Friday, April 7, 2023

Crazy Embroidery 3: Commercial Appliques


Merikay Waldvogel Collection
Humming bird with a speckled breast, detail from a crazy quilt 

Birds are frequently seen on the lavishly embroidered crazy quilts made before
1900 or so. With Louise Tiemann who studies late 19th-century embroidery I've
been on the lookout for that hummingbird above.

She found another hummingbird as in Merikay's crazy.

And I found a third in a quilt in the Lancaster
Pennsylvania Historical collection.

 Louise spotted the source in a page in Godey's in 1884.
One could view the bird as a pattern to copy, but it was a "silk embroidered applique" to be purchased.

"Fancy needle-work is growing in favor, robes, costumes and wraps are garnished with embroidered floral designs....tidies, table and piano covers, lambrequins for windows and mantle...beautifully embroidered and finished in many ways. Numbers of ladies delight in making these charming room-trimmings, but they have neither the time nor taste for filling-in the traced outlines with needle and silk, hence a provision has been made, in the introduction of Kursheedt's standard colored silk-embroidered appliques."

Kursheedt's was probably the nation's largest manufacturer of machine-embroidered appliques. The company issued catalogs in the form of periodicals and worked out arrangements with several women's magazines to advise needleworkers to buy their products.

1884 feature copied in several newspapers.
We'll look closer at Kursheedt's tomorrow.

I am reminded of the time I realized there was no Santa Claus.
This means that a large portion of these lovely embroidered images
on crazy quilts were purchased? And the embroidery was done on a machine!

If I had been paying attention I'd have realized that the curators at the International Quilt Museum figured this out a while ago. The peacocks above seem to have been purchased from Kurscheedt's Standard catalog of appliques.

Ad/feature in the Butterick magazine Needle & Brush, 1889

And in her 1984 book Crazy Quilts Penny McMorris included a small section "Embroidered Appliques" (page 20) in which she quotes from an ad for machine-made appliques in an 1884 issue of the Ohio Farmer. The product was "a good deal better than anything the average woman can achieve in the way of silk embroidery."

1884. Crazy quilts & ways to obtain the silks were a rather common fictional topic.

"You can buy lovely little figures to applique."

It's mind-boggling!

Tomorrow: More on Kursheedt's business.

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