Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Important Quilt in a New Home

Woman's Rights Quilt
About 1880

What a wonderful surprise to come across this quilt in the digital gallery of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is a recent acquisition with the accession number 2011.538, indicating it was acquired last year. It's known as the Woman's Rights quilt because several of the pictorial blocks show banners with part of the motto "Woman Rights".              

I first saw this quilt in the 1980s at an exhibit in Chicago. The quilt is a narrative about a woman who is wearing a checkered apron or skirt. It's possibly the story of her life. Here she is riding to give a speech on the topic and the banner says "Woman Rig...."

Her husband seems to be supportive of her mission.
She's waving goodbye and holding a banner that says "Woman R."

He or someone else in the family served in the Civil War.

The last time I saw it was at the American Quilt Study Group Seminar in San Jose where Julie Silber of the Quilt Complex had organized the antique quilt exhibit.

The amazing thing about it is that it is both a Civil War commemorative and a women's rights commemorative: Two rather rare items.
The curators at the Metropolitan organized a purchase with "Funds from various donors, 2011."
Thanks! to those various donors, the curators and to the Quilt Complex.

My new weekly quilt blog will feature 49 blocks to commemorate the fight for women's rights. The first free Block of the Week for Grandmother's Choice will be posted on September 1, 2012. See the Saturday Morning Post by clicking here:

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Show Off Piecing: Victoria's Crown

Victoria's Crown or Caesar's Crown
Show-off piecing from the 1840-1865 era.

I've been posting about Show Off Piecing this summer, vintage quilts that look appliqued but are actually pieced. One of my favorites is Victoria's Crown or Full-Blown Tulip, a popular design after 1830 or so.

The block itself is difficult to piece into a square. Most people would applique it but look for seams from the points into the edges of the block, indicating the block is all pieced. I digitally enhanced this block from a quilt in the collection of the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum and I see faint seams, which I've indicated with the black lines.

See the whole quilt here at the Quilt Index:

Piecing such a difficult block is not really Show Off Piecing---it's just good sewing skills. What makes some versions Show Off Piecing is the extra shapes pieced into the background like the quilt below. It's not just pieced blocks, it's sashing pieced into the background too.

Pieced Sashing, like Pieced Borders, is Show Off Piecing

This version on the cover of the catalog of the Royal Ontario Museum has a British sensibility in the color scheme, purples and pinks.

Whereas this variation from Wylie House Museum in Bloomington, Indiana has the classic German-American color palette. See another shot at this post at SewUniqueCreations.

The name Victoria's Crown comes from Ruth Finley's 1929 book. The block she shows is in BlockBase ( #3648).

I modified it a little here making the curved pieces a bit easier to piece. Finley showed them extending right into the corners. I imported the pattern from BlockBase into Electric Quilt, went into the Drawing Board Set Up and made the Snap Grid for the block 144 x 144 so I had lots of points to hang the lines on. Then I grabbed the lines with the Shape drawing tool and pulled them in a little in the corners and added a small seam.

 16 blocks, 64" square, all pieced.

It's still too show-offy for me to try to piece but I love to figure out the patterns. Of course, a real show off wouldn't piece it as a block but would make those pairs of white pieces one piece.

Lots of the comments on these show-off piecing posts are "Why?"

Sampler from Pennsylvania's Quaker Westtown School, 1801

One option is that the patterns were from needlework teachers. In the pre-sewing-machine age a girl's education was measured by her skills at sewing. Schools were competitive. Would it not be smart for the teacher to have her students excel at show off piecing. Other girls might learn to applique a design, but a pieced version would set one's students above the rest. More parents would be willing to enroll their girls.

This 1813 sampler labeled Weston School
may also be from the Westtown School,
but spelling consistency was not so valued as the stitchery.

Stella Rubin has a show-off version of the Victoria's Crown for sale

A quilt found in West Virginia with a different shape linking the crowns.

Here's a pieced block with applique  between---a very imaginative applique.

See a post I wrote about the block pattern here:

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Political Thread Box for 2012

I made a thread box in the tradition of 19th-century campaign memorabilia.

Going back to this Andrew Jackson box from about 1830.

I bought a fat quarter of the Obama campaign fabric I put up on the Spoonflower.com site.  I fussy cut it for the top. I decided to cut the fabrics 5" square so this pattern would work for a charm pack, which contains 42 squares, 5" each.

You need:
  • 12 squares of fabric.
  • Cardboard scraps.
  • A little fiberfill to stuff the top.
  • A button for a pull.
See the Obama Campaign Fabric here:

I used pieces from my new Civil War reproduction line Metropolitan Fair. I decided to cut from yardage (because I have the yardage that's been air-freighted in.) The yardage won't be in the shops for about 6 weeks, but the Charm packs are available now. I used the little star for the bottom and the sides.

Cut 5 inch squares of fabric
For the top: cut 1.
For the sides: cut 4.
For the insides: cut 6.
For the outside bottom: cut 1.
12 in all.

If you are using charm squares you might want to sort them into darks and lights because you get some nice contrast when you open the box.

Cut 6 pieces of cardboard. I used scraps but you might want to use white mat board. I cut these 4-1/4" square.

Pair off the fabric squares and place them face to face to sew up like little pillow cases. Clip the ends and turn inside out. Press.
Insert the carboard and finish up the top with a whip stitch by hand. (You could probably do this on the machine.) Press.
For the top I added a handful of fiberfill so it could be a pin cushion.

Then whip stitch the finished squares together. Here's how they go. You are looking at the inside of the box.  The lighter pink square in the center is the bottom of the box. The blue square to the right is the top (upside down). I left those threads hanging because I still have to whip stitch the sides together to make a box.

Be sure to put the candidate with his chin towards the opening for the top. I did that wrong the first time. I added a button for a handle, but you could make a little loop too.

It's a thread box and a pincushion
and a souvenir of the 2012 election.

I plan to put this in the American Quilt Study Group's charity auction that raises funds for the group at the annual seminar in October. I made something with limited edition campaign fabric for the last election and raised a lot of money.

I suggest you use this campaign fabric to make gifts and fund raisers. The print is copyright by me, but you may buy it and make things to sell for charity or profit. That's why we print fabric.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Political Campaign Fabric: 2012

Among the earliest campaign memorabilia is this pair of cardboard thread boxes or sewing kits from the presidential contest between John Quincy Adams (on the left) and Andrew Jackson. Each features a portrait of the candidate in the box top and rainbow printed paper sides.

The tops have pincushions with mottos
"Victory for Adams"
"Don't Forget New Orleans"

Here's another Jackson box with the lid flipped over to show the portrait under glass. The boxes are attributed to the 1824 or 1828 campaigns.

They measure 4" x 5" x 2-3/4" tall.

A hexagonal box for John Quincy Adams also survives.
The pincusion says "People's Choice" and here is the lid flipped over.

Jackson portrait fabric may have also been a campaign souvenir. This portrait of him in uniform harks back to the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812.

The print was reworked for the 1876 Centennial.
See more about this fabric on a blog post here:

My friend Georgann and I have been making campaign boxes for 2012.

You may recognize the incumbent in this new version of the Jackson print.
I made some new campaign fabric by dropping the official President Obama portrait into the old Jackson fabric. I used the 1876 print and coloring because it has sharper detail.

I printed out small pieces on my color printer.
But maybe you would like some 2012 campaign fabric.

So I decided to make some 2012 Democrat campaign fabric that people can buy from Spoonflower.com, which is a print-on-demand fabric site. I put the image into the Spoonflower repeat system and this is what came up.

Here's what a fat quarter looks like.
You can buy this yardage from Spoonflower by clicking here:

See more about Spoonflower's custom fabric printing service here:

A how-to on the square thread box next post.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Dots A Good Idea

Dots: Good Ideas and Bad

Laura Fisher sent some pictures of dot quilts so
I've collected some pictures from the dot files.

This one's polyester doubleknits---an excellent use of the medium.

Here are three from online auctions---all 20th century.

I saw this polka dot horse pattern and thought of a quilt
Karen Alexander showed on her blog.

Dots probably a bad idea.
Target practice is not something you want to allude to in a baby quilt.


Hot Dots from Laura's inventory

With embroidery, maybe early 20th century.

Cold dots-similar pattern
Odd Ball Quilt by
Emily Herrick for her Geared for Guys eBook

Stove Eye by Mary Atkins, Kalamazoo, 1970
 in the collection of Michigan State University's Museum.

Mary Worrall's interpetation.

Dots the perfect solution for an empty spot in the composition.

More later, I've got to clean up. Sewing here this week.

Wish Busy Lizzy was coming by before the stitchers get here.

See some bad ideas for dots at this post: