Monday, November 28, 2011

Wool Quilts - Fancy and Plain

Just in time for winter here in Minnesota, our Land of Lakes Study Group met last Saturday to study wool quilts. I guess it was fitting that the day also brought our first real snowstorm. We didn't get many inches but it always takes a bit of getting used to - and it was slippery out there. One of our out-state members reported taking one hour to go seven miles and seeing eleven vehicles in the ditch!

We saw quilts from the late 1800's to the present time. Mary Chalmers started us off  by sharing several of her award winning embroidered wool quilts. Several years ago she was inspired by article in an old quilt magazine and this is the result. She took off from there as you will see in the rest of her pieces! Who can tell where inspiration will take us!

She does beautiful work. Watch for her pieces at major shows in the future.

Vibrant Fan Variation

Mary pointed out that each block is really a pieced design and only the background is 'crazy'. The black sashing helps contain the excitement.

The effort put into making a special border pays off

I was excited to share this Churn Dash, a gift from long-time friends Sharon and Horace. I had admired it years ago as it hung on a wall in their home. Thanks to their urge to downsize (and a generous heart) it came to live with me.

The 15"  blocks are made of a variety of wools, wool blends, cottons and novelty weaves.
Simple embroidered feather stitching in either white or yellow outlines each shape.
Top-stitched binding

The back is pieced of colorful 8" squares; also in a variety of fabrics including blends, cottons, silks and wools.
Though it has quite a few condition issues, the graphic appeal and the vibrancy of the colors makes it an exciting piece.

My friend Judy let me show her beautiful family quilt. She believes it was made for her Grandparents for their wedding in 1916. The log cabin variation, known as 'Pineapple', is done on a foundation in a style sometimes called 'pressed' work. The generous 20" blocks are composed of 1/2" strips. Instead of pressing the seam all the way open, the fabric is folded back just enough to cover the seam allowance. This creates a slightly three dimensional look and adds some added texture. The back is a brown cotton print c. 1890. 
Notice that the center block is slightly different than the rest - a subtle medallion setting! And check out that border.
The 20" block
The 'pressed' fold

This classic Amish Diamond in a Square quilt with Pennsylvania provenance was shared by Donna. Made of fine wool crepe, the quilting is done with black thread. Quilts like this are not common in the general public - most have been snapped up by private collectors and museums.

Detail of fine double row quilting
Click to enlarge

Visible moth damage and the printed cotton backing
Kelly shared this interesting family quilt. The maker took the time to cut diamonds for her nine patch instead of the simpler squares - that meant working with bias edges - and then she set it all on point.

Gail shared this vibrant and graphic wool quilt which was bought as a top. Her daughter finished it by tying and gave it to her Dad for Christmas. It is used regularly.

Kim Baird, from Fargo, ND, has been involved with the quilt documentation project in her state and active in many quilt related activities since the late 1970's.
She is particularly interested in the fan variation often called Wagon Wheel and shared many variations with us via Powerpoint.

Here's a lovely example from the quilt index.

This one-of-a kind fan variation is called Crazy Fans and is in the Henry Ford museum. They do look like wheels, don't they?  It was made by Susan McCord.
c. 1895
We got a big laugh out of the story Kim told about Shrek, a sheep from New Zealand  that eluded the shears for six years. Apparently the poor thing finally gave up when he could no longer see! Click here for the full story. Fifty nine pounds of wool was the yield!

HEY! Where am I? And I thought that was MY dress!

And finally, a very utilitarian example from about 1950 which I slept under many times. It was made by our Aunt Agnes. I told you about her in the post about my Second Wedding Quilt.  And that's my sister posing in front of it.
Neither of us knows what happened to the quilt but we do both remember that it was very heavy and that it kept sliding off the bed because the back was something slippery. I guess we never thought about about using it face down!

If you have thought of wool quilts as strictly utilitarian - everyday rather than fancy - some of  these examples tell a different story. As a natural fiber, wool takes dyes beautifully and gives a lustrous appearance not to mention the instant warmth such a quilt provides.
On the down side, it is prone to moth damage, a bit more challenging to clean compared to cotton and working with wool does present some unique challenges. But.....I'm inspired to add 'Wool Quilt" to my list of things to try - how about you?

Next: Just Two Colors - My Latest Additions

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Textile Museum - Washington, DC

I just got back from Washington, DC. A week of walking and walking and walking. This was my third visit.  Every time I go I end up thinking about when I can come back because there is so much to see and do.

I was very happy with the Capitol tour, House and Senate galleries, Newseum, art gallery upon art gallery, monuments, memorials etc.....but I was needing a textile fix!

The Textile Museum, located in the Dupont Circle area and accessible by Metro, set my heart pounding for two reasons: 1) It's an uphill walk from the Metro - several blocks- and  2) The exhibits were wonderful.

Pictures were not allowed but you can visit their site click here to find more information not only about the mueseum and the current exhibits but a wonderful section on care of textiles including environmental care, proper storage and cleaning, when to consult a conservator and much more. 
Weaving AbstractionWeaving Abstraction: Kuba Textiles and the Woven Art of Central AfricaOctober 15, 2011 through February 12, 2012
Second LivesSecond Lives: the Age-Old Art of Recycling Textiles
February 4, 2011 through January 8, 2012
I expected to love the Second Lives exhibit but was actually more fascinated by the textiles from Central Africa. This was all new to me and the graphic appeal of the monochromatic textiles, the detailed history of their use in that culture and the unusual construction had me taking copious notes. The hardcover book was $110 and HEAVY so for both reasons I had to pass on that. 

The Smithsonian Museum of American Art had an exhibit on Folk Art. 

Two textiles were especially interesting to me. This denim embroidered piece was said to be made by Cora Meek of Illinois in 1986. 
I love how the various colors of denim as background to her colorful embroidery work together. It's hand quilted! That must have been some job.
I wanted so badly to touch it, see the back, find out if there was a fill or batting.

It is loaded with interesting motifs and I saw two dates. Perhaps she started in 1986 but finished in in 1997? The photo on the left says "C Meek 97".
Click to enlarge any photo.

...And this amazing muslin garment dated about 1949 and made by Alice Eugenia Ligon as a Christmas gift for her children while she was a patient at the Missouri State Hospital. She was there for an 'unspecified' condition and the accompanying description states that this was probably a hospital gown. She is said to have enjoyed sewing, crocheting and embroidery and covered every inch with "religious, patriotic, popular and personal portraits, vignettes and inscriptions."
Sleeves and hem are crocheted.

Graphic motifs in the architecture and decorative elements are everywhere. The tile floors, ceilings and wall designs are wonderful. I was probably the only person suddenly stopping  to take a  picture of the floor! 

This is a bit out of focus but I had to capture the Double Wedding Ring motif on the floor of the Congressional (Jefferson) Library which was built in 1897.
Somehow I manage to find textiles and related items everywhere I go!

Next:  Wool Quilts - Our November MN Study Group Topic

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Whirlwind Seminar - AQSG (Better Late than Never)

In September I attended my seventh AQSG seminar. It was held in Cherry Hill, New Jersey this year. I meant to post about it sooner but ... things sort of got away from me this fall.
I took four study centers and learned alot about regional characteristics in quilts of New York and New Jersey, Pennsylvania German bed covers (especially woven coverlets) and crib quilts. Our keynote speaker talked about Japanese quilts. Quite a smorgasbord's a small taste.

Many applique motifs were inspired by botanical forms and this design, documented almost exclusively from New York, may be related to the sassafras plant.  Notice the tree borders on both which are also associated with New York.

Crib quilts from the 19th century are relatively rare and therefore sought after ( and the market price reflects that scarcity).  These beauties are both c. 1830.These are the earliest examples I have had the opportunity to see.  Crib quilts at that time were made with the same fabrics and in the same style as quilts for larger beds. 

Crib and doll quilts, especially before 1900, are very collectible.

I am especially fond of the blue and white woven coverlets ...

...but who can resist a crib sized example - quite rare according to Trish Herr, the presenter. Multi-colored with eagles, roses and stars it is dated 1834.

Some characteristics of quilts from New Jersey are pieced blocks set on the diagonal with sashing, infrequent use of light background or setting squares and simple quilting. Taught by Rachel Cochran and Barbara Schaffer who were two of the women who wrote New Jersey Quilts 1777 - 1950 they used the term "Dark and Diagonal".

The Pennsylvania German aesthetic is unmistakable.  This table at  the Welcome Reception is a striking example.

A double blue print is used as the background color of the quilt below. Pink, green, red, orange, yellow... a colleague once remarked of the PA 'Dutch' look, "too much is never enough!"

If you are serious about quilt history think about supporting AQSG  by becoming a member and be sure to mark your calendars for Oct 3-7, 2012 for the next seminar to be held in Lincoln, Nebraska, home of the International Quilt Study Center.

You will not regret it!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Wool Bricks - Another One-Patch

I didn't crop this one ...
 thought you'd like to see a quilt with legs...
and fingers!
I forgot this one (and probably a few more!)
I brought it home from our cabin when we closed it up for the winter a few weeks ago.

