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.
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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!!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Of course, quilters also named several quilt blocks after President Lincoln. One of several is the following, Mr. Lincoln’s Platform.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
For the last many years Bonnie Hunter does a mystery quilt starting right after Thanksgiving and ending at Christmas. I’ve wanted to play along for several years, but this year I did it! I kept up, mostly, until the last week when we welcomed out of town guests (my parents); my washing machine died; I discovered that my 1/4″ seam allowance wasn’t correct; and I needed fabric for the borders and backing. Once the holidays were over, I took out the seams which were incorrect and found a black fabric with a hint of sparkle for the border. Allietare! means to rejoice and I’m thrilled to add this quilt to my collection. Bonnie’s directions were very clear, even down to which direction to press seams, and I didn’t have any bulky seam intersections, which can be difficult for the longarm to go through.
Bonnie’s inspiration photos for the quilt and its color scheme which I mostly followed, were from her trip to Italy. I also took a trip to Italy (as a student), so I chose my memories of the marble in churches and cathedrals as my inspiration for the fabric in the quilt. Many of the fabrics have a bit of metallic shine or luster like the beautiful mosaics I saw. I was so impressed and surprised by the spectacular cathedral in Sienna, Italy, that I still remember it today, many years later. The unique multicolored stonework, inside and out, was a great inspiration for this quilt–it kept me sewing through frustration (at myself) and it inspired me to be accurate and thoughtful in my design choices.. The fabric in the quilt is almost entirely from my stash, and with the exception of the black border. (Un)fortunately, my stash still is too large–I will just have to make more quilts!!
Although I love to custom quilt my own quilts (and clients’ quilts too!). I decided that I wanted to try to do an edge to edge design, but arrange the designs so that it would look like a whole-cloth design. I really liked the Twisted Plumage design by Naomi Hynes. The quilting lets the piecing take a starring role when viewing the quilt top, but the quilting certainly becomes the main event on the back of the quilt.
I finished the outside edge of the quilt with a wavy edge and bound it with a bias binding.
I have three inspirations for today’s blog, first I cannot help but be saddened by all of the violence and death in the news these last several months. Noticing the flag at half staff in memory of fallen citizens and police officers has become such a normal part of my day that I wonder if the flag will ever go up to the top of the flag pole again. Thinking about our nation’s mourning rituals led me to think of the black and white ‘mourning’ prints common in quilts of the 1890’s. I also recently found the black and white quilt, above, which is made almost entirely of mourning prints from about 1890. I thought that the quilt could easily be the source of inspiration for some of the contemporary quilts and fabrics I’ve recently seen in shows and online.
I am really excited to share with you some of my research regarding the 1890’s black and white fabrics and the resulting quilts. To understand why these fabrics were called mourning prints it is necessary to look back into the history of the Victorian age and the customs relating to death. In 1861, Queen Victoria’s husband died of typhoid (as it was diagnosed at the time by his doctors) or, according to some recent research, un-diagnosed Crohn’s Disease (a disease which the Victorians did not know about). After his death, the Queen fell into deep mourning. At the time mourning rituals were strictly followed and, as Queen Victoria had strongly influenced fashion prior to Prince Albert’s death, so she also influenced mourning customs and fashions after his death.
In my very unscientific poll of fashion plates found with my browser’s search engine, I found that the number of black dresses increased steadily throughout the 1860’s, a time during which there was a great deal of loss of life here in the United States due to the Civil War and several epidemics, e.g. diphtheria (1870), cholera (1866), smallpox (1860-61), typhoid (1865) and yellow fever (1855, 2000 dead, and 1878, 20,000 dead). In fact most of the men fighting in the war who died, did so, not as a result of hostile fire, but as a result of many of the diseases which ran unchecked in close and unsanitary living conditions.
The black dresses on the above fashion plates show mourning attire, the first plate was from 1866 and the second from 1885. Note that although they are black dresses , they have many of the same embellishments, laces and ruffles as the more colorful dresses beside them. The European fashion for mourning dress certainly made it across the Atlantic to the United States. For example, in 1862 Mary Todd Lincoln’s mourning dress after the death of her son William Wallace Lincoln, from typhoid, is similar to that of Queen Victoria:
Like Queen Victoria, after Lincoln was assassinated in 1865 Mary Todd Lincoln wore black for the rest of her life. Throughout the 1860’s, 1870’s, and 1880’s mourning fashions continued to become more and more complicated with additional stages to mourning and with articles of clothing required for each stage. I can only imagine how expensive it must have become for families to progress from black wool, silks, and velvet with heavy crepe veils and then to half-mourning grays and lastly purples. If a family could not afford the more expensive fabrics, they would re-work or over-dye older apparel.
In the 1890’s women’s fashion changed dramatically. Dresses lost much of the crinoline, the bustle, and the extremes of dangerous corsets (although corsets did remain). Although logwood with chromium was used as a black dye for silk and leather, most 19th century black dyes were very unstable, especially for cotton. Before a stable black dye was developed for cotton, madder or indigo was used to dye fabric as close to black as the dyer could make it, usually with toxic mordants and over-application of dye–making very, very dark blue or brown. These ‘blacks’ were subject to crocking (rubbing off), fading, and the strong mordants caused fabric to disintegrate over time. In 1890 a new black dye suitable for cotton was introduced onto the market and its use soared. Here is an advertisement for cotton sateen from the 1893 Montgomery Ward catalog:
Mourning and half-mourning became more affordable for everyone and the number of black and white calico fabrics increased. Women used these calicos for aprons (see photos below found here), shirtwaists (blouses), and dresses which could stand up to repeated washing and hard work.
