Saturday, April 29, 2017

Civil War Album Style

1861, Esther Griffin for her daughter Mary

It's time to think about next year's Block of the Month with a Civil War theme. I think it should be pieced as I wanted the piecers to have their year without the A word. So my first thought was:

Pieced blocks from album samplers dated between 1855 and 1865.

1862, From the collection of the American Museum in Britain

That sounds like a good idea but it wasn't.  I had to recalculate.

1863 John W. Hinton,
North Carolina Project & the Quilt Index

There are, surprisingly, very few pieced blocks from samplers dated 1855-1865. I began by looking at my files of quilts dated 1860-1865.

1864. For Robert W. Wilson

Above the pieced blocks---a checkerboard, a basket & a Cleveland tulip variation---and the last two have applique.

Quilters apparently did not contribute many pieced blocks to album/samplers dated 1855-1865.
This in itself is a style discovery.

By the late 1850s album samplers were composed primarily of applique blocks.

1864 from Rahway, New Jersey & Laura Fisher's shop.

And even those that had quite a few pieced blocks showed little variety in the pieced blocks: album blocks like chimney sweeps, stars and baskets, It would be a dull year.

I'll think of some other source for pieced blocks for 2018. And we'll do applique in 2019. At least now I know it would be historically accurate.

See more about applique samplers here:

Quite surprising how little appeal pieced blocks had for Civil-War-era stitchers making album quilts

Two sisters sewing, a stereoscopic photo from 1865
by the London Stereoscopic Company.
See their site here:

1860 ad from Harper's Weekly


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Yankee Diary Block 4: Right Makes Might

Yankee Diary Block 4: Right Makes Might
by Danielle Bohannon.
A 15" finished flag.

From Carrie's diary, February 28, 1860.
"Grandfather asked me to read Abraham Lincoln's speech aloud which he delivered in Cooper Institute, New York, last evening, under the auspices of the Republican Club. He was escorted to the platform by David Dudley Field....The New York Times called him 'a noted political exhorter and Prairie orator.' It was a thrilling talk and must have stirred men's souls." 

Mother's cousin Dudley Field II,
  prominent New York lawyer,
hosted the Cooper Institute event.

Carrie and Grandfather Beals were undoubtedly proud that Grandmother's nephew David Dudley Field hosted the Presidential candidate in Manhattan. Abigail Field Beals's illustrious nephews also included Stephen Field who became an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and Cyrus Field, famous for laying the Atlantic telegraph cable.

Nominee Abraham Lincoln in the national news magazine
 Harper's Weekly.

The Presidential election of 1860 defined American discord. The Democratic party split, nominating two candidates to represent Northern and Southern interests. A new party, the Constitutional Unionists, nominated their own candidate and another new party, the Republicans, nominated Abraham Lincoln whose eloquent speech at the Cooper Institute brought him national attention.

 The Cooper Institute Building still stands 
at Cooper Square on St Marks Place in the East Village.
 Here Lincoln made a speech ending with:
 "Let us have faith that right makes might."

Carrie and Grandfather Beals were probably pleased that Lincoln was nominated and elected but Carrie at 18 years old didn't have much to say about Lincoln's campaign through 1860.

 Lincoln political meeting in neighboring Geneva

 In November while votes were counted and Southern states threatened to secede if Lincoln won she worked on a patchwork project.

A quilt of silk hexagons backed with papers dated 1864

November 21, 1860
 "I am trying to make a sofa pillow out of little pieces of silk. Aunt Ann taught me how. You have to cut pieces of paper into octagonal shape and cover them with silk and then sew them together, over and over. They are beautiful, with bright colors when they are done. There was a hop at the hotel last night and some of the girls went and had an elegant time."
I bet Carrie meant hexagonal shape but no one ever gets that word right---be it 1860 or 2017. Hexagon: 6 sides. Octagon: 8 sides.

In 1858 a  drygoods store in Canandaigua promised Silks! Silks!

Aunt Ann Beals Field (1805 - 1896),
Mother's sister and another cousin to the famous Field brothers

The Brothers Field by Matthew Brady.
The Field family was a 19th-century New York powerhouse.

Flag from a quilt dated 1853 in the collection of the Smithsonian
Institution, made in South Reading, Massachusetts.

When Lincoln became President the following year "the storm in the air" finally demanded Carrie's attention.
"I read the inaugural address aloud to Grandfather this evening. [Lincoln] dwelt with such pathos upon the duty that all, both North and South, owe to the Union, it does not seem as though there could be war!"

