Saturday, November 25, 2023

Swag Borders


Recently noticed this swag border anchored by hearts
in a mid-19th-century quilt in an online auction. I
 hadn't seen that border with the hearts before.
Notice it's only along one side; on the other three sides
 the swag is pinned with a circle.
Print this pattern out for a 9" swag.
That could be useful.

I've got a small idea file for scalloped/swag borders:

Some of which have odd numbers of scallops.

And some even.
Double scallops

Seamstresses in Baltimore often added a dogtooth appliqued edge.

What sewing show-offs they were!

Monday, November 20, 2023

"The Patchwork Quilt:" 1845

Photograph of a mill operative, once in the collection of the 
Museum of American Textile History, photo
now perhaps at the University of Massachusetts/Lowell libraries

The young women who worked in the textile mills in Lowell, Massachusetts in the early 1840s spent their days at machines in the noisy cloth manufactories and their evenings in literary pursuits, producing for a few years The Lowell Offering, a magazine of their writing.

Women holding bobbins, about 1870
University of Massachusetts/Lowell libraries

From Harriet Hanson Robinson's history: Early Factory Labor in New England, 1889

Harriet Hanson Robinson (1825-1911)

Volume #5 of the Lowell Offering published a four-page feature, "The Patchwork Quilt," signed Annette, a nom de plume used by both editor Harriett Farley and Rebecca C. Thompson.

Annette used the patchwork quilt with a "copperplate" print star in the center to recall memories of learning to sew, clothing scraps and their family associations. The patchwork top was finished when she and her younger sister prepared it for the quilting party as the sister's wedding approaches. That sister too soon dies of consumption with the wedding quilt returning to Annette.

Harriet Farley Dunlevy (1817-1907)
from a biography in the American Phrenological Journal 1853

Most sources consider Harriet Farley the author of "The Patchwork Quilt." A look at her family history reveals that a sister Elizabeth Farley Dustin, three years younger, had died of tuberculosis at 24 a year before the article appeared.

Sometime in the 1850s Harriet married widowed printer and publisher John Haye Donlevy (born in Ireland about 1820-1872.) She lived in New York the rest of her life, mother to several stepchildren including Alice Heighes Donlevy (1846-1929) who became a well-known artist and educator. The famous patchwork quilt was probably used and used up by those children.

Harriet's obituary from the Brooklyn Eagle, 1907
She and her husband are buried in Brooklyn's Greenwood Cemetery.

Read "The Patchwork Quilt" here:


Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Atlanta Garden BOM: One More Block to Go


Jeanne Arnieri's Atlanta Garden

The year is winding down and so is the pieced Block-of-the-Month we've been stitching over at my CivilWarQuilts blog.

The 11th of twelve blocks for Atlanta Garden was posted on November 8th. Each month in 2023 I've posted a free pattern for a simple nine-patch. Links:

Teresa Wood's blocks

The historical stories each month are drawn from a diary in the digital files of the Atlanta Historical Society kept by Carrie Mabry Berry (1854-1921), daughter of a well-to-do builder in a growing city. By the time she was seven the Civil War had commenced. When Sherman's siege of Atlanta began in 1864 she was ten and her father bought her a diary. Her first entry:
"The shells we dread. One has busted under the dining room."

Carrie's family seem to have been Union spies---at the least active Union sympathizers ---a fascinating under story.

Read Carrie's diary from August 1864 till 1866 here:


The transcript:


Denniele Bohannon's
The "official set" alternated a basic nine-patch to link the blocks.

Denniele's granddaughter Addie's

Becky Collis's in repro prints

Becky Brown's (No alternate nine patches)
It's an "I Spy" with pictures in the blocks' centers

Becky's friend Brenda's

Rondi Leslie's

Many more reader blocks at our Facebook group: AtlantaGardenQuiltBOM:

You can buy the pattern package with rotary instructions for Atlanta Garden's 12 blocks in my Etsy Shop:

Friday, November 10, 2023

1923: Quilts A Century Ago


Quilt in blue & white solids from eBay dealer GB-Best in Pennsylvania

While 2023 is slipping away we should go back 100 years and see what quilters
were doing in 1923. It was the Jazz Age, five years after the end of World War I
and quilts were being made from the available fabrics.

Blue and white was popular---these two would be hard
to date if they weren't labeled.

Here's another blue & white, a rather dyslexic Drunkard's Path.
The blues and the whites are primarily prints.
A very fashionable fabric choice from about 1890 on.
I'd have dated this top as 1900-1920
But Rachel H. Souders Van Nostrand (1843-1924) dated it 1923.
She married George W. Van Nostrand in 1860 in Sandyville, Tuscarawas County, Ohio.
She's buried in Pocatello, Idaho, which may be where she stitched this quilt in her 80s.

Here's another Drunkard's Path variation I'd have guessed was earlier.

Pieced of a double pink print and white.

And a claret red print with white striped shirting.
Not 1900-1920 but 1923

According to the file at the Rhode Island project
& the Quilt Index this one is dated 1923 and initialed J.K.

Black on white mourning prints in a small nine patch
dated on the red backing 1923 with Morris Moore's name.

It would seem that in 1923 quilt style was the same as it had been for the last 25 years or so.
I'll have to estimate a date of 1890-1925 on this popular fabric combination---the blues, grays and claret reds.

Some late blooming appliques:

Dated 1923 in the quilting

Crazy quilts dated 1923

Ladies of the Old Dow School, Michigan
Michigan project & the Quilt Index

The world war had been over for several years but the economic world had not recovered. Germany's economy was in a dire situation and they'd lost their dye patents as reparations. The Allies who'd been awarded those patents were experimenting with new technology but hadn't made any significant advances that trickled down to the dry goods department yet.

Wisconsin project
New ideas were percolating.
Rosanna Cookerly Rogers made a "Colonial Rose" in pastels and dated it 1923. Her source may have been Martha Washington Patchwork which published the pattern in the teens.

Many Colonial Rose quilts were made from kits of cotton sateeen, which
was not too colorfast.

Old-fashioned patchwork; new-fashion pastel pink.
F.M.W. 1923, Arizona Project

Old fashioned fabric; new-fashion applique friendship pattern that
would become quite popular in the 1930s.

A faded crib quilt---those new pastels don't appear to be too reliable yet.

E.A.W. Jr.
I don't know much about kits but it looks similar to this larger kit quilt.
Could it be as old as 1923?

1923 friendship quilt 
Kansas Project & the Quilt Index

A hundred years ago quilt design was in transition as was quilting's popularity.
Ten years later in 1933 there'd be an explosion of interest in the craft as
new, reliable fabrics in plains and prints inspired new ideas.