Monday, September 28, 2009

Civil War Home Front

Civil War Home Front, designed by Barbara Brackman & Susan Stiff, pieced by Monica Rodarmer, 2009, 79 1/2" x 79 1/2".

I hope you noticed the full-page advertisement for my Civil War Home Front reproduction collection for Moda in the October Quilters Newsletter. It features a reproduction quilt that makes the most of the stripes and paisleys in the collection.

We are selling kits for this quilt, which is the result of a collaboration by five people. One is the anonymous maker of the original star quilt, in the collection of the International Quilt Study Center and Museum (#1997.007.0644). See it by clicking here:


Moda artist Susan Stiff and I designed the reproduction quilt---which is more an interpretation than a copy. Monica Rodarmer pieced it. She wrote, "numerous times during the piecing I thought about the original quilters putting their quilt together...no rotary cutters, high intensity lights, computerized sewing machines…" And I am also grateful to the machine quilter whose name I do not know.

The pattern for the quilt will be in the Dec/Jan 2009 issue of Quilter's Newsletter magazine. And the bolts should be in the quilt shops in late November.

Hickory Hoops stripe above and Cracker Pie paisley. Below a woman with the ideal silhouette for Civil-War-era fashion.

I named the individual prints in this collection for the make-do substitutes that Southern women came up with when they lost their access to factory and imported goods. The stripe in the edge triangles is called Hickory Hoops, reminding us that many rural women used wooden slats for home-made fashion underpinnings to support skirts like the one above. The paisley in the border is Cracker Pie, a recipe for a fake apple pie using seasoned crackers as the filling. Click on the link for a World War II era recipe for cracker pie, an idea that may have originated before the Civil War.

Cracker Pie

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hannah Haynes Headlee

Basket of Roses Medallion by Hannah Haynes Headlee, Topeka, Kansas, 1938

A few days ago the little sister of my much-missed old friend Marie Shirer brought a great quilt to my class. Carolyn had inherited the quilt above from her parents. Her father's mother's sister (Carolyn and Marie's great-grand aunt) was Hannah Headlee, an applique quilter extraordinaire.

Hannah Haynes Headlee 1866-1943

Hannah was a painter who did watercolors and china painting. One of my favorite quilts in the whole world is her Iris Garland, which is now in the collection of the Kansas Museum of History. Click here for more information: http://www.kshs.org/cool2/coolquil.htm

Iris Garland by Hannah Haynes Headlee, Topeka, Kansas, about 1935. Collection of the Kansas Museum of History.

A few of Hannah's seven known quilts are still in the family; Carolyn's cousins inherited some.
Cranes by Hannah Haynes Headlee, Topeka, Kansas, about 1934

The Peacock by Hannah Haynes Headlee, Topeka, Kansas, about 1932. Collection of the International Quilt Study Center and Museum.

Marie, Carolyn and I had lost track of the Peacock and I told Carolyn I would look around for it. I found it in the IQSC, a good home.

See their picture of it here: http://www.quiltstudy.org/includes/photos/quilt_database/large/2005_024_0001.jpg

You'll notice Hannah's unique border style---sort of a gothic swag.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Juniper and Mistletoe

Karla Menaugh and I are sending a new book to the printer this week. It's from Star Books---a block of the month applique design called Juniper and Mistletoe: A Forest of Applique.

It started as a pattern called A Festival of Trees for our Sunflower Pattern Co-operative but once Karla moved 750 miles away we could never get organized enough to do much with it. Several shops sold kits for a few years so we decided we'd publish the pattern as a book because we had so many great samples.

Karla picked out trees and birds from antique quilts and I drew them up. She designed the quilt, machine appliqued the trees and wrote directions for her techniques. I wrote about trees. My favorite quote is one from Willa Cather:

"I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do."
We collected several quilts, among them one stitched by Megan Johnson shown here in a behind-the-scenes view of a Star photography session.

