Saturday, February 26, 2011

9 Birds in the Air

Birds in the Air
by Becky Brown who writes:

"My 'birds' are a little flock of blue birds - my grandmother called them the blue birds of happiness!"
In 1861, as Southern states seceded, leaders justified their actions by expressing fears their Northern sisters were determined to abolish slavery in the entire Union. Florida's secession proclamation cited, "recent indications of the strength of the anti-slavery sentiment of the free States.” 

In fact, most Northerners continued to ignore slavery's injustices and posed no threat to the South's "peculiar institution." Yet the minority who felt obligated to oppose human bondage were persistent and vocal.

Abolitionist was the name for an activist who demanded the end of slavery. In 1784 the "Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery and for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage" was organized to reflect Quaker resistance to slavery.

The Philadelphia Antislavery Society photographed in 1851
Women were active members of the antislavery societies.

A cartoon satirizing Martin VanBuren's attempt
to reach out to anti-slavery activitists
features a female abolitionist, a favorite caricature.

Abolitionists used a symbolic image of a kneeling slave, which had been designed to represent English anti-slavery societies and produced as a ceramic medallion by English potter Josiah Wedgwood in 1787. The idea of a durable, small china logo was brilliant publicity.

Copies of the kneeling slave (and a female equivalent) are found on all manner of goods---posters, dinnerware, and textiles---on both sides of the Atlantic.

The shackled woman on abolitionist china.

One antislavery activist recalled purchasing "children's handkerchiefs at auction. Among them were those on the subjects of temperance, Sunday-schools, and abolition of slavery. The latter were particularly striking---a negro kneeling and chained, with the motto, 'Am I Not A Man and A Brother?' "

Quilt attributed to the years 1830-1860,
made by Deborah Coates, Pennsylvania.

Quaker Deborah Coates might have cut a piece from a similar handkerchief for her silk quilt, one of the few surviving quilts with a reference to slavery. Deborah and her husband Lindley were active in anti-slavery politics and the Underground Railroad.

In a central patch is a small copy of the abolitionist image with the words
"Deliver me from the oppression of man."

After Deborah's death in the 1880s, her offspring cut the abolitionist quilt in half, one side for each branch of the family. When their descendents decided to rejoin the pieces, they removed the binding and found the small image of the African man, which had been cut in half and hidden for decades.

The quilt pattern she used was a variation of a popular block pieced of triangles. In 1929 quilt historian Ruth Finley listed names: Birds in the Air, Flying Birds or Flock of Geese. Although we cannot know what Deborah Coates called the pattern, the idea of birds in the air seems particularly appropriate for a block to recall the abolition societies.

Patti Butcher Poe made this adaptation of
Deborah Coate's quilt for my book
Quilts From the Civil War.

Cutting the 8" Finished Block

A - Cut 3 light and 2 dark squares 3-1/2"
Cut each in half with a single diagonal cut. You need 6 light triangles and 3 dark.

B - Cut one dark square 8-7/8". Cut it in half with a single diagonal cut. You need one of those triangles.
Becky wrote that she sprayed starch on the triangles to stabilize them as the seams are on the bias.

The Coates quilt is now in the collection of the Lancaster Quilt and Textile Museum. See more about the museum at their website.
Read more about the antislavery image on two blogposts I've done.

And read more about Deborah Coates on the Sesquicentennial Blog maintained by the State Library of Kansas. Scroll down a bit.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Printing the Patterns

I have a new computer with a new operating system. Always so much fun to learn new things.

You may notice on the left that there are two boxes about printing the patterns. When people used to write and say they had trouble printing the patterns I'd say:

What is the problem!!??.

 You hold down the shift key you select some type and pictures---you do stuff with that selection like print it, or copy it to a word file and print it.

But no-o-o-o. Now that I have Windows 7 I see what the problem is. That doesn't seem to work. It was too simple.

So here's what I've learned. One way to print the pattern if you have Windows 7.

On your keyboard way up at the top there is a key that says


Vanna is pointing to the key.

Remember that key.

Open a new Word file and save it with the name CWBOW 8.

Now on your computer screen scroll down until you have framed the block instructions (or as much of them as you can on your screen)

This is the way I framed it.

