Saturday, March 30, 2013

Speaking of Shirtings

A Quilt for Alice
By Jeanne Poore

I went into Prairie Point Quilts in Shawnee, Kansas,
 the other day and saw this
quilt making great use of shirting reproductions.

I especially liked to see that Jeanne used some of my 
1862: Battle Hymn reproduction prints.



She used Paula Barnes's pattern A Quilt For Alice, inspired by Alice Paul's Suffrage Banner. Read more about Alice and the banner here at my Grandmother's Choice post:


There is a range of color value in the 1862 line but it makes sense to add some very light prints to get a more dramatic contrast between dark and light...

Log Cabin by debi schrader

...As debi did in her log cabin. 
She even added some almost white solids.


Fox & Geese
By Jeanne Poore

Jeanne taught a class in this Fox & Geese design in a butternut and blue color scheme. That's an old pattern with a good spot to frame a large print.

Best Friends
By Jeanne Zyck

The shop's other Jeanne has finished a top in my 2012 collection Metropolitan Fair.

She used a plain almost white for the neutral and precuts for the scraps.
 Her pattern was Best Friends from Country Threads.


I brought in some of the strips from another line. 
Jeanne Z. was plotting her next scrap quilt.
Behind her is Ilyse Moore's
Paradise in Kansas quilt. See the pattern book
over on the left here.

Read more about shirtings at this post:

And here's the website for Prairie Point Quilts:


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Brooklyn Museum's Work't By Hand


Workt By Hand: Hidden Labor and Historical Quilts
is the name of a current exhibit and new catalog
from the Brooklyn Museum

Here's a link to more information about the show:

Elizabeth Welsh. Quilt, circa 1825–40.
 Appliqu├ęd cottons, 110 1/2 x 109 in.
 Brooklyn Museum, Gift of The Roebling Society, 78.36

The Museum has some exceptional quilts including the cover quilt, a fabulous appliqued eagle that is attributed to a Virginia woman Elizabeth Welsh. (More about this quilt in another post.)

Delectable Mountains Quilt, ca. 1850. 97 x 83 1/4 in. 
Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Charles L. Livingston, Jr., 62.141.16

I worked on the catalog's introduction,  participating in a roundtable on the social context of quilts, which I'll post about later. I have not yet seen the quilts in the cloth. The quilt cataloguing was done by Dr. Carolyn Ducey of the International Quilt Study Center and Museum. 

Medallion Quilt, ca.1830.  
103 1/4 x 104 in.  Brooklyn Museum, 
Gift of Mrs. William Sterling Peters, 49.27

Here's a link to the museum bookstore where you can buy the catalog:


Pictorial Quilt, circa 1795. 
 91 x 103¼ in. (231.1 x 262.3 cm).
 Brooklyn Museum, Dick S. Ramsay Fund, 41.285. 

And here's a link to their collections page so you can see photos of their holdings:
http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/search/?q=quilt&prev_q=&x=0&y=0

Victoria Royall Broadhead Tumbling Blocks Quilt,
 circa 1865–70. Silk, velvet, wood, 64 x 68 in.
 Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mrs. Richard Draper, 53.59.1.


This impressive silk quilt was made by a woman with the equally impressive name of Victoria Regina Royall. Victoria, born in Virginia in 1839 a year after Queen Victoria's coronation, married Garland Carr Broadhead, a professor of geology at the University of Missouri in 1890.

The quilt show will be up until September 15. The Brooklyn Museum has several other concurrent shows that make a trip worthwhile, including:
  • John Singer Sargent Watercolors (93 of them) up from April 5 - July 28
  • American Drawing Before 1945 (100 drawings) through May 26
  • El Anatsui - 30 pieces-through Aug 4
And Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party is a permanent installation there.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Civil War Jubilee Dress Prints

#8257 Birds in the Air

The prints in my next Moda reproduction collection called Civil War Jubilee reflect print styles fashionable for women's dresses during the 1840-1875 period. Above a striped paisley.

All those scraps from dressmaking wound up in quilts too.
Here's a view of the prints, which won't be in shops till summer, but you can start planning.


#8250 Harmony
Harmony is a classic foulard, a small figure placed on a gridded diagonal repeat, the fashion necessity in the 1860s.

#8251 Nightwatch
The formal print layout is echoed in the patriotic print here, 
Nightwatch, which is a star pinning a grid. 
Window-pane checks were quite the thing in the 1860s.



#8255 Jubilo
Jubilo is a scattered floral, reflecting the print in this white-collared, 
belted, hoop-skirted fashion of the 1860s.

#8256 Lincoln's Legacy
 Lincoln's Legacy is another scattered floral, 
here with a portrait from the 1850s---different dress silhouette.

#8258 Freedom
The baby is wearing a sprigged print like Freedom.

#8252 Celebration
A larger version of a sprig, trailing across a dress
from the 1870s, maybe the '80s.


#8254 A Capella
Here's the most dramatic print in the collection, which I called A Capella. The woman is wearing a similar print in a photo probably from the 1880s. (More about the print names in a later post.)

#8253 January 1st
But the overarching theme during the Civil War was mourning. January 1st is a dark floral that would be appropriate in purples for half-mourning, the transitional stage in the hierarchy of clothing showing respect for the deceased. 

Moda has posted the PDF with the overview of the Civil War Jubilee prints here:

That means the precuts should be available in a couple of weeks---I'm guessing May 1st.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Shirting Prints as the Neutral


Maltese Cross or Pineapple
About 1880-1900
This is not a block but the whole quilt, which was sold at Garth Auctions.
It's about 65" square. The maker balanced her darks, mediums and lights quite nicely, using a variety of shirting prints for the lightest fabrics.

Sherri at the Moda Cutting Table blog recently did a post on text prints or low-volume prints, which are today's equivalent of shirtings. Read it here:

Low-volume is an interesting description and fits the idea of a print as a neutral.


Shirting prints were a lightweight cotton, generally considered to have small, rather simple figures.
Shirtings could have any color background but here we are discussing white ground prints
which make such an effective foil for darker calicoes.


The term "shirting" is an old one.

Men often wore printed shirts. In his book The Growth of the British Cotton Trade: 1780-1815  Michael M. Edwards found a 1785 reference to 'the fashion of wearing calico shirting.'


Shirtings became popular for women in a fad for menswear fashion about 1910.
Women wore shirtwaists with dark skirts. Some shirtwaists were plain white cottons, linen or silk but many were printed cottons.

Patterned shirtings were a fashion necessity for men and women.
 This New York store advertised ten floors of shirtings in 1910.


We can see what look like bolts of shirting prints in this Minnesota dry goods store.

The sales clerk is wearing a striped dress, a category of shirtings.

... fabric similar to this.

Shirtwaist with added Turkey red embroidery


The 1895 Montgomery Ward catalog noted the "growing popularity of ladies' shirt waists." The cheapest prints at almost 7 cents a yard (30 inches wide) were stripes or polka dots only. For 8 cents you could get stripes, "dots or small figures on white ground; these are in black, blue or pink, also larger." (31 inches wide).
For 12 cents: extra wide (36 inches) "styles printed for high class trade...There are polka dots, stripes, exclusive figures, sporting patterns...drums, bicycles etc."

White as a neutral
Plain white fabric was the most popular neutral for antique quilts---maybe because it was relatively inexpensive as compared to prints.
(Still is.)

Here's a quilt from about 1840-1860.


Same idea about 1880-1900
with shirtings instead of plain white as the neutral.

Shirtings became a real craze about 
1875 to 1910 with the fashion for ladies' wear,

particularly in Pennsylvania
where they liked to use it as the the background for applique.

Pennsylvanians made good use of the prints


But everybody was enthralled.

Some used yardage for a coordinated look.


Scrappy was popular too.


One influence on the trend was the fad for Log Cabin quilts in the 1870s, 

which relied very little on plain whites for contrast. 
A good scrapbag of light-colored prints was very useful.

Ocean Wave designs also required a variety of contrasting prints.

Another contributing craze was charm quilts, 
with their requirement that no two pieces be the same fabric.

Shirtings defined the era.

Because they are low-volume they don't shout at us on the bolt, but it's a good idea to keep an eye out for these very useful shirtings---or today's text prints and low-volume prints.