Sunday, April 29, 2012

Better Crazy Quilts

In the last post I showed the kind of quilt that has given crazy quilts a bad name amongst certain quilt afficianados.

Here are some crazy quilts from online auctions that are, shall we say, "More interesting visually." Compostition counts.

Crazy or on the edge.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Women's Relief Corps Quilt

A few weeks ago a woman I didn't know handed me a bundle of shattered silks in the form of a crazy quilt.

It was a wreck. Most of the silks were in terrible shape due to the metal salts and dyes that cause them to decompose. She said she wanted me to tell her it was OK to throw it out. I am the wrong person to ask this question of. "Never throw anything out," is my motto. On Hoarders they'd call me an enabler.

Right away I noticed there are WRC ribbons on it.

The WRC (The Women's Relief Corps) is the ladies' auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic, the Union veteran's association (GAR). The ribbons are from Civil War Reunions in the 1920s.

Here's one from the GAR with their symbol on it.

Well I was overenthusiastic in my praise of the ragged quilt.

Even though it was poorly composed, never finished and shedding silk like an April hailstorm in Kansas.

I told her it was a fabulous historical document.

Now it's mine. She was happy to leave it in my home for orphan quilts.

My guess is it's from Michigan

Made in the 1920s

With many silk souvenir ribbons and collectibles attached.

It was the ideal transaction. No money exchanged. I was happy to get it. She was happier to get rid of it. Now I get to spend some time tracking down those organizations.

See a quilt made by WRC members in Michigan in the Quilt Index here:

For more about the Civil War Reunions see my blog posts

Monday, April 23, 2012

Anna's Quilt

Donna DiNatale has a new book from Star Books. Anna's Quilt includes the pattern for a lovely 1930s applique design.

From an online auction

It's a pattern I had been noticing for quite a while but I didn't have any notes on the source.
Merikay Waldvogel, however, recognized it and gave her photos of the original design.

I've seen quilts made in the pattern several times for sale in online auctions and I sent a note to Donna who got to buy one.

The one Donna bought

Here's another

See a preview of Donna's book here:
The pattern reminds me that the theme for the American Quilt Study Group's 2012 Study is
Colonial Revival Quilts of the Early 20th Century. The idea is that members rework an antique like this. Their quilt study encourages members
"to replicate, either exactly, or as an interpretation, a quilt of a particular style or period. In this way, members can learn from the textile the history, techniques, and perhaps something of the person who made the original."
Click here to read more about AQSG's 2012 study:

Monday, April 16, 2012

Half Hexagons from Jelly Rolls

Donna Crow's Half-Hexagon Quilt

Denniele and Donna have been making half-hexagons out of Moda Jelly Roll strips.

Donna used Arnold's Attic, my late 19th-century reproduction line from last year. The strips are 2-1/2" wide.

Using a 60 degree ruler you cut half hexagons and sew them into strips. There are no Y Seams if you use this method.

Denniele developed the technique for a class.

 "We used a 60 degree triangle ruler and painter's tape.  That way you can make your hexagons any size.  I am working on one for [my granddaughter] made from a honey bun.  It may be for her doll! "

Half Hexagons by Denniele Bohannon

Denniele used a Jelly Roll from Civil War Homefront, a mid-19th-century line from a few years ago.

"After the hexagons...I wanted a small border to stop it visually and also to make the edge straight for the I played until it worked."

And speaking of half-hexagons I've been collecting pictures. Here's a quilt from about 1875 from Laura Fisher's online store.

Notice the half hexagons as background to the farmstead.

And the upside down cow

See more pictures of the Monumental House Quilt by Sally Goforth of Weymouth, NJ at Laura's store here

And see some Norwegian cupcakes from half-hexagons by AnnAKa on Nicola Foreman's blog here

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cuban Patchwork

Dachshund in a window in Havana

My sister Jane went to Cuba late last year. She's a dog doctor---not a Vet. She's like an anthropologist who studies dogs---a caninologist.

