Saturday, October 31, 2015

LLLLog Cabin Quilt

Log Cabin quilt inscribed in the center 1865
79" x 80"
Collection of Minnesota Historical Society

The Minnesota Historical Society has photos of this Civil War quilt in their online collections page. It is dated May, 1865, a month after the war ended. If this is indeed the date it was made, it is one of the earliest surviving, date-inscribed Log Cabin quilts.

The fabrics are wool.

The inscription: "L.L.L. #352 Du Quoin, Illinois. May. 1865"

See the quilt at their website here:

The quilt was pictured in the Minnesota quilt project book Minnesota Quilts:
"L.L.L. are presumably the quiltmaker's initials, but the rest of the inscription remains a mystery."
The museum's catalog entry links the initials to a woman's Civil War organization:
"The Loyal Ladies League was an auxiliary of the G.A.R. Quilt belonged to Watson I. Lamson, who was in the Civil War. The quilt was made by Lucy Lee Lamson (1820-1887) in Homer, Minnesota (Winona County)."

I found a Lucy Ann Lee Lamson, born in 1820 in Mount Washington, Massachusetts, who died in 1888 in Homer, Winona County, Minnesota. Her husband was William Lamson. She had three sons: Adelbert Arthur, born in 1842, Watson Irving, born in 1844, and Livingston, born in 1846. Her last child Mary, born in 1847, died at about 7 years old.

The family left Massachusetts in 1851 for Rockford, Illinois, where they lived for three years before moving to Winona County. She and members of her family are buried in the Woodlawn Cemetery in the town of Winona.

The area around Winona is known for its scenic landscape.

Winona is the red arrow at the top of this Google map.

Lucy and her family lived near this Mississippi River town for much of their lives after spending three years in Rockford (the middle arrow.) The quilt refers to Du Quoin, Illinois, the red pin at the bottom of the map, south of St. Louis.

There are several questions associated with this quilt:

  • Did LLL stand for Lucy Lee Lamson or Loyal Ladies League?
  • What did Lucy Lamson have to do with Du Quoin, Illinois?
  • Why would a quilt made in Minnesota refer to a town in Southern Illinois that is over 500 miles away?
As the earliest surviving date-inscribed log cabin quilt it's an outlier in the data, over a decade earlier than other date-inscribed versions. Was it actually made in 1865?

We can discuss the last question first. I just don't think the quilt was made in 1865.

I would guess the tan flag stripes and the initials were once red.
The thread has faded over the years in a manner typical of
late-19th century synthetic red dyes.

The style and pattern of the patchwork (wool log cabin) and of the embroidery (fancy filled letters)
causes me to think that the piece is a late-19th-century quilt.

We find several Log Cabin quilts dated in the 1870s.
This silk example is inscribed 1879,
again in faded thread.

Wool log cabin dated 1876 in cross-stitch by Susan Messenger

Patriotic log cabin dated 1876 from
the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection at the University of Wisconsin,
perhaps made for the Centennial celebration.

Silk log cabin dated 1887

The central panel on the LLL quilt is embroidered
in a very typical 1880s style

with a graphic flair often seen on crazy quilts.
Was the date above once bright red?

Here's a red that's lasted, probably red wool
rather than silk or cotton.

The Minnesota Historical Society also has questions about that 1865 date. At one place in the catalog they list the creation date of the quilt:

" Not earlier than 1883 - Not later than 1892."

They base the estimated date 1883-1892 on the year for the founding of  The Loyal Ladies League, which "was organized as an auxiliary of the GAR in Denver, Colorado in 1883." More about that organization next week. Where they get the late date of 1892 I can't figure out.

Lucy Lamson died in April, 1887 or 1888, so she might have made it during the '80s, but I'm beginning to doubt that she put a stitch into it.

More on what LLL could mean next week.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Stars in a Time Warp 42: Sprigged Muslins & Indiennes

Amy A's repro star could be described in many ways.
This week we'll consider the fashion terms
sprigged muslin and Indiennes.

The Time Warp is going back a century or so from 1900 last week to 1800 this week.

Sprig muslin star on chintz
by Becky Brown

Whether your regency reading is textile history or Georgette Heyer's romances you've seen the words Sprig Muslin before.

