Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Soldier's Shield: An Unpublished Name

Patty is making this quilt and posted a question at the American
Quilt Study Group members' Facebook group.

"I have never heard of the pattern referred to anything except Dresden Plate and was wondering if any of you have. I volunteer in the gallery of the National Quilt Museum every Friday morning, and this morning I was talking to a guest that told me about his grandmother's quilts. He told me that she made many quilts using the pattern name "Soldiers Shield" which he knew was also known by the name of 'Dresden Plate.' The visitor told me that his mother lived in south-central Kentucky and north-central Tennessee."

It's unusual to hear a vernacular pattern name not in the published literature so Patty's question is worth pursuing. Becky responded with a similar story:

"Two color - one light - one dark - Dresden was a pattern my Grandmother, who would have been a little over a hundred years old this year, referred to as 'Soldiers Shield.' She grew up in Nebraska. Hers like this had a solid center of varying colors. However, she did refer to it as a Dresden Soldier Shield. She did not use this arrangement often."

Light/dark alternating with curved-edge petals
During the thirties & forties this was one of THE
most popular patterns-although scrappy petals were
more common than a controlled color scheme.

 Where to look for more information?

Patty's first stop (Thank you, very much) was my Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, where there are many variations on what we'd call a Dresden Plate, but none with the name Soldiers' Shield.

Variations with 12 petals, a good number to fit in a square block.
Digital version of my Encyclopedia where these are published
as Sunflowers. The center design: Dessert Plate from the Kansas City Star...

...which advised "jewel tone prints" in a scrap look with curved-edge petals.

An actual Dresden plate

The next place I looked was Newspapers.com to see if "soldier shield quilt" was ever mentioned in their enormous database. Nothing.
Then the Quilt Index, looking for patterns with the name Shield in them.
Then Google books.

Then I just looked around at online auctions for alternating
dark and light spokes. Here's one with 20. The scrappy look
was far more common. Mostly referred to as Dresden or Dresden plate.

Next step go out and do field work interviewing older quilters (older than I)
and showing them the pattern, asking them what they'd call it.

Not going to happen.
But worth thinking about.

The AQSG Members Facebook group is good for gathering
 expert information. Join AQSG here: https://americanquiltstudygroup.org/

Friday, June 23, 2023

The Most Popular Patterns


Women in Colby, Kansas with a log cabin quilt, about 1900

Quilt fads come and go. The fashion for Log Cabin quilts was one of the big crazes once a national quilt style developed after the Civil War.

What were the largest fads? I thought I'd look at the Quilt Index which has 89,637 quilts posted on the day I checked.

Oregon Project
A.H. stands for Swiss-born Anna Huber (1872-1945) who married Louis Creitz
in California in 1897. Anna learned the fashions in her new country, probably stitching
this quilt while in her teens. 

The largest group of designs is the Crazy Quilt with 3,816 examples or a little above 4% of the quilts pictured there. 

Silk Log Cabin dated 1887 when silk scraps were inexpensive and
Log Cabins were the thing.

Log Cabins were next with about 3,600.

Dated 1932-1933
Grandmother's Flower Garden with about 2,000 examples

My research model here is a little flawed as I didn't look at each photo to see if it fit the definition of say a Grandmother's Flower Garden. I just took their count.

Date-inscribed 1932
Double Wedding Ring about 1900 examples

Louisiana, 1938 Library of Congress

Date-inscribed 1934

Dresden Plate, about 1900 examples

Lone Stars 1,250 examples

Fans 1,050 examples

It's interesting that these are national fashions rather than the regional popular patterns we would have seen before 1870 such as Pennsylvania red & green samplers or Charleston chintz medallions. The  national style was spread through published patterns, household advice columns, syndicated women's features and educational organizations.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Applique Block of the Month: Phoebe's Favorite---Dogtooth Applique


We've been working on an appliqued Block-of-the-Month for the Material Culture blog here, a sampler of nine patterns using the old-fashioned "dogtooth" applique design.

 Tobacco Leaf or Pineapple block in which the scalloped edges
are cut and stitched dogtooth fashion

On the first of each month for the next nine months I'll post a pattern beginning in July. You'll see free patterns for traditional quilt designs where the points and curves are cut by slashing the edges of the patch and then turning points under free-hand, a technique popular from about 1840 on. 

The yellow circle will be an 8-pointed star when stitched.

Becky Brown has learned a new technique. 
And she's great at slashing, folding & stitching it down by hand.
She's using primary colors on a patterned white background.

Phoebe's Favorite is named for my dog, a rather short German Shepherd.

