Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Chrome Orange---Changes in Color


Chrome orange and chrome yellow were two commonplace dyes
used in American quilts.

International Quilt Museum Collection
Quilt with chrome yellow by the Dobson sisters of Indiana

After 1840 or so chrome orange and yellow in prints and plains were popular for piecing and a favorite accent to the reds and greens of appliqué florals.

Quilt about 1900 from the Alamance County
Historical Society in North Carolina

 Towards the end of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, quiltmakers in parts of Pennsylvania and the Southern United States considered the color the perfect background for appliqué and pieced designs.

Pennsylvania quilt from an online auction

Quilt sold in Virginia

The chrome dyes are quite colorfast. Light rarely affects them.

But they react to the acid/alkalai balance in laundering. 

Acids in the water or a spill can discharge the orange leaving a pale yellow green as in the above quilt. 

They can crock, rub off onto other fabrics.

And gasses in the air can turn them brown.

I have read that burning coal in a stove will create an atmosphere that browns the color. Cathy Erickson (Quilt Collector and chemist) tells us on the Quilt History South Facebook page:
"Gases such as carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, Chlorine, sulfur or sulfur dioxide could potentially have an impact."
I would guess that burning coal produces sulfur in the air. We don't use chromes any more for dyeing. The minerals are too dangerous to workers. And they are not that useful for dating quilts as we see them from about 1840-1930. But they are certainly a visual delight.

International Quilt Museum Collection
Kathlyn Sullivan collection of North Carolina quilts

Here's a sheet on chrome orange changing color.

Friday, April 21, 2023

MOKA Quilt Study Meeting April 2023


"Pleasant Valley...Homemaker's Club" in yellow thread

We had a lot of fun at the MOKA (Missouri/Oklahoma/Kansas/Arkansas) study
group meeting last weekend in Harrisonville, Missouri.

John brought in a top he'd found at a local Cass County, Missouri farm sale for $5. It's
dated 1935, made by one of the quilt clubs that the Homemakers' Extension Units sponsored during the Great Depression. He knew some of the people who'd signed it (the year he was born.)
What could we figure out?

The pattern was familiar: Friendship Quilt
from the Kansas City Star

The EHU or County Extension agent was Margarett Nelson.
Her first name is usually spelled wrong in the newspapers of the day (one T)
but she is often mentioned.

I looked her up in Newspapers.com
And I looked for the Pleasant Valley Club in Cass County newspapers.

Here is a June, 1935 clipping describing their work on a name quilt, probably this one:

Other speakers included Jane from Tennessee,

Justly proud of her prizewinning Iris Rhapsody quilt based
on Ricky Tims's designs for Rhapsody quilts.

And Gertrude from Kansas City who grew up in Oklahoma with
string quilts (you can see what she thought of them in her face here)

She finally finished some blocks she'd inherited.

And decided she was happier remembering those
Oklahoma ancestors in portraits of her own design
rather than finishing their string quilts.

I also gave a talk on connections between Missouri & Kentucky silk quilts.
You can watch my 45 minute practice session by clicking here:

Barb E showed a quilt she'd bought in Missouri with design ideas from
Kentucky in that dotted pineapple or pomegranate.

Carol, old top + long arm = Found & Finished
And we saw lots of show and tell, primarily focused on finishing what others had started. Becky B showed her impressive stack of finishes. (There were a lot of Beckys and Barbaras there.)

Mohawk Trail or Rattlesnake finished by Becky B

Roseanne finished her mother's embroidered Bi-Centennial blocks as one of her first quilt projects. Do not, she advised, use sheets for sashing, borders or backing.

Becky C quilted an old top as the fundraising raffle quilt doing her fabulous feathers on the long arm.

Phyllis was the lucky winner of Fancy Nancy.

Next MOKA meeting in Oklahoma in November. Better go!

The MOKA Facebook page:

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Morris Meadow


Quilt shops have been ordering Morris Meadow: Best of Morris
from Moda, the latest in our William Morris reproduction collections.

We've added a couple of new/old prints and recolored
some of our favorites.
The collection should be delivered to shops in July.

Becky Brown has pieced a design that makes the most of the darks & lights.
As a Four-Patch it's a design from the Ladies' Art Company catalog 100+ years ago.
Kansas Troubles is one name.

She added a few older Morris prints too.

Cutting for 12" finished blocks.
The quilt is 48" x 60".

