Friday, November 29, 2013

Nicola Jarvis: Morris Birds

Embroidered Robin by Nicola Jarvis

Here's an exhibit that I missed
in the U.K.s William Morris Gallery.

Embroiderer extraordinaire Nicole Jarvis showed her Morris inspired pieces.

See Nicola Jarvis's patterns here:

And Australian quilt artist Michele Hill showed her
interpretation of Jarvis's Morris birds, appliqued
in fabrics.

Read about the Michele Hill and Nicola Jarvis collaboration at the William Morris & Michele blog:


Here's an interview with Nicola Jarvis:

And see London's William Morris Gallery website here:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Civil War Jubilee in Nantucket

Detail of Nantucket by Jeanne Zyck, 2013
68" x 68"

Jeanne used a Minnick & Simpson pattern, an exercise in scale, to make a quilt from a Layer Cake of my Civil War Jubilee reproduction fabric from Moda. The 10" layer cake squares went into the stars. She dug into her scrapbag for the light prints and some of the darks.

Here's a picture of the Minnick and Simpson pattern that she used.  Click to see more:
Laurie and Polly say it is one of their first patterns. 

But I doubt it will ever go out of style.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Running Reds

Here's a quilt top I've been working on for years.
Classic colors of red and green, one of my favorite palettes.

I string-pieced reds from my scrapbag and cut them into ovals or melon shapes; then hand-appliqued them to a variety of rather light yellow-green squares.

But when I got the blocks wet to take out the paper the melons, sort of like real watermelon, ran all over.

I put it away for three or four years.

I might have sought the aid of St. Hunna, the
patron saint of laundresses....

Read more about St. Hunna here:

The Carrie Nation Block by Vicki Welsh
UPDATE: Z.C. writes a note that it's spelled CARRY Nation.
C.N. used both spellings over her lifetime.

But I decided to ask Vicki Welsh for help. She has a business selling hand-dyed fabrics, so she knows what she is talking about.

I told her I had bought some Color Catcher sheets. These are marketed so that devil-may-care laundresses can wash their whites with their blue jeans and red t-shirts in the same wash (I could never live that dangerously even with a picture of St. Hunna over the machine).

Here is what Vicki wrote:

"The best advice I can offer about your top is to give it a long exposure to water. Let it soak at least 24 hours with the detergent and color catchers and make sure it's all underwater or the dye will attract to the part that's above water. I've found that nothing matters more than the volume of water and the time in the water. It's more important that the soap or color catchers or anything else.....although I still use all of the weapons!"

I got a big plastic tub and filled it with water, detergent and mixed up the solution. Then I put in the quilt top and threw in four Color Catcher sheets. I let it soak for about 36 hours. I used dishes to weigh down the quilt top so it was definitely under the water as Vicki advised. The dishes did not turn pink although

the water got pinker and pinker.

And so did the color catchers.

Then I threw the wet top in the washing machine on a low spin cycle with some more color catchers and detergent.
It worked! The bleeding was gone.

There was a flaw in my plan, however... There were a lot of raw edges in each string-pieced melon.

And each one raveled out in the washing machine.

So I spent some TV time cutting off the raveled threads.
Hey, this is a hobby, isn't it?
I'm sending the top to the quilter.

Here's what I learned:

  • The Color Catchers Work.
  • Soaking is important (see Vicki's good advice above)
  • Quilt the piece first and THEN wash it in the machine.
  • This particular print was the worst culprit:

I pulled it out of the red stash and I almost threw it away.

But of course I didn't. I saved it to make St. Hunna postcards.

  • Be suspicious of all reds.
And pre soak them with a piece of white fabric to see if they run.
  • If the fabric runs---throw it out!*

I get sad stories all the time from quilters who tell me the red cotton ran even though they pre-washed their fabrics. (Not MY red Moda cottons, of course.) 
Pre-washing reds doesn't mean they will not run every time you get them wet. If the mills could stop bleeding by pre-washing their cottons they would do it. Many bright blueish-red dyes just aren't color fast.

* You really don't have to throw it out. You could use the red with a tendency to run in quilts without light colors. Or if you use it with light colors just wash your quilt every time with a Color Catcher sheet or two. Put a note on the label with that advice.

Blue Town in a Red State
by Barbara Brackman
The reds will probably run here but it won't be so noticeable.

And here's a free label you can print out with your computer printer onto pre-treated fabric.
I'll be stitching this to the back of the Watermelon Quilt.

Click on the picture. Save it as a jpg or a word file and
print it out about 6 inches across onto pretreated cotton.

Some web sites for Vicki---the co-patron saint of laundresses:
Flickr Photostream:
Blog: http://vickiwelsh.typepad.com/field_trips_in_fiber/ (with lots of tutorials)
Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/vickiwelsh?ref=si_shop

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Voysey Birds

Bird and Tulip
Morris Modernized: CFA Voysey

The Voysey Bird is hidden in the negative space in this print from my Moda reproduction collection.

Air Vent Cover

Charles F.A. Voysey was an architect who, like William Morris before him, believed that the whole house should show an integrated design. The above metal plate was one of his signature images. He covered the vents in his houses with this stylized bird and tree.

Birds & Berries
Morris Modernized: CFA Voysey

Birds often figured in his textile and wallpaper patterns.
He loved playing with  figure and the ground. Sometimes
the bird was the figure, as in the colorway above. 

Morris Modernized: CFA Voysey

Sometimes the birds are hidden in the background.
The birds hold up the flower above.

Voysey's birds are often interpreted as self-portraits.

A pearl and enameled brooch

Another self-portrait?

Morris Modernized: CFA Voysey

His birds frequently look like doves or pigeons.

They're often paired as
in love birds for this bookplate for
the Mortons.

A swallow?

Crows on this fireplace surround?

Voysey's bird designs offer many ideas for applique.
See another at the Victoria and Albert Museum's website:

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Cretonne Novelty Prints

Cretonne print with puppies

In the late 19th century the New England mills created a fashion for these scenic cretonnes. In that sentimental age many of the prints pictured household pets.
Sort of like a Puppy Channel.

Or a Kitten video.

Many of these detail shots are from the cretonne quilt in
the collection of the Spencer Museum.

The dog prints can be cute or noble as in
the English Setter above
in a hunting scene.

The prints were perhaps aimed at children's interests.

And the quilts focusing on these prints might have been gifts for children.

Here's the chicken print again.
You could think of them as an antique version of the "I Spy" quilt.

Some imagery seems to be inspired by children's book
illustrations of the era, like this allusion to Kate
Greenaway's old-fashioned children.

Mary Koval has done a reproduction of one of these
Greenaway-style cretonnes
Days To Remember

Which Cynthia Collier is putting to good use in her
Baltimore Childhood block she designed to
teach at a workshop at Baltimore on the Prairie next year:

We see a good deal of romance and historical references in the old cretonnes.

And there may have been one or more circus-themed prints.

Here's another example of the style from
the International Quilt Study Center & Museum's

The central panel celebrates the sloop The Vigilant, which won the America's Cup Race of 1893.

These warriors dressed in Arab clothing were popular.
The Spencer's quilt includes a brown colorway.

The quilt in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection
has another brown colorway--more gold than buff.

The same colorway that's been used in a cut-out chintz
or Broderie Perse fashion in this top from an online auction
a few years ago.

This particular top is one of several late Broderie Perse
examples where scenes from various fabrics
have been cut up and reassembled.

The emphasis is on children and pets with
the kittens on the left and the English setter on the right.

The puppies again.

The Broderie Perse quilt also has a memorial to President James
Garfield, assassinated in 1881
The quilt top is dated 1893.

The image is cut from this yardage, a piece of which
was sold online this year.

The Ohio Historical Society has a log cabin quilt with backing fabric that is probably the print above. Their online catalog describes it:
"The printed pattern includes lattice and cornerstones and images of the Garfield family crest, the U. S. shield, and multiple color pinwheels.... cheater fabric... of American origin produced at the time of President Garfield's death."

The undated cretonne quilt in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts features Garfield too, the portrait probably
cut from some campaign yardage.

The campaign yardage from 1880 includes Chester A. Arthur too.
As Vice-President, Arthur assumed the Presidency.

A mourning Ribbon
"Died on Duty"

There are many Garfield images in quilts. Whether they were meant to be political, patriotic or a mourning image takes a little research to figure out. Because the election was in 1880 and the assassination in 1881, it's hard to tell. Garfield among the puppies, kittens and crested chickens reminds us of the continuing national mourning at his death.