As today’s quiltmakers prefer a more predictable result Phoebe’s Favorite will give you patterns for both techniques---traditional dogtooth applique plus templates for conventional applique. But you will enjoy learning the old-fashioned applique method.

Pattern for a floral appliqued in dogtooth technique

Pattern for the same  floral in conventional applique.
Add seam allowances.

Becky's version of the floral with an 8-pointed star in the center

Dannielle's fabric choices

The blocks finish to 18-1/2", which means setting them side-by-side will give you a small top 55-1/2" square. You need about 3 yards of background fabric to cut nine 19" squares. Sashing, borders up to you.

You could add 6" finished sashing with an 8-point star in
the cornerstones. You'd have a quilt 79" square.

Cut 6" circles (or a little smaller) to fit in the 6" squares (squares cut 6-1/2".)

Read an old post about making dogtooth stars here:
Becky Brown is thinking about bordering the nine squares
with a dogtooth border and then turning that on point.

Read another old blog post about dogtooth borders:

Jeana Kimball did a better job than I could explaining the technique in The Quilter's Ultimate Visual Guide.

Look for the first pattern here on July 1st.
We have a Facebook group where you can share your progress. It's an open group. You don't have to join.

And you can buy the set of patterns here in my Etsy shop---32 pages for $12.. Do note there's an error in there ---the blocks finish to 18-1/2" not 18".

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Boxes of Cotton Scraps

Gloria Nixon's Collection
Box of factory cutaways sold by Sears, Roebuck & Company
to promote their 1933 Chicago World's Fair quilt contest.

Over at the QuiltHistorySouth Facebook page we've been showing off our collections of scrap-filled boxes, mostly marketed in the 1930s. Gloria Nixon has quite a few.

Photo from my 1979 book Clues in the Calico. Helen
loaned me her box to photograph. She recalled buying it in the 1930s
and being quite disappointed that the pieces were small, almost useless shards.

The advertising was false. The box did not contain enough "for one side of
average size quilt."

Another design for the Sears box. The box showed four popular
patterns at the time with some dubious history.

Left-over boxes ? from a 1938 ad. 

The W.L.M. Clark Company of St. Louis using the trade name
"Grandmother Clark" sold many packages and boxes of cotton factory cutaways.

Gloria Nixon's Collection

They also sold stamped needlework kits and pattern booklets,
templates and quilting and patchwork pattern booklets.

Grandmother Clark was their main image
but for the more up-to-date...

...they used "Winifred Clark."
Both names sold "quilt patches," factory
cutaways from clothing factories.

Box from an online auction, mostly woven pattern rather than prints.

1932 ad

Gloria Nixon's Collection

"Uniform Cut" patches might be more useful, here 6" squares folded
into triangles.

The boxes are so fragile, it's a wonder any have survived.

I think Silin's was an apron factory---circles probably machine-cut from their cut-aways.

The business model was practical. Clothing factories cut yardage to fit the human shape; left-over pieces were recycled as "factory cut-aways." The clothing company might market these in boxes and packages but it is more likely they sold them to "jobbers" who did the packaging and advertising.

1923 letterhead
for the Dexter thread mill

William L. M. Clark of St. Louis was a "jobber," a whole-sale merchant, working for the Collingbourne Mills in Elgin, Illinois before he went out on his own in St. Louis about 1920. He followed the same model Collingbourne did, using a Grandmotherly image to market needlework supplies, patterns and cutaways.

Collingbourne's image

We're focusing on boxes here rather than bundles or packages of scraps and I haven't seen any Grandma Dexter boxes.

UPDATE: Laura Lane found one advertised.

This red dotted box may have been the best seller.

1941 ad from a Penney's dry goods department

"My Quilting Box" seems to be a product of the 1940s and the World War II shortage of cotton fabrics. 

2 pounds for 39 cents. War's inflation

Mea Clift's collection

1946 ad=89 cents 

Gloria Nixon's Collection

Paula Cochrane found this ad, probably from
the early '40s. "A sturdy box that can be used
again and again." Yeah, right.

Paula Cochrane has another box marketed to children.

If we expand our collection to fabric other than cotton we find silk and rayon factory cutaways.

This one from Grandmother Clark.

The New England Quilt Museum owns a Canadian box.

T. Eaton Company Canada

It's certainly a good marketing idea but I doubt Moda is going to be ordering thousands of cardboard boxes with my newest William Morris line Morris Meadow. The Charm packaging, Layer Cakes etc. work just fine.

It would be so cute.

Do ask to join our Quilt History South group. We learn the most interesting things....