Block 4 by Barbara Brackman

The Flag
My 15" x 15" (finished size) flag is drawn from an applique sampler that featured a flag in each corner.
Sampler by Dorothea Klein Lemley,
Sheboygan, Wisconsin, blocks 1861-1865, 
possibly assembled later,
from my book Civil War Women.

I love Dorothea's free-form appliqued stripes. All my friends advised me I could have pieced the stripes faster and more accurately, but that's the point!

Those appliqued stripes are charming. My love for charm, however, did not extend to appliquéing 13 stars in the blue field like Dorothea did, so I stitched one large star to a polka dot ground.

See more ideas for starry fields in last Saturday's post.

Becky Brown's flag with appliqued stripes is nicely symmetrical.
The measurements are different from mine.
You need a pieced variable star finishing to 6" and some wiggly applique stripes.
See below.

Cutting a 15" Flag
For the flag cut a background square 15-1/2" x 15-1/2"
A - See the template below for the star that finishes to 4-1/4" inches. Add seams. You can piece or applique it.
B - For applique:  Cut a square 5-1/2" x 5-1/2" Applique the star to the field. Turn the edges under and applique the field after you've sewn down the stripes.
C - Cut 2 red strips 1-3/4" x 10-3/4".  (Note: I cut the top stripe a little wider.) Turn the edges under and applique.
D - Cut 3 red strips 1-3/4" x  15-1/2" . Turn the edges under and applique.
To Print:
  • Create a word file or a new empty JPG file.
  • Click on the image above. 
  • Right click on it and save it to your file. 
  • Print that file. Check to be sure the box line is 5". 
  • Add seam allowances when you cut the fabric.
Becky's design wall with the top half of the finished quilt,
Blocks 1 to 4.


Trying to keep all those Bealses and Fields straight is a puzzle made easier to solve by Nancy T. Hayden's book The Complete Guide to Village Life in America. Nancy is apparently as crazy about Carrie's world as I am. Her book contains a walking tour of Carrie's neighborhood, portraits & short biographies of everybody mentioned in the diary.

Buy it at the Ontario County Museum:

Instructions for Becky's Flag
The 6" Finished Star

A - Cut 4 squares 2".
B - Cut 1 square 4-1/4". Cut into 4 triangles with 2 diagonal cuts.
You need 4 triangles.
C - Cut 4 squares 2-3/8", Cut each into 2 triangles with a diagonal cut.
You need 8 triangles.
D - Cut 1 square 3-1/2".

The Stripe
Above is a JPG of the top half of the flag which
should print out 6" x 9". Use it for your appliqued
stripe and add seams.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

34 Stars in a Flag

Patriotic Quilt
Estimated date 1861 - 1863

This Civil-War-era quilt is hard to appreciate from a photograph but it is certainly notable. Documented by the New Jersey quilt project, it is estimated to have over 7,000 pieces in it and 34 stars.

The quilt of diamonds and hexagons had passed from the maker's family but the owner attributed it to Ivy Purcell of Atlantic City, married to a doctor.

Because the center field has 34 stars the quilt documenters attributed it to the years 1861 - 1863 when the Union flag had 34 stars.

Abraham Lincoln raised the new flag with
34 stars on February 22, 1861 over Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

We are very used to a conventional grid of stars. The official star placement was dictated by an early 20th-century law but during the mid-19th century flag makers were free to use any arrangement. Here are a few creative flags and quilts.
From a sampler

We'll be making a flag for our Yankee Diary quilt so these may provide inspiration
(if not a lot of applique.)

Field from Emma Van Fleet's 1866 flag quilt
Yakima Valley Museum

Field from a flag quilt in the Belfast Historical Society, Maine

Two starry blocks from a sampler in the
Museum of Our National Heritage,
Quilt Index

Another sampler from the Quilt Index

Field from the Abbie Williams Flag Quilt from Canandaigua.
Ontario County Historical Society.

Field from a crib quilt in the Offut Collection.
Jeffrey Evans Antiques

From Stephen Score Antiques

From James Julia Antiques
A variation on the Peterson's Magazine pattern.

Kansas State Historical Society

This 20th-century quiltmaker thought three was
a good number. The flag looks backwards to us.
But that may have been an unfamiliar concept at the time.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Block 3 Finishes: Double Ties

Daisyusanh's finished her 5 versions of Block 3,
the Double Tie. We can see where she's going
with some great period calicoes.

Jeannie at Spiral has a patriotic color scheme in mind.

As does Vrooman's Quilts
(She made an extra.)

You could make a lot more. 
They are sort of like popcorn.
5 might not be enough.

Crib quilt, Baltimore, about 1860
DAR Museum & the Quilt Index

Next week Block 4.