Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Stars in a Time Warp 40: Cadet Blue & Celestials

Reproduction block by Bettina Havig.
Star of cadet blue in a background of conversation print---
spinning tops.

Vintage block in cadet blue and silver grays
Cadet blue is a name for a distinctive light-gray-blue
introduced about 1890.

The color probably came from new experiments with the chemistry of indigo printing.

Reproduction block by Becky Brown

The blue was a new shade that added to the distinctive
1890-1925 look, so it's a great clue for dating antique quilts.

Figures were often minimal. Dots are about as basic as it gets.

Farm and Home suggesting a red, 
white and blue color scheme in 1903.
"Any house where there are many children would be apt to furnish easily the blues and whites, and even if the red had to be bought for the purpose the cost would be very slight."
Class picture, 1901
"Tub-fast" blues were the staple for children's clothing at the time.

Above and below
Cadet blues

This starry quilt with its cadet blue borders has 600 stars in a grid of 25 x 24. If they were 6" like ours are just the field of stars alone would measure 144 inches across. They must be 3" stars.

During the 1890-1925 period there was also a fad for celestial prints---stars and moons. The woman above could not be more fashionable: A celestial print of widely spaced crescents, the good book (Bible, temperance, album?) and a crazy quilt drapery.

Becky Brown repro:
Navy blue stars and a crescent moon shirting,
both celestials.

Vintage block in navy indigo
Similar print in bronzey browns

That crescent moon image was quite the fashion.

Vintage hexagon quilt

This week you can make cadet blue stars and/or stars of star prints.

Two shades of indigo in a reproduction block
by Bettina 

I made this star of 8" blocks years ago, 
copying the shading and contrast in an old top...

Very much like this example from about 1900.

Becky Brown's been capturing the look
by setting her Time Warp stars in quilts for her
grandchildren. Two boys share a room.
One likes blue and one likes green.

Jeanne Horton in her Settlement Collection

Look for medium to light blues with a touch of gray.
The prints should be monochromes of white figures on
cadet blue grounds.

Jan Patek,  Lilies of the Field

Vintage Sampler by Barb Eikmeier using her Vintage Shirtings
& Dress Prints,

Donna K.'s been using up her repro scraps in stars.
 She set them in a strip zig-zag set with lots of cadet blue
reproductions, mixing blues and making low-contrast stars
as well as high-contrast.

What to Do With Your Stack of Star Blocks?
Frame the starry field two or three times.

Quilt date inscribed 1892
Towards the end of the 19th-century a fashion
for contrasting strip borders developed.

We have seen many photos of wonderful
Pennsylvania quilts framed with bright strips.

Amish Quilt

Friendship quilt date-inscribed 1889 much so that this idea of a spacer border---a double or triple frame--- became the design standard
in the last quarter of the 20th century and into the 21st.

Reproduction quilt, Spicy Popovers by Kaye England

 The frames provide an orderly look and frame a wall quilt neatly.

Jelly Stars by Kaye England captures the pinks and bronzey browns
from the 1880s. Contrasting binding makes a third frame. Note the celestial
print in the center.

If you want to copy that distinctive 1880-1910 look consider a double or triple frame border in contrasting colors.

But that idea might be too orderly for you.  If you're a rebel you might want to do something else with your strips. There's a subcategory of improvised strip borders.

Quilt date-inscribed 1896
Forget those mitered corners.

Quilt date-inscribed 1898-1899
Who's counting?

See more about spacer borders in this post:

And the more improvisational borders here:

One More Thing About Cadet Blue

Vintage quilt top about 1900

The distinctive blue cotton had several names. Different mills and retailers had different names. Cadet blue refers to the traditional blue-gray wool coats of military cadets. The 1895 Montgomery Ward catalog seems to be describing it as Washington Blue in this listing:

"Washington Oil Blue Frock Prints are not so dark as indigo; they are printed in a small floral design of a little lighter shade than the ground work and are neat and pretty for children."

Elsewhere they describe their spring and summer novelty prints, offering "Goblin Blue Dress Prints; only one color in this line, but it is a favorite, more popular every year. The color is neither dark nor light, the printing in in white, small figures or stripes."

That's a typo. They meant Gobelin Blue not Goblin Blue. The Gobelin factory made luxury textiles in Paris beginning in 1602. Gobelin blue was a common name for a medium shade. It seems to be the color of the window trim in the building today.


Cynthia@wabi-sabi-quilts said...

Thank you for yet another great post Barbara, teaching us so much and with so many examples - I love those twin quilts that Becky Brown has done. I'm working on my first Time Warp top and trying to amass enough blocks for a second! These stars are addictive! Thanks again - it's such a treat to check out your blog each Wednesday morning!

Suzanne A said...

Eye-opening. I always thought cadet blue was an early fabric color. Nice to have that straightened out.

Barb said...

Great inspirations for setting our stars!

Suzanne A said...

Eye-opening. I always thought cadet blue was an early fabric color. Nice to have that straightened out.

Jeanne said...

Love those improvised strip borders! Barbara, any thoughts yet about another series on the horizon?

Debra said...

Oh boy! I have a lot of cadet blues to choose from, it will be hard to decide on which one(s). And I have a very special celestial that I can't wait to use! Thanks!

Mark Lauer said...

I love the cadet blues!!
Barbara, will you be designing a collection any time soon with celestials?? Fun and fantastic look!

Unknown said...

Love blues, any shade. But Cadet Blue is a very special favorite. Thanks for expanding our knowledge, and giving us of much of yourself and your time Barbara
Smiles, JulieinTN

Hey Jude said...

These stars are a never ending awe inspiring imagination treet!