Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Stars in a Time Warp 10: Green Calicoes

Vintage block about 1900
Green calicoes in these small ditsy prints were dyed in the same fashion as the overdyed green solids discussed in this post:

Vintage block about 1880-1900

Blue and yellow dyes were layered to get greens, blacks and yellows.

Reproduction block by Becky Brown
Green calico stripe, chrome yellow and a shirting print.

Rosemary did this star last year in the center of 
block from Threads of Memory

Vintage block about 1880-1900

A classic ditsy overprinted green calico.
Ditsy is actually jargon in the textile business for a simple print.

Vintage quilt about 1890-1910
End-of- the-century quilters loved it for sashing
and settings. They thought it went with everything!

Vintage quilt about 1880-1910

Vintage quilt about 1880-1910
Eastern Pennsylvania stitchers loved it right next to pink.

Vintage quilt date-inscribed 1894

You don't find much of the bright green calicoes in quilts dated before 1840s.

Quilt date-inscribed 1833 by Mary Marden in
the Nickols Collection at the Mingei Museum.

There were plenty of green prints in the early 19th century quilts, but in general they were quite different: more complex colors, more complex prints.

Quilt dated 1841

Reproduction blocks by Bettina Havig

A look Bettina is capturing in these two greens.

Detail of a mid-19th-century quilt from the D.A.R. Museum

The fad for bright green calicoes may derive from the Pennsylvania-German aesthetics. Bright green, red and yellows were a favored palette.

The fabric was a favorite with the ethnic German women
of Eastern Pennsylvania. This vintage quilt combines the primaries,

Edyta Sitar's interpretation of the palette for her Laundry Basket quilts

A difficult thing to do!


Valerie's block for green solids included a green calico center.

Green repro from Windham's Calico Garden line
Like the other bright calicoes good green repros are
hard to find.

From a Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum collection of repro prints.

From Nancy Gere's Poison Green

Susan Martin did a great job of copying the vintage quilt at the top.
Her green is perfect.

Mary Freeman and the Patchwork Divas
use a lot of green calico and punch it up a little.

Jo Morton, Berry Nice
You might prefer to interpret the green rather than copy the color scheme.

Fabric and pattern from Pomegranate Lane 
by the Quilting Crow

Push the color to a more olive or grayer shade.

Here are some toned-down green prints from my
Metropolitan Fair line a few years ago.

What To Do with Your Stack of Star Blocks?
Set them Fence Rail Fashion.

Vintage quilt documented by the Heritage Quilt Project of New Jersey,
Photo from the Quilt Index

Lori at Humble Quilts was inspired.
See her tutorial for the set here:

Vintage quilt 1870-1890
The zig-zag or fence rail set is one you see more after 1870 than before.

Set the stars on point with triangles, piece those into strips and offset the strips.

Here's a quilt I used to own that is older, maybe 1830-1860,
set in zig-zag fashion. The strips are paralleograms---strips with
angles on the ends.

Similar to this beautiful mid-19th-century reproduction by
Moda using Howard Marcus's Collection for a Cause: Hope.

Again, here's how it's stitched.

The star here finishes to about 9-1/2"

See the free pattern atModa:

For a 6-inch star cut the squares 9-3/4" for the setting triangles and cut into 4 triangles with 2 cuts.

I tried once to construct this set with rectangles and squares.
I was not pleased with the results.

Here's an updated look by Mabry Benson.

Another at Thread Head:

One More Thing About Green Calicoes

Detail of a vintage quilt from the collection of the Winterthur Museum.

This overprinted classic print is NOT Poison green although that is what many call it today.

I wrote a post about the real poison green five years ago:

There definitely was a poison green: green dyes and pigments based on copper arsenate---arsenic.

Carl Wilhelm Scheele died of poison green at 44.

"Chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele (1742-1786) discovered arsenic's use as a coloring agent in 1778.
Variations became extremely popular for dyeing and printing cloth and wallpaper and, worst of all, for food coloring. Before pure food and drug laws the only testing was trial and error on the part of the consumer. Decades went by before people realized that coloring marzipan with copper arsenate was an extreme health hazard. Wallpaper and silks also could sicken, if not kill."

The over-printed calicoes with their chrome yellow figures may have been somewhat toxic, but no where nearly as dangerous as the true arsenic green.

See more about green calicoes here:


Wendy Caton Reed said...

Thanks for another great color. And thanks for your setting examples. It will be fun to see what people come up with.

Lori said...

Looking forward to searching my stash for green calicoes!

Sandy said...

I just discovered that zig zag setting, I love it and have already used it twice. The first time I cut my triangles wrong resulting in sewing the strips on the bias. Not recommended.

I have yet to start my stars. I'm thinking of making them four inches rather than six, for a smaller quilt. Too many large quilts already in the works. But can't resist all those colors!

WoolenSails said...

I love the colors in those quilts, green does go with everything and one of my favorite to use in quilts.


Unknown said...

Thanks so much for the clarification on green calicoes vs. poison greens. I even have several of these greens that are marked "Poison green." Interesting to learn that what I've been calling poison green forever is NOT actually poison green. I love these lessons! I have several of these greens in my stash, and I know I won't be able to stick to making just one star this week :)

Jeanne said...

Barbara, I love ALL these bright calico prints -- greens, yellows, pinks, reds, etc. -- but they're not always available. Any chance you might do a fabric line of all the calico colors?

viridian said...

Oh boy, love these green fabrics! I've been collecting them for some years. I buy double pinks, these greens and turkey red whenever I see them. Looking forward to doing these stars. I post them on my blog:

Sprigg said...

Interesting note about poison green this week. Question then, Barbara, did they not use the real poison green dye for cotton prints?

Barbara Brackman said...

Shawm--I don't know, but the bright greens in plains and calicoes that we see were dyed with indigo or prussian blue, chrome yellows, not Scheele's green.

Cynthia@wabi-sabi-quilts said...

I didn't have perfect greens but I attempted to interpret the second block you posted. Thanks for the great setting ideas - and the great history we get every Wednesday!!