Friday, April 30, 2021

Sawtooth---BlockBase+ and Vintage Examples


July 10, 1886

1886, Mrs. Reed whose recreation was "to piece bed-quilts" sent this pattern to the Prairie Farmer magazine suggesting an old fashioned color scheme of red or green on white.

Kind of like this one.

Quilters stitched a lot of variations on the basic sawtooth design
but Mrs. Reed's pattern is one of only a few actually published.

I added it to the new Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns
and BlockBase+, where it's one of the earliest published, named designs.
Marie Webster gave a similar design the name Double X in 1915.

From Webster's book.

I've got a collection of Sawtooth nine patches here with unpieced centers. 

From the Ohio project, published in their book.
I've always liked this quilt, which looks 1840-1860.

I drew it up in EQ8 by exporting the BlockBase+ file, recoloring
it and setting it side by side, but not on point. I used fabrics
from my new Ladies' Legacy repro line from Moda.

Details from about the same time

Variations date back to the 1840s at least.

From a Copake auction, maybe 1870s

That blue-violet and the paisleys and the stripes

Looks Pennsylvania German, 1880-1910?
Alternated with a plain block.

A pretty good plan.

Is that a claret-colored red? Early 20th century?

Green calicoes tough to date.

This block---early 20th century

Lowndes County Historical Society in Georgia

Several from online auctions---all look to be early 20th

Sashing a good idea---here it is in Ladies' Legacy.

About 1900

Red & white hard to date, after 1880
It's a good idea, a counter-change coloring
with dark blocks and light blocks alternating.
But she had trouble.


A 10" finished block using the BlockBase+ rotary cutting feature.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Ethel M. McCunn and Embroidery in the 1920s

A cute if historically inaccurate drawing of two Colonial
ladies quilting in a booklet from Needlecraft Magazine.
There is a little hint of a signature on the frame at the right
Y Pit...

One of the more obscure quilt booklet/catalogs is this Needlecraft Book of Patchwork and Quilting from the Maine magazine probably in the 1920s.

The author was Ethel M. McCunn, not a well-known name in the quilt pattern world of the 1920-1950s.

The 16-page catalog offered patterns that had been printed
in various magazines coming from the same publishing house
in Augusta, Maine.

It looks like Ethel had the artists redraw a few or maybe she drew these herself. We can find out something about her in the newspapers and scanned magazines of the 1920s into the '40s.

Green Bay, early-20th century

Ethel M. McCunn was born in 1885 in Green Bay, Wisconsin, eldest child of John Niven McCunn (1858-1937) and Florence Ida Pipe (1860-1889). Her mother died at 29 when Ethel was 4. Her father remarried twice.

J. N. McCunn, born in Glasgow, Scotland, ran a business school in Green Bay and as a loyal Wisconsin Republican he was appointed a consul to Scotland in 1897 by President McKinley, living in Dunfermline and Glasgow until 1919. Ethel and her siblings moved to Scotland at the turn of the last century. While in Scotland her stepmother died and her father remarried a woman from Glasgow.

 Daughter Ethel was fortunate enough to attend art school in Glasgow where she took "a full course in general designing, needle work and pottery." 

(Jessie Rowat Newbery, 1864-1948)

We can assume she was a student of Jessie Newbery who was head of the embroidery department at the
Glasgow School of Art from 1894 to 1908 and of her successor Ann McBeth, both of whom were extraordinary embroidery designers.

 Ann McBeth (1875-1948)

Ethel then taught art in England and Scotland, according to a biography in the Green Bay Press, which tells us that when she returned to the U.S. she became an embroidery designer for New York's Bernhard Ulmann Company, later Bucilla Needlework.

Perhaps Ethel had a hand in this 1921
Bucilla embroidery pattern book, illustrating the influence 
of the Glasgow School of Art

Ethel was an embroidery designer for Pictorial Review and then spent 7 years at "The American Thread Company, managing the art thread department and editing the Star Needlework Journal.