Photographer Aaron Leimkuehler has built a wall that we can pin the quilts to rather than hanging them from a rod. Then editor Jenifer Dick and Aaron steamed all the wrinkles out that the poor quilt acquired in its FedEx trip across the country. We can make the quilts look remarkably flat----not that Megan's quilt WASN'T flat. My job was to sit in a chair and say---"A little up on the left."

Now that I have insulted everyone –Megan by implying her quilt wasn't flat, and Jenifer and Aaron by posting photos of their rears I will close for the day by telling you to click here to see more about Juniper and Mistletoe:

And Jenifer has a blog called Forty Two Quilts: her "year-long exploration into quilts, needlework and the slow descent into madness."
I think the last is due to her three adolescent and pre-adolescent children.
Click here to watch the descent:

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Morris Workshop Colors

In The Morris Workshop reproduction collection I did for Moda we have six colorways. (Colorways is textile jargon for color palettes.) I gave each a name derived from Morris workshop history. While Fennel Green and Indigo (above) recall colors, the other names come from Morris places and people.

The tan is Hammersmith Tea, a reference to a London neighborhood on the north bank of the Thames that is now home to the William Morris Society and a name which the firm used for carpets. Merton Brown (above) is named for Merton Abbey in a village in Surrey, home to much of the design and textile production.

Red House Brick remembers the Red House in Upton, Bexleyheath, which Morris designed and lived in with his family.

Wardle's Sky Blue recalls Thomas Wardle who was a designer and dyer.

Britain's Textile Society is hosting a conference dedicated to the work of Thomas Wardle September 25-27 timed to coincide with the exhibition: Dye, Print, Stitch: Textiles by Thomas and Elizabeth Wardle at Macclesfield Silk Museum in Cheshire. Click here to read more about the conference:

The Morris prints are so great (No thanks to me---thank the Morris Workshop artists) that simple patchwork is quite effective. Here's one by Linda Frost just using the strips.

And Denniele Bohannon sent photos of a quilt made of triangles from the last Morris collection, A Morris Garden. She donated it to her church for a raffle. She writes:

"The Harrisonville (Missouri) United Methodist quilters did the quilting. I am one of them....learning from the best."

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Patchwork Zoo

Joyce in Washington State sent a story with a pattern question:

"My nephew recently handed me a very old primitive box with a sliding lid. He had cleaned out my sister's house after her death and found this box with a note inside from my grandmother: 'For Joyce'.

Inside were some completed and some unfinished quilt blocks which I remembered from age three in 1933. I had loved this project which my mother was working on for me. She died when I was six, and everything disappeared. Occasionally through my life I have wondered about that quilt and was blown away when I opened the box. Many of the paper patterns were there also, so I was able to identify her source. Unfortunately all my searching has not turned up the pattern. I would so love to find it."

Because she had some paper patterns she knew the source was the newspaper column in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in the fall of 1933 under the name Prudence Penny's Patchwork Zoo. Each pattern is signed Buren.

I don't have all the patterns but I did have an overview sketch. The first book I wrote Creature Comforts was based on the Patchwork Zoo. Here's a quilt my co-author Marie Shirer made from some of the patterns. We adapted animals from the original sketch and used the same idea to draw more. Marie and I didn't think to use paper piecing in that book (nobody had invented it yet) but they'd all make great paper-pieced designs.

M. Buren was probably the newspaper's artist. Prudence Penny's real name was Bernice Redington, who edited the women's page at the P-I. She meant these designs to be a strange combination of piecing and applique, but she apparently didn't know much about stitching anything so complex. The Zoo patterns are not the easiest to use. Joyce's mother appliqued each as a simple shape in a gingham check, a smart solution.

Our book is way out of print, but it's inexpensive. See more here:


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Underground Railroad Quilts

Quilt by Mary Abbot Williams
Here are two examples of quilts commemorating the Underground Railroad to inspire designs remembering that period in American history without adding to the false mythology that quilts were used as signals on the escape route.