The pattern was used decades before there was a Kansas Territory.

Here's one from the age of chintz, 1830s?

Becky's turned out nicely, don't you think?

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Crazy Embroidery 7: Piece Embroidery

American Museum of Folk Art
Quilt attributed to Clara Dobriner Leon, New Mexico

Silk bodice with embroidered trim

Machine embroidery factories undoubtedly sold products to crazy quilters but I would imagine professional and amateur dressmakers were a larger customer base.

Crazy quilt from Betsy Telford Goodwin's Rocky Mountain Quilt Shop

Fashion advice in 1885
A contrasting yoke, placket or sleeve was the look in cotton (wash goods) or silk. "Piece embroidery being much used for that purpose."

The sitter obviously did Berlin work, perhaps filling in the background of a purchased needlepoint floral, partially finished art needlework pieces called Commenced Embroidery at the time. Did this needleworker sew her linear clothing decoration or was it purchased as piece embroidery?

Attributed to Emily Sprague, New York

Some women may have had time and talent to embroider strips of pansy
blooms for their hand-made dresses.

1885, Ladies' Home Journal
"If ladies have not time to embroider the trimmings of their dresses they will find the Kursheedt's embroidered colored silk appliques most convenient...."

Attributed to Mary Ann Fletcher, Missouri project

What were the terms used to describe these purchased strips of embroidery?
Swiss embroideries? (No longer from Swiss hand embroiderers but stitched on Swiss machines.)
Piece embroidery?

Brooklyn Museum Collection
Mary A Stinson

Edgings & Insertings?

From the late Laura Fisher's inventory

Art Embroidery?
(A drummer was a traveling sales rep.)

Julie Silber's Inventory

"Embroidered Patches & Borders"

Professional dressmakers would have kept a supply of these dress trimmings on hand for customers to combine with the newest shapes and fabrics. 

This may be the way one bought the machine-embroidered
slips, attached to a piece of paper with the catalog number.

Louisville, Kentucky 1901
1-6  yard lengths of embroideries

1888 St. Louis Globe-Democrat
"There is always one person in an establishment....called in
to decide between different kinds of embroidered ornamentation."

Probably a European workshop showing traditional ethnic patterns rather than art embroidery
but that's what a dressmaking establishment would look like in the western world.

Boston Globe, 1908
"Strip Embroideries"

"Newest patterns of the season...hand-embroidered effects....Some are slightly imperfect."
Embroidered Frontings---48 cents a yard.

Graduation dress, Kansas City

Modistes and dressmakers could have bought finished trim locally or by mail order from a large factory like Kursheedt's. Small-time entrepreneurs were another likely source, like Mrs. Stephenson of Champaign, Illinois in 1900.

One probable source for both hand-embroidered slips and swatches and those stitched on home machines were the women's exchanges and charity workshops where women who needed the income  could sell their handwork anonymously.

Candace Thurber Wheeler (1827-1923)

Cities and small towns followed embroidery designer Candace Wheeler's model in supporting these exchanges based on two that Wheeler began in New York in the 1870s, the Society of Decorative Art and the New York Exchange for Women's Work. At the height of the silk quilt fashion in 1890 one could buy handwork at exchanges in over 70 locations.
See a post about Exchanges here:

Polly Mello's Collection

UPDATE: Louise Tiemann has found this 2010 photograph of the Schiffli machine still in use in Switzerland producing....strip embroideries on black.

 Bernhard Hollenstein, Dreien © Bruno Hollenstein, 2010

And on our 6 KnowItAlls Facebook page Janet Bahr posted photos of a lambrequin she owns
 (hangs on a fireplace mantle) embroidered on velvet. The images look like Kursheedts machine embroidered offerings but the reverse certainly looks hand embroidered. People must have used the catalog pictures for patterns.

Read all 7 posts about Crazy Quilt Embroidery:

This is the last of the week's worth of posts on the topic.
I was led down this path after looking at Kentuckian Katharine Fretzlen's spectacular 1886 quilt in the DAR Museum collection. At first I assumed she did all the stitching.

That would be a lot of handwork for one woman.
Did she buy machine embroidered panels?
I thought I'd look into it.

See Episode #24 of our Know-It-All shows where I began thinking
about, as KIA Ronda McAllen said, "Working smarter not harder."
Tickets for lifetime access $12

Now that is an outfit & a photo.
See it on ebay.