Sunday, May 1, 2011

State Birds and Flowers: A Special Embroidered Quilt

Quilts have a habit of popping up in the most unexpected places.
This beauty was proudly displayed in a rest stop along Interstate 76 near Julesburg, Colorado. (I’ll show you one I found on a wall in a shoe store later!)
Over 40 volunteers embroidered the blocks. Esther Hinde designed the pony express rider and Rosemary Lechman hand quilted the entire quilt. When my friend Rosie Werner did a presentation for our quilt study group in Minnesota a few years ago, I learned that there have been many variations of embroidered state bird and flower quilts over the last eighty years or so. In fact patterns are still being published. You can a get a pattern for this quilt from Aunt Martha.
( By the way, Rosie has become recognized as an expert on 'kit' quilts of all types. Her website is designed to share her research and is updated as new knowledge is found. She will be presenting a Study Center on this very topic at the next AQSG seminar in New Jersey this fall.) 




Most quilts of this type are done on squares or rectangles. This particular example is a bit unusual in that the blocks are hexagons and both the bird and flower are shown as well as the year that state joined the union and the order of admission to the union.





 The ladies chose to feature the Pony Express as the central focus of their quilt because Julesburg was on the Pony Express route from Missouri to California in 1860-1861.
The original pattern shows the United States map in the middle of the quilt and was even referred to as the State Educational  Quilt in advertisements for two different pattern designs. If anyone out there has a quilt or photo of one that has the US in the center I'd love to see it.
I found that I happen to have two versions of the United States map transfer. This Vogart pattern is for state birds. The blue transfer pattern may go with this. 


 This red example would have been published later as it  includes Alaska and Hawaii. Alaska became the 49th state in January of 1959 with Hawaii following close behind, also in 1959. Clues like this help us date patterns which are seldom dated on the package. 
I find the directions included on vintage patterns interesting. The back of this pattern suggests a running stitch 1/4" apart or backstitching for quilting and advises not to knot the thread.

  Digging around in my 'stuff', I also found this complete set of 48  state bird and flower blocks- stamped in green and ready to embroider. I can't remember how I acquired them.
A few more blocks; these are already embroidered. 
Courtesy of Rosie Werner.
A few more quilt examples


 Of course, once a pattern has been published it can be used from then on so dating a specific quilt  requires more study unless the maker has been diligent and dated her handiwork.
I've often thought that any one topic could become a lifetime study – or at least a focus for one year – but my interests are many ......so I gallop along, kicking up the dust far and wide, unwilling to be reined in.


Giddyap......


14 comments:

  1. Very informative Jean!
    Looking forward to what and where you found other quilts.
    Thank you for sharing.

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  2. These embroidered quilts were really popular in my area of the south...see a lot of them! Unfortunately most are either still patially finished blocks or summer spreads.

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  3. An elderly friend gave my mother the embroidered blocks (48) for this quilt about 15 years ago. She and her mother made 10 of the quilts for her brothers and sisters one Christmas; hers never got finished.

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  4. She made 10 of them! Wow....and sad to think her own didn't get finished. But the fun is in the making so she had plenty of fun! Jean

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  5. I am interested in your unfinished blocks. Do you know where I could purchase that pattern?

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    1. I don't - other than checking Google, Ebay etc occasionally. It would be a vintage pattern - not currently in the market. I tried to reply privately to your note but you are a 'no reply' blogger so could not do it.

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  6. I am interested in your unfinished squares. Do you know where I could purchase the pattern?

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  7. I bought embroidered squares on eBay and am adding to them so that the state, the flower, and the bird are all shown as well as the (unabbreviated) names of all three. I am making one for my granddaughter and one for my grandson--his has the date and number for entering the union as well. I had to remake a few squares to show the current state bird, and some of these have changed. I also had to add one missing state and Alaska and Hawaii. I bought transfer patterns on eBay as well to help. Lots of fun!

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    1. Thanks for sharing your ambitious project idea. Very thoughtful and creative. Stop back soon to see a new post. I've been delinquent lately!

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  8. Hi I found the states my mother embroidered, the stars she set on white background and all the red cut outs for the borders and inserts in March 2015. She had finished the embroidery of each state in april 1994. She died this March, 2015 and i found all the parts. I put the quilt together last month. I was looking for ideas about how to quilt it and i found this site. So cool. I sent it via email. I guess i cannot upload it here.!

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  9. Ok I don't know if the last blog post got entered. I recently finished piecing this quilt together. My mother had embroidered all the states and made the star pieces along with cutting the red for borders. I found it after she died in March 2015. I put it together last Month. I was looking for a way to quilt it so it looked really nice. I found this sight. My mother's quilt has the map of the US in the center. I tried to upload the picture but could not. I did send an email to you. Very cool!!

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    1. Yes. Linda I did see it and publish it! I am so happy that you found it helpful and congratulations on finishing your mother's work! Photo did come to my private email and I was delighted to see it. I hope you can see the quilting on this example well enough to be of some help. I suspect it is what the pattern suggested. Just when I was thinking I would quit blogging because it takes so much time and I don't feel many people read it - you write and make me happy that I can be of some help to other quiltmakers! Perhaps this will get me going again. I have a few things to share and talk about - just not making time to do it.

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  10. Linda Miller, is it possible for you to email me a picture of the quilt you finished? I bought a quilt top on Saturday with the 59 states, birds and flowers. It was badly made, so I disassembled it today and will remake it and quilt it. Mrswings2@hotmail.com
    Thanks

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Thanks for adding your comments!