She's written some posts about the dogs she saw there on her blog Dr. Barkman Speaks.
This one has a tag that says her name is Canela.
See more of her posts on the dogs of Havana here:
Jane also paints watercolors and was on a watercolor tour of Havana. In a yard where they were painting she got to chatting with a Cuban woman who told her she was an artist too and did patchwork. Pretty soon my sister had purchased a patchwork top for me ($10---the woman asked $5.) I was pretty excited about this as I imagined patchwork with a Cuban sense of color (at least what I imagined a Cuban sense of color to be.)

So here's the patchwork----No color at all.

It's a top, not quilted, but it's finished and hemmed along the edges. 
I photographed it in my yard.

It's pieced of two fabrics, both apparently a poly/cotton blend: one a black and white stripe and one plain white.

The pieces look to be clothing factory cutaways. Some are rectangles and many are long triangles with the tops cut off, very typical of leftovers from clothing construction.

It's all machine stitched. Although it's not quilted it's finished on the edges and each patch was finished with a hem before being seamed to the next patch.

This completely suprised me. I don't understand the aesthetic at all. I could say it's all practicality---reusing scraps to make a sheet-like cover for a warm climate. But there is obviously an aesthetic to the whole thing. It has the white inner border on three sides---a very austere color scheme. It's fun to be so totally surprised by something.

Another question: Dottie wants to know why there are so many Dachshunds in Havana.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Binding Corners

Binding about 1860

We bind our quilts today quite differently than in the past.

The biggest difference may be that they used a single layer of narrow, straight-grain binding, while most of us use a double layer of wider binding.

Recent quilt from
Diary of a Quilter blog

You can find many How-to's on quilt binding that will tell you exactly how to get the current look, which is often the final contrasting frame for a quilt.

Quilt Dated 1855
Quilters in the past used contrasting binding but they were also fond of binding that disappeared---white binding on a white border.

Those of us looking to determine a date for a quilt are glad of the differences, as wider binding helps us date antique tops that have been quilted later.

A mitered corner in a recent quilt

Becky taught a workshop in binding corners recently---how to get this sharp, square mitered look that is a necessity today. And she asked me if they did this in the past. I told her I'd throw a study on it. I had noticed that a lot of antique quilts are bound with a curve at the corner.

I remember that in the 1970s when the church ladies would quilt my old tops (for $30) they'd often cut the corners round. It's a tradition that's been forgotten, I think.

They tuck and turn that straight-grain binding around the curve.

And stretch a little. Here's a mid-19th century binding with an inserted cording.

Another corded, rounded corner

This would, of course, been neater with a bias-cut binding rather than straight-grain.

But you really don't see a lot of bias binding until the 20th century, when the bias-tape manufacturers began advising quilters to use it. But I didn't find any pictures of mitered corners.

I did find this which I think is a corner cut off and bound separately---the binding strip does not really go around the corner; the quilt is bound with four strips, which is the way I learned to do it by looking at old quilts.

When did quilters start using mitered corners?
While I was looking through pictures Becky went through her old quilts and found this one.

"This gorgeous Broken Star sorta has a mitered corner. It definitely has the mitered fold on the front and the back uses a gathered technique." 

"Narrow bias binding with pieces joined at a 45 degree angle. 3 corners are mitered and 1 was done with a squared off fold. Very interesting."

"I'm not sure when these kits were produced, but it was made by Eva Strait, Wamego, Kansas and given to my Aunt and Uncle at the time of their wedding in 1941. Eva was the groom's grandmother. It was never used and still has faint pencil lines.  My aunt gave it to me in the late 1980's and I'm it's current keeper which is fun...," she writes.

So Becky's antique is an example from the late 1930s-early '40s with a sorta miter.
I guess we are going to have to look closer to find out more. The 1852 quilt above with the shaped edge looks to be straight grain pulled and tucked around the angles.