I took the snapshots above of Mary Abbot Williams's quilt at spring Quilt Market. She made it to commemorate Quaker safe houses on the Underground Railroad. There are names on the doors.

Patricia Turner sent a photo of her sister Ruth Turner Carroll's quilt.

Follow the Drinking Gourd by Ruth Turner Carroll, Friendswood, Texas.

Patricia writes:

"I curated an exhibit on African-American quilts at a historic house in Sag Harbor, NY (I’m from there) this summer. Because of Sag Harbor’s 19th century free black community, there are lots of anecdotal evidence re: Underground Railroad. I asked my sister who has become an avid quilter in her retirement to make a quilt using Facts and Fabrications that could be displayed during the exhibit and then raffled off. I figured it would give me a good springboard for the inevitable quilt code stories that would be mentioned by patrons and I wanted a surefire way to minimize disappointment when I talked about the flaws in [the quilt code stories.]

People would ask and then I’d explain and show them Ruthie’s quilt as an example of the kind that could be made to celebrate the courageousness of the fugitives and conductors who participated in the UGRR. No patrons walked away distressed and the ultimate winner of the quilt was thrilled to have it. "

Monday, September 7, 2009

Chintz & George IV

George as Prince Regent, about 1810 by Sir Thomas Lawrence

Commemorative print from the era of England's King George IV (GR IIII) (1820-1830)

I've been reading Regency history about the era when King George IV of England was Prince of Wales and then Prince Regent while his father was ill. It's a time of great technological advances in printing cottons, which is how I got started reading about it, but now I am a enthralled with the impressive scale of naughtiness among the aristocracy---gambling, debt, ridiculous spending, promiscuity, etc.

Chintz reproduction from William Booth

The Prince Regent set the tone. He was quite a conspicuous consumer. To see one of his quilted chintz banyans (a sort of bath robe) in the collection of the Royal Pavilion Museum click here:

See a waistcoat with a similar print at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
To read more about fashionable cotton prints of the time click here:

And here are sites where you can buy reproductions of the late 18th century chintzes---prices on a scale with Regency-era extravagance though.

You can download a lovely catalog featuring some chintz from the Titi Halle/Cora Ginsburg website

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Antique Portraits

Old photographs offer a lot of information about fabric also found in quilts at the time. These three portraits from about 1860 are from the Library of Congress website. Remember you can click on blog photos and they will enlarge (most of the time) so you can see the details.

One of my favorite websites is Flickr's "The Commons", a group of historic photos. Click here to see the Southworth and Hawes set of mid-19th-century pictures of Bostonians, posted by the George Eastman House, a photography museum in Rochester, New York.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Morris Workshop Designers

8143- Peony- Kate Faulkner-1877

The Morris Workshop reproduction collection for Moda reproduces prints designed by three artists who worked in the Morris workshops in 19th-century London. The major designer was William Morris, the leader of the Arts and Crafts movement. One print is from the hand of Kate Faulkner who began designing for the firm in its first incarnation as Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Company. The Faulkner in the title was her brother Charles, the bookkeeper.

Two were by Morris's major design partner John Henry Dearle (1860-1932), who began as an assistant when he was a boy and took over the firm's art direction after Morris's death in 1896. I had originally intended for the designer's name, the design name and date to be printed on the selvage of each piece but we ran out of room. Here are photos of the two in the collection that Dearle designed.

8146 Iris –John Henry Dearle - 1887

8148 Cherwell – John Henry Dearle – 1887

Dearle did many tapestries and carpets. To see one of his collaborations with Morris in the Victoria and Albert Museum click here:
Below is a design for the pattern that Moda University is selling for The Morris Workshop. Ask your shopowner for the project sheet. Moda artist Susan Stiff designed this variation on an offset Log Cabin design with the blue colorway of Dearle's Cherwell for the border.
The border inspired me to do a little digital cutting and pasting and I came up with a minimalist quilt using lots of Cherwell in a square-in-a-square block. I may get around to making it. It wouldn't take long.