QUILTS & FABRIC: PAST & PRESENT


Saturday, September 21, 2019

Daredevils Block #8: Ruth's Compass

Daredevils Block #8: Ruth's Compass
Scroll down to see the pattern for a 15" finished block.

Ruth's Compass by Denniele Bohannon
She appliqued corner circles after setting the blocks.

The basic pattern is Star of the West, published in the early 20th century in the magazine Hearth & Home but the pattern is older and has many published names.


1859, Jenny M Foote Wakeman, Taylor County Museum in 

Iowa, Iowa Project and the Quilt Index
Here's one dated 1859. Quiltmakers in the past usually pieced the block.
It's daredevil enough just like this
but I added the quarter circles in the corners.

And took out one curved piece. If you have a circle template you could put that piece back in.
Like Becky Brown did.

And Dorry Emmer did.


Daredevils pattern for a 15" block.
Cut paper templates. Add seams to the fabric.


Create a word file or a new empty JPG file that is 8-1/2" x 11".
Click on the image above.
Right click on it and save it to your file.
Print that file out 8-1/2" x 11". The small square should measure 1"
Adjust the printed page size if necessary.




Thursday, September 19, 2019

Earliest Sampler Quilt?

Blocks dated 1841-1842 Ella Maria Deacon (1811-1894)
Mount Holly, New Jersey
Art Institute of Chicago

We had a good time recently in one of the Social Media groups showing sampler quilts, with some discussion of what the definition is. 

1850 for Benoni Pearce,
Pauling, New York
Collection of the Smithsonian Institution

Sampler Quilt: A composition of  blocks in different patchwork patterns.

Then I wondered what's the earliest American sampler quilt in my files of date inscribed quilts. The first problem is defining a sampler quilt more narrowly.

Quilt dated 1810 Margaret Gundacker
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

Dated 1819
Collection of Molly at Fourth Corner Antiques

Are these samplers or medallions?

1824 by Mary Taylor, International Quilt Museum

Ten blocks of cut out chintz.
Does this count? It's patchwork designs whether or not
there are seams dividing them.

Quilt dated 1832 by Mary Taylor,
MESDA Collection

Mary Taylor's later quilt is done in similar style.
Mary seems to be on to something.

Rosanna McCullough, 1832,
Collection of the North Carolina Museum of History

Cut-out chintz applique framing the popular fruit basket panel.

But maybe this isn't a sampler; it's a framed medallion.

Dated 1831 - 1832 

Eliza Smith-Goltho-A. D. 1831 Age 11, -
Eliza Smith-Mendon-A. D. 1832 
Arizona Project & the Quilt Index

This looks more like what we think of as a sampler, but my first guess is it's English by the openness of the design. 


My second thought: I bet those blocks on the north/south axis are older, dated embroidery that Eliza incorporated into a later quilt. Finding Eliza Smith would be hopeless but there is indeed a town named Goltho in Lincolnshire, England. There's a Mendon, Massachusetts but also a Manton in Lincolnshire.

Dated 1837-1838
Collection of the Concord Museum in Massachusetts

This may be the earliest sampler quilt in the files. Multiple designs,
blocks the same size....

The problem with using date-inscribed quilts is that the dated blocks may be older than the quilt itself, way older.

UPDATE: Pam Weeks, the authority on blocks quilted and bound (potholder quilts) says this is one of those very New England types.

This quilt sold at an auction is dated 1835-1838.

The sampler idea is certainly linked to the block repeat concept so samplers became fashionable as the block/square format took over about 1840.

1838, Mary Wilhelm, 15 years old
Betsey Telford-Goodwin's Rocky Mountain Quilts Shop

Most of us would agree that Mary's quilt is a sampler. And because it's so stylistically consistent and signed in the center the date of 1838 probably reflects when Mary was working on the quilt.


 Mary might get the honor of making the earliest dated sampler quilt.

1841
Abby Palmer, Maine
Boston Museum of Fine Arts

Does embroidery count?

1841 for Cornelius Cuyler
Philadelphia Museum of Art

1841 For the Dandy family
Bordentown, New Jersey

By the 1840s the style seems to have become established although cut-out chintz was at first the preferred technique.

Ella Maria Deacon and her New Jersey friends might 
win the prize for earliest sampler.
Note the cactus block, cut-out chintz still done, but pieced blocks and conventional applique are starting to dominate.

Collector Sandra Starley owns this one dated 1842.
Same cactus fabric in center second row from top

Both these 1842 quilts fit everybody's idea of a sampler quilt. After that---a deluge.

Quilt dated 1892, Lynn, Massachusetts


Gay Bomers at Sentimental Stitches is patterning the Ella Maria Deacon quilt.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Martha Washington Teaches Quilting

Quilt begun by Martha Dandridge Custis Washington
 and finished by granddaughter
Eliza Custis Law. Collection of the Smithsonian.

