QUILTS & FABRIC: PAST & PRESENT

Above: Reproduction Print and Document

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Chintz Borders as a Dating Clue


Chintz border in rococo style print. 
Chintz borders tend to date from before 1860
I've been posting about borders and how taste changed, which can provide some weak clues to an antique quilt's date.

One clue from the section on borders in my book Clues in the Calico has to do with chintz borders. I wrote that the use of a floral chintz for an unpieced border was a good dating clue based on my database of 1,000 date-inscribed quilts.

Quilt date-inscribed 1839
Here's what I said:
"Chintz prints are typical of early quilts; conventional applique borders are more common after 1840. Of 35 quilts in the database with borders of large pieces of floral chintz 32 (91%) were dated between 1800 and 1860."

The earliest patchwork quilts in America and England often have chintz-scale furnishing prints as borders.
Here: a possible  late-18th-century quilt is bordered with a striped toile, a single-color, copper-plate print that would hang over the bed.

Another T-shaped quilt with a toile border.

Knowing something about the popularity of the furnishing fabric's style helps narrow the date beyond "Before 1860." Toiles fell out of favor in the 1830s or so.

This star quilt from the Winterthur Museum's collection is made easier to date by the wide chintz border that features the palm trees and gamebird style print very popular in the 1820s and '30s.

Violet Alexander's cut-out chintz quilt in the Smithsonian's collection is dated 1830 and uses the same print for the applique with a striped chintz for the border.


Here the palm trees are again in the cut-out chintz.
The brown ground chintz is also a good clue to a date before 1840, although the Turkey red and white star would have been popular in the 1840s....a transition design perhaps.


A small quilt with a chintz border featuring a 
fancy machine ground (fine pattern behind the florals)

The star quilts here all look like transition quilts, bridging the divide between the chintz quilt era when large-scale prints were fashionable and the calico quilt era when small scale prints were in vogue.

The emphasis in the blocks on primary colors in calicoes contrasts with the white ground chintz border.

In the 1840s American quilt style changed dramatically
but these chintz borders seem to lag a bit, joining two eras.

Another big change in the 1840s was the new fad for applique cut from calicoes, particularly in red and green. Above another transition quilt that probably dates from the 1840s.


If you love big pieces of great fabric you may regret the trend for calico borders. This large-scale Turkey red border would have seemed out-of-date by the 1850s when...


Something like this pieced border became more fashionable.

Another large-scale Turkey red border on a sampler that adds to the case for a date in the 1840s or early '50s for this Baltimore album quilt.


Quilters continued to use unpieced strips for their borders as in this quilt, probably from the 1880s, but calico was the way to go.

What about that 9% of the dated quilts AFTER 1860? More later.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Civil War Jubilee: Meaning Behind the Names


My next reproduction collection in shops in July is called Civil War Jubilee, celebrating the 150th Anniversary  of the Emancipation Proclamation.


A Jubilee is a celebration, but an older Biblical meaning comes from Jewish law. Every fifty years (following seven times seven annual cycles) the fiftieth year was celebrated as a Jubilee and part of that celebration was emancipation of the enslaved. When Lincoln revealed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, many recalled the Jubilee from the Book of Leviticus and linked the term to the proclamation.


Each of the prints in the rerproduction print collection has a name that has to do with the Emancipation Proclamation and the celebrations in 1863 and later. The print above is called January First, the day the new law took effect.

1863, a year to remember.
Most of these images are from the Library of Congress.


On the evening before January 1st, New Year's Eve, nightwatches took place all over the Union as people waited to hear the news. A starry print called Nightwatch recalls those Watch Meetings.



Freedom is the basis of the celebration and this leafy sprig is named for the principle.

Effects of the Proclamation
People leaving the plantations for Union Army camps.


The paisley is called Birds in the Air, a metaphor for freedom.




A variation on Jubilee is Jubilo so this floral is Jubilo (although that didn't translate too well into the Japanese-printed selvages, I fear.)

Celebrating the Day of Jubilo in 1866


Celebrations in 1863 and up to this day include singing, so
the print with the small figure is Harmony.

Many of those songs were sung a Capella, a traditional  way of singing spirituals.
(A Capella didn't translate too well onto the selvage either, but...) 

The Fisk Jubilee Singers were popular performers who sang a Capella---without instrumental accompaniment.

The Emancipation Proclamation is Lincoln's Legacy, the name of the floral.


Read more about the Jubilee Nightwatch in this post from last December:

And see a PDF with all the colorways of the prints in Civil War Jubilee at Moda:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Medallions and Digitization


Eagle Medallion
by Kathy Ronsheimer

Kathy Ronsheimer sent a photo of a lovely quilt she has finished, a medallion framing a panel with an eagle in a chintz wreath. 


She used a lot of fabric from my Lately Arrived From London chintz line of a few years ago but I didn't have anything to do with the panel.

Panels are a great way to start designing a medallion and 
I thought I'd better figure out who made this one.


I had a picture of Judy's half of the yardage
but I was getting no where in searching for words like panel eagle chintz.
Then I decided it was time to try the Google "search by image" function.

In the image page: notice that camera in the box. Click on that and upload the photo you are trying to match.





The thing (whatever it is) actually found a similar image. I clicked on it.

And found the name of the fabric:
Early Elegance by Roberta Bevin

It was printed in two colorways.

And of course once you've seen Kathy's quilt at the top you will have to have it. I remembered Kathy mentioned she used a published pattern to make those slightly offset stars in a border....
So I thought I could try the image finder for the quilt.


No luck. It seems to go by color.
Apparently this Spanish-language dance poster is related to Kathy's quilt in some digital fashion.


I did, however, find the border pattern the old fashioned way. 
I stumbled upon it:
Star Spangled from Planted Seed Designs.

And I noticed that The Stitchin Post is selling a kit for Star Spangled cut from my Morris Apprentice prints.


UPDATE
Monica recognized the offset star border in Sue Garman's Stars for a New Day medallion:


I'll keep trying the image finder thing. It's got to be good for something....

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Beyond the Border: Shaped Edges

I've been going through my old auction photos looking at borders as a dating clue and Virginia asked about edges. When do we start seeing shaped edges like the zig-zag above in a quilt that looks to be 1930s-40s?


Scalloped edges are a clue to a 20th century quilt. Kit quilts and companies that sold bias tape emphasized this finish.


We can give a lot of credit  to Marie D. Webster who brought quilt design into the 20th century with patterns like her Sunflower.

Here's an interesting shaped edge in another Webster pattern Dutch Basket.


So when you see something like this with a scallop bound in bias you think "after 1930" although the rest of the quilt---the color, the solid fabrics, the patterns---look older. I found this great quilt in a 1987 issue of Stitch n Sew Quilts.

A classic 1930s interpretation of 19th-century design


Here's another example of a 19th-century pattern but the scalloped edge bound in pink solids makes me wonder if it's a mid-20th century quilt. The color scheme is old but the shades are new---the green is more Nile green than overdyed; the orange isn't chrome orange but true orange. So a scalloped edge is a clue---

But not a really strong clue.

You do see it in 19th century quilts. I've seen examples close-up in the cloth where the binding is definitely the same age as the patchwork.

Here's that distinctive ice cream cone border you see so much in '30s quilts around a 19th-century applique top. It could have been finished later...hard to tell from just an auction photo.

Here's the definitive answer to the question---did they do ice cream cone borders?---Jane Stickle's Civil War quilt from the Bennington Museum. See detail shots here:


You see a lot of shaped edges around silk quilts after 1880.

These loose sort of flaps are seen on late-19th century crazy quilts

Probably inspired by the concurrent fashion for wool table toppers and rugs made the same way.

Crazy quilts often had fancy edges like this doll quilt with a piece of lace attached.

Here's a fabulous string quilt from the 1880s or 90s with a scalloped edge bound with a contrasting strip.
And then there are these folded triangles we call prairie points---definitely seen in the 1880s.

Scalloped edges in a mid-19th-century quilt are not common,
but they are out there---like this amazing edge.
Finishing off an amazing pieced border.
The fabrics definitely look mid 19th-century.

One more random thought on shaped edges:
See Karen Griska's post on two impressive bindings here: