined to try a geometric challenge these early examples may give you some design ideas.

And one last early beauty: 20 points and lots of chintz
from the collection of the Marquette Regional History Center in Michigan.

Photo from the Quilt Index