Constance Cary Harrison (1843-1920)
from a locket in the collection of the 
Vriginia Historical Society

Constance Cary grew up in a house full of women, including two "aunts," probably great aunts, sisters-in-law of her grandmother Margaret Herbert Fairfax. Or they may have been cousins. If one was descended from the Fairfaxes of Fairfax County, Virginia, one kept careful track of relatives. But Constance only mentions these two as "two old maiden ladies everybody...called 'my aunts,' " ---no names. Before they moved in with the Carys they lived in Alexandria on King Street, "not far from the river."

The Potomac River

Her elder great-aunt "was rather an alarming old lady, we all thought. Her stern Roman profile resembled that of a warrior on a bas-relief, her hawk's eye seemed to be searching for juvenile depravity," but once she had been the "little pet" of family letters, which told of her visiting Martha and George Washington "at Mount Vernon, learning from her to make a quilt....She left that quilt to me, so I know the tale was true."

"A large tree with flowers, fruit and birds, all at once"
The aunt's quilt probably included a tree of life like this
one auctioned at Christie's
"She bequeathed to me ... the counterpane of transfer work made by her at Mount Vernon; one of the Italian cotton toiles de GĂȘnes, so familiar to tourists on the Riviera, cut out and 'buttonholed' upon a heavier background, presenting to view a large tree with flowers, fruit and birds, all at once upon its branches."

We can assume a toile de GĂȘnes is a chintz, named in French like a toile de Jouy but made in Genoa rather than France as on the cover of the French book above.

Constance calls the counterpane "transfer work," indicating perhaps the idea of transferring chintz images to a heavier background. She uses the verb "buttonholed" so we assume Martha Washington taught the child to secure the images with a buttonhole stitch.

Collection of Colonial Williamsburg

Some seamstresses left the chintz pieces with raw edges, closely
trimmed,covering any frays with a close buttonhole stitch.
This needlework is attributed to the Boyle Sisters of Petersburg, Virginia.

What became of Constance's family quilt after she died in 1920? 

At least two surviving quilts are attributed to Martha Washington.
This one with a monochrome toile center is called the Penn's Treaty Quilt
and is the collection of Mt. Vernon, the Washington home.

It was photographed over 100 years ago when it was in better condition.

A copper plate print featuring William Penn's acquisition of
land for Philadelphia is the centerpiece.

Both quilts are pieced with no "buttonholing" or chintz applique like
Constance Cary Harrison described.

The Smithsonian's

Update: I wrote that without noticing the appliqued circles or applique of toile sprigs. Those brown florals may be buttonholed.


A chintz applique quilt also in the collection of Mount Vernon, is pictured in First Flowerings: Early Virginia Quilts. The Dandridge family attributed this quilt to Martha but the curators have considered it so stylistically unrelated to the pieced medallions that they have been reluctant to describe it as anything further than a quilt descending in the Dandridge family. Perhaps Martha taught another girl to buttonhole and cut out chintz.
Eleanor Parke Custis Lewis 
(1779-1852)

There is much evidence that Martha Washington was adept with her needle. In 1851 granddaughter Eleanor Custis Lewis bragged about her own daughter's needlework skills in a letter to friend Elizabeth Borderly Gibson: " My darling child inherited a love of the needle and all its uses from my Beloved Grandmother."


Susan Schoelwer, executive director of historic preservation and collections at Mount Vernon, shows you details of Martha Washington's Penn's Treaty Quilt in this video:

And read a little more about Washington family quilts at this post:
http://quilt1812warandpiecing.blogspot.com/2012/08/washington-society-first-first-family.html

Read Constance Cary Harrison' Recollections Grave and Gay at Documenting the American South:

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Daredevils #7: Harriet's Star

Daredevils #7 Harriet's Star

Scroll down to see the pattern for a 15" finished block.

Denniele Bohannon's #7
 Harriet's Star with pink curved pieces added digitally.

Becky Brown's #7

There was enough to fussy cut in the official pattern that Becky didn't need to add anything (except a lot of daredevil stripes meeting in the center.)

#7 by Dorry Emmer
Fussy cutting Polka Dots!



We need a diamond star if we are going to show off so I looked for one in BlockBase to adapt to the Daredevils format. #3801 had good proportions. I erased a lot of straight lines in EQ8 and added the corner curve. The Nancy Page newspaper column called the block Stars & Cubes. The fictional Nancy Page from women's feature writer Florence LaGanke Harris syndicated a traditional pattern column during the 1930s.


The Block
 
Daredevils pattern for a 15" block.

Piece C. Rotary cut 8 squares 2-3/4".
Cut paper templates. Add seams to the fabric.

How to print:
Create a word file or a new empty JPG file that is 8-1/2" x 11".
Click on the image above.
Right click on it and save it to your file.
Print that file out 8-1/2" x 11". The small square should measure 1"
Adjust the printed page size if necessary.

Harriet Quimby