Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Katherine Hamburger & Her One Hundred Quilts


Katherine Webb Hamburger (1884-1957) showing off her 
"Anne Hathaway's Cottage" quilt in 1946.
It is primarily pieced of hexagons (16,000 pieces she counted)
and took 40 yards of fabric. That would be one heavy quilt.

Katherine was quite proud of this portrayal of Shakespeare's wife's thatched home in England.

She showed her quilts often in small exhibits in Chicago in the 1930s, '40s and '50s. Several newspaper articles describe them but the above picture of the Hathaway quilt is the only one I've been able to find pictured.

A 1946 article describes a Shirley Temple portrait quilt and
a group portrait of the sewing circle she founded The Stitch & Chatter Club.
How could such things just disappear?

1943 portrait from a newspaper article

Katherine made nearly 100 quilts according to this 1955 story.

Like many master quiltmakers Katherine had family in the clothing business. Her husband James Louis Hamburger is consistently listed as a cutter in a tailoring shop in the 20th century censuses. In 1930 at the beginning of the Great Depression he's listed as unemployed. I believe she won $50 for the Hathaway quilt at a Detroit News contest in the 1930s, a prize that was undoubtedly welcome. 

Quilt Alliance photo of Detroit News display

The Detroit News had an influential quilt feature managed by Edith Crumb
and sponsored an annual contest for several years. Katherine entered contests around the country and must have picked up other ribbons and prize money.

Chicago Tribune 1946

Katherine's Stitch & Chat club met in a special period room at her house at 11435 St. Louis Street in the Kedzie/Pulaski neighborhood.

Members occasionally dressed in "period" costumes she'd made for them.

Members of Tuley Park Quilt Club

Katherine Hamburger was a Chicago peer of Mary Gasperik who was inducted into the Quilters' Hall of Fame this summer. Mary belonged to the Chicago Park District's Tuley Park Quilt Club, well recorded by the Park District.

The whole milieu of quilting in Chicago in the 1930s in quite a story of social life and masterful needlework.

A digression on cottages:
The International Quilt Museum owns this quilt by Sarepta Gillis (1887-1969) of Mound City, Missouri north of St. Joseph by the Nebraska state line. I wonder if it's a version of Anne Hathaway's Cottage. Apparently there was a pattern for this one. Stephanie Higginson has found three.

And Laura Fisher had this one in her inventory.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Laura Fisher


Laura Fisher (1945-2021)
Photo from John Sauls

Laura Fisher was a long-time New York quilt dealer with a fabulous eye for the off-beat quilt. She's been a friend for years and we are all shocked to hear she died suddenly of heart disease earlier this month.

When the whole internet thing was new Laura used to send me photos of her quilt inventory. I was learning to photoshop and could cut out the radiator, square it up and do a little color correction..

But the main reason she sent them was just to have a backup on another computer. I still have them all and have added to the file from her Facebook page, email ads, etc. A lot of quilts passed through her hands.

She dealt in all kinds of folk arts.

The best memorial is probably the group of books she wrote over the years.

Here she is in her forties

She loved bold quilts and dramatic color (few frou-frou quilts in her inventory.)

Wool military quilt, probably British

Log cabins were a special fascination. She enjoyed the
graphics in many of these utility tops and comforters.

And she loved an unusual pattern,

Been trying to copy this for years

Laura had some one of a kind beauties.

Showing Martha Stewart a white work quilt.

We will miss Laura and her artist's eye.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Label for Your Mary Delany Quilt


Print this label out on treated fabric with your inkjet printer. It's about 6-1/2" x 8"
with plenty of room to sign and date below the text. You may want to shrink it a bit.

Deanna Street's finished all 12 blocks in wools.

And just in time to include Becky Collis sent a snapshot
of the quilting she has done on mine---making me look good!

Monday, October 11, 2021

Red Dresses (and Pink)


Variations on pink---Augusta Auctions

October 22 is Wear Pink Day to raise awareness and funding for breast cancer research.

I have friends (you may be one of them) who
have refused to wear pink since they were 4 years old.
But it's a show of solidarity.

Maybe you could find a pink outfit that defines your personal identity.

Back of a pink calico dress from American & Whimsy

The problem with pink is it has been stereotyped as girly since at least the 19th century.

Color has meaning in clothing and I have been getting some feedback from a few Know-It-Alls after I made a bald statement in Episode #8, which will be aired on Wednesday, October 13.

Episode 8 is our Halloween special where I will be talking about bleeding and red dyes.

Buy tickets here:

My generalization was that adult women did not wear red clothing.
I was barraged with photos of red clothing.

A welcome barrage, thank you, Alden.

But, I sputtered, I was talking about cotton day wear....

And didn't you all see the movie Jezebel in which Bette Davis destroys her relationship with the 
huffy Henry Fonda with a dress so red it came across in a black and white 1938 movie?

They ignored my historical information based on Civil War nostalgic movies and looked in costume collections for examples.

"It was stated that grown women didn't wear Turkey red print dresses. I offer these two examples for your consideration. Both from about 1830." Lynne.

I had a better reference than a movie:

In 1856 Sara Tappan Doolittle Robinson of Massachusetts
encountered a country Southerner on a trip in Kansas.
The implication: Red NOT worn in Massachusetts.

Tara wondered if red was "seen as an unrespectable color to wear beginning mid-19th-century? Reserved for tarts and ladies of the evening, perhaps?" She has a point.

Lynne noted that the Connecticut Historical Society owns "a well-documented 1820s RED (I capitalize it because it's bright RED) silk dress. The history that came with it, and which was corroborated with written records of the period, is that a teen-aged girl wore it to church, and the family received a visit from the deacon afterward to chastise her."

We saw red calico dresses before 1840 but none afterwards for adults. Alden noted: "I'm seeing a trend! But it disappears! Can scarcely think of red dresses, in silk or calico, after 1840 and maybe not much after 30??"

Lynne: "Right. Not even in the late 1860s-1870s when those bright jewel-tone aniline colors were in vogue. No red (that I can recall). I did find a couple of solid red cotton girls' dresses in the CHS collection from the 1890s. But those are for girls, not women or even teenagers. More like 10-12 year olds."

Chester County Historical Society
Red dresses for children survive.

So what happened in 1840? Queen Victoria was crowned in 1838; she married the prudish Prince Albert in 1840. Say goodbye to Jezebel.

He looks huffier than Henry Fonda.

Standards for morality (and the perception of morality) in the U.K and U.S. really underwent a
change in the Victorian era. 

However, Americans were still wearing red for dressing up.

Virginia sent a Dior.

We have started a new Facebook group
Just for this kind of discussion. We think it might work better than a live Q&A because it give you time to make your point with a picture (or ten.)

Ask to join. Show us your quilts (and red dresses.)