Saturday, December 30, 2017

A Silk Quilt for President Lincoln

New England Kitchen at the Brooklyn Sanitary Fair in 1864

Right before the last Christmas of the Civil War the women of Chicago put on a fundraising fair for the Union cause. "The New England Farm House Festival" was a three-day event with an old-fashioned theme. Nostalgia for Colonial days was a feature of several fairs that raised money for the Sanitary Commission.

Women dressed for the Knickerbocker Kitchen at the 
New York City Fair

The Chicago Tribune gave the fair much attention:
"One would hardly have supposed that such a variety of  'ye ancient household goods' which graced the persons, the parlors and kitchens of the generations which have gone before, could have been found in this far of Western city." (or whatever it was they were trying to say.)

The Fair was held in Bryan Hall on Clark between 
Randolph & Washington, destroyed in the fire of 1871.

The Tribune mentioned a "silk quilt presented to President Lincoln"

"The New England Farm House Festival---This entertainment...has proved a brilliant success...The ladies gratefully acknowledge the assistance they have received... especially...of George R. Chittenden, Esq., who ordered the quilting of the silk quilt presented to President Lincoln, to be executed upon one of Wheeler & Wilson's sewing machines, and also presented the silk used in making it.
December 18, 1864.

George Redfield Chittenden (1833-1881) was Chicago's dealer in Wheeler & Wilson sewing machines. We can imagine that the gift for the President was a good marketing tool.

Fairs of all kinds had operators demonstrating
 modern technology.

On the back wall under the eagle: a Wheeler & Wilson fair booth 

One more Lincoln quilt to find.

Where to begin? Perhaps a presentation ceremony would describe it. But Lincoln did not actually visit the fair. He spent December in Washington so if the silk quilt ever reached him (he was shot 5 months later) it would have been delivered to the White House without much fanfare or newspaper coverage.

Poking around the web looking for "Lincoln silk quilt" made me re-think my idea of what I was looking for. The newspaper called it a silk quilt, not a silk bedquilt.

What if they were talking about a quilted garment?

The Ford's Theatre National Historic Site is a National Park Service museum in the building where Lincoln was shot. In the collection is a coat, which tradition says Lincoln wore on the fateful night. A caption for the photo:

"The hand-embroidered lapel featured an eagle carrying a banner reading 'One Country, One Destiny.' The phrase comes from an 1837 speech given by one of Lincoln’s role models, Senator Daniel Webster."
It is immediately obvious that the caption is wrong. We are looking not at the coat's lapel but at its lining. The silk is not embroidered it's quilted. And it looks to be machine quilted on a chain stitch machine. 

So easy, a child can sew on a Wheeler & Wilson

Lock-stitch machines competed with chain-stitch machines, which had no bobbin. Lock-stitch machines eventually won out because the chain stitch raveled so easily. Machine manufacturers like Wolcott & Gibbs dueled in their advertising with lock-stitch companies like Wheeler & Wilson. 

Denise Winter's web page has a better description, photos and history of the coat at Ford's Theatre. The coat and silk lining are black. The coat was a gift [or purchased] for Lincoln's second inauguration in March, 1865 from Brooks Brothers, the men's clothing manufacturer in New York City.
"The original overcoat is a double-breasted coat made of the fine wool with silk edging around the outside of the collar, cuffs and pockets. Almost the entire inside of the coat is hand-quilted. The right and left interior front panels feature the design of an eagle symbol holding two streamers with the words 'One Country, One Destiny'. This amazingly detailed coat also resides at the Ford Theatre Museum but is in poor condition having been ravaged over the years by souvenir collectors who have removed a section of the upper shoulder area bit by bit."

The original on display. The museum now displays a

Although all the captions indicate the quilting was done by hand I am guessing they are wrong. 
I found several secondary references to the quilter who did the work for Brooks Brothers. Her name was Agnes Breckenridge and supposedly a story appeared in the New York Times, in which she said  the quilting took her 2 days (10 hours of work). That time frame is suspect--- That much quilting in ten hours? Even on a machine. Certainly not by hand. [I couldn't find the reference to Agnes in the Times archives.]

So I am wondering if George Chittenden made a similar garment to display at the New England Farm House Festival? There's one less bedquilt to track.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Setting the Yankee Diary Quilt

Yankee Diary by Barbara Brackman
42" x 54"
Quilted by Lori Kukuk

Yankee Diary by Denniele Bohannon

Here's how Denniele and I set ours

Here are the setting instructions for the Yankee Diary quilt. As we've sewn along you've received setting instructions for the blocks but here's a summary. Do refer back to each block pattern for more information.

The basic set is two sections, top and bottom.

The top section is made of of 3 strips.

Top left

Top Center

Top Right

The bottom section is two rectangles

Refer to Block 11 for instructions for placing the flag in the dog's mouth.

Bottom left

Bottom Right

The only extra piece you need for my set is
a strip cut 12=1/2" x 3-1/2" that goes below the flag

Becky Brown's set is a little bit different using all the parts.
She has a checkerboard in the lower left corner
which I forgot to put in.

Next Wednesday: Borders.  Nope. Next Wednesday fabric requirements and setting for next year's
Antebellum Album Block of the Month.

Borders for this one and the rest of Carrie's story on January 10.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Yankee Diary 12: Yankee Mourning

Block # 12 Yankee Mourning
by Denniele Bohannon

Boy wearing a Lincoln mourning pin 
From Carrie's diary:
April 15, 1864.
"The news came this morning that our dear president, Abraham Lincoln, was assassinated yesterday, on the day appointed for thanksgiving for Union victories.... How soon has sorrow followed upon the heels of joy! One week ago tonight we were celebrating our victories with loud acclamations of mirth and good cheer. Now every one is silent and sad and the earth and heavens seem clothed in sack-cloth....

Portrait of Lincoln from a mourning ribbon
"Thursday, April 20.—The papers are full of the account of the funeral obsequies of President Lincoln. We take Harper's Weekly and every event is pictured so vividly it seems as though we were eye witnesses of it all....What a dear, kind man he was.
CDV with illustration of the devil whispering
to assassin John Wilkes Booth backstage
"It is a comfort to know that the assassination was not the outcome of an organized plot of Southern leaders, but rather a conspiracy of a few fanatics, who undertook in this way to avenge the defeat of their cause. It is rumored that one of the conspirators has been located.

Lincoln' funeral included stops at major American
cities as his open casket traveled west from Washington to Springfield, Illinois. 

From Harper's Weekly
"April 24.—Fannie Gaylord and Kate Lapham have returned from their eastern trip and told us of attending the President's funeral in Albany, and I had a letter from Bessie Seymour, who is in New York, saying that she walked in the procession until half past two in the morning, in order to see his face. They say that they never saw him in life, but in death he looked just as all the pictures represent him.

Waiting to view Lincoln, Springfield, Illinois, May, 1865

"We all wear Lincoln badges now, with pin attached. They are pictures of Lincoln upon a tiny flag, bordered with crape. Susie Daggett has just made herself a flag, six feet by four. It was a lot of work. Mrs. Noah T. Clarke gave one to her husband upon his birthday, April 8. I think everybody ought to own a flag."

Mourning painting with black framed flag

The Block

Block 12 by Becky Brown

The block with its five-pointed stars was inspired by one in a quilt made by Isabella Lucy, dated 1859, recorded by the Nebraska project.
See the whole remarkable quilt here at the Quilt Index:

#12 by Barbara Brackman

The circular composition can remind us of a mourning cockade.

A cockade is a rosette or ribbon knot.

Cutting a 12" finished block
Cut a 12- 1/2" square or larger (trim to 12-1/2" after applique and pressing).
Fold the background in half and half again and then into a triangle and press for guide lines for placement.

Print this JPG out on an 8-1/2" wide sheet. The cockade should fit in an 8" circle.
Add seams and cut the pieces as indicated.

A tiny picture of Lyn Van Dijk's block

Note: Becky added another flower to the center star by fussy cutting a circle.


Add two 6" finished Double Tie blocks from month 3 along the bottom.
Add the word from Block 1 and four 3" finished squares at the top.

This strip goes in the center of the top section.

And we are finished!
Without the border it's 42" x 54"

Becky's finished top

Denniele's top---she talks of a border....

And Lyn finished hers early and put two borders on it.
Looks like the light blue finishes to 1-1/2" and the dark to 6" =
57" x 69" finished quilt

Homemade mourning badge
with a dressed picture of Abraham Lincoln
from Cowan's Auctions

Tomorrow: How to Set the Quilt

And remember you can buy the whole pattern as a PDF here:

Or I'll mail you the pattern sheets on paper: