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The History of the Olympics…and Quilts

I watched the Olympics this last week with interest–yes, there was some yelling going on at my house as we cheered our favorite athletes to victory.  My mind and the internet combine with, sometimes, curious results.  I originally thought that I would write about quilts and the Olympics.  For example, during the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, each athlete received a quilt, pictures of which are published in this book:  Olympic Quilts.  However, I thought I’d go a little further back in time to the 17th century.  Yes, there were Olympick Games in Cotswald, England starting in 1622, the games included sledgehammer throwing, horse racing, jumping, fencing, and, my personal favorite, shin-kicking.  I had no idea that shin-kicking was a sport, I thought it was just a game we played in school while waiting for the bus to pick us up.  Yes, it is real and it is still played today…they even have a Youtube video:

Padding the shins in ‘modern’ shin-kicking is seen as essential–the sport has set aside the more extreme elements of the rules such as steel toed boots and winning by breaking the leg of the opponent.  Likewise padding was seen as essential in many of the fashion trends of the 17th through 19th centuries.  Waistcoats and petticoats for women and doublet’s for men were quilted both for warmth and to show off the wealth and status of the wearer.  In fact, some of the earliest quilts in the Americas were items of clothing.

Men’s Doublet 1635-1640, Victoria and Albert Museum
Women’s Waistcoat, quilted silk satin, ca. 1700. Collection of Colonial Williamsburg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These quilted pieces were valued by their owners and were recorded in household inventories and wills.  I get inspiration from looking at many of these items.  Of course on cold winter days here in Wisconsin I often yearn to wear a silk quilted petticoat!!

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On the Longarm today….Fall is coming

Today I finished this beautiful fall quilt sampler with a wonderful oak leaf pattern by Kim Diamond.  Th!e autumn colors make me want to snuggle into this quilt with a warm cup of tea (at least for a minute or two–it’s in the 90s and humid).  I know that soon the trees will be losing their leaves and temperatures will drop.  This quilt is big!  120″x 122″!!  The quiltmaker did a beautiful job keeping the points in the quilt pointy and the seams matching where they were supposed to match.  IMG_2002

I chose an edge to edge design which reflected the season of the color palette, which would allow the piecing to be the ‘star’ of the show and which would give the quilt a soft and cuddly texture.

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You can see the oak leaves and meander on the back of the quilt.  On the front of the quilt the quilting only shows in the borders where it adds texture and movement to the piece.

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Are you ready for fall?  I’m sending my youngest son off to college in the next couple of weeks–I’m not sure I’m old enough for that to happen yet! (lol.)  Enjoy your quilting adventure!!

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Quilts with Rounded Corners

I sometimes see quilts with rounded corners come across my appraisal table.  The gently curved bound corner is as tricky to sew as a mitered corner.  I tried curved corners on my ‘We Support You’ quilt which you can read about here.IMG_1278020415_1

The curve is easy to accomplish with the aid of a binding cut on the bias.  The bias tape should lay flat with no puckers and the corner shouldn’t pull the corner of the quilt toward the front or back.  I also would recommend curving your corners if you want to use the binding attachment on your sewing machine.

According to Barbara Brackman there are not many quilts made prior to the 20th century with bias binding, yet there are many examples of curved corners.  I wondered if the number of curved corners in the 20th century increased as a result of the use of bias binding, so I went to the Quilt Index to find out.  The Quilt Index has a huge database of many quilts from all time periods.  We can thank the many volunteers who have collected pictures and information through state documentation projects, museums, and collections.  In addition the many organizations who have funded this massive project.  It is a wonderful resource for both information and inspiration; and a great place to browse through on a lazy summer afternoon!

19th century quilts from online auctions with rounded corners.

I started my quest by doing a search on ’rounded corners’.  The results came back with close to 900 quilts!  Since I wanted to compare the trends between 10 year periods of time, I removed those quilts with no dates, no images, and duplicates from the search results.  I also deleted from the search the quilts with shaped edges, i.e. scalloped, jagged, zig-zags, notched; and the quilts which were not shaped like a rectangle or square, i.e. octagons and circles.  Removing those quilts from my search results brought the number of quilts with rounded corners down to approximately 500.  I was very surprised by the small proportion of quilts in the index which have rounded corners. I guess I’m in the minority who think that rounded corners are easier to sew!!!  20160812

Next, I compared the percentage of quilts with rounded corners across the decades to the total number of quilts from those decades.  I expected the percentage of quilts with rounded corners to increase in the 20th century because using bias binding became more common.  I know that I’ve seen more quilts from the 1930’s with rounded corners, but I think that is because I’ve seen more quilts from that period of time.

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In the chart above, notice how the number of quilts entered into the Quilt Index varies a great deal by decade.  You can see the peaks of the 1880/90, 1920/30, and the 1970/80 quilt revivals.  According to the chart above, the percentage of quilts with rounded corners entered into the Quilt Index has not changed over time.  We may think that rounded corners increase in the twentieth century simply because we see more quilts from that period of time.  I did find that there were more scalloped, zig zag, and jagged quilts from the 20th century.

20th century quilts from online auctions with rounded corners.

I’ve run across certain blogs that say that rounded corners in an antique quilt are an indication that the quilt is from the southern United States.  I did a ‘quick and dirty’ look through the Quilt Index and found that there did not appear to be a relationship between rounded corners and region where the quilt was made.  However, the search form does not allow a specific search for ‘location made’ and ’rounded corners’, so I searched through the entire index using ’rounded corners state’.  This method appeared to be working until I got to Michigan…a great number of quilts have ‘Michigan’ in their records because that is where the Quilt Index is housed–University of Michigan.  My curiosity was frustrated!  I would be interested to know if anyone has further insight and evidence into regional differences and rounded corners.