Then hold down the Alt key on the left of your keyboard at the same time you hold down the PrtScn key.
This creates a screen capture on the clipboard (the desktop memory of your computer). You can't tell that anything has happened but the image above is in the memory.

Go to your new Word File.
Click in the copy area. Click and hold the Control key as you hit the V key (the Paste shortcut).
Again nothing will seem to happen.
My word page looks empty.
But then if I print that file I get the screen capture on paper.

You might have to do two screen captures to get all the information you need.

This should work.
Another option is to learn to use the Select key
But not today.

It's time for a mojito.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

8 Cotton Boll

Cotton Boll

The Cotton Boll block remembers Dolly Lunt Burge (1817-1891) and other Southern plantation owners who made their livings off cotton---and the slaves who made it all possible.
Dolly was Northern-born but moved to Georgia after marrying her first husband. Widowed the first of three times, she married Thomas Burge and actively helped him run his plantation during their eight years together. She, like so many other women, spent the War years alone. Much of her diary is filled with short descriptions of her work and the supervision of the slave labor on the large farm.

Freed slaves at Port Royal, South Carolina in 1862
The women are preparing cotton for the gin building behind them.
Photo by Timothy O'Sullivan from the Library of Congress.

Cotton cultivation was central to Dolly's plantation---ginning, picking, selling and planting cotton. Her daughters Lou and Sadai were a pleasure to her in her widowhood, although Lou caused concerns, beginning with her adolescent rebellions.

"Lou is making a bed quilt but says she is never going to cut up pieces of cloth again for such work that only poor white folks made bed quilts that the rich buy blankets."
Concerns over Lou grew serious as she wasted away with tuberculosis. Dolly, Sadai and the slaves Martha and Mary strugged on after Lou's death, with Dolly keeping accounts of hardship and high prices.

A greenback from the State of Georgia depicts a load of cotton at top left

"I have hundreds of dollars in my pocket book & yet I cannot buy a yard of calico to make my Sadai a sunbonnet it cannot be had. For weeks she has been wearing a bunch of rags for her bonnet is nothing else. Yesterday however Aunt Polly Davis gave me a peice of a dress of hers which I shall gladly make up to day."

Unknown women about 1865
The pair in the back are wearing cotton striped dresses,
 quite a popular look in the 1840s and '50s.
Many women recut dresses of old fabric into new styles during the war.

Unknown woman in cotton dress about 1870.

Cotton was the basis of the Southern economy and the basis of North/South trade. Raw cotton went North to be processed into printed calicoes. With wartime trading stopped, cotton prices escalated and cotton fabrics became impossible to find, particularly in the Confederacy.

This week's block is a variation of one published as the Cotton Boll quilt in the Kansas City Star in 1941. The Star pattern featured white triangles representing the "bolls". See #4103 in BlockBase (I added extra seams to make it easier to piece.)

Cutting for an 8" Finished Block

A - Cut 4 dark rectangles 3-3/8" x 6-3/8". Or use the template drawn in Electric Quilt on this PDF. Click here:

NEW LINK (as of 9/1/2011)
The gray rectangle on the sheet should print out close to 5" x 6"

B - Cut 4 light squares 2-7/8". Cut each into 2 triangles with one cut. You need 8.

Piece the block by adding B triangles to either side of the A shape. Make four squares and piece into a four-patch.

Becky stitched her version from a striped print. She rotary cut the pieces rather than using a template. Here's how she assembled it.
She then cut the corners to make an 8-1/2" square. 

Here's Becky's second block.

Dolly Lunt's diary was first published in 1918 as A Woman's Wartime Journal: an Account of the Passage over Georgia's Plantation of Sherman's Army on the March to the Sea, as Recorded in the Diary of Dolly Sumner Lunt (Mrs. Thomas Burge). There is a recent edition pictured at the top, edited by Christine Jacobson Carter.
Read the 1918 publication at the Documenting the American South website by clicking here:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Civil War Valentines and l patchie's 2 inch blocks

I think this is an excellent substitute for the Seven Sisters.
Applique is not an option at 2"

Have you noticed these tiny blocks on our Flickr photo group page?
They are done by l patchie (that's an L.)

