Saturday, August 22, 2020

Then & Now: 1900

One of my favorite tops from about 1900.
The published name is King Solomon's Temple.
Stitched about 1900 I'd guess by the fabric, pattern & style.

I have an article in the September/October 2020 issue of  Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting magazine comparing quilt style in 1900 to quilt style today. It's two pages and five pictures long. To the point. But I have a lot more photos....

Late-19th & early-20th c Turkey reds were printed
in mills in the U.S. and much cheaper than they'd been fifty years earlier
when they were imported from Europe.

Several styles were popular with quiltmakers 120 years ago---crazy quilts, wool comforters, outline embroidered red work, but my favorite are the scrappy quilts that make use of new inexpensive prints dyed with synthetics and chemically efficient versions of old vegetable dyes like indigo and Turkey red.

The dark indigo blue with white figures looked the same as it always had
but it was cheaper and you could choose from many blue & white prints.

There was a new shade of blue, a grayish, lighter blue called cadet blue in
the Sears catalogs---the blue in the lower row below.

Muriel Pesch Owen loaned me this top for Clues in the Calico

It's signed in pencil in mirror writing:
"Nov 24, 1900. Joined it and ists (sic) showering down rain."

Stitchers had new colorfast shades. Black ground prints
were novel and this wine-colored shade of red they called Claret.

It's a bit simple to say "1900" for this style of quilt---you'd really want to date them as 1890 to 1925. Quilters made many.

These are all from online auctions.

They seemed to like to buy the fabric and piece the tops rather
than quilt them as they left us many tops....

and blocks and piles of scraps.
Thank you, very much.

Women from Baldwin City, Kansas showing off the female occupations,
dressed in the inexpensive cotton clothing of the day.
Many of the scraps were clothing leftovers.

Cadet blue was colorfast (relatively) and innovative
and perfect for a housedress.

My article focuses on the red, white and blue combination
that they liked so well.

Becky Brown's 2019 top for our book
Divided Hearts: A Civil War Friendship Quilt

And we do too.

Ocean Wave by Deb Rowden, quilted by Lori Kukuk,
reproduction of a quilt ca. 1900.

I made this tree years ago for my niece.

Just a couple more from about 1900


  1. You wrote: "They seemed to like to buy the fabric and piece the tops rather
    than quilt them as they left us many tops.... and blocks and piles of scrap." I'd say things haven't changed very much then, have they?

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