Saturday, June 27, 2015

In War Time: A Study of Civil War Era Quilts: 1850-1865

Shield and Stars
by Pamela Weeks
Pam interpreted a Civil-War-era quilt made by Cornelia Dow.

The American Quilt Study Group has self-published a book on their 2014 Quilt Study. Members interpreted a quilt from the Civil War era, the time period 1850-1865.

The study quilt reproductions were first shown at AQSG's Milwaukee seminar last September.

You can buy the catalog on Amazon, which offers distribution for such self-published books.

If you use this address to access Amazon and select the American Quilt Study Group in Amazon Smile, the non-profit receives an increased percentage of the profits.

The book is available for $21.95.

Lewis's Big Yellow Star by
Susan Craig Spurgeon

A selection of the entries is now traveling to museums around the country for the next three years. (I was one of the judges.)

Here's the schedule:

November 2015 to March 1, 2016
Virginia Quilt Museum

March 11-13, 2016
The Dallas Quilt Show

April 1 to July 30, 2016
Quilter's Hall of Fame, Marion, Indiana

September 15 to December 15, 2016
Northern Michigan University, DeVos Art Museum

December 20 to February 20, 2017
Baldwin Reynolds House Museum, Meadville, PA

March 1 to May 31, 2017
Gilbert Historical Museum, Gilbert AZ

June 2017 to October 20, 2017
Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum, Boulder, CO

November 1 to February 28, 2018
Sheerer Museum of Stillwater, Stillwater, OK

June 1 to August, 2018
La Conner Quilt and Textile Museum, LaConner, WA

Check the schedule

You'll find 50 reproduction quilts to enjoy at this AQSG site

Oh! Shenandoah by Carol Born

Wild Thing by Virginia L. Mummert

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.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

1864 Album from Westmoreland New York

Quilt dated 1864, made for Robert W. Wilson,
Westmoreland, New York.
Sold at Cottone Auctions 2011.

I don't have many 1864 quilts in my file of dated quilts.

This one is similar to New York Albums of the Civil War era.

The block in the lower right here with an ax, a handsaw and a rail fence
might recall a rail splitter---

Vintage saw
perhaps a pro-Lincoln block.

Lincoln from a cotton bandana

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Stars in a Time Warp 23: Blotch-Ground Chintzes

Reproduction block by Becky Brown,
a white chintz contrasting with a blotch-ground chintz for the background.

Notice the white lines around the florals in the background.
These signs of poor print registration are often referred to as halos.

Early-19th-century British quilt with
a blotch-ground red chintz next to a classic Polka dot

My collection of  vintage blotch ground chintzes from America's Printed Fabrics

Chintzes have been so popular that there are many styles within the category. Last week I showed white-ground chintzes.

Vintage quilt detail, early 19th-century

White-ground chintzes were the rage in the 18th-century but towards 1800 taste changed.

Dark-ground chintzes became a fashion item for quilts and clothing

Vintage wholecloth quilt of a dark-ground pheasant print

Brown chintz dress, an 18th-century round gown, from Historic Deerfield

Note the blue check in the sleeve lining.
See a post on dark-ground chintz fashion by Hallie Larkin here:

Printers had several methods for creating the dark ground chintzes. Madder printing with different mordants was one way to do it.

Vintage madder-printed pheasant and palm tree print
The registration is good, which means the
figures fit nicely into the background with
few gaps or overlap. That's one of the advantages to madder dyes.

Reproduction star by Bettina Havig

But if you wanted lots of color in the chintzes (and who didn't?) you could change a white-ground chintz to a dark ground chintz just by adding background color. The printers used block technology to add the backgrounds. I've seen references to a wood block with a felt shape glued onto it that was called a blotch. 

Melbourne, Australia, newspaper ad for
drab ground, white ground and blotch ground chintzes in 1855.
"Drab" ground refers to quercitron-dyed prints, which
we'll discuss in July.

Blotch now has several meanings, most commonly an irregular shape. Printers use the word differently now too but in the past blotch as a textile term meant an added background color.

Dyers could add any color they could print with the blotch technology so you often see the same chintz with different backgrounds, what we call different colorways.

Added tan grounds were often called tea ground.

Registration in blotch-ground prints was poor, an obvious flaw that no one seemed to mind.
The blotch block left huge halos around the flowers and leaves.

Tea-ground blotch chintzes are often found in early quilts

Detail of a tea-ground chintz star from the 
Boston Museum of Fine Arts

Added red ground was another option

More overlap than halos in this red version of
the pheasant and palm tree print.

Vintage red chintz, technically sub-par.
There's too much going on here for our taste.
A reproduction would NEVER sell.

Medium blue grounds were fashionable in the early 19th century.
(And look good today too.)

The glaze is still on this vintage piece.

You could even buy an outrageous shade of yellow


Becky looked through her stash for registration errors to give the traditional
blotch-ground chintz look.

2 Stars by Becky
She'd had this piece of glazed purple chintz for years.

Here a little hint of halo in the blue.

Reproduction star by Bettina Havig

Sometimes you have to compromise and just go
for a well-registered colored ground. It's the color and the fabric's
figures and scale that are most important.

A red ground chintz with lovely geranium leaves
from the panel for Kathy Hall's Southcott quilt.

The print is in the corners of the original dated 1808
in the collection of the Royal Albert Museum.

A similar geranium with a red ground in a vintage quilt from the collection of Old Sturbridge Village

A repro tea-ground by Pat Nickols
Again, a hint of halo

Chintz florals fit nicely into their backgrounds today with perfect registration due to contemporary technology. What you are looking for is multi-color florals deliberately printed with gaps and halos.

Savannah by Fons and Porter

I'm hoping you have some of these old reproduction prints in your scraps.The imitation blotch-ground prints are hard to find because there is little cross-over market for them. You must appreciate the look to want to buy a badly registered print.

Jo Morton's Bird Chintz

You may not care for the print as a whole but you'll find that a few
scraps patched into a block gives an authentic early look.

Early Stars, reproduction by Barbara Schaffer

Here's a beautiful reproduction from Nancy Gere she 
calls Valley Forge. Just enough halo and tinted tan
to make it a cross-over print, rather than just for repro lovers.

Sawtooth Strip by Barbara Brackman

I found the brown ground chintz for the alternate strips in this reproduction of the 1840s look at a home decorating store. I bought the bolt on sale. They were glad to see it go.

What to Do with Your Stack of Stars?
Alternate with broderie Perse blocks.

Block dated 1853
Broderie Perse is also called Cut-Out Chintz applique.

I couldn't find any photos of period star quilts alternating with chintz cut out floras.

But isn't it a good idea? I did a digital mockup. For 6" finished alternate blocks your cut-out-chintz applique will have to be fairly simple.

Above and below: two simple cut-out chintz motifs
from about 1800-1840.

Antique red ground chintz with halos

The old chintz with its bad registration was perfect for broderie Perse. 

The halos meant you could applique a red chintz or a tan chintz to a white background and the tan wouldn't show.

Vintage broderie Perse
A heavy buttonhole stitch also hid the colored botch grounds.

One More Thing About Blotch-Ground Prints
Vintage hat box covered in the tea-ground version of
the pheasant and palm tree

The date on these imported blotch-ground chintzes in the United States seems to be about 1820-1840. 

Chintz medallion quilt
Gift of Sandra Dallas to the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum

Details show the variety of blotch-ground chintzes.

They were available in abundance when international trade opened up after the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815. We find so many surviving examples that textile historians guess they are among the British prints "dumped" after the war. Americans tended to blame the British for undermining the domestic printing industry with shiploads of prints, but Britain may have been glad to get rid of them because they'd been designed for the American market. You just don't see the abundance of them in English quilts that you do in American.

Although this detail of the very English Jane Austen quilt
at Chawton shows scraps that look to
be cut from brown, tea, and blue-ground chintzes.