Friday, October 21, 2011

1862 Battle Hymn

The November/December issue of McCall's Quilting has three ads for Civil War reproduction prints!
I think mine is the best.

Click here to see more about this Christmas issue:

My fabric will be shipped to quilt shops in January, but the precuts should be out during the holiday season.
The ad has a sneak preview of the project pattern that shops can offer with the fabric.

1862 Battle Hymn
by Barbara Brackman and Susan Stiff

The pattern is a variation on a design known as Jacob's Ladder that was also called Underground Railroad by Ruth Finley in her 1929 book. We added three Bella Solids to the project in red, ivory and brown for some kick.

The block's a simple nine-patch that can be shaded and set in many ways...

Antique Quilt from about 1900
...resulting in many effects. It was most popular in the 1890-1920 years

Another antique in two colors

Here is one from Laura Fisher's online antique quilt shop.

There are always variations for sale in online auctions.

Read more about the 1862 Battle Hymn fabric here:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chrome Yellow

Quilt in a regional design from Tennessee and Texas
Most of the yellows we see in 19th-century quilts were dyed with chrome.

Sampler block, 1840-1860
Chrome yellow and chrome orange

Chrome yellow is closely related in chemistry to chrome orange (what we call cheddar today). It's a true yellow that the dyers called canary yellow.

Pennsylvania quilt 1880-1910

Swatch glued in a 19th-century dye book
 showing chrome or canary yellow.
 The color changes when it comes in
 contact with certain chemicals---
like the acids in an old book's pages.

Observation indicates that the chrome orange shade was more popular for backgrounds and accents, but many quilters made good use of the bright, clear canary yellow.

Chrome yellow could be bought as a solid or a print.

Pennsylvania, end of the 19th century.

The color was important in Pennsylvania German design, which emphasized bright next to bright.

So we see many Pennsylvania quilts using the color.

Block about 1840-60
Quilters all over the country used it, however.

The chrome yellow process was developed early in the 19th century, but we really don't start seeing a lot of it until the 1840s when it became important for applique and piecing.

It's difficult to determine whether a print is 1860 or 1890.

The common combinations were red and black (dark brown) figures on yellow grounds.

The major difference between mid-century prints and those from the end of the 19th-century is that the later prints became more standardized. There just wasn't a lot of variety. Mills printed the same design in the same color for decades, marketing them as old-fashioned calicoes.

Top from the 1940s?

Apron from the 1960s or 1970s.

The yellow prints were almost the same for a hundred years.
But then... they stopped printing them about 1980.

Until now!

Reproduction of a classic yellow print 1860-1980

Here's a reproduction of a 1960s interpretation of the old prints---
 a repro of a repro that Moda and I are doing in a collection of
Old Fashioned Calicoes.
Start thinking canary and click here.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Northern Lily/Southern Rose Block 8

Seth Thomas Rose from the kit illustration.

Block number 8 in this sampler of regional applique is a Southern rose.

Seth Thomas Rose by
Barbara Brackman

 Seth Thomas clock
In 1929 Ruby McKim featured the Seth Thomas Rose design in the Kansas City Star saying that Araminta Daniel Kreeger drew the pattern for the original quilt in 1862. Daughter Fannie told McKim that Araminta copied the design from the face of a Seth Thomas clock brought to Missouri from North Carolina. Shelf clocks often were decorated with hand-painted scenes and florals.

Seth Thomas Rose by Ilyse Moore

The clocks were made in New England but Araminta and Fannie Kreeger were Southerners---Missouri Confederates. Another of Araminta's quilts was stolen from the bed by Jayhawking Yankees during the Civil War. (See a post about that quilt here:

Seth Thomas Rose by
debi schrader
It's an unusual pattern with the circles dotting the central flower.

 For my book
 Borderland in Butternut and Blue.
I made one like McKim's pattern, which had a vase.

Araminta's quilt has disappeared. Any quilts in the design seem to have been made in the 1930s after the pattern appeared in the newspaper. The one above is much like the newspaper pattern.

Here's one among a set of blocks for sale.
But I am always hoping to find Araminta's original.

Maybe this is it.
A big central rose, a footed urn, mid-19th-century---
recorded in the Iowa Quilt Project, purchased by a collector,
so no information about the maker.
See the whole quilt here at the Quilt Index


Back to the Northern Lily/Southern Rose Sampler.

Everyone is getting their blocks together. Ilyse used a triple strip border.

Jerri McReynolds used a green calico, a single strip.

debi set hers with alternating log cabin blocks. She started with a package of Layer Cakes from Civil War Reunion and added a few yards of a tan solid. She kept pulling leftovers out of her scrapbag, enough for a pieced striped border.

Susan Stiff used a print stripe for her inner border.
Next month the last applique block.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Excentrics in Nebraska

Elegant Geometry Curated by Bridget Long

You absolutely must see the exhibit at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska---if you like old fabric. I'm lucky enough that I can drive there in four hours so I plan to go back before it comes down in early January.

Hexagon mosaic, maker unknown
Probably made in United Kingdom, 1810-1830
108" x 106" IQSC 2006.056.0002
Gift of Clyde E. and Joan B. Shorey

On this trip my favorite thing was the quilt above. You can enjoy it at a distance as an interesting composition.

But it's the closeup view that makes it's spectacular. The maker sorted her fabrics carefully, creating areas of dark prints framing areas of light. She had an exceptionally diverse scrapbag, but diverse in a narrow category of prints---monochrome prints in blue, pink and brown.

These finely detailed florals and geometrics 
are calicoes printed with the latest roller printing technology---
up to date  in 1820.

The top was full of  excentric prints.

A proud printer testifying to the British Parliament in 1840 described these prints as "a particular style of design known by the name of 'excentrics,' in the production of which England surpasses every other nation in the world." Excentric prints (eccentric in American spelling) are fine geometric figures with jagged or wavy distortions.

Detail of the classic eccentric Lane's Net
from an American quilt about 1870

 Lane's Net is a specific eccentric print style with many variations.

 This top has more variations of Lane's Net than any I've seen.

The calico printer in 1840 described the invention of excentrics as an accident that occurred when a parallel stripe creased in the roller, "producing a new and unexpected effect. " Rather than discarding the misprint, he said, the enterprising mill owner (Mr. Lane?) was inspired to create a new fad for jagged stripes.

(Click on this photo and it will enlarge)

This version of accidental invention tends to be the origin story today (I've published it in my books). But the more I learn the more I doubt the tale. Eccentric prints were probably based less on accident and more on technological advances in lathes and other metal tools.

Drawing using excentric line

 The word excentric means odd or erratic (off-center) but it also refers to geometric ellipses and circles with centers at different points (as opposed to concentric circles.)

Bank note engraving making use of excentric curved lines

Toolmakers developed metal lathes with so-called excentric chucks that could create mechanical drawings of endless intricate line pattern, first used to engrave unforgeable bank note backgrounds. The English calico printers co-opted the technology as well as the name "excentric." 

Three eccentric prints making use of curves and straight lines
The name eccentric came to mean any geometric print with intricate line pattern.

Late-19th-century scraps of Lane's Net, named for the mill owner

Look for variations on Lane's Net throughout the 19th century. It makes a great print collection focus. As far as the earliest date: The calico printer said in 1840 that the design originated 30 years ago, so 1810 is a good starting point. I've seen Lane's Net into the 20th century and variations have been reproduced in the last 20 years.

Here's another excuse to visit Lincoln. There will be a lecture at IQSC on Tuesday October 25 at noon.
“The Art and Science of Patchwork Tessellations”,
Dr. Barbara Caron, IQSCM Assistant Director.
See more about the exhibit here:
And buy the catalog online here (It's sold only through the museum.)
The catalog is great, full of wonderful details, but if you want to see all the closeups you have to see the show. Photography without flash is permitted.

Read an 1841 essay on copyright in design that mentions Lane's Net by clicking here