Saturday, February 17, 2018

Hollyhocks & Cut-out Chintz

The Georgia Quilt Project documented this tree-of-life chintz quilt dated 1824 as one
of the earliest Georgia quilts they saw. It's by Mary Elizabeth Clayton Miller Taylor and in the collection of Savannah's Telfair Museum.

"William Taylor. From his Grandmother. 1824"

Read more about it in Georgia Quilts. See a book preview here:


The leafy fabric at the base of the tree caught my eye. Geranium leaves?
Or Hollyhocks?

Hollyhock and leaves.

Looks like hollyhocks.

Mary Taylor was not the only woman to see potential in that hollyhock chintz. Another Miller, Sarah Miller of Charleston, South Carolina made a similar quilt.

Sarah's quilt was pictured in Florence Peto's 1949 book Quilts & Coverlets.
Peto, a quilt collector and dealer, sold Sarah's quilt to the Shelburne Museum.

"Sarah F.C.H. Miller
Some read this signature as Sarah T.C. Miller,
but I think Peto's guess of F.C.H. is correct.

Here is the hollyhock leaf base for another cut-out chintz quilt---a tree of roses in
 the collection of Drake House Museum in Plainfield, New Jersey.
Plainfield is about 30 miles from New York City.

The  rose tree is said to have been made by a daughter of John Hart, a New Jersey signer of the Declaration of Independence.

I don't see any hollyhock blooms or buds in this quilt but the
leaves resting on a dark ground are similar.

Hart and wife Deborah Scudder had at least 7 daughters among their 13 children: Sara, Jesse, Martha, Susannah, Mary, Abigail, Debra.

We know even less about another example in the collection
of the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian.

But we have a great online view of the leafy base of the "tree"
and get a glimpse of what the original chintz must have looked like.

The quilt was donated in 1991 by Mrs. Robert B. Stephens. Somewhere I've seen that it was found in Massachusetts. 

Trolling for hollyhock fabrics I came across this 1833
tree chintz quilt from the Charleston Museum.

Margaret Seyle Burges (1804-1877)
#2010.37.1 Charleston Museum
She used a different base but the hollyhocks are on the branches.
The quilt is inscribed "Burges/Dec 1833" on the reverse.

Quilt by Mary Eldred Mumford  (?-1874)
Newport, Rhode Island
Detroit Historical Museum

This one is hard to see in the Quilt Index photo. There's a better photo in Phyllis Haders's Warner Collector's Guide to American Quilts showing a few hollyhocks growing out of a base of leaves.
Here we have six cut-out chintz quilts related by the hollyhock fabric and general tree-of-life style with three dated examples: 1824, 1830 and 1833.

That information would help us date the hollyhock fabric if I knew what it looked like. For all the quilts with the fabric I cannot find a picture of the yardage or a whole cloth quilt.

The fabric is undoubtedly imported and quite likely to have been English. The quilts' locations reflect access to imported prints in port cities from Newport and Plainfield to Charleston and Savannah, but how did Mary Mumford in Rhode Island and Mary Taylor in Georgia come to use the fabric in such similar fashion? 

Could they have known each other?  If the women were of the same age I'd guess they attended a boarding school together, but Mary Taylor was a generation or two older than Mary Mumford and Margaret Burges.

Many mysteries, but I am keeping my eye out for the hollyhock chintz.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Past Perfect: Kathy Doughty

Gypsy Kisses by Kathy Doughty

February's Past Perfect star is Kathy Doughty of Sydney, Australia. Here's what she says about the above quilt, her favorite of those she's made.
"It looks old and authentic which is something that I love. Although I generally work with bright colors, I love reproduction fabrics and old style color combinations. I believe if the quilting sisters of the past had our fabrics they would have loved using them in what are now the antique quilts we love!"
Each month I feature a quiltmaker who has drawn inspiration from the past and influenced the market on how to use reproduction prints. When you look at Kathy's quilts the words "reproduction fabrics" are not what comes to mind. But she is inspired by quilts from the past---the recent past.

Kathy is one reason we have to re-orient our compasses with South at the top of the map. Australia is the center of the quilt world today
Who's in the antipodes now?

Kathy is originally from the U.S. She spent a decade in New York City in fashion and marketing. She met her Australian husband while working for Swatch Watch at a snowboarding event and moved to Australia in 1990. She and Sarah Fielke opened the shop called Material Obsession in Sydney in 2002. Kathy became sole owner five years later.
Material Obsession is an international travel destination.

Shop books and an innovative internet presence have been quite influential on the quilts of the 21st century

Teachers and students are as creative as Kathy

Teachers like Marg Sampson George have developed techniques and styles
 (This is Kelly's work from a Marg class)

Liberty Fields

Nineteenth-century patterns updated.



Kathy talked about her design process in an interview with Jen Kingwell :
"I love antique quilt books for layout and structure ideas. In truth though, most of my designs actually happen on the design wall in my studio. I start a quilt with a stack of inspiring fabrics and a shape, and then I lay out the pieces on the way until I like how they work together."
Vintage top from about 1960---online auction

Kathy's eye is drawn to the quilts from 1940 to 1980, a fairly neglected area until she began exploring them.

Vintage Spin by Kathy Doughty

Characteristics of the era: vivid colors with a busy neutral (think dots) and the idea of pattern on pattern. 

In her book Adding Layers she talks about Vintage Spin 
"Over the years I have enjoyed collecting vintage fabrics. Some are a bit worn, some wrapped in plastic, some thrift shop clothes....Vintage Spin is a quilt made from those specially collected fabrics that were old or just looked old."

She's great at finding fabrics that "just look old" and combining
them in novel ways that echo that crazy 1960s quilt aesthetic.

This deconstructed Dresden Plate is quilted with Perle cotton twist with the knots on
tops (a strange but common characteristic of 20th-century quilts)

She's now designing fabric for Free Spirit.

Horizons should be in shops this month.

See her shop Facebook Page

And Instagram page:

Read an interview with Jen Kingwell here:

And see a trunk show at the Eugene Modern Guild site here:

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Uncommon Patience or Useless Work?

Throughout the history of American patchwork, some quilters have hoped to astound the audience---or at the least the local newspaper editor looking
for a little filler. 

27,656 pieces in 1828, Doyleston, PA

Eva Margaret Delaplain Rogers, Missouri,
 30,672 pieces she says

Here's an excuse to show some patchwork feats
with 19th-century editorial comments.

I'm not counting these pieces. The quilts have nothing to do with
the newspaper clippings, except for an emphasis on numbers.

7,239 pieces in Charleston, SC, 1834
"An uncommon stock of patience and perseverance"

Bessie Ely, Collection of the Smithsonian Institutiuon

From the New York Project & the Quilt Index
Broken Dishes

Counting stitches in New York

Ocean Wave, Annie Hart Beall, Collection of the Ohio Historical Society.  
14,572 pieces says the caption in the Ohio book, Quilts in Community.

58,104 in 1886 in Granada, MS

An octagonal block

Curiosity Quilt with 20,218 pieces in 1912 in Ware Shoals, SC

From Robert Shaw's book
American Quilts: The Democratic Art

45,966---Chatanooga, TN, 1888
"Mary Sewell, a sweet 16-year-old young lady who resides near Chattanooga...has pieced a quilt that has 45,966 scraps in it. It is fearful to think a mind may also go to pieces fastened so long to such useless work. The quilt when completed will be no better for use than the $2 quilt made of plain material."

Elnetta Josephine Gifford, Michigan Project & the Quilt Index.

From Florida Memory
Queen Udell. Her husband says she has the "Patience of Job."

"5810" it says in the center
By Sallie Jane Woodward,Iredell County, North Carolina.
 North Carolina project & the Quilt Index.