Saturday, March 31, 2012

Period Quilting

Detail of Circle of Friends
Machine Quilted by Deb Jacobs

Period guidelines for quilting designs aren't easy because we quilt and use fabric so differently than the quilters of 150 years ago. Deb's machine quilting on the long arm machine as in my gift quilt above shows some of today's virtuoso quilting. Feathers are a traditional design but the way she arranged them across the surface of a scrappy sampler quilt is very up-to-date.

This sampler quilt from the mid 19th century would probably have been considered scrappy. The biggest difference is the use of white which gave the quilter a place to show off.

Although the more typical example has quilting that is not very dramatic. This  detail from a quilt dated 1863 shows the quilting design... outline around every patch---something we called outline quilting or self-quilting when we were documenting quilts in the quilt projects 25 years ago. The quilting is NOT "in the ditch" but about 1/4" away from every seam line. There is additional quilting in the white squares in the corners---an X.
See more about this quilt which belongs to the Historical Society of Nyack NY here:

This outline quilting is not a clue to date. It's common over the centuries in all different eras. It's a style that works better for hand quilting than for long-arm quilting.

Here's a detail of a Civil War-era quilt from Tennessee that shows outline quilting in the patchwork and then a grid in the white areas. See more of this quilt by Mary High Prince at the Quilt Index here:

Another grid in the blue field on one of those Peterson's Magazine flag quilts.
But here the grid is a triple line. The idea of double and triple line quilting, whether grids or diagonal lines, is very 19th century. The stars are outline quilted and notice the pretty little leaf and vine in the stripe. Also notice there is no filler quilting behind that leaf and vine.

It's more typical for mid-19th-century quilters to use a lot of filler quilting behind the fancy motifs so they really popped out. Above the parallel diagonal lines are probably less than 1/4" apart, which make the leaves look like they are stuffed although they have no extra stuffing.

Close quilting is the rule---the stitches per inch are not so important as the lines per inch. This grid is probably 1/2" apart or less.

Here's a quilt with a hodge-podge of designs but fairly consistent triple diagonal lines in the border background. This quilter did echo quilting inside the applique, repeating the red diamond shape three times to give a close-quilted look.

Triple diagonal line quilting is very typical, particuarly in borders.

All this doesn't translate to machine quilting very well, so I always tell my machine quilter to do what she likes to do. It seems like we should not be trying to imitate but rather interpret the past.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Wait A Minute---Why Not Red and White?

That Red and White exhibit (Infinite Variety) from the American Folk Art Museum last year really got people thinking about this two-color combination. Both the shops I hang out in have been doing something red and white. Above, Prairie Point in Shawnee, Kansas, had a show of contemporary red and white quilts in February.

The Sewhatevers at Sarah's Fabrics in Lawrence are working on a red and white sampler.

Indiana Puzzle
Why couldn't you do all these Civil War blocks in red and white?

Right Hand of Friendship

There's an old tradition of red and white samplers.
Here's one dated 1877.

I Photoshopped some red and white into Becky's quilt

And Linda H.'s...
(I hope they forgive me)

Well it's an idea. Maybe you don't want to start all over again.
You'd have to buy new fabric.
And the most effective is solid red and solid white----You'd probably need 5 yards of each for a full-size quilt.

See more about the Infinite Variety Show here:

But prints are good too. See Gina Rockenwagner's quilt inspired by the show here:

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Book Cover

Here's a sneak preview of the cover of the book. The designer recently sent a picture---I'm just giving you a preview as it's a secret, you know. It'll be called Barbara Brackman's Civil War Sampler but it should be Barbara and Becky's Civil War Sampler---as it's Becky's quilt up there.

Liberty & Union,by Becky Brown
 85'' by 101 1/2'' , 
 machine quilted by Deb Jacobs, 2011.

You'll recognize the blocks from the many posts in 2011.
Thanks to Becky!

The book will be shown to shop owners at fall 2012 quilt market. It will be in shops December 2012. Just in time to make it onto your Christmas list.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Blocks on Point

Conny's Quilts

Setting the blocks on the diagonal is something that mid-19th-century quilters liked to do. It presents a few design challenges,which readers have solved in a variety of ways. What to do with the edge triangles? Above, a nice solution from Conny's Quilts.

ImaQuilter Wis.
Putting the blocks on point means you don't need as many---you can make two quilts, especially if you alternate with unpieced squares.

Kookaburra Calling
And if you put a large block in the center--- a feathered star is always eyecatching--- you need fewer than 52.

Leigh Ann used a Southern Star block for the center.
Lois O.
And then you can do this--- but I'm not going to figure out the math.

Lois has the border on it now. See her stream for a detailed picture of the clever double geese design. She says it's paper pieced.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Dogs on Civil War Quilts

My sister Jane Brackman who writes about the history of dogs asked me about dogs during the Civil War. I have a few pictures of dogs on Civil-War-era quilts which I thought I'd post here.

Above is a detail of a dog on the Confederate quilt by Susan Robb at the Museum at Texas Tech. See the whole quilt here:

Blue and Gray Battle Quilt
by Nancy Hornback
Nancy put her Confederate soldiers in butternut but kept the yellow dog in her interpretation of Susan Robb's quilt.

General George Armstrong Custer and dog, picture from the Library of Congress.
These big dogs aren't too familiar to us but my sister says they are Newfoundlands---they used to be colored like this.

Here's a dog from the Lucinda Honstain's "Reconciliation Quilt" in the collection of the International Quilt Study Center and Museum. When Karla Menaugh and I copied this block for our Civil War sampler War & Pieces many years ago I saw it as a Golden Retriever. But now I bet it was a Newfoundland.

See the Honstain quilt at this link:

More dogs from the same quilt.
The quilt was made in Brooklyn, New York.

Similar dog on a strip of grass from another New York quilt, this one called the Bird of Paradise Quilt from the Museum of American Folk Art. People are reproducing his quilt now as the Civil War Bride's Quilt---although the connection to the Civil War is not too strong.

Dogs on Civil War Quilts. What's it all mean?

Probably nothing more than an image of the domestic life the soldiers left behind as in this Union envelope.

You actually see more cats on these Civil War memorial quilts than dogs. See my post on cats here:

Too bad this guy wiggled so it's hard to see what kind of dog he is.

The camp dogs aren't always big dogs.

Notice this little lap dog here.

See Jane's post on a photo of a Civil War veteran and two dogs here at her blog Dr. Barkman Speaks:

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Dustin's Done!

He says it took all year... but it looks great.
He runs our Flickr page
and helped coordinate the gift quilt for me.

He dedicated this top to Doris Caudill in this photo
 (from the Library of Congress)
"This image keeps popping up in my mind, esp. while I was putting this top together. I just ordered the book about her today." It looks to me like he's captured the color in her cotton dress and apron.

He works and farms

And makes quilts.
You'd better check out his Flickr stream: