Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Whole Top Quilt Patterns in the New Encyclopedia


Star of France, collection of the American Museum of Folk Art

If you had the old editions of my Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns you could find
the name of this quilt pattern designed by Hubert VerMerhren about 1933.
#4000 Star of France

But it wasn't a very pretty drawing. These patterns designed
to fill the whole quilt are neither easy to make nor easy to draw.
VerMehren was good at the drafting.

However, my page proof of the third edition show a much
better drawing (Thanks, Ann & Jenny!)

In fact all the Whole-Top designs are nicely drafted now.
In color and outline.

Many of the patterns on the pages at the end of the book are
VerMehren designs from his DesMoines studio. He called
this one the D.A.R. Quilt #4002

4014 The Sunburst Quilt
4015 The Giant Dahlia

The pattern for the Giant Dahlia appeared in
newspapers in 1934 & 1935

All good to know.

80" x 80"
In case you should come across one of these at a yard

Saturday, December 26, 2020

End of the Year Giving-Quilt Research Collection

Ellen Wallace Sharples miniature painting on ivory

Time to think about end-of-the-year giving.

And here is where I just sent my money:

You might want to support the Quilt Research Center at the
University of Nebraska Libraries.

International Quilt Museum, Lincoln, Nebraska

The University of Nebraska is the world center for quilt history with two major collecting locations and focuses. The International Quilt Museum collects and displays quilts and related textiles in an impressive building adjacent to the campus.

The University of Nebraska Libraries collects quilt related archives in the Special Collections building called the Quilt Research Center.

Quite impressive storage and retrieval stacks.
Read more about it at this post:

As me and my friend Merikay Waldvogel (and many others) have been donating our quilt history files and personal archives to the Library we think you should send a check to the Quilt Research Center.

Donating by Check

Make checks to University of Nebraska Foundation with the notation:

Quilt Research Collection Fund #01147420

Mail donations to:

University of Nebraska Foundation
1010 Lincoln Mall, Suite 300
Lincoln, NE 68508

Donating Online

Click here:

The page should look like this.

Questions about financial donations: Contact Joye Fehringer at the Foundation.

Questions about the Quilt Research Collections: Contact Mary Ellen Ducey at the library. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

An Eagle May Be Trying to Tell Us Something

Eagle from a sampler quilt dated 1851
Pook & Pook auction

Fans of patriotic quilts are quite familiar with this eagle design, which appears in quilts from about 1840 through the early twentieth century.

Spread eagle, sometimes with two stars, often with a banner.
Usually holds olive branches and arrows in the claws
(although this one is missing the olive branches.)

The stars tend to be rather free-form, looking to have been made with a slash and cut method.
You start with a circle and make 8 slashes and turn under the edges

In some below the circle hasn't been slashed.

1940 watercolor of an old sampler

1856 sampler, collection of Barb Vedder

All peace and love, from a sampler at a Skinner auction

The pattern was particularly popular about 1880-1920
in Ohio sampler/albums. This Ohio quiltmaker (not
good with points) created a four pointed star.

I've considered the meaning of the design over the years especially in the context of antebellum America and the other day came across this image that is very interesting:
Spread eagle with arrows and olive branches and two six pointed stars.

It's a brass button with a shank back, one of two created for the
Cold Water Army, a cultural phenomenon of the 1840s.

Buttons possibly by the Scovill Company of Waterbury,
Connecticut, which created many brass buttons for
military uniforms---for militias of the 1840s to
Civil War regiments.

This button from a New Hampshire militia shows their logo,
an important image to martial men.

And to boys who wanted to be martial men.

The Cold Water Army with its eagle buttons appealed not
to adult volunteers in local military companies but to children....

Cold Water Army of boys in uniform---did those short
jackets sport brass buttons?

who were encouraged to swear against alcohol at a young age
and show their temperance affiliations in ceremonies and parades.

Girls reading the Cold Water Army periodical

Marching Songs

Did girls collect buttons too?
Maybe for charm strings.

The Cold Water Army was definitely marketed (as we'd say) to children.
Collecting white ribbons, brass buttons and tokens would be fun and
appealed to their need to belong.

Mottoes were many:
"That's the Drink for Me"
referring to cold water.

Token, punched so it could be worn on a string

"So here we pledge perpetual hate
To all that can intoxicate."

Historic New England collection
One signed a pledge, which could be framed.

The founder of the Cold Water Army was Thomas Hunt, who published a book by that name.
The Cold Water Army was part polemic and part how-to book. Here's how to offer an alternate Independence Day celebration without alcohol.

With perhaps white ribbons for participants who marched
to this march sung to the tune of Yankee Doodle

Newspaper written for children first published in Massachusetts, 1841.
In 1842 they counted 1,500 subscribers.
There was also a Cold Water Girl and a Cold Water Boy 
publication but no issues seem to have survived.
Although long forgotten the Cold Water Army was important in the 1840s and probably into the 1850s.
Which brings us back to the question.

Dated 1855, no stars

Are these eagles seen in the Pennsylvania/Maryland area
in the 1850s telling us of a temperance affiliation,
or the hope that a man might live a sober life?

Dated 1856 , collection of Barb Vedder

WPA water color by painter Charlotte Angus

Sampler quilt dated 1851
Pook & Pook auction

Here's an alternate view of mid-19th century symbolism:
It's too bad we have so little idea what the imagery meant at the time.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

An Admirable Woman


A simple Irish Chain with a tale.
Stitched by the woman on the right here, Cynthia Frances Hawkins Spearman
(1851-1953). She is pictured with her sister Mary and between them they have only two hands.

Cynthia lost both hands when she was a child in a terrible accident. Her widowed mother, trying to keep up her farm, enlisted her daughter to help feed sugar cane into a molasses press. The rollers caught and crushed the child's hands and forearms, which were amputated.

Cynthia posed in front of a tied bedcover (perhaps
the reverse of a tied quilt) in the early 20th century.
From her Find-A-Grave-Site

Refusing to compromise Cynthia lived her life in Brumley in the Missouri Ozarks with flair. She taught school for forty years and if the boys thought she might be a pushover she showed them how she could grasp a rod with her forearms and beat their behinds. (Bad discipline but admirable gumption.) She was Miller County's first elected female public official, serving as school superintendent in the 1890s when she was in her forties.

Wedding photo for her 1885 marriage to Zebedee Spearman
(1831 – 1897) when she was 34. She took on four step children who
were devoted to her.

Remarkably adept with her forearms she could write, garden and make quilts, run a classroom, a school system and a household.

Judy Hawkins shows off this early 20th- century quilt by her great aunt. Judy told the Miller County Historical Society that Cynthia's way of working was to cut squares with a knife (she probably tore the squares once she started the cut) and assemble pieces at her sewing machine. The ladies of the local Christian church did the quilting.

A 1937 article in a Wichita paper noted she wrote a beautiful hand and was proficient at fancy needlework.
I know all this because the Miller County Museum has such a great webpage.