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



Rosa said...

Great layout.!

Robin said...

I love the Esther Griffin quilt. There is so much variety. I'd love to replicate that one. The picture of the two sisters sewing looks like the most elegant sewing duo ever. I hope they had someone to pull off all the loose threads from those pristine dresses - ha!

Suzanne A said...

My theory about applique samplers: you see a beautiful applique pattern and you want to make a quilt of it. You do the first block, and that's so difficult and time-consuming, you don't want to make another one. This process results in lots of one-off applique blocks for samplers and the center of crib quilts. Applique is easier for some folks than others.

Chris said...

Have you considered the Jane A Stickle quilt? I has lots of pieced blocks.

Lizzy D said...

I love the Esther Griffin quilt! I hope it can be a choice some year. The blocks are so wonderfully folky, it would be great fun.

Barbara Brackman said...

Chris. I have never considered the Jane Stickle quilt. My attention span is too short!!!
There must be a thousand blocks in that. But you are right. It is pieced.

Lin McQ said...

Some of the blocks in the quilt for Robert Wilson remind me of blocks in the 1857 quilt that Sentimental Stitches is offering free each month. That has been a fun and challenging journey that began Jan 2016. Would love to participate in another one like that.

Anonymous said...

I am surprised! I wonder if sitting around waiting for letters from the war affected that at all. Of course, 1855 was before the war, but I wonder - probably no way to do a sociological study now! Or maybe only smaller pieces of fabric were accessible, so appliqué worked best?

Barbara Brackman said...

Fashion most likely to be the driving factor.

Jeanne said...

Looking forward to next year ... applique is a challenge for me. Sigh.