Sunday, January 31, 2010

Judy Severson's Broderie Perse

Judy Severson, Blue Garland, 92" x 92"

Judy Severson, Blue Rose, hand stuffed by Judy, hand quilted by Toni Fisher, 78" x 78"

Judy Severson has revived the art of cut-out-chintz applique with her book Flowers in Applique and through her teaching. Chintz applique, also called Broderie Perse, was the earliest applique style. Quiltmakers snipped blossoms out of chintz-scale prints and arranged them on a new background.

I took these detail shots of a block-style chintz applique Judy displayed at last fall's American Quilt Study Group conference.

This detail shows you that Judy, like the early applique artists, doesn't cut around every detail. For this piece she had a wonderful combination---a chintz on a fancy figured background and the same fancy ground as separate yardage. She could cut rather loosely and make it all blend in.

Judy's teaching at The Elly Sienkiewicz Appliqué Academy from February 11 to the 14th. Click here to read more about her and the other teachers:

Judy is also well known for her embossed quilt cards See more about them by clicking here:

Flowers A-Bloom, hand stuffed by Judy, hand quilted by Toni Fisher, 81" x 81"

To see some antique quilts using this technique go to the website of the International Quilt Study Center and Museum by clicking here:
On this search page scroll down to Advanced Search and find the menu item Style/Type. Pull down the menu bar there and click on Cut-out chintz(Broderie Perse). You'll find over 30 examples.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Kansas City Star Patterns Online

Thirties quilts have a signature look, not only in the clear, cheerful colors but also in the designs. They have a modern look with simplified shapes, yet complex repeats. Many of those unique patterns were published in the Kansas City Star, like the "Dogwood Blossom" below, a combination of spiky fans and checkerboard blocks.

Dogwood Blossom, published in the Star February, 1934

The Star published over a thousand quilt patterns from 1928 to 1961.

Sunbonnet Sue, designed by Eveline Foland, published in the Star 1930.

You can get Star patterns online by subscribing to My Star Collection. For a $20 annual fee you can download a Kansas City Star quilt pattern once a week for a year---52 patterns.  Each pattern has been redrafted to eliminate inaccuracies in the originals and includes rotary-cutting instructions. You can also buy extras for $2 each.

You have access to a database of sketches of all the Star patterns, a feature I like because if I am dating a quilt like the Sunbonnet Sue quilt above it helps to know that the pattern was published August 9, 1930. The quilt couldn’t have been made before then.

For more information, click here:

Here are two more Kansas City Star designs.

"The Cotton Boll Quilt" published February 12, 1941

"Memory Bouquet" designed by Eveline Foland, published in 1930

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Early Quilts & Intarsia

Inlaid work or intarsia quilts.
Left: From the collection of Colonial Williamsburg. Right: Dated 1718 from the British Quilt Museum and Gallery in York

The earliest patchwork quilts seem to be done in a technique that is neither piecing nor applique, but a kind of inlaid work called intarsia. Intarsia was more commonly done in woodwork and stone work, for example this marble intarsia from the Taj Mahal.

Craftsmen in several European cultures created intarsia patchwork hangings, as in the four pictured below, which are featured in a current exhibit in Vienna. Inlaid-Patchwork in Europe from 1500 to the Present will be up until March 14th at the Austrian Folk Art Museum.

Christianity is a common theme, but notice the geometric blocks that resemble piecework in the one above and those below. Many of these are probably pieced over paper.

Welsh Tailor's Quilt, about 1842, from the National Museum of Wales
Click here for more about this quilt:

The Masonic symbol of the all-seeing eye is in the center of this one.

When Nancy Hornback and I went to Germany a few years ago looking for sources of applique design we saw several of these, called tailor's quilts, very complex patchwork of wool made by tailor's apprentices as a rite of passage or a project to develop sewing skills (or patience).

A related style: uniform quilts, military quilts or soldier's quilts. The wools in these tend to be very tightly woven fabric known as serge or baize that has the bright color and the texture of felted wool. (Baize is the wool that covers pool tables today.) Uniforms were made of this dense fabric and soldiers in hospitals and on dull duty occasionally passed the time by making complex quilts of uniform pieces. 