In the meantime, I’m thinking up future searches of the Quilt Index and many more hours looking at beautiful quilts.

Have fun on your quilting adventure!

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On my longarm today….(a blast from the past)

I have a quilting bucket list and this log cabin quilt checked off one of the items on that bucket list.  Looking back helps gives me (re)inspiration for some of the quilts I’m making today.  In this log cabin, made entirely from scraps, I used a central red square, scrappy white/off white shirting, and darker scrappy logs.

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I loved quilting this on my longarm because I was able to use different quilting designs in each of the diagonal sections of the triangles.  I used a design by Kathy “Beany” Balmart at Quilty Pleasures from her Cascade bundle.

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I loved trying it out on my log cabin.  Designs like this would work really well on many pieced blocks which have strong diagonal lines across the quilt top.  Do you have one in your bucket list?

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Political Quilting

Quilters have been using quilts to express their political views long before women were given the right to vote, August 18, 1920.  I designed the quilt above to illustrate some of the block  patterns which have been named after political parties, political candidates, and political issues in the history of the United States.

Tippecanoe and Tyler Too

The above quilt block is known by several names, one of which is Tippecanoe and Tyler Too!, a political slogan in the 1840 election of Harrison, whose nick name was Tippecanoe, and Tyler against Van Buren.  The slogan reminded the voters of Harrison’s victory in 1811 over the Indians at the battle of Tippecanoe.  It was one of the first campaigns which used songs and slogans to encourage voters, you can find a recording of the song here.

Whig Rose

The Rose of Sharon (biblical name) or Whig’s Rose was named after a political party which was formed in the 1828 election against Democrat, Andrew Jackson.  The Whig party did not survive much past the 1852 election, but the name endures.  The party was severely hurt by the deaths of Henry Clay and Daniel Webster.  It also fell apart along pro- and anti-slavery lines.

Clay's Choice

Henry Clay had his own quilt block, Clay’s Choice.  He was very active in U.S. politics for about 30 years and held staunch anti-slavery views.  His ‘choice’ was to be morally right rather than elected to the presidency.  Henry Clay ran against Democrat James Polk, a relative unknown, and was defeated, in part, due to Polk’s campaign slogan. Polk’s slogan 54°40′ or Fight! refers to the dispute with Canada over the placement of the border in the Oregon Territory, we eventually agreed on a border at the 49° parallel.  The block below gets its name from this slogan.

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Nancy Cabot designed the “Little Giant” quilt block below to show her admiration of Steven Douglas, a man known for his short stature, but great energy and vitality.  He ran for President against Republican Abraham Lincoln.

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Lincoln and Douglas participated in a several debates during the election for the Senate seat in Illinois in 1858.  The issues debated would become important when Lincoln, after losing to Douglas, ran for President in 1860.

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Of course, quilters also named several quilt blocks after President Lincoln.  One of several is the following, Mr. Lincoln’s Platform.

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In 1932, the Kansas City Star’s E. Flogan designed two quilt blocks, Giddap (a donkey) and Ararat (an elephant, named after an elephant in the Kansas City zoo).  The two blocks have been used in quilts to symbolize the two political parties, Democrat and Republican, respectively.

One last picture of a quilt block with a political name is the Free Trade block.  It is certainly an issue which has endured through many presidential elections.

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Will you make a quilt with a political message?

Enjoy your quilting adventure!

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On the longarm today…Swoon

I feel like I should be putting one hand on my forehead and one on my heart as I sink gracefully onto a fainting couch.  But, no, it isn’t that kind of a swoon, the quilt on my longarm today is made using the pattern, Swoon, by Camille Roskelley.  It is a wonderful pattern which is well written and easy to make.  There are many ways to quilt a Swoon quilt top and for, me, that is one of the challenges–because I want to try them all!!  For this quilt, I chose a block pattern from One Song Needle Arts which would lay nicely in the block, emphasizing the different segments of the block, and yet be a cohesive design.  I always try to add ways which cause a viewer to look at a quilt and find interest from across the room, from closer, and then from closer still.  One way to do that is to lay a quilting design on top of the quilt so that it doesn’t follow the piecing exactly, but it emphasizes it.

As I design a quilt layout, I look for designs which repeat motifs found in the fabric, in the piecing and/or in the applique.  For the Swoon quilt I noticed that several fabrics had circles, and that several had flowers.  I chose to combine several different flowers by Anita Shackelford for the sashing.

I was very pleased with the way that the quilting turned out.

Now is a great time to get started on Christmas gift piecing.  I can guarantee that any quilt sent to me for quilting in August will be quilted before Christmas (custom or edge to edge).

Have a great quilting adventure!!

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Red and Green Applique Deliciousness

Ooh!  I love Red and Green Applique quilts and this one is a beauty.  It is from central Missouri and features Rose and Rosebud variation blocks set on point with a sashing.  Stems in the border are made from a 2-step green fabric, which is printed yellow and then printed with blue or the reverse.

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Two very different shades of pink printed fabric make up the roses, one is a polka dot variation (perhaps from madder, because of it’s more ‘cinnamon’ shade)  and the other is a printed double pink.IMG_1979

The corners are cut out to allow the quilt to lay nicely on a 4-poster bed.  Quilting in the sashing strips is 1/2 inch diagonal lines and in the blocks the quilting is a 1/2 inch grid–all by hand through cotton batting.  The difference between the two very similar, but different quilting designs adds subtle texture and structure to the quilt, which you can see in the picture below.IMG_1975

I found some additional red and green applique quilts from online auctions:

I also did a Pinterest search which you can find here.  In addition, I searched the Quilt Index and found these quilts. I’d love to see your quilt treasures on my appraisal table, I have appointments available, please either comment below or email me to set a date and time.

Enjoy your quilting adventure!!

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