Friday, March 31, 2017

Smithsonian Quilt & Textile Collection Online

1899 Lydia Finnell
Show Quilt
Collection of the Smithsonian Institution

Our National Museum, the Smithsonian, has many of their quilts and textiles accessible in an online catalog.


If you go to this page where I did a search for quilt in all the files 1,984 files come up. Too many.
I narrowed the search to objects (rather than say books) and found 823 documents, many of which are fabulous quilts.


Early 19th century British block top

It's an excuse to show several I haven't seen before.

Brickwall, late 19th century

Some are new acquisitions like the Corrine Riley collection of 56 African American quilts.

Harriet Fry Hockaday, Missouri
Late 19th century

Elenor Dolan, mid 19th century

Early British pictorial "Irish Volunteers" by Eliza Bennis.

Detail of a silk Quaker trousseau quilt

Contained crazy

They include files from a variety of Smithsonian divisions
such as the Cooper-Hewitt and the Anacostia Community Museum.

This will keep you busy for a while.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Quaker Design Workbooks

Block (one-of-a-kind?) from a Quaker Album Sampler from
New Jersey. A rotating wheel-type applique cut from red, green & yellow calico.

In the last post I discussed the style characteristics of early Quaker album samplers (1842-1845)
I mentioned the odd blocks, pieced and appliqued.
Two odd blocks from Ella Maria Deacon's quilt at the Art Institute of Chicago.

The Burtis family quilt is typical in it's inclusion of cut-out chintz applique and conventional applique cut from calicoes. This quilt has only a few blocks with any piecing. I like that green star with the whirling leaves. The pattern never caught on.
Note the edge blocks here, a variation of this unnamed pattern that is repeated in early samplers

Tree with reverse applique, which was popular for a few years and disappeared.

I wrote a paper once for AQSG on those early album quilts and when and where they were made. One of my conclusions:
"Many designs popular in the [early] album quilts never became standard patterns. The broad range of appliqued patterns in the sampler albums of the mid-nineteenth century indicates that that the makers were exploring the design possibilities of a new technique...These signature quilts were design workbooks as well as expressions of friendship."
See "Signature Quilts: Nineteenth Century Trends" on page 29 of Laurel Horton's Quiltmaking in America: Beyond the Myths.

From a New Jersey sampler
that's set on the square. Quite quirky.

From the Conner Prairie Quaker sampler.

From the Gillingham quilt

Some of these unusual blocks may look familiar to those of
you who've made Di Ford's Antique Wedding Sampler,
inspired by Charlotte Gillingham's quilt in the black box; 
a version of the reproduction behind it.

Di's Antique Wedding Sampler from her book Primarily Quilts.
Di picked the most graceful to reproduce.

Charlotte Gillingham's quilt dated 1842-1843
Collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

You get the feeling that the Quaker block makers were encouraged to draw their own designs. Not everyone's an artist. But you have to love the spontaneity in all the variations.

I've been looking closely at these early album/samplers because I'm sorting my photos of date-inscribed quilts. See Pinterest pages on quilts dated 1842 and 1843 here:

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Quaker Album Quilts

A pretty block in an album dated 1843 in the collection of Conner Prairie Museum in Indiana. I noticed it because of the brown & white excentric print. It's signed by Ella Maria Deacon.

Quaker Album or Friendship Quilt
Burlington County, New Jersey, 1843
Collection of Conner Prairie Museum
108 x 110 inches
72 patchwork blocks

Ella's block is on the top row right of center in this overall view.

Wait a minute! I know Ella Maria Deacon.
Not personally. But she has a quilt in Chicago.

Quilt Made for Ella Maria Deacon (American, 1811–1894)
104 1/8 x 107 3/8 inches
Collection of the Art Institute of Chicago
85 patchwork blocks from New Jersey: Rancocas, Eversham, Springfield and Mt. Holly. It's actually dated 1841 and 1842.

See more in an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association

NJ Project
For a while I thought there were two Quaker quilts with alternate chintz squares, 
but now I realize that the Conner Prairie quilt is also pictured in the
Quilt Index, New Jersey project. These two are the same quilt with different lighting.

Conner Prairie's
Do look at this Indiana web site and notice the details listed on the right.

 But then there are many similar quilts.
Here's one quilt from the New Jersey project & the Quilt Index.

The names on this quilt: 
Budd, Coles and Deacon families.  Two dates: 1844 & 1855.

New Jersey Project

Quaker quilt from Swedesboro, Gloucester County, NJ

The quilts share a lot of design characteristics. 
As the authors of the New Jersey project book describe the style: 

The familiar New Jersey sampler with blocks set on the diagonal and use of strip sashing.
Other characteristics:
  • Variety of block techniques, some pieced, some appliqued in conventional applique, some in cut-out-chintz.
  • Blocks contain some classic applique patterns but many are unusual one-time designs.
  • Use of primary colored calicoes: Turkey red, chrome yellow, greens in blocks (if not in setting)

Block from the Conner Prairie quilt.
  • Many of the blocks whether pieced or appliqued are based on a circular format, with a focus on the center of the block, like a wheel or a wreath.. In other words: the designs don't really fill a square block the way classic red & green applique blocks do.
Detail of Charlotte Gillingham's quilt, 1842-1843, Philadelphia Museum of Art.

One of the few familiar classics from the Gillingham quilt.
Oak leaf and Reel variation.

Sarah Pidgeon's Album.
Collection of Colonial Williamsburg.
I wonder how many more of these Quaker Album quilt from
the early 1840s have duplicate signers
and duplicate odd blocks.

A question the researchers at the Quaker Quilt History blog are working on.

Burtis Family Quilt at the Burlington NJ Historical Society

Quilt for Charlotte Gillingham, Philadelphia Museum of Art.

There are many fascinating things about these early Quaker quilts.
One is the early emphasis on red, yellow and green.
Two is the originality and variety of the blocks.
Three: Can we thank Quakers for the American sampler album?

I noticed two blocks like Ella M Deacon's in the Conner Prairie Quilt.

And here's the same block in the Ella Maria Deacon quilt at the Art Institute.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Fat Quarter Fancy Work

Buttonwood Basket by Karla Menaugh
32" x 44-1/2"
Background pieced from fat quarters.

Fat Quarters are cut 18" x 22".

Fat quarters are easy to buy, easy to store and they seem inexpensive enough that we always pop a few extra into our stack at the checkout counter. 

There are plenty of designs for piecing with fat-quarter cuts, but several years ago Karla and I noticed that traditional applique designs ignore the contemporary fat quarter.

First of all, it's a rectangle cut, and most applique is designed for a square format.

Second, you don't get much area to work with. After you square up your edges, trim your selvage off and pre-wash the yardage we figure you can count on a rectangle 16-1/2" x 20-1/2".

We designed Buttonwood Basket baby quilt around those limitations.
Our theory: Buy two closely related fat quarters for the background.
Karla chose a woven stripe and woven check, same colors.

  1. After pre-washing and trimming square up the fat-quarters to 16-1/2" x 20-1/2".
  2. Cut each in half horizontally, resulting in 10-1/4" x 16-1/2" rectangles.
  3. Sew the rectangles together into a four patch pattern to make a background 20" x 32-1/2
The rectangular four-patch gives you a nice area for applique and if you are looking for rectangular designs:

Vintage applique quilts featuring baskets and vases of flowers are easily adapted.

The book gives you cutting instructions for adding more background.

The Virtual Store

We still have copies of the Fat Quarter Fancywork book with ideas for applique and fat quarters in our Sunflower Pattern Co-operative Etsy Store.