Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Stars in a Time Warp 3: Shirting Prints

Shirting print star by Becky Brown
The blue shirting reproduction is from my Union Blues collection. The yardage
is scheduled for deliver in March. You can buy precuts now.

Vintage star with solid white for the background,
about 1840-1865

Quilters often used a plain white cotton for the light contrast in their quilts.

Vintage quilt, about 1830-1870

Another choice was a textured light print, something with a white background and small figures.

Vintage block about 1870-1900

Light prints became increasingly popular after
the Civil War when they were also fashionable for clothing.

Reproduction star by Bettina Havig.

The shirting print has a rabbit and some musical notes,
recognizable figures classified as a subcategory of shirting
prints: Conversation Prints. 
We'll do more about conversationals later in the year.

We classify these neutrals as shirting prints today.
The prints are characterized by minimalist, monochrome figures without
much detail. The figures are set far apart
to let lots of the white background show through.

Vintage star about 1870-1900

Vintage stars about 1900

There were a lot of shirting prints manufactured,

particularly between 1870 and 1920
when the light cottons were so popular for clothing.

"Shirts" of shirtings by Carolyn Friedlander

They are again easy to find because they are so useful
for backgrounds with a traditional look.

Reproduction North Star by Mary L at Quilting in Oz

North Star by Jayne's Quilting Room

Repro quilt from an online store
The shirting print is in the foreground in the blue block
at lower left.

Detail of Jeanne Poore's reproduction Quilt for Alice

On the left a mid-19th-century inspiration block, on the right my
interpretation of the way she used her shirtings and madder stripes.

Three shirting prints from my next Moda line
Union Blues, which should be in shops in March

Part of the appeal of period scrappy quilts is
the variety of shades in the lighter prints. Shirtings
and other lights were printed in different color values.
Some have become more yellow or tan over the years.

Nantucket from Seams Crazy Quilts Blog

The above version of the Minick and Simpson pattern Nantucket mixes up those values to give
a distinctive scrappy look.

Minick & Simpson's 2014 Lexington collection has many good shirting repros.

As does Primitive Gatherings' recent
Lakeside Gatherings.

Amy's star with a "neat" shirting in a regular diagonal set. 
She's used it to show off
a kind of coral stripe from her stash.

Valerie's combination of a madder red print
and a shirting with a small figure.

One More Thing About Shirtings

"Superfine Shirtings." 
Stamp on a quilt backing. The quilt is dated 1844.

Shirting is an old textile term and probably refers more to the cotton's weight and weave rather than the print style. Within that category were subcategories. An Oneida, New York mill entered a group of fabrics in the Great National Fair in 1846: "Extra fine shirtings, superfine shirtings, fine shirtings, twilled shirtings and striped shirtings." The category we are discussing here is shirting prints: Shirting-weight weaves with a certain style of simple print.

Setting Idea for Your Stack of Star Blocks

In strips

In this circa-1900 quilt 72 stars are
set between same-sized light squares and then 
with Turkey red strips of the same width. 

A Quilt for Alice by Paula Barnes
The stars are set in strips
with a small spacer between each
and then vertical strips the same width as the star.
Using a consistent shirting print background 
makes the stars float.

See the pattern here:

Find out more about shirtings on pages 113-117 in my book America's Printed Fabrics and see a pattern for "Lost Ship" on page 118.

Reproduction quilt, Lost Ship by Barbara Brackman, 2002.

Shirtings and Madder Prints-
Classic mid-19th century.

Vintage shirting print yardage

Read others posts I've done about vintage shirtings:


WoolenSails said...

I bought some shirtings and really wasn't sure what shirting meant, when looking for prints. Very good lesson on what they were and are today so I can use them in my future quilts.


Jeanne said...

Well, I do have ***plenty*** of shirtings in my stash ... actually I have ***plenty*** of most everything in my stash.

One of these days, maybe you could discuss the change of attitude -- "make it do/it's pretty good" from the previous century vs. "absolute perfection" as the standard for today's quilts. Needless to say, I'm a cut-off-grain, substitute-in-another-fabric, the-scrappier-the-better kind of quilter :)

Donna said...

I loved reading about shirtings and seeing the examples. I have quite a few in my stash, and although I don't "need" any more, I'm always on the lookout for some that really call to me, and I just have to take them home.

Brenda Sanders said...

Thanks for a great quilt along, I am learning so much about about fabrics and enjoy making the star blocks too.

Joy V said...

I'm thoroughly enjoying these postings as with all your others. You mentioned that your new range which is out in March - that we can purchase cut pieces now. Where can I access these please?

Sue Hilton said...

When we find shirtings we just can't live without, and seeing that they are often used as backgrounds, how much yardage would you suggest buying, when we have no idea how we might use them. Thanks!

Barbara Brackman said...

Answer to Joy. The cut pieces are sold as Pre-cuts. You need to go to your local shop and ask for Moda Pre-cuts for Union Blues. Or to find an online shop find a search engine (like Google) type in the words Union Blues Charm and see what comes up.

Barbara Brackman said...

Answer to Sue. I'd buy a fat quarter of every one you like, different shades, different print scale. You rarely want to make a whole quilt out of a single shirting print. It's the scrappy look.

Barbara Brackman said...

Answer to Jeanne. It's not two kinds of attitudes separated by time periods. It's two kinds of attitudes separated by personality types. Some people need to have things match; some people need to see things askew. Accept the differences. Inclusiveness.

Julie Vernon said...

Enjoy shirting as background. They are there but don't shout lol. Thanks for your GREAT blogs
Smiles, JulieinTN

Jeanne said...

Ha! Two kinds of attitudes and personalities -- maybe I'm just in the wrong guild :)
Thanks for the validation and encouraging perspective!

Karen in Breezy Point said...

I love shirtings and can't wait to get my pre-ordered bundle of Union Blues, but I may need more than FQ's of those three--so charming!

Sally said...

I love 'conversational shirtings'. Any chance you have some in any up coming collections? My rule on conversationals is to get at least 1/2 yard as I hate to run out of any of them. Of course, I usually buy 1/2 yards of any shirting since so many collections just have cheddar, indigo, Prussian blue, chrome yellow, turkey red, double pinks, poison, browns and few if any shirting to go with them!