J. B. Marchais, Girl in a Blue Skirt, Sewing.
I got an email from Mel and Annette, which I thought I'd answer on the blogs. Mel's note:
"My wife and I are Civil War reenactors and one of the things that she loves to do is hand quilt. It always draws lots of folks in who want to learn a little more about what she's doing. ...
We're both pretty serious about our authenticity and don't want to pass off anything that just sounds 'Oldie-Timey' but rather to try and portray 1860s material culture as authentically as we reasonably can. "
Jules Trayer, Embroidery Lesson
1) Can you tell us if a pattern like that would be something an upper-middle class Yankee lady might make? What we've seen so far has mostly been hex-shaped pieces.
2) For the paper piecing, would it be appropriate to cut (reproduction) Harper's Weeklies or some other such type publication?
I'll answer the first question here and the second one on my Civil War Quilts blog in a couple of weeks.
What kind of a paper-pieced pattern? The most common would be hexagon-shaped pieces, as Mel suggests.
My book Civil War Women talks about activities for re-enactors but not paper piecing.
Silk hexagon from the collection of the
Montgomery County (MD) Historical Society
Made by two English-born sisters, Mary (1811-1877) and
Esther (1814-1902) Wetherald of Sandy Spring Maryland
I'd do a web search for images by typing in these four words:
hexagon quilt massachusetts museum
And pick something interesting to click on:
The silk quilt from Maryland above is very typical of an 1860s hexagon quilt anywhere in the U.S. (and The U.K.) at the time.
In my book Quilt From the Civil War I show a similar quilt made by Mary Hughes Lord in Nashville during the War.
Autograph quilt by Mary Hughes Lord, Nashville Tennessee,
1860s, Collection of the National Museum of American History
See a Google Preview of Quilts From the Civil War here. Click on the book cover:https://books.google.com/books?id=d_SSn6z0BHoC&dq=civil+war+women+quilt&source=gbs_navlinks_s
Both these quilts are silk, fabric an upper-middle-class
New Englander might have in her scrapbag.
The two pictures above show details of the Wetherald sisters' silk quilt.
But the problem with making a period silk quilt is there are so few reproduction silks available now
(to say nothing of the expense).
In the mid-19th century, quiltmakers also used fine wools
for their hexagons.
And mixed cotton/silk/wool fabrics such as delaines and challis.
But again, reproductions of these dress-weight, light wools are
very difficult to find.
Alice's Scrapbag from Moda
I'm only too glad to tell you that reproduction cottons
are very easy to find.
And cotton paper piecing continued popular into the 1860s.
Detail of a cotton friendship quilt date-inscribed 1862,
possibly made in Cheshire, Massachusetts
Collection of the International Quilt Study Center and Museum
Quilt date-inscribed 1861 by Mary Anne Jefferson Healy
in the collection of the Smithsonian
Your best bet might be stitching hexagon florets of seven hexies.
You could ask other re-enactors to sign them in ink too.
They are portable, easy to organize and simple to sew
while chatting with others.
Vintage florettes from about 1820-1840
Vintage block about 1845
You can keep adding hexagons around the ring
Quilt from the Hingham Historical Society in Massachusetts
Photo from the Quilt Index
and plan to organize them in simple fashion...
Oh---and don't call it a Grandmother's Flower Garden---that is way too 1930s. Better period names:
Hexagon, Honeycomb or Job's Troubles.
See another post I've done about period hexagons: