Saturday, January 22, 2022

Starry Crazy

Detail of a crazy quilt dated 1901
Collection of the Sharlot Hall Museum in Arizona
The white cat and pink squirrel catch your eye but there's 
also a representation of a Grand Army of the Republic badge.

Grand Army of the Republic Badge
And a lot of stars....
Was it a G.A.R. quilt?

Also: symbols often seen on crazy quilts like cranes and shoes
and chickens.

And bulldogs, but a lot of stars.

The Arizona Quilt Project recorded this star-spangled quilt.
Sharlot Mabridth Hall (1870-1943)
I thought Sharlot Hall was a place but I see it's a woman. Journalist Sharlot Hall saved a place, the Arizona Governor's Mansion now named for her, the Sharlot Hall Museum

And they own the quilt.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Sets for American Stars B.O.M.

Elsie's the first to get her American Stars Block #1 finished.
She says she is working out of her stash.

We should be thinking ahead to sets. Here are some basics.

Set 12 blocks finishing to 12" side by side and
you get a 36" x 48" field of patchwork.


48" x 63"
Add 3" finished sashing strips & cornerstones.

Denniele's plan:
13 star blocks
12 alternate pieced blocks
1-1/2" finished sash and cornerstones
With a 2-1/2 " finished border that is 71" square.


You need 13 blocks for an on-point setting to get a 51" square quilt.

Cut 4 corner triangles by cutting 2 squares 9.375" (9-3/8")

Cut 8 edge triangles by cutting 2 squares 18-1/4"


60" Square

Beyond the basics: 
11 blocks set a little off key with lots of room for 
border prints or fancy quilting.

More ideas may occur.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Corps Badge Quilt Puzzle


In 1949 the Vancouver B.C. Times published this spatial puzzle
that must have been syndicated from the U.S.

The quilt in question (rather asymmetrical) was "Made up of shoulder patches collected by Grandpa's father in the Civil War."

They must have been referring to something like this, the rather popular style of applique using the images of Union Army Corps Badges.

Caldwell & Company Antiques
Early 20th century Corps Badge Quilt

Shamrock Corps Badge

The Union Army adopted Corps Badges in 1863. Soldiers
often wore them on their hats.

It's an odd allusion. And here's the solution to the puzzle.

 The whole puzzle is so obtuse I don't even
get the solution.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

American Stars #1: The McKims

Block #1 Stellar Memory by Becky Brown
American Stars

We begin the new year with a new pieced block-of-the-month. The patchwork theme is
four-pointed stars to symbolize American Stars, a year-long look at some influential American families and how genius and notoriety is passed on through the generations.

Block #1, Stellar Memory, an original four-pointed star, remembers a family of American Stars---The McKims.

Sarah Speakman McKim's family 1886
She's the older woman in the hat on the right.

Of her son a biographer wrote many years ago:
"To anyone interested in noting human characteristics there is no study more fascinating than the effects of heredity and prenatal environment upon the achievements and developments of a man's mature life."
We'd amend that to read "person's life" and drop the word prenatal. This year's quilt follows that theme: Heredity & Environment. How certain families generation after generation become American Stars--- famous (for good deeds and bad) and how one can tell the story of the country through their lives.

Block #1 Stellar Memory by Jeanne Arnieri
Jeanne's a new model maker who will be using red, whites and blues.

Sarah Allibone Speakman McKim (1813-1891)

We'll begin with the first generation of antislavery McKims. Sarah Speakman became a McKim in 1840 with her marriage to James Miller McKim. 

J. Miller McKim (1810-1874) in 1851
People called him Miller.

Sarah was a birthright Quaker and a birthright abolitionist, raised in the Chester County, Pennsylvania family of Phebe and Micajah Speakman who maintained a shelter for escaped slaves on the run. In 1840 she married former Presbyterian minister James Miller McKim, an early leader in the antislavery movement, a founding member of the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833, an active speaker and writer in the cause.

The Block

Block #1 Stellar Memory 
Patterns this year are drafted to 12" finished blocks.

Each can be stitched using template piecing or piecing over paper foundations. Most of the patches are not rotary cut. The size of the paper in the printer (8-1/2" x 11") determines the design of the finished block.

I drew most of the blocks in BlockBase+ but I also modified some to make them more interesting and/or easier to piece. Stellar Memory is an original design based on BlockBase #1251. I added another seam. If you want to redraft the pattern to another size you can start with 1251 and add seams.

Print the pattern on an 8-1/2 x11" sheet of paper (4 times). Note the
inch-square block for scale.

And here is the order if you are paper piecing.
Make two different triangles.
And remember you have to add seam allowances when you are cutting the pieces.

Block #1 Stellar Memory by Denniele Bohannon
Denniele is also using red, white and blue but with a graphic punch.

The Next Generation

Sarah gave birth to two children, Lucy in 1842 and Charles Follen McKim five years later. They also adopted niece Ann Catherine McKim. 

Library of Congress
Port Royal, South Carolina during the war
The 1860 census recorded 939 white property owners in Beaufort and
 33,339 African-Americans, mostly enslaved people.

Once the Civil War began Miller McKim realized that freedom for the slaves presented its own problems. He founded the Philadelphia Port Royal Relief Committee, later the Pennsylvania Freedman’s Relief Association. In June, 1862 he took nineteen year-old Lucy with him on a fact-finding tour of the Sea Islands along the Southern Atlantic coast. As Union troops occupied the island plantations the owners abandoned their homes. Ten of thousands of African-Americans freed by default were in desperate condition. Miller McKim made plans for food, clothing, shelter and education.

Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College
Lucy McKim (1842-1877) in 1864

Lucy and Miller McKim visited the Sea Islands of  Hilton Head, Port Royal, St. Helena and Ladies Island in their three-week tour. Lucy was fascinated by the music she heard, which she copied down and annotated with musical transcription. 

At the end of the year she published "Roll, Jordan, Roll" and five years later co-edited the book Slave Songs of the United States in her mid-20s, the same year she gave birth to her first child Lloyd McKim Garrison.

The post-war marriage of the McKim's daughter to Wendell Phillips Garrison, son of leading abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, gave joy to both families who'd worked together in the long antislavery fight.

Wendell Phillips Garrison & Lucy McKim Garrison
Lucy died of a neurological disorder at 34 years old in 1877. Wendell later
married her adopted sister Anna Catherine McKim Dennis

After the war the McKim family relocated to New Jersey. Miller McKim and his son-in-law saw a need for a liberal post-war voice, a successor to the Garrison newspaper The Liberator, and helped found The Nation. Wendell was literary editor for decades.

Charles Follen McKim (1847-1909)
Frances Benjamin Johnston

By then son Charles was studying architecture at L'École des Beaux-Arts in Paris after a year at Harvard. In 1870 he began a very successful career as a draftsman for the influential architect Henry Hobson Richardson.

William R. Mead, Charles F. McKim & Stanford White

In 1879 Charles joined partners to form McKim, Mead & White, the premier architectural firm of its time. Their designs include the Morgan Library, the Boston Public Library, dozens of public and private masterpieces in their classical revival style.

Boston Public Library

Bell House, Newport, Rhode Island
They also specialized in shingle-style wooden mansions.

Memories of McKim, Mead & White are haunted by scandal. The premier gilded-age architects became the gilded-age metaphor in 1906 when Stanford White was shot in the back by an insane man seeking revenge for his young wife's seduction. 

Bronze relief portrait of Charles McKim
by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, close friend and lover (?)

McKim's life was not without scandal either. His first wife Ann Bigelow, an unstable woman, divorced him alleging unnatural acts and kept his infant daughter from visits. When daughter Margaret was old enough to see her father on her own her mother ceased communicating with her. Charles remarried Julia Amory Appleton who died after a year and a half of marriage with her infant after childbirth.