Soldier's Bed Cover, made by Jewett W. Curtis (1847-1927), Alaska, dated 1889-1893. 99" square. Collection of the Smithsonian Institution.

Pam Holland's written a book with patterns for a Prussian quilt dated 1776.
See more about it on her blog.

View a British example in the Victoria and Albert Museum by clicking here:

And see more photos of some amazing quilts in  Inlaid-Patchwork in Europe from 1500 to the Present by clicking here to see an online exhibit in their press release.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Stripes in Civil War Homefront

Every Civil War reproduction collection needs a stripe or two.

Detail of the tintype I use in my banner shows a neat striped dress and tie from the 1860s.

Stripes large and small were popular throughout the 19th century for clothing. The sisters above were probably photographed in the 1870s. The woman below wears the silhouette of the 1860s. Extra stripes were added with appliqued ribbon.

Border prints were a popular style of stripe.
And if you didn't have stripes you could make them yourself.

She must have heard that vertical stripes were figure flattering---but not in this case.

Prussian blue stripe were particularly popular for clothing and quilts right before the Civil War. This striped basket in a striped set is from a quilt dated 1858.

I have two stripes in my Civil War Homefront collection for Moda. The smaller one above is named Pumpkin Seed Button and the larger stripe below is Hickory Hoops.

Deb Rowden made the most of a package of precut Layer Cakes and the Hickory Hoop stripe in dark blue (Ironclad Navy). Her inspiration was a quilt from the Rocky Mountain Quilts website. Click here to see the antique. http://www.rockymountainquilts.com/files/antiquequilt_q8120.php
Spend some time looking at Betsey Telford-Goodwin's quilts. It's a great website for inspiration---and shopping.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Robert E. Lee's Birthday & Mary Custis Lee's Quilts

January 19th is Robert E. Lee's birthday, an official holiday in a few Southern states. I grew up in Cincinnati, across the river from the South. My BFF Linda was a transplanted Kentuckian and I a transplanted New Yorker so our cultures often clashed. She celebrated Lee's Birthday.

Although I am a dyed-in-the-wool Yankee, Confederate General Robert E. Lee is one of my heroes, not for his fighting, but for his peacemaking. After reading Jay Winik's April 1865: The Month That Saved America, I realized how lucky we are to have had Lee leading the Southern troops rather than a man like Jo Shelby who refused to surrender. So many places in the world carry civil wars over many generations. We have Robert E. Lee to thank for our post-Civil-War world in which North and South manage to coexist peacefully.

Windham Fabrics printed a Grant and Lee commemorative fabric last year.

General Ulysses Grant and Lee agreed that Confederate soldiers would surrender their arms but keep their horses and mules to take home to rebuild their farms with no more consequences for the Rebellion. Lee spent his few post-War years as President of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia.

The story of Lee's wife Mary Custis Lee (1808-1873) is an American tragedy. She was a great-granddaughter of Martha Washington who grew up on a plantation in Arlington, Virginia, which she inherited right before the war.

Mary Lee, afflicted by a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis, was wheel-chair bound by the time War broke out in 1861. Union troops soon occupied Arlington.

Mary and her children sought refuge in Richmond. Union occupiers saw an opportunity to create a powerful symbol and to insult Lee by turning Arlington House's front vista into a cemetery. Arlington remains America's national military cemetery.

Arlington was Mary's family home, not Lee's, and she only saw it once more after she fled in 1861. She spent her last years on the campus of Washington College. After her husband's death in 1870, the school's name was changed to Washington and Lee University. The Virginia Military Institute has in its collection a quilt made by Mary Custis Lee and her daughters to raise money for the campus's Lee Memorial.

Lee's Medallion, Jean Stanclift, quilted by Sharyn Rigg, 2000.

Jean Stanclift stitched a quilt interpreting Mary Lee's quilt for our Sunflower Pattern Co-operative. We designed an embroidered laurel wreath for the center to honor Lee. Mary Lee's quilt was a medallion checkerboard stitched of wool and silk combination fabrics in plaids, stripes and checks, the clothing of the era. We used woven cotton plaids and stripes.

Despite her arthritis, Mary Lee made at least one other quilt. The Carter House in Franklin, Tennessee has a small silk star quilt attributed to her, Varina Davis and others. Another quilt attributed to Mary Lee is in the collection of the Kentucky Historical Society. See that wool Log Cabin by clicking here:

The catalog says, "There is considerable dispute" about the quilt's origins. It seems unlikely to have been made by Mary Lee who died in 1873 before the fashion for Log Cabin quilts of heavy wools began. And the symbolism of a Log Cabin (associated with Abraham Lincoln) makes one doubt she'd have chosen that pattern.

See the quilts in the collection of Arlington House by clicking here and scrolling down to quilts:
None are attributed in the catalog text to Mary Lee but a few are old enough.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Delaware Quilts & Rising Suns

Hewson quilt from the Delaware Historical Society Collection

Nearly every state has done a quilt search. A few are still in progress, among them Delaware's. It's a small state (they have 3 counties; Kansas has 100), but important to quilt history because it was once a colony with a long quiltmaking tradition. It's great that they are posting pictures of what they've discovered in recording quilts.

Check out their web page by clicking here.
On  the left click on Quilt Images, then pick one of the documentation days, for example, DV-3 to see a slide show.

Two interesting things I found in looking at the various webpages connected with the project:

---A previously unpublished Hewson quilt in the collection of the Delaware Historical Society, shown above. Does this makes 31 on the list of quilts with fabric from 18th-century Phialdelphia printer John Hewson? (For more on Hewson fabrics see my blog entry:
http://barbarabrackman.blogspot.com/2009/11/hewson-textiles-and-cuestas-lists.html  )
And see a press release featuring the Delaware quilt by clicking here:

---A quilt dated 1806, also in the collection of the Delaware Historical Society. Any quilt date-inscribed before 1830 is quite unusual. Something dated that early is a real document. Here's the thumbnail image of it. Click here to see a better picture:
Click on the folder showing the state collection then the image of the quilt. You'll see it's signed on the reverse: "Catharine Collins Hur Work August the 7 1806". It was made in Smyrna, Delaware.
The best thing is: It's a diamond star, what we might call a Star of Bethlehem and they might have called a Rising Sun. There isn't another dated example of this design until the 1830s, so this quilt is an important piece of pattern history.

These pictures I have pirated from the Delaware sites are fairly minimal so here are some more pictures of the Rising Sun, new and old, that I've found on the web or in my email.

Supposedly from 1832, New Jersey, online auction

Dated 1876?, online auction

Mid-20th-century, online auction

A 2009 reproduction seen at Taylors Outback blog:

Reproduction by Roseanne Smith, Lawrence Kansas

Monday, January 11, 2010

Tile Quilt Revival

Lotus, Bobbi Finley
Carol Gilham Jones and Bobbi Finley's new book Tile Quilt Revival: Reinventing a Forgotten Form is in the quilt shops now. I wrote an introduction and got to include some photos I took of the tiles of Catalina Island.

Tile Quilts are a cross between applique and crazy quilts in which the backing fabric, the grout shows.

Starry Orange Peel, Bobbi Finley and Carol Gilham Jones
An interpretation of an antique quilt.

Here are two that aren't in the book.

Charles and His Favorite Things by Carol Gilham Jones

This fused portrait of Carol's husband also contains a portrait of Carol and their lovely dogs Grace and Sumo. The late Sophie is also on there.

All in the Family, Bobbi Finley and the Glory Bee, Williamsburg, Virginia, 2008

Bobbi is a cat person

The Road to California quilt event in Ontario, California will have a special exhibit of quilts from the book. Look for their show if you are going to Road to California at the Ontario Convention Center January 14-17. Read more about the exhibits here:

Read more about the book Tile Quilt Revival here


See a few antique tile quilts by clicking on these links:
Cowan Auctions sold a terrific example several years ago. It's in the collection of Colonial Williamsburg now.

Woodard & Greenstein show a pair of tile quilt blocks.

Laura Fisher has a wool tile quilt on her website. It's appliqued shapes covered with embroidery.

And see a tile applique inspired by the book at Brandy B's blog