I got it as a partial top along with a box of the rest of the wool rectangles - all pinked edges and the same size. Some had the paper still on the back from being pasted into a salesmens sample book. I suspect this is the origin of many brick quilts - the wool ones at least.

I added more rows alternating lights and darks until I ran out of lights. Now I wish I'd just used these extras up by doing a row or two around the whole thing in the medium/darks for a subtle border.

I backed it without a batting and tied it, originally with cotton embroidery thread which I must have tied wrong because they started coming out. I then started replacing those with red wool...but am not thrilled with that either. I did a blanket stitch around the outer edge. Definitely a utility quilt... My son grabs this first when he hits the couch - it really is instant warmth.

November 18th our Land of Lakes Quilt Study Group topic is wool quilts. I love them and think they are largely under-appreciated.  I'll share more about that meeting soon.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Won-derful One Patches - A Quilt Show

All of these quilts are from my collection and are made with just one template shape. From simple to complex, I enjoy seeing what can be achieved within that limitation. I've included some close-ups as well as the full quilt because I love studying the fabrics. You can click any image for an even closer look.
Vintage first........

Squares - Random                                                      1890-1920        5.5" squares

The fabric band across the top is sometimes called a 'whisker guard'. It's been tacked over those top few rows to project the quilt from getting soiled or abraded with beards and body oils. It can be easily removed for washing. I think it's a great idea. I often see it on vintage wool quilts which were not washed. It would also keep the scratchy wool from your face.

I won it at the AQSG silent auction in Minnesota last fall; a donation from the Sally Garoutte collection.

Though very plain and utilitarian in design, it has many really interesting fabrics! It is  unused and unwashed. I think it has a wool batting. 

These papers were pinned to the back.  It appears that Sally (or someone) got it in Flint, MI in 1973 for $15. I thought I got a great deal on the price but I did pay more than that!

Squares - Random
67" x 82"  
I know I've shown this one before but it IS a one patch. Squares are sewn in 4-patch units
                                                                               c. 1950  Fun Fabrics!

Squares -Trip Around the World 
c. 1945
67" x 84"                                                                        More Fun Fabrics!!

Hexagons  - Billions and billions of hexagons! I didn't realize I had so many examples!
Grandmother's Flower Garden                        
c. 1930  
72" x 86"                    
Hexagons measure1/2" on a side

Random Hexagons 
c. 1885
75" x 88"

Almost a charm quilt - only two duplicates found to date; a brown print  (that took over a year to find! ) and one and a half 'cheddar' solids.

More and more hexagons ....

Fancy Hexagons
Velvets, velveteens, satins and silks.

This unfinished fragment was done in the English paper pieced style still has the papers in place on the outer edges. You can see the basting

Crib and Doll Examples

Grandmother's Flower Garden Crib Quilt
34" x 42"

This somewhat atypical arrangement of colors creates stars (squint) but only hexagons are used.

I  don't see too many of this popular Depression era style in crib size.

Simple Squares
22" square
c. 1950

This little quilt is reversible. It's been used and loved. It has no batting.

Squares - Checkerboard
Hand quilted
c. 1940
34" x 42"

The combination of a two color quilt in a simple checkerboard arrangement is always effective. Quilters today don't use plain solids like they did years ago but I like them.

Add even very basic quilting and you have a classic.


Doll Quilt
10" x 14"
c. 1980

Dolly Quilt
15" x 22"

I use this as a cover for my sewing machine. It's a perfect size.

And a few that I've made:
47" x 63"
I used fabrics from an internet swap of 5" squares. There are lots of plaids and checks but I thought the addition of calico prints made it more interesting.

Trip Around the World 
50" x 66"

 Made for a long time friend who loved to travel but was unable to do so - she was battling cancer. 

29" square

 I used a packet of squares from a quilt shop promotion for this one patch. I saw an project in a magazine where you cut the squares diagonally and make two identical piles and then arranged them to make two quilts. I thought it would be fun to see how different the results can be using exactly the same triangles. Well, it really would be fun to see - maybe someday I'll get the other one done!

In Progress:

 This is another doll size quilt - I'm auditioning borders now. The squares are 1" finished. I love using the little leftovers.

It was inspired by a quilt I saw ...somewhere!
Do you have tons of photos of quilts you want to make?

Here's one of the bulletin boards in my sewing room.

Oh - I almost forgot the very first quilt I ever made!!!

Another Trip Around the World; this time in rainbow colors for my first born son, the one wrapped up in it! We had limited fabric choices for quilting in1976. Solids are poly blends and of course a poly batting. It's tied at the intersections. And here are my two little darlings enjoying it! That's what it's all about!!

The Tumbler quilt in my last post started all this. There are many more shapes used than I have in my collection.
How many one-patch quilts are in your collection?