Saturday, October 22, 2016

Knit Yourself a Sontag

If you're looking for an authentic Civil War craft project to fill those evening hours in re-enactment camp after you've done the dishes you can knit yourself a small triangular shawl or a sontag.

Also called a Bosom Friend.


Several patterns were published during the Civil War.


And you get the feeling that people followed the patterns

There were crocheted and knotted versions.

Doesn't this one look like tucked fabric
or quilted fabric but most knitters think it is knit.

The name? An early reference: In 1843 Miss Lambert in My Knitting Book gave directions for a sontag or Cephaline, a cap.

The shawl seems to have been named for Henriette Sontag (1806-1854) a German opera star.
(Perhaps her shoulders looked cold.)

The Illustrated Magazine gave a pattern for a
"habit shirt".
 "I do not know why it has received the name of the lamented cantatrice Sontag,
but such is the name by which this sort of garment is generally known."

Vocabulary Lesson
Cantatrice - a singer
Sontag, Habit Shirt and Bosom Friend----- a small shawl
Cephaline - something to wear on your head???

See a patriotic version of a Sontag in the collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Civil War Sampler Finishes

BJM followed Becky's set.

This blog started in 2011 with a few blocks
inspired by the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
That grew to 50 blocks, and
seven more years.

SundayBee designed her own set.

Here are a few finishes from those first year blocks.

A.G. Lindsay, Civil War Sesquicentennial

Jane at StitchByStitch quilted this top.


Sherry Sorbera

Suedio tried two sets and went with 
the top---alternate white.

Shelia---note the ribbons!

"...After maturing in the UFO pile for 4 years, finally finished this year. I challenged our very talented HandiQuilter tutor to ply her modern magic on a traditional sampler. We were awarded a beautiful blue ribbon and a fabulous red one for 'Retaining the Tradition'."

Something Becky found in her Great-Grandmother's

Becky, Denniele, Barb Fife and I are plotting another Civil War
Block of the Month for 2017. We'll keep you posted.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Abolitionist Quilt at the Chester County Historical Society

Pennsylvania's Chester County Historical Society owns a baby quilt by the Herrick Sewing Circle of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The central feathered star block is inked with a poem that indicates it was made specifically for a fundraising bazaar for the antislavery cause "Freedom's Fair."
"Do thou, sweet babe, in safety sleep
Beneath this canopy so fair.
Formed thy fragile limbs to keep
Protected from the chilling air.
Formed in love for Freedom's Fair
To aid a righteous cause
To help its advocates declare
God's unchangeable and equal laws."
The photo is from The Signature Quilt: Traditions, Techniques and Signature Block Collection by Susan McKelvey and Pepper Cory, 1995.

I mentioned this quilt in my first book on Civil War quilts Quilts from the Civil War. I keep hoping to see it again in color. The Chester County Historical Society has 900 quilts in their collection.

Is this the same quilt?

And they have a current exhibit showing some of their new acquisitions:
Quilts: The Next Layer is up through January, 2017.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Past Perfect Pinterest Pages: Reproduction Prints

A Pinterest page of purples

Below are a few of the many Pinterest Pages I've assembled about different historic quilt color and print styles. Once you've found one of them you can click on the picture of me

and it will take you to all my boards under my name.
(I've also got boards under BlockBase.)

These should help you build your Civil War reproduction print stash with confidence.

Chrome Orange Past Perfect

Double Pink Past Perfect

Overdyed Green Past Perfect

Prussian Blue Past Perfect

Shirtings Past Perfect

Turkey Red Past Perfect

Madder Style Past Perfect

Indigo Past Perfect

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Abigail Hopper Gibbons: Civil War Nurse

May 20, 1864
Hospital yard at Fredricksburg, Virginia

The photograph above, an iconic image of the Civil War, shows weary patients and nurse resting outside a field hospital. Photographer James Gardner (1832-?) with brother Alexander worked for the Brady Studios and spent a day in May with the Sanitary Commission.

On the reverse:
"This is one of the hospitals established by the Sanitary Commission in Fredericksburg, Virginia, during the Wilderness Campaign, in 1864. The wounded are from Kearney's Division, and are being cared for by the noble Sanitary Commission."

In the past few years the woman has been identified as Abigail Hopper Gibbons.

Abigail Hopper Gibbons
1801 – 1893

Gibbons is also in the center of this photograph taken by James Gardner the same day. The 
woman seated next to her is daughter Sarah Emerson.

Abby Hopper Gibbons was born a Quaker in Philadelphia. In 1833 she married James Sloan Gibbons (1810-1892) of Wilmington, Delaware, and they became important activists in the abolitionist movement in New York City in the decades before the Civil War.

Abigail and James Gibbons with children 

Lucy and William on the left, Julia right, Sarah between them, 1854.

Collection of Friends Historical Library, Swarthmore College.

William died the following year after a fall while at Harvard.

When the war began Abby left her daughters and husband in New York, traveling South to deliver goods for the Sanitary Commission. She soon saw the need for nurses. 

Read her letters, many of which concern her nursing work in the book her daughter Sarah edited.

Life of Abby Hopper Gibbons, Told Chiefly Through Her Correspondence by Sarah Hopper Emerson,

Dr. Mary Walker in her bloomer costume
after the war, wearing a medal.

She mentions "Dr. Mary Walker, a very little woman in bloomer costume who presides over the 
Indiana Hospital," which was located inside the construction project that would house the U.S. Patent Office in the late spring of 1862.

Gibbons continued her work helping slaves escape during the war. In 1862:
"I have met a great many...colored families...who are still with their masters, but laying plans of escape for themselves and their children. One poor soul said yesterday: 'The Lord has waited a long time, and he ain't going to stand it any longer.' When I go home, I shall get a pass for myself, daughter and servant.
You need not write back on this subject, as on several occasions the letters have come to us glued together after having been opened."
While she was working in the hospitals the anti-black civil disturbance known as the New York Draft Riots took place. The Gibbons home with its reputation of welcoming runaway slaves and supporting the Emancipation Proclamation was a target.

The Infuriated Mob Attacking Mrs. Gibbon's (sic) House.
July, 1863

Sarah's neighborhood in Chelsea
was called Lamartine Place.
The block still stands.
Her home is is now 339 West 29th St (near 8th Avenue).

Read about the Gibbons's antislavery activities and the destruction of their house during the Draft Riot in the Landmarks Preservation Commission report on the Lamartine Place Historic District here: 

This photo of Gibbons in later life shows her embroidering perhaps---or hemming a print.
She did record making quilts in November, 1833, soon after her marriage:
"I have been without 'help,' (to use a New- York expression) and to prevent a 'muss,' ...have been obliged to exercise myself. And my quilting, too, is but just accomplished. One of James' cousins from Wilmington has been spending a week or two with us, and were we not smart to quilt four comforts in three days?"

Sarah and Abigail, seated, May, 1864.
Sarah's husband William Emerson III died of tuberculosis
three months after their November, 1863, marriage.

See more about the Gardner photos:

In 1893 Abby's daughter Lucy Gibbons Morse published a novel about her family's underground railroad activities before the Civil War.
Read Rachel Stanwood: A Story of the Middle of the Nineteenth Century for a view from her perspective.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Past Perfect: Shopping for Civil War Repros

When I used to travel and teach about making reproduction quilts my favorite classroom site was in a quilt shop. I could drag out bolts of fabric to show people the perfect prints to copy a certain era.

Bolts & bolts of fabric.
(I never had to put them back.)

My latest: Baltimore Blues

Of course I'd advise you to buy some of
the fabric I designed, but there are many other
great repro fabric designers.

Suedio's Stash

And I'd have people bring their stash of Civil-War-era fabric to class so I could
tell them what worked and what didn't.

I've been trying to figure out how to do that kind of
teaching online.

Some way I could digitally drag out bolts of fabric (mine and other designers)
to show what's a great reproduction.

Here's what I've come up with.

Pinterest Pages labeled Past Perfect.

This one for example:

I've been posting pictures of period quilts
in the fabric topic.
Union Square by Pam Mayfield 2001

Reproduction quilts for inspiration...
Suggestions for reproduction prints...
Above some old ones of mine. If you click on the picture
and then click again you'll go to the page I pinned from.

I show you other designer's repros too. Above, an old one from Pat Nickols.
You might have it in your stash or can find it online at Etsy, eBay or 
an online shop.

You also get information about the vintage fabrics' properties.
Sometimes if you click twice it takes you to a blog post I've done on the topic or to another site with more information. You'll recognize some of the posts and repros from our Stars in a Time Warp QuiltAlong.

I can add new fabrics and information as I find them on line.

Like this new stripe from Jo Morton's
Gratitude line.

If you keep up with my Madder Style page you'd know what was new and what was old.
Here's a link:

Next week I'll give you links to some other Past Perfect pages.