(S)he often uses a thimble for scale

Whenever I wish I'd decided to do this series as a 12" block---easier for beginners---I remember there are many readers who aren't beginners and love a challenge. Nobody more than this miniaturist.

Eight-inch blocks are monumental by comparison.

And because it's St. Valentine's Day here are a few Civil-War era Valentines.

This is the cover of Harper's Weekly February 16, 1861.
No soldier's Valentines yet.

See a Civil War-themed valentine in a Flickr set by clicking here

Here's a link to information about Civil War Valentines from the Kansas Museum of History

Saturday, February 12, 2011

7 Log Cabin

Log Cabin by Becky Brown
For Abraham Lincoln's
202nd birthday anniversary
February 12, 2011

The Log Cabin pattern can also remind us of the book Uncle Tom's Cabin. There's a story---probably not true but like many of our myths important to our American identity---that President Abraham Lincoln greeted its author Harriet Beecher Stowe with the words, "So you're the little lady who made this great war."

Harriet Beecher Stowe
About the time she wrote Life Among the Lowly

Stowe first published the book Uncle Tom's Cabin as a serial in the newspaper the National Era in 1851. Originally called Life Among the Lowly, the story ran throughout the year, mesmerizing readers with a glimpse of life in slavery, something many had never considered. Among the readers were Sophia Soule, her husband Amasa and her four children.

An 1852 edition of the serial as a novel

Sophia's daughter Annie recalled the serial novel years later:
"As the drama of Uncle Tom's Cabin unrolled in its pages the family would gather in the parlor each Sunday afternoon, and mother would read that week's installment aloud....What a sensation that story made! No one today can even imagine it. At first mother started to read it to us on Sunday afternoon, so father could be there to hear, but the paper came on Wednesday, and soon we became too eager for it to wait until was the reading of Uncle Tom's Cabin that really made my father hate slavery so bitterly. I can see father yet, striding up and down the room, his hands clenched in fury."

An 1859 poster

Stowe's novel made complacent Northerners realize that slaves were human beings with human emotions. Published as a book, Uncle Tom's Cabin sold 300,000 copies in its first year and eventually was translated into sixty languages. It was confiscated, banned and burned in many areas of the South.

Book-burners fear of the written word was well-justified. Many, like the Soule family, remembered that the book changed their lives. The Soules decided to leave Massachusetts and go to the Kansas Territory to take a stand in the antislavery struggle there.

A log cabin pieced of wool/cotton combination prints, about 1875

The Log Cabin pattern with it's dark and light logs around a square center (often a red center) dates to the 1860s when it was often pieced of the printed wools known as delaines.

Wool Log Cabin, end of the 19th century
The light/dark shading pattern in each block is known today as Sunshine and Shadow; this set is called the Zig Zag.

Cutting Instructions for an 8" Block
(All the strips are 1-7/8" wide)

A - Cut 1 light strip 1-7/8"  x 8-1/2"
B - Cut 1 light and 1 dark strip 1-7/8" x 5-7/8"
C - Cut 1 light and 1 dark strip 1-7/8" x 7-1/8"
D - Cut 1 light and 1 dark strip 1-7/8" x 4-1/2"
E - Cut 1 dark strip 1-7/8" x 3-1/8"
F - Cut 1 square 3-1/8"

Piece the block by adding strips in clockwise fashion. Begin with the red center F and strip E.

An early 20th-century cotton log cabin.
The set is a variation known today as Barn Raising.

Campaign songbook in Lincoln's 1860 Presidential campaign.
He was called The Rail Splitter, a symbol of his humble birth.

The log cabin was a powerful political image, so closely connected with Abraham Lincoln that a cabin was featured on the reverse side of the Lincoln penny issued in 2009, the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth.

A late 19th-century log cabin of wool, silk and cotton

The patchwork pattern became quite popular in the 1870s, associated with Lincoln and possibly with  memories of Uncle Tom's Cabin. The Log Cabin block will symbolize both Harriet Beecher Stowe and Lincoln.

An unusual version of the diagonal set known today as Straight Furrow.
The quilt looks to be late 19th-century.

Read the 1852 version of Stowe's book here at the site of the University of Virginia Libraries:
And click on the images at this site to see illustrations from various editions of Uncle Tom's Cabin.