She worked at the American Thread Company building in
what we now call Tribeca.

Editing and probably designing patterns.

In the 1920s she gave radio talks on embroidery.

In 1926 she moved to Needlecraft magazine. Perhaps she commissioned this cover in 1928 from artist Mary Sherwood Wright Jones.

We aren't just looking at quilt patterns here, we are looking a women's lives and women's work that has gone unnoticed. In the 1920s Ethel was part of an important group of professional women in New York. She was active in the League of Advertising Women. In addition to being a designer and an editor she also saw herself as an advertising professional. In  1926 the association held a costume party where she dressed as an Egyptian.

Costume parties may explain this extremely unflattering portrait in 1921 in the Brooklyn Eagle. It looks like a Colonial hairdo has gone awry at an Art Needlework Contest where she is showing off the prizewinner.

1948, White Plains Journal News

As the Great Depression ended the publishing heyday of the 1920s we lose track of Ethel, although she might be this woman: Ethel McCunn Walker who owned the Knitting Nook in Nyack, New York in the 1940s and early '50s.

Patchwork and quilts do not seem to be her real interests, which is why we seem to have only one publication from her.

1928 cover signed W Grotz (William Grotz)

A look at Ethel's life gives us a little insight into the early-20th-century needlework press and how women with educations like hers were ready to provide the articles and designs that led to the "Quilt Revival" of the 1925-1950 era. 

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Two Unusual Applique Quilts & Some Letters

Quilt by Julia Hayden Marshall (1815-1885) & 
Frances Marshall McClurg (1837–1918),
Greer, Knox County, Ohio, about 1860. 

The unique Four-Block quilt is pictured in Ricky Clark's Quilted Gardens, a study of Ohio's red and green quilts where she called it a Single Rose and noted that each squared-off wreath is composed of four border vine units.

Pineapple Quilt
Ohio Historical Society


Julia and daughter Frances are also credited with a second applique quilt in the Ohio Historical Society's collection. Frances married Pennsylvania native George McClurg on June 6, 1861, which may have been the occasion for which the quilts were prepared.

George enlisted in the 96th Ohio Volunteer Infantry in August, 1862. Two weeks later Frances gave birth to a daughter, Albertie. Frances was fortunate to have her parents close by---or at least her mother. Julia was 46 and would live to be 70. Father Edward's life is harder to track.

Julia came to Knox County in central Ohio from Otsego County, New York with husband Edward G. Marshall. She'd been born in Connecticut, one of 11 children, the only surviving daughter of Hezekiah Hayden (1777-1823) and Hannah Hayden Hayden (1778-1823). Julia's parents died within a few months of each other when she eight years old.  

Otsego Historical Society
Lumber remained an important industry around Otsego Lake.

They'd run a saw mill in Springfield at the northern edge of Lake Otsego, migrating there when central and western New York was the frontier in 1806.

1811 letter from Hannah Hayden, "I have 13 in my family."

Remarkably, Julia's mother Hannah left letters now in the collection of the Newberry Library, which have formed the basis for Amber Degn's paper "Hannah Hayden's Work and Family Economy in Frontier New York, 1806–1822" in the 2001 Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife .

See a summary here

Hannah's daughter's and granddaughter's needlework was certainly different from that described in the early 19th century. In their own later frontier they seem to have enjoyed access to fabric and leisure time to design and stitch two unusual quilts.

George McClurg spent five years fighting in the Civil War rising to the rank of Lieutenant. When he returned in 1865 Frances and he took a tour of the northeast, came home and bought an Ohio farm.

1870 Census.
George and Frances have two girls, 7 and 3.
They eventually had 3 girls and 2 boys.

Ladies Circle Patchwork Quilt magazine published a picture
of the wreath quilt with a pattern.

I wonder if anyone ever made a reproduction.

And I wonder if these talented women made any other quilts.

While the pineapple block itself is a little ungainly, the set and
the way they turned a half block into a border is ingenious.

More information on Julia's family.