Monday, January 31, 2022

Boston's Sewing Circles 1888


Smithsonian Institution
Embroidered border on a medallion quilt attributed to Bostonian descendants 
of John White, an English Puritan known as “Father of the 
Massachusetts Bay Colony, although he never made it over here himself.

John White (1575-1648)

Boston by Paul Revere

Boston had a reputation as the most snobbish of American cities, what with all those Mayflower descendants and Cabots who talk only to Lowells and Lowells who talk only to God. Many artifacts have been preserved not for their intrinsic value but for their association with the Boston Brahmins.

Early American quilts made in the first decades of Independence when
 cotton prints became more available often look like a 
combination of older needlework projects, pulled together with patchwork.


Cora Ginsburg
Detail of a bedquilt associated with the Currier Family of Massachusetts

The pecking order continued for centuries, something noted by the Providence Journal in 1888 in an articleexplaining how Boston's Sewing Circles, which sewed for the poor and other charitable purposes, were hierarchal. 

Shelburne Museum
Massachusetts-born Henry Bacon's The Quilting Party, 1872

Massachusetts project & the Quilt Index
Bedquilt in the collection of the Wenham Museum on Boston's North Shore

Unfortunately, many of the family heirlooms are now long separated from information
about the makers. But it's obvious that this was a luxury item, associated with an elite family.

In 1861 Oliver Wendell Holmes described  the “Brahmin Caste of New England”
in his novel Elsie Venner.

Boston's Junior League

Wadsworth Athenaeum Collection 
Boston in 1828 by John Rubens Smith

Michigan Project and the Quilt Index
A quilt preserved (although not well---years of display faded the corner badly) for its family history attributing it to First Lady Abigail Smith Adams (1744-1818.) Read Mary Worrall's excellent analysis of the dubious connection to an important Massachusetts family at the link.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Electric Quilt Design Challenge: Best of Morris


Electric Quilt has a monthly Design Challenge featuring a fabric line to upload to your EQ8 program with a fabric prize for the winner picked randomly from the entrants. In December '21 the winner got a fat quarter pack of my Best of Morris fabric from Moda.

Maureen Franz designed an applique sampler with a great color scheme.

Fi Bowman combined applique and piecing.
Many of the entrants are professional designers like Fi. The EQ
page features links to their various sites.

See the 45 entrants here:


Scroll down to see pictures of all. Most used pieced designs from the EQ block library or BlockBase+ but it seems Afton Warrick designed her own.

More original design from another Barbara B.

Jane worked small. She's good at using EQ to fussy cut for her sketches.

I like Kristy's idea of making a different tree for each print in the line.

Sue is new to EQ and created a border design with
proportions figured out for her.

Christine is a master of repeat design!

One of my favorite things to do in EQ is pairing an alternate block to see
 what kind of secondary designs come up.

What a border!

Three Blocks

Fun to try to figure out Roberta's design.

Supply Chain

I did a design but didn't enter and I have been thinking about it.
It would work better if the chains overlapped.

Dark over light. All those mid-range colors though make it tough to get enough contrast. Would be better to use several Morris collections with more darks and lights rather than just one line. See the pattern for Supply Chain here:


Sunday, January 23, 2022

Rocky Mountains & Crown of Thorn Quilts

Collection of Charlene Bongiorno Stephens

Over at the QuiltHistorySouth Facebook page we have been looking at variations of this pattern. It's one of my favorites due to its complexity and the many traditions that seem associated with it.

Cindy Rennels's Inventory

Complexity: It's one of the few patterns that is made up of both block and sash. 

Tradition: You have to have both the block with four fans and the sash with spiky triangles. And then there is the sunburst in the cornerstone.

Ileana Villazon's Inventory
One that follows all the rules

The great thing about Southern quilts is the tradition of innovation within the rules.

Paula Cochrane's collection

Add a floral

Jasper Auction a while ago

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Or add a sunburst to the fan block

Donna Vitale
Or follow your own muse.

You see many with applique in the sashing rather than the spiky triangles.

Bill Volckening's Collection

Cindy Rennels
But never the same appliqued sash twice.

Attributed to M. E. Plonk, 
North Carolina project & the Quilt Index

Attributed to Mary Ann Elam Ross
Texas project & the Quilt Index

Julie Silber's Inventory

When we have information about the quiltmaker we find those made before
the 1920's and the pattern's publication have Southern origins.

Mountain Mist published it as New York Beauty and that's the name it's
known by today, although Southerners called it Rocky Mountain,
Rocky Mountain Road, Crown of Thorns or Polk in the White House.

Attributed to Ellen Miller Williams, Monroe County, Kentucky
Texas project & the Quilt Index

A little extra in the sashing

International Quilt Museum Collection
A lot extra in the sashing

Merikay Waldvogel Collection
Susan Fish McCalley Troup County, Georgia

Once in Matt McComber's collection
Pieced roses in the sashing.
A unique vision!

And Brenda sent this one.

Variation within a structure.
Southern style.

Ask to join our Facebook Group QuiltHistorySouth.