Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Yankee Diary 5: A Union Basket

Block 5 Union Basket
by Barbara Brackman
11" finished basket in a 15" finished block
My top is at the quilter's.
Lori Kukuk should be done soon.

In spring, 1861, Carrie's town was in a patriotic fervor as railroad cars stopped in Canandaigua carrying the first volunteers off to the war.

From Carrie's diary, May 1, 1861.
" A lot of us girls went down to the train and took flowers to the soldiers as they were passing through and they cut buttons from their coats and gave to us as souvenirs.

Dozens of designs for patriotic envelopes were printed.
"We have flags on our paper and envelopes, and have all our stationery bordered with red, white and blue. We wear little flag pins for badges and tie our hair with red, white and blue ribbon and have pins and earrings made of the buttons the soldiers gave us.

"The Star Spangled Banner" 
"We are going to sew for them in our society and get the garments all cut from the older ladies society. They work every day in one of the rooms of the court house and cut out garments and make them and scrape lint and roll up bandages. They say they will provide us with all the garments we will make. We are going to write notes and enclose them in the garments to cheer up the soldier boys. It does not seem now as though I could give up any one who belonged to me.
Abbie Clark Williams's quilt. 
Collection of the Ontario County Historical Society

"The girls in our society say that if any of the members do send a soldier to the war they shall have a flag bed quilt, made by the society, and have the girls' names on the stars."
Canandaigua's Young Ladies' sewing society was good as their word. When Abbie Clark married Captain George Norton Williams after the war they presented her with a flag quilt. The stars are inked with the names of her friends including Carrie Richards.

Abbie Clark.
She looks just like the woman in the 
Star Spangled Banner illustration.

Abigail Stanley Clark Williams (1843-1902) was the youngest of four daughters of Myron Holley Clark and Zilpha Watkins Clark. Her father was Governor of New York from 1855 to 1857, a member of the Whig party and an advocate of temperance and antislavery.

 Sisters Mary and Zilpha were also Carrie's friends.

The stitchers squeezed 36 stars into the blue field on Abbie's quilt, the number of stars on the flag from 1865 to 1867.

Becky Brown's Basket.
She added a few leaves.

Union Basket 

See last Saturday's post for more information about the inspiration for this basket block.

Union Basket by Denniele Bohannon.
Her background is navy blue.

Denniele's embroidered her words.
This is the last of the words---
except for your signature and date of course.

This month's block celebrates the Union, capturing the spirit of Canandaigua in the first few months of the war. The inspiration is a basket block found in two antique quilts. 

The block finishes to 15", but the pieced basket is
actually an 11" finished block, pieced into a larger square.

Cutting the Basket

A - Cut a square 9-5/8". Cut in half diagonally to make 2 triangles. You need 1 triangle.
B - Cut 2 rectangles 2-3/4 x 7-1/8".
C - Cut a square 5-1/4". Cut in half diagonally to make 2 triangles. You need 1 triangle.
D - Cut at least 9 squares 3". Cut each in half diagonally to make 2 triangles. You need 18 triangles of various shades.
E - For the handle cut a strip of bias 19" long x 1" and turn under to finish 1/2" wide. I used an old 45 record as a template for the curve.

The basket fits on point into a 15" finished block. For the edge triangles cut 2 squares 11-1/2". Cut each in half diagonally to make 2 triangles. You need 4 triangles.


The word UNION should print out 1-1/2" inches tall and 5-2/4" long.
Add seams for traditional 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 word is 5-3/4" long. 
Using the templates cut the letters UNION. (Add seams.) Glue or baste the edges under. Or embroider---or print, paint, etc.


Use a backwards flag from Block 2 (you made 4). Glue or baste the edges under.
For the flag pole cut a strip 1" x 2". Glue or baste the edges under.


Applique the handle & letters first to triangle A. 
Leave the top of the O letter unstitched so you can insert the flagpole later.

Piecing the basket

Piece the basket into the edge triangles to make a 15-1/2 " square to finish as 15".

Applique the flag and flagpole over the basket handle. Close the top of the O as you add the flagpole.

A sewing society, detail of  a drawing by Winslow Homer.
Harper's Weekly
From the Ontario Repository:
Canandaigua, April, 1861.
"The Ladies are all for the Union.
We observed a beautiful flag, with the Stars and Stripes floating from the Observatory of the Ontario Female Seminary. We learn that it was made by the young ladies themselves....
In spite of the latest Parisian fashions, the tri-colored tints that are borne on our national standard is preferred by the ladies in making up some of the essential articles of their wardrobes....A meeting of ladies was held at the town house....suitable material for a large number of bed ticks was distributed among those present to be immediately made up."

Becky's block Photoshopped without leaves.
Look at those letters!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Union Baskets

Basket with a Union Flag
This extraordinary block is from a quilt in the
collection of the Indiana State Museum
by Martha McFeely Fry

According to family records when the quilt was donated, Martha McFeely lived in Greencastle, Indiana. Sweetheart Benjamin Fry from Fountain County, Indiana, enlisted  in the 2nd New York Regiment, the Harris Light Cavalry.

Library of Congress

Martha and Benjamin's letters and diaries from the Civil War years are also in the collection of the Indiana Historical Society.

New York Historical Society

Martha's is Quilt A.

Union by: Kay Ross, 34” x 44”, 2014

Kay Ross's interpretation of that quilt made for the 2014 American Quilt Study Group exhibit.
Read more about her process here:

Julie Silber has shown an antique quilt with a similar flag in a basket. The flag is repeated in the border. The piece is said to have been slave made (Quilt B)

The two quilts (Martha Fry's on the right) have a lot in common: Same basket pattern although
the appliqued handles differ a bit. 

Different basket, similar idea.
This marvelous sampler is in the collection of
the Iowa State Historical Society.

This sampler was donated by a woman named
Eleanor Orth

And on the topic of baskets with words:

Block in a Masonic album sampler from Cumberland County, Maine
in the Museum of our National Heritage,
the Scottish Rite Museum.

Wish you had a pattern for a basket quilt with a flag? Wait till Wednesday.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Free Labor Fabrics & A Few Quaker Quilts

Detail of a silk patchwork quilt by 
Quaker Rachel Goodwin Woodnut,
Salem, New Jersey, 1827-1828
Collection of the Winterthur Museum.

In 1832 poet Elizabeth Margaret Chandler wrote about a quilting party in Tecumseh,  Michigan.
"I was at a quilting last week. There were about twenty girls besides myself and in the evening about the same number of men."
Elizabeth Chandler  1807-1834

Elizabeth, a Philadelphia Quaker, took antislavery sentiments with her to the Michigan frontier. These included a boycott of slave-grown cotton. She had promised a gift to her Aunt Jane Howell, but in 1833 apologized:
"I should like to have sent you thy patchwork by this opportunity, but have not yet got it finished, as sewing cotton run[s] low with us, and I felt unwilling unless compelled by actual necessity to purchase any of the slave manufacture.....I shall not be able to make it the full size as I shall not have pieces enough. It will I expect require a border, perhaps the width or a breadth of furniture calico."

C was for cotton-field in the 1846 Anti-Slavery Alphabet book

Free produce cotton, as it was called, was in short supply in the Michigan Territory, She was looking for chintz (furniture calico) and sewing thread not produced in the Americas where slaves suffered to supply the western world with the newly popular fabric.

Another early silk quilt from the Winterthur's Collection,
The maker of this strip quilt is unknown but she was likely a Quaker
who dressed in silks and wools rather than slave-grown cotton.

Elizabeth might have made her aunt a silk quilt instead, using the European fabrics that many antislavery Quakers preferred for clothing and patchwork. It was difficult to find free-labor cotton in Michigan or for that matter in Philadelphia, the nation's third largest city.

Free Labor Store in Mt. Pleasant, Ohio. 
Quakers maintained a store here
at 3 different locations from 1848 to 1857.

Antislavery shoppers could find free-labor sugar, rice, fabrics and other goods at Free Labor Stores. Benjamin Lundy's newspaper the Genius of Universal Emancipation discussed free labor stores in 1832. 

Above a list of fabric for sale at Lydia White's Dry Goods Store, 42 N 4th  Street in Philadelphia. She "has caused to be manufactured a number of bales of cotton ---the production of free labor---from North Carolina." Lundy also mentioned Jane Webb's Free Grocery Store in Wilmington, Delaware.

 Free Labor Store supposed to be Benjamin Lundy's in
Baltimore, often said to be the "first", although claims of "firsts" are always dubious.

I've never seen a cotton quilt with the story that it was made of free-labor cottons, but many silk Quaker quilts survive.

Center of a wholecloth silk quilt made by Philadelphia Quakers
Hannah Callender, Sarah Smith and Catherine Smith,
Dated 1761
Collection of Independence Hall

The Smith/Callender quilt is one of the earliest reliably dated American quilts.

Silk medallion quilt, collection: Smithsonian Institution, mid-19th century

A note with this quilt indicated it had been pieced of 
“Wedding and ‘Second Day’ dresses" from the wardrobe of 
Clarissa or Clara Tarleton Penn , St. Mary’s County, 
Maryland, who married March 7, 1809.

Read more about Elizabeth Chandler and Free Labor Stores here at Quaker Quilt History:

James & Lucretia Mott also managed a Free Labor Store

Read more about the Smith/Callender quilt:

Marsha J. Heringa Mason. Remember the Distance that Divides Us, The Family Letters of Philadelphia Quaker Abolitionist and Michigan Pioneer Elizabeth Margaret Chandler, 1830-1842. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2004.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Right Makes Might: Block 4


Time to look at finished flags, the April, 2017
block for Yankee Diary.


The print, a repro of a late 19th-c flag print




May is a long month (good thing). Next pattern in two weeks. But I have posted the PDF's in my Etsy store so if you would rather have the May-August patterns right away click on these links

This link takes you to the $10 paper pattern by mail.

This link takes you to the $6 downloadable PDF you print yourself.

I'm going on a vacation till the end of May so I might not get the paper patterns by mail out until June.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Anti-Slavery Boycotts: Sugar

Quaker Elizabeth Coleman Heyrick  (1769-1831) of Leicester

In 1824 Englishwoman Elizabeth Coleman Heyrick published a pamphlet titled Immediate Not Gradual Abolition, promoting the idea that slavery should be abolished now rather than in the rosy future.

Heyrick started activists thinking against gradual emancipation. The concept was radical, not only in its consequences but in the fact that a woman made the proposal. She also proposed that people stop using sugar grown and processed in the Caribbean, the "West Indies", by slaves.

Sugar cane and slave labor in the Caribbean

A sugar boycott had been discussed for several decades. Britain outlawed slavery at home but allowed it to continue in the colonies.  

Activists proposed women substitute East India sugar grown in Pacific islands---what is now Indonesia.

The Barbarities of the West Indies
by James Gillray, 1791

The renewed anti-sugar campaign was a marvel of the politics of protest. Not only did British sugar consumption decrease, a trade in anti-slavery sugar bowls developed.

R. Henderson advertised he sold an assortment
of abolitionist "sugar basins."

A virtual collection of abolitionist sugar basins
meant to hold sugar not produced by enslaved workers.

And a tea pot

Antisaccharrites by Gillray
The tea drinkers appear to be King George III, Queen Charlotte
and a few of their many unhappy children.

"Oh ye who at your ease
Sip the blood-sweeten'd beverage"
Robert Southey, Poems on the Slave Trade

One important aspect of the sugar boycott of the 1820s in England and the United States was that women asserted their power as consumers and reformers. In the year following Heyrick's pamphlet, Englsihwomen established the Birmingham Ladies Society for the Relief of Negro Slaves, assumed to be the first female antislavery organization.

English Berlin Work
Royal Museums Greenwich

According to Beth A. Salerno in Sister Societies: Women's Antislavery Organizations in Antebellum America, by the end of 1833 there were seven female antislavery societies in  the United States, the beginning of a trend to female activism. In 1837 there were 45 female societies.

"Remember the Slave"
Coin Purse in the Lynn  [MA]
Museum & Historical Society.
See more here:

Read about anti-slavery needlework at these posts: