Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Stars in a Time Warp 19: Serpentine Stripes

Reproduction star by Becky Brown

Vintage block, 1820-1850

Serpentine stripes, which snake along the fabric's surface, were quite popular in the first half of the 19th century. 

Vintage flowers set in a striped set, but a serpentine striped set.

We're changing our focus here, going back into the 1800-1840 era, when serpentine stripes were IT.

Detail of a cotton dress about 1820 from
Charles A. Whitaker auctions

Early Medallion framed by triangles of stripes---serpentine 
and straight (neat stripes, about which more later)

Serpentine stripe reproduction by Becky Brown

Vintage block, 1820-1840
Combination of a serpentine stripe with an indigo neat stripe.

Serpentine stripes add fussy-cut effects to hexagons
as in this early quilt. Also notice the border. 

It's 4 diamonds, 3 shaded one way, 1 another.

Valerie's purple repro block included a serpentine stripe in the center.

Another reproduction star by Becky
She and Valerie have the same print in different colorways.

Vintage block, 1820-1840-
Note the unusual shape that is pieced of the serpentine stripes. It fits with hexagons
and offers more fussy-cutting possibilities.

Rainbow shading in a serpentine stripe

Girl, about 1840

Undulating stripes soften the lines of the dress so curved stripes might have been a fashion demand. But rollers printed these stripes easily and well, so the fad could also have been caused merely by the novelty of the cylinder print machines.

Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection
at the University of Wisconsin

Detail of an early 19th-century scrap quilt. 
Curvy stripes add to the busyness of the classic chintz look.

Mill book with illustrations for fabric about 1825.


Turkey red and a purple stripe by Becky Brown
The purple looks like the 1825 swatches

Terry Thompson and I reproduced this print for Coral Gardens
back in the '90s.

Sharon and Jason Yenter have a lovely example
in their Circa 1825 line for In the Beginning...

used here in a reproduction from Busy Thimble blog

Nancy Gere may be the queen of serpentine stripes.
She reproduces them often and well.

Lori at Humble Quilts used that blue stripe above.

A reproduction dress seen at Hearts Full of Joy blog.

SF's block using a popular repro print.

It was in the Sarah Johnson line from the Shelburne Museum

Here it is again in Old Virginia by Mariann Simmons. The print is rather strange and
quite accurate.

A recent repro from Mary Koval's Edith

Val has a piece of another old favorite

What to Do With Your Stack of Stars?
Make Blocks of Different Sizes

Star Happy Quilts by Judy Martin

We're working with 6" stars but you could be making 3", 9" or 12" stars too. With a little bit
of extra setting fabric you can give these vintage-looking stars a more contemporary look.

America by Leere Aldrich

Winter Blues
from A Year of Cozy Comforts by Dawn Heese.
Dawn alternated a large star with a 9-patch pieced of small stars.

Your 6-inch stars in a Nine Patch block would finish to 18".
If you alternated 5 big stars (finishing to 18") and 4 nine patches.....

You'd need only 20 small stars to wind up with a 54" quilt.
The nine patches are called Cluster of Stars and are BlockBase pattern #1710.
Those big stars would be an excellent spot for a Serpentine Stripe.

One More Thing About Serpentine Stripes

The Smithsonian's History  Museum owns a quilt made
by Martha Washington and her granddaughter Eliza Custis.
The brown stripe in the center border is supposed to be one
of Martha's dresses

That serpentine stripe was reproduced during the Centennial in 1876. Note the stripes going both ways. It's a rather basic print, possibly American manufactured. It's probably a little too primitive to be commercially viable today. But now you know what to look for if you are channeling Martha.

Read more about the quilt here:

Repro by Becky Brown. 
She's added seams to the center
square to fussy-cut the serpentine stripe.

Read more about serpentine stripes in my book America's Printed Fabric, pages 37-39


viridian said...

I have that Circa 1825 Serpentine stripe fabric and I'm planning on using it!

Debra said...

Love these.. can't wait to dig through my repos and get started. I have that strip with the stars and have been saving it for the SIATW!

Mary said...

I hesitared to use my On the Beginning reproduction fabrics. This week I will cut into that serpentine stripe! Thanks for the Lesson.

Vic in NH said...

Your research photos of vintage quilt scraps are so wonderful, thank you! I look forward to every Wednesday.

Valerie Z said...

Love Becky's blocks with all the fabulous serpentine fabrics! Thank you for another great lesson this week! So fun seeing one of my blocks in your lesson too! Enjoying the journey week after week! Thank you Barbara!

Louise said...

Oh those serpentine stripe fabrics are wonderful!
I have quite a few in my collection and look forward to using them. I think I need a day or two to get caught up. Your lessons just keep getting better all the time, nice history lessons for us. Thank you once again.

Jeanne said...

Hmmm, I do believe that there's a serpentine stripe in the Union Blues collection ...

Unknown said...

I never realized the variety of prints from awaybackwhen!

Barbara, a book with your knowledge and choice of fabrics, and Becky's fussy cut blocks from them would be a masterpiece. Not only that, WOWOW I would LOVE to buy an copy or two! MAYBE one will come into being?

Smiles, JulieinTN

Deb said...

I have done a block swap with 12 in stars with a group and they are all signed this is a perfect setting with the cluster of stars in between thanks so much for sharing I found your post through pinterest!