McKim biographer Mosette Broderick characterizes Charles with two traumatic marriages and a murdered partner as emotionally fragile:
“At Stanford White’s death, the pain was terrible... a depressing crisis for McKim – he was in and out, his health failed, and he died in 1909.”
Into the next generation Charles's only surviving child Margaret McKim married Dr. William J. M. A. Maloney (1881-1952) in 1913. William, born in Scotland, became a strong advocate of Irish independence, contributing his writings to gathering support for the Irish War of Independence in the teens. With Oswald Garrison Villard, nephew of  Lucy McKim and Wendell Garrison, he formed the American Committee for Relief in Ireland in the 1920s.

Margaret McKim Maloney (1875-1938)  by Jo Davidson
Margaret's husband commission this bust
for Fisk University where he established a 
women's scholarship in her name.

Margaret's contribution was to document and save the family papers, so much first-person information available today about the stellar McKim family is thanks to her.

Denniele plans to set her blocks with an alternate pieced square in a square.
Here's her pattern for the alternate block:

We have a Facebook group to show off blocks and ask questions. It's public rather than private. We'll see how that works out but you don't have to join. Anyone can see or comment.

Further Reading:

Mosette Glaser Broderick , Triumvirate: McKim, Mead, and White: Art , Architecture, Scandal, and Class in America's Gilded Age ( New York : Knopf , 2011)

Saturday, January 8, 2022

The Problems with Ladies' Fairs

1858 Ladies' Fair in Boston to raise money for the poor.
Doll houses were a popular feature at fund-raising fairs.

The women's fund-raising fair was a 19th-century phenomenon that goes back at least into the 1820s, when fairs generated charity donations for education and the poor.

In 1827 women in Baltimore held one to fund donations to
Greeks fighting a war of independence.

Philadelphian Rebecca Gratz did not think much of ladies' fairs. She outlined her objections in an 1834 letter to to her sister-in-law Maria Gratz in Lexington, Kentucky.
Textiles in a tent?
"Fair gossiping is so much in fashion throughout our country...It appears a very exceptionable service which employs the rich to do work for 'fairs' ---which might be do much more useful to the poor---many ingenious ladies in very reduced circumstances supply or shops with fancy articles the proceeds of which maintain their families---a 'Fair' is advertised to forward a scholarship for some church, or pay for an asylum attached to a religious institution---and all the weak-minded, and pious females for miles round & in the city spend months in manufacturing trifles...."

Rosenbach Museum & Library
Rebecca Gratz & Maria Gist Gratz
Thomas Sully painted the sisters-in-law in 1831.

These week-long festivals, Rebecca asserted, were competition with women's exchanges and charity shops where ladies in "reduced circumstances" sold hand work to support their families.
"A whole week was consumed of these Fairs last spring at Washington Hall-a large sum of money received----and many just complaints [were] murmured by regular vendors."

Driggs shop in Boston

She pointed out that regular vendors, shop owners and professionals were not pleased with amateur competition. 

Women staffed the fair tables or booths, particularly attractive young women, who could flirt and persuade a gentleman to pay a bit more than the item was actually worth.

"Mothers and prudes were shocked that young & Innocent girls should be bartering pin cushions & smiles at these sanctified table at an expense of modesty..."

Rebecca was not much of a prude but she probably didn't like her nieces trading smiles for money at the tables.

The fair details come from this picture of a Boston fair,
impressive turnout for 1858 but soon to be dwarfed by the Sanitary Commission
Fairs of the Civil War.

As time went on objections to the ladies' fair were mostly forgotten and Ladies's Bazaars became a staple of antislavery organizations and Civil War soldiers' charities. 

We'll be talking about fund raising fairs at the January 2022 Six Know It Alls Show that premieres this Wednesday. Tickets with permanent access so you can watch it anytime: $12

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