Unfortunately, although the new black dye appeared to be stable, we now know otherwise: it was made with a compound containing sulfur, and, when washed, the sulfur in the dye combined with water and became sulfuric acid. The sulfuric acid did not appear to cause harm to the wearer, but it is one of the reasons why we see this type of fabric disintegrating in the places where it was printed with black.
The black and white (with a little tan) quilt is made with blocks named St. Paul, published by Hearth and Home, according Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns. The magazine was printed between 1895 and 1930. I love how the blocks are arranged in the quilt to create a secondary lattice pattern which helps the eye move around the quilt. The fabrics are typical of mourning prints, and I don’t believe the quilt was washed frequently because all of the fabrics are intact with little to no signs of disintegration. Here are some other examples of mourning prints:
If you feel inspired to make a black and white quilt, I’ve collected a very partial and somewhat random assortment of fabric collections below:
Black and White, Cotton and Steel
Modern Backgrounds, Moda
Ink Modern Background, Zen Chic, Fat Quarter Shop
Black and White, 10″ squares, Keepsake Quilting
Dot and Dash, Riley Blake
I couldn’t resist showing you this eerie shot of the quilt. Today we have scorching temperatures and very high humidity, when we went outside to take the photos the lens of my camera fogged up. I did not notice until after I took this shot.
I’m going to think of this as my ‘ghost’ quilt. If you have any vintage or antique quilts which haven’t been appraised please contact me thru the website. I have appraisal appointments available in my schedule.
Each quiltmaker trusts me to enhance their quilt with quilting. I feel both blessed to have that trust and a bit nervous as well. I feel the nerves especially when receiving a vintage or antique top to complete. I collaborate with my client to make several decisions about an antique/vintage top:
Is the fabric sturdy enough to stand up to the machine needle and thread? Are the seams put together well? Are there areas on the quilt top which need to be mended?
Would the quilt top’s value as a historical artifact decrease if quilted? If so, can I do something to stabilize it so that it’s structure will last?
Which quilting design would both respect the time period in which the top was completed and give a nod to today? Many times economic factors prevent people having vintage/antique quilts from being custom quilted, is there a less expensive alternative which would still respect the original time period?
The quilt maker, who gave me this beautiful redwork quilt to finish, found these beautiful blocks among her grandmother’s things, including the block labeled 1932. It is such a wonderful block to include in this quilt because it documents when the blocks were made along with the family history regarding the blocks and the maker.
Redwork embroidery became popular just as the fad for crazy quilts was waning during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Women entrepreneurs contributed to the spread of its popularity, both as pattern designers and pattern markers. Mothers frequently purchased ‘penny’ squares, squares of cotton with a stamped design, to practice embroidery skills or to give to their children for practice. As the 20th century progressed, designs were distributed in collections, such as States, Presidents, State Birds and Flowers, Fairy Tales, Colonial, and, of course, Sunbonnet Sue. People collected the blocks and then placed them in quilts. You can see more red work examples here. There are also blue work quilts, embroidered with blue thread, over many of the same designs.
I chose to do a ‘Baptist’ (or ‘Lutheran’ or ‘Methodist’) fan pattern and quilted right on top of the embroidery. Fortunately, I could quilt through the embroidery because it laid flat and tight to the background. The fan pattern was frequently used was a very popular design during the 1930’s and throughout history. It is one of the easiest patterns for a hand quilter to do because it requires little, to no, marking. One simply uses the elbow as a pivot point on a compass to form the fan shape:To hand quilt a fan start in the position indicated by the light pink forearm in the image above, continue moving the forearm, with the elbow fixed in place, until the forearm is in the position of the dark pink forearm. Tie off the thread, move your elbow (stretching helps) and then place the elbow and arm to do the next line of stitching. Machine quilting a fan is a little bit trickier because it involves either multiple tie-offs or tracing previously stitched lines. On a domestic machine you can mark one of the fan lines and then use a walking foot to quilt it. For subsequent lines in the fan use the walking foot guide to keep lines spaced correctly. On my longarm the fan design requires a little extra set up and a quilt top which is square so that it begins and ends at the same points from side to side of the quilt.
Here is a last look at the darling bunny on the quilt. I wonder if he will share those carrots?
I love quilting baby quilts and this sweet pattern with small Churn Dash blocks is no exception. I wanted the quilting to reflect the vintage pattern and the retro feel of the fabric. The blocks were 6 inches square, which is about half the size of a standard block (12″). It would look funny if a quilting pattern designed for a 12″ block was used on a 6′ block. In my software, Creative Studios 6, I was able to preview the quilting design.
In the first example, the Butterfly and Flower design by Kim Diamond, is shown on the quilt top as if it were stitched out with the default size of 12″, notice how large the flowers of the quilting design are compared to the size of the block, and the individual pieces which make up the block. In addition, the size of the flowers in the quilting design are approximately 10 times larger compared to the size of the flowers in the fabric.
In the second example, the quilting is denser, but it is also more in scale with the block size and the scale of the prints. I much prefer being able to preview how my quilting is going to look on my computer monitor and then hitting ‘undo’ than to quilt something out which I don’t like and taking my seam ripper out to undo it!
The finished quilt had a soft, ‘quilty’ look and feel–just perfect to wrap a baby!!