Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Twins Separated at Birth

Oriental Poppy Quilt
by an unknown maker---
Sold at auction a few years ago.

When I saw this quilt online I thought---a quilt by Rose Kretsinger of Emporia, Kansas. She made a twin quilt that is in the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas.

Here I have layered the two quilts.
They are almost identical, with the major difference being that the Kretsinger quilt has rounded corners, the auction quilt square. The rounded corner is a minor characteristic of the Kretsinger quilts.

The question. How could two quilts be so much alike?
Possible answers:
1) Made by the same person.
2) Made from the same pattern---one designer plus the second quilt a copy by another.
3) Made from the same pattern, one designer but both copies.

Another pair of quilts almost identical, one a top, one a quilt. The major differences seem to be precisely how the striped background fabric is placed and how the stars are angled.
Because it is a contemporary quilt the answer seems obvious: It's a published pattern:
Jan Patek's Birdsong. The one on the right is the model, the one on the left the copy.

Buy the pattern here at Jan's website:

I'd guess the copy was made from a kit but I don't see that Jan has them for sale on her website.

In the case of the Oriental Poppy design we could be seeing the same situation.
The Oriental Poppy was published in the magazine Farm Journal in 1949, where you could buy a pattern for a quarter.

In her book Soft Covers for Hard Times: Quiltmaking and the Great Depression, Merikay Waldvogel published a picture of Bernice Schultz Mackeys' version.

Bernice remembered buying the pattern from Farm Journal.
She scalloped her edge.

The quilt at the top of the page may have been made from that published pattern too.
But Rose Kretsinger also sold and gave away hand-drawn patterns. Before digital, xerographic and mimeographic copying, people traced patterns onto vellum, a heavy tracing paper. I am lucky enough to own a tracing paper pattern for an Oriental Poppy quilt that is labeled on the envelope "Mrs. Kretsinger's Gift" and "Mrs. Kretsinger's Quilt."

I don't know who drew it but I guess it was Rose Kretsinger.
Her daughter told me years ago that Rose sold hand-drawn patterns. The woman who sold the pattern to me came from Emporia and told me it was a Kretsinger pattern. The hand writing is similar to Rose's.

It has just about everything you'd need to create a copy of Rose's quilt: color suggestions, swatches showing fabrics and quilting instructions.

Here's the word green from the pattern (on the left) and from a list she kept of her quilts.

So my guess is the auction quilt at top is a copy of Rose Kretsinger's quilt, made from one of her hand-drawn patterns or from the Farm Journal pattern---although Rose could have made the same quilt twice.


suzanne said...

Several years ago (maybe 10?) a friend of mine bought the Birdsong pattern and fabric from Jan Patek, either as a kit all at once or, as I think I remember it, in installments somehow organized as a block-of-the-month, altho the quilt is made in strips, not blocks. I wanted it myself but by the time I saw it, it was no longer available. The pattern came out with the line of Brannock & Patek fabric shown in your pictures. The way Jan Patek works, when the fabric from the original line is gone, no more kits or BOM's are made, but the pattern remains available until sold out, sometimes many years later. This was one of my favorites of all her very appealing primtive style designs.

WoolenSails said...

I have always loved the birdsong. I don't think anyone would have one like mine, I mess with patterns too much, lol.


Patti said...

I, too, bought a kit for "Birdsong" from Jan Patek. The featured fabric quilt for that year was "Liberty Garden" which used many of the same fabrics. It was that quilt that came in four kits, one each quarter. I have a finished top of "Liberty Garden" but alas, "Birdsong" is still in kit form.

Quilted Rainbow said...

That Birdsong quilt looks like it could be mine. Mine has blue stars & balls just like the one you posted. I didn't make mine from a kit. Did you get the photo from Pinterest?

Alison said...

How special to have a Rose Kretsinger original pattern. Your research skills never fail to amaze me.


Anonymous said...

What a fun mystery to solve! Kind of like one I have come across on Ancestry.com. My grandmother's name was Estella Grace Buchanan and she had two cousins with the same name and another with a Grace Stella Buchanan. All seemed to go by Grace. All born in the 1870s-1880s. I think they must have had an older relative with that name, but I have not discovered where they got the name.

Barbara Brackman said...

Quilted Rainbow: In Google Image I typed in
birdsong quilt patek
and the image that came up right near the top is the one I used.
I cropped it to match it to the original. It may very well be yours.

Kathleen C said...

Thank you for the information about Rose Kretsinger; I enjoy all her quilts (and all your blogs). I recall The Farm Journal Magazine from the 1950s when I was a child--wish I had some of those now.
On another topic: I will be starting the Chester Criswell Applique quilt soon and will do it in reds, greens and some pinks. I'd love to use your fabrics--do you have a collection of red fabrics with small prints and tonals? Or can you suggest a variety of your red, green and pink fabrics that I can buy online? I also will want a background (cream or very light beige) or a variety of creams.
(If you can't respond to my question, I understand. And I know it's impossible to know what kinds of reds that I like, so my request might seem odd).
Thanks very much.

Lorraine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lorraine said...

Jan sells a lot of "kits" each year, with all of the fabric. I made one, from my stash, used similar fabric and made it longer. There are probably hundreds just like it!