Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Stars in a Time Warp 24: Fancy Machine Grounds

Repro chintz star by Bettina Havig

Bettina used a great chintz with a fancy background,
a Pat Nickols print from a few years ago.

Repro chintz star by Becky Brown
Notice the textured background.

Detail of a vintage chintz quilt with two blotch-ground prints,
and scraps of a chintz with a fancy machine ground in the lower right.

Taste in chintz evolved from a preference for white ground florals to colored grounds. Then about 1810 a new fashion appeared. Everyone wanted chintz with fancy printed backgrounds.

Two borders of fancy grounds behind floral figures.
Stella Rubin

In the 1820s and '30s these complicated figure and ground combinations were just the thing.

Quilt dated 1839 by Mary Julian
She contrasted neat geometrics with a complicated
chintz border, the print made more complex with a fancy machine background.

Printers with newly developed skills in printing details went overboard in design ideas.

Cracked ice or vermiculate details were popular backgrounds
behind the florals.

A repro of this print might be hard to sell.

Detail of a many-layered chintz in a vintage quilt at the recent Prussian Blue show
at the New England Quilt Museum.

This one would make a popular repro print.

Honeycomb or netted grounds were rather simple to print and to integrate into a quilt.

Small dots also made an interesting background.

At left a reproduction of the original print with a shading of fine dots. The dots were called picotage in French and Stormont ground in English. The reproduction is from my Lately Arrived from London line.

The textured background is so subtle in this early 19th century print
that it hardly shows up in the lighter and smaller reproduction at top left.
It's difficult to copy the detail of the fancy machine grounds printed
with metal rollers

A large-scale  vintage print with the same kind of scroll and ground

Similar feel in a repro by Nancy Gere

Dots as background and forming a secondary print in a quilt dated 
1838 from dealer Pique Trouve

The fence rail set is cut from chintz with a fancy machine ground in
this vintage quilt.


Repro block by Becky Brown
The fabric has a background in picotage-style.

Can you see the fancy grounds in this Chintz Medallion reproduction
from Quilting Treasures?

Ann Robinson, a Shelburne Museum collection

From Circa 1825 from In the Beginning

Memento Edith by Mary Koval

Two florals with secondary patterns in the backgrounds from Judie Rothermel.
Becky used the blue one for her block at the top of the page.

Two by Nancy Gere
It's easier to find smaller-scale prints with
fancy machine grounds than the large-scale chintzes.

Picotage ground in a repro from Pat Nickols

What to do with your Stack of Stars?
Move the border in.

When I saw this Stash Stars pattern from Atkinson Design I thought how good that would look
in chintzy style. It's really a simple medallion in Terry Atkinson's trademark style.

I made a mock-up in EQ7. A chintz strip? It's a classic.

This one uses 44 stars finishing to 8" with a strip finishing
to 8" in the inner border. It's 66" x 66".

One More Thing About Fancy Machine Grounds
The ground can wind up isolated from the original chintz.

Our repro print with a vintage hexagon in the detail

For the Floral Trails reproduction line Terry Thompson and I did 15 years ago we had just the background of an antique chintz. Some over-enthusiastic reproduction quiltmaker had cut out all the flowers.

But the leftover lacy background was complex enough to make a good print.The vintage hexagons in the box above feature the same background. I bet the quilter who made the antique hexagons above had cut her chintz flowers out too and saved her tiny fancy background scraps.

Here is the fancy-machine-ground chintz as it was, yardage
bordering an Irish Chain quilt from Stella Rubin.

Sometimes you get the feeling that a quilt is a transition piece overlapping different styles.
The chintz with all its details is 1830s-style. The red and green Irish Chain blocks are marching
into the 1840s and '50s.

Read more on fancy machine grounds at this post.

And in America's Printed Fabric, pages 27-29.


Vic in NH said...

I love the fancy machine grounds chintzes! Thank you for teaching me the word picotage for the little dots in the ground, too. In my swap groups, I always request that we do a few Civil War swaps and I'm amazed when newbies ask what that means, LOL. I try to explain and refer them then to this blog and you.

Lori said...

Lovely post. I love the cracked ice and the name suits it perfectly!

mlb said...

Your awesome ability to research vintage quilts is totally amazing! I love your posts. Thank you Thank you!;-)

Anonymous said...

I have spent the last week pouring over your Stars in a Time Warp from the January beginning. I am finding that I am becoming intensely interested in the anything Civil War! Thank you for all the history information along with the quilting history. I am now on a mission using this format to become more informed about Reproduction fabrics. Not enough hours in the day to do all I really want to do!