Sprig or sprigged muslin refers to a fine white cotton, embroidered or woven with a pattern. The design was often white on white as in the ruff collar worn by Miss Lockhart Alexander, portrait by John Hoppner. 

But a contrasting color on white was also popular.

Emma Corbett Making Childbed Linen 
During A Voyage At Sea (detail)

There is much discussion in Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey about Catherine's "sprigged muslin robe with blue trimmings," perhaps resembling the dress in the 1794 illustration of the fictional Emma Corbett. 

Ackermann's Repository
featured a swatch of block-printed 
sprigged cotton in an 1813 issue.

Printing cotton was all about imitating more expensive fabrics so there was a large market for block-printed, sprigged muslin that imitated embroidered cotton.

Fine muslin with printed sprigs from the Copp
Collection at the Smithsonian Institution

We've discussed these cotton prints before in different categories. The technology is wood block printing; the set design is often a foulard/diagonal grid. But the style terms are sprigged muslin or Indiennes.

See woodblocks here:

Foulards here:

Ackermann's Repository showed "Muslin Patterns"
in 1815.

Muslin to us is an inferior weave, but in the early days of cotton clothing in the West, muslin referred to a fine, light weave. It was often a synonym for cotton.

This week we'll consider early prints in terms of style---No one in Jane Austen's novels ever mentions a block-printed, cotton foulard, but sprigged muslins come up frequently. Sprig refers to a simple, small floral---"a sprig of lavender." These prints initially were imported to the west from India, so another name refers to their origins: Indiennes

Swatches of Indiennes, "Toilles de Cotton" imported through 
Marseilles, France

The word Indiennes initially meant any printed cotton from India.

 And then came to mean cotton printed elsewhere in imitation of Indian style.

Detail of a British quilt, 1820s

From my book America's Printed Fabrics 1770-1890:
"... a small isolated figure set in diagonal repeat. Figures fall in a half-drop repeat with rows aligned in staggered fashion, giving the over-all effect of a diamond grid. The figure may be a flower, leaf, paisley cone, or motif so abstract it is identified only as a mignonette (little fancy). The print style with its diagonal, neat design is also known as an Indienne, a copy of an Indian-style print."

Chintzes and sprigs, reproduction hexagons
by Georgann Eglinski

Repro block by Becky Brown
A multicolored sprigged muslin as background.
The set style is a floral trail.

Sprig Muslin Star by Bettina Havig

Repro by Bettina Havig
A tossed set in a sprigged muslin as background.

A grid set as background by Bettina.
All these sets are variations of Indiennes and sprigged muslins.

The Indienne style is still an important category of fabric design today. Here are three new prints from Moda, coming out in November, 2015, that aren't being marketed as reproduction prints, but of course they are. These basic figures have been printed in thousands of subtle variations over the centuries.

What to Do With Your Stack of Stars?
Piece Them Into a Garden Maze.

Quilt from about 1830. 
Stars set in a pieced sashing
we call Garden Maze.

Collection of the International Quilt Study Center and Museum

Despite its complexity, the set is found in early quilts.

Johann Kimmel painted a quilt with a garden maze set in
 his 1814 picture The Quilting Party. 
There might be X patchwork blocks barely visible,
or the blocks could be unpieced...

like this mid-19th-century quilt from Ruth Finley's collection.

Quilt date-inscribed 1830.

A green calico star from the end of the 19th century.

Pook and Pook auction house sold this beautiful 
mid-19th-century example in 2010.

I could tell you how to make a quilt much like this for 6" stars.
But Dawn Heese has already done it.

Her Pathways quilt with 25 six-inch stars finishes to 66" x 78"

The pattern is in her 2014 book
Autumn Splendor

One More Thing About Sprigged Muslin

"denying me a fmall fum to purchafe a piece of fprigged muflin"
Problems in a marriage 200 years ago---
 related to fabric purchases.

"La, if you have not got your spotted muslin on!"
Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

Other names include
"Spotted Muslin"
And "Book Muslin"

Swatch number 4 (lower right) in this page from Ackermann's Repository in 1809 is captioned "Printed book muslin for evening wear," according to textile historian Florence Montgomery. She discussed muslin in Textiles in America, 1650-1870. Book muslin was another name for the same stuff, but referred to the way it was folded for sale---similar I guess to our words flat-fold today.

See a preview of Montgomery's book with a muslin discussion on page 304 by clicking here at Google Books: