Saturday, January 29, 2022

Mary Lincoln's Strawberry Dress


In May of 1861 the Lincolns held a Strawberry Party in the first months of the Civil War and their life in  the White House. The First Lady apparently wore this dress picturing the seasonal fruit to the event.

Large figures and small 

She posed for the Brady Studios in the dress.

As we discussed Strawberry Parties last week Xenia Cord called my attention to this rare surviving dress of Mary Lincoln's.

A Lincoln descendant gave the dress to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in 1963.

See a 7-minute You Tube video in which Lincoln Presidential Museum Curator Dr. James Cornelius discusses the dress in preparation for a short exhibit in May, 2011. 

The dress is quite fragile and the sleeve decorations are replacements but they believe the lace collar is original. The belt is also a reproduction.

The photograph is reversed.

1865, Leslie's Illustrated

Mary Lincoln's dresses: Many of them were sold in a rather scandalous sale in New York shortly after the President was assassinated. While her physical and mental health declined she carried some in trunks in her wanderings for the rest of her life. As she always wore black mourning after Lincoln's death she had no need of them but she did love fashion.

The only other dress known to survive according to Dr. Cornelius is the one she wore to Ford's Theater on the night of the assassination but there are many supposed fragments of that garment.

The Chicago Historical Society has a plaid dress of Mary's seen here:

We'll stick with the Strawberry Dress story as one accurate account of a surviving dress.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Ladies' Aid Sampler #11: Strawberries & Dogs


Ladies' Aid Sampler #11 Dog by Becky Brown

The next-to-last block recalls working dogs in New York where sampler albums often featured canines and occasionally canines carrying baskets.

Album in the Fenimore Cooperstown Museum

Mary Van Houten's block

The Elizabeth Griffiths quilt at the Orangetown Museum

has a poem to accompany it.

Sixty-two members of the Middletown Baptist Church where Elizabeth's husband Joseph Griffiths was pastor made the quilt for them. Eliza Cooper wrote poetry for the presentation party. For this block:
"Little, Miss Mary Van Houten
Made a dog, would set you shouting,
He is going with his basket, quiet
I do not think, he means to try it."
A good dog carrying a basket [full of something edible?] and he is not going to try it. What might be in those baskets?

Robyn Revelle Gragg

Perhaps some strawberries.

Our block was inspired by one in a sampler attributed to friends of Susannah Butts Adsett Boots in the collection of the International Quilt Museum. The album may have been made by Susannah's New York relatives for her second marriage. Born in Dutchess County she and first husband Hiram Adsett left for Green County, Ohio in 1833. He died about fifteen years later and in 1854 she married again in Ohio to Jesse Boots.

MC initialed a dotted dog carrying a striped basket....

Striped fabric maybe to show the splints in a handmade basket, the kind often used to carry fruit.

English fruit seller with her strawberry baskets

Strawberries were traditionally sold in conical baskets called pottles in England. The baskets were returnable and refundable and a signature of fruiterers like Eleanor Ogle whose business card is in the British Museum (see lower right corner.)

The fruit was an important New York crop. People made the most of the short season, selling berries to City customers and celebrating locally with Strawberry Festivals, a popular fundraising event.

1862 Philadelphia, July

By Denniele Bohannon
Were dogs trained to help out in the harvest?

Harvesting strawberries in Ulster County, New York about 1900

June, 1863 fundraiser hosted by Buffalo's

Ladies' Christian Commission

Strawberry Festivals were only possible for a few weeks in June and early July. A charity-minded citizen might get a surfeit of strawberries in a short time. But the events were usually for a good cause. The opinionated editor of the Brooklyn Eagle thought they were a better way to raise money than Ladies' Fairs...

....those "pious and respectable swindles for emptying the pockets of susceptible gentlemen of their loose change."

A Buffalo writer agreed that a Strawberry Festival was more efficient. The ladies would not have to "be at work two or three months making preparations....Strawberries don't require to be worked in worsted."

 The Block

Philadelphia Museum of Art
Dog with a basket in an 1853 quilt made for Richard H. Mosher

I modified the pattern to look more like my dog Pheobe O'Shea
who is rather short and has perked up ears.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Detail from an 1870s painting by William P. Chappell featuring a Strawberry Pedlar 
followed by a dog. He has a pottle-carrying apparatus.

A strawberry wreath

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Starry Crazy

Detail of a crazy quilt dated 1901
Collection of the Sharlot Hall Museum in Arizona
The white cat and pink squirrel catch your eye but there's 
also a representation of a Grand Army of the Republic badge.

Grand Army of the Republic Badge
And a lot of stars....
Was it a G.A.R. quilt?

Also: symbols often seen on crazy quilts like cranes and shoes
and chickens.

And bulldogs, but a lot of stars.

The Arizona Quilt Project recorded this star-spangled quilt.
Sharlot Mabridth Hall (1870-1943)
I thought Sharlot Hall was a place but I see it's a woman. Journalist Sharlot Hall saved a place, the Arizona Governor's Mansion now named for her, the Sharlot Hall Museum

And they own the quilt.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Sets for American Stars B.O.M.

Elsie's the first to get her American Stars Block #1 finished.
She says she is working out of her stash.

We should be thinking ahead to sets. Here are some basics.

Set 12 blocks finishing to 12" side by side and
you get a 36" x 48" field of patchwork.


48" x 63"
Add 3" finished sashing strips & cornerstones.

Denniele's plan:
13 star blocks
12 alternate pieced blocks
1-1/2" finished sash and cornerstones
With a 2-1/2 " finished border that is 71" square.


You need 13 blocks for an on-point setting to get a 51" square quilt.

Cut 4 corner triangles by cutting 2 squares 9.375" (9-3/8")

Cut 8 edge triangles by cutting 2 squares 18-1/4"


60" Square

Beyond the basics: 
11 blocks set a little off key with lots of room for 
border prints or fancy quilting.

More ideas may occur.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Corps Badge Quilt Puzzle


In 1949 the Vancouver B.C. Times published this spatial puzzle
that must have been syndicated from the U.S.

The quilt in question (rather asymmetrical) was "Made up of shoulder patches collected by Grandpa's father in the Civil War."

They must have been referring to something like this, the rather popular style of applique using the images of Union Army Corps Badges.

Caldwell & Company Antiques
Early 20th century Corps Badge Quilt

Shamrock Corps Badge

The Union Army adopted Corps Badges in 1863. Soldiers
often wore them on their hats.

It's an odd allusion. And here's the solution to the puzzle.

 The whole puzzle is so obtuse I don't even
get the solution.