Friday, October 11, 2013

Revisiting 2007 U.K. Textile Study Tour

But first, a few more Fabric and Wallpaper Thoughts following Yesterday's unexpected surprises and Post...

In August of 2007, while visiting the Whitworth Art Gallery (which is associated with the University of Manchester, U.K.), our tour group was fortunate to encounter not only textiles but a special exhibit titled "Featuring Walls: Celebrating Three Centuries of Wall Paper Decoration". This exhibit lent itself nicely to the study of textile production. You could even get inspiration for quilt patterns!

Once you stumble on good quality A+ samples of historic wallpapers, you may be surprised by the daring colors that were used in paint, wallpaper, and fabric during particular periods of the 19th century. I was.

Speaking of wallpapers and color, I discovered a very interesting book in our wonderful little island library a couple of years ago -- "Fabrics and Wallpapers: Sources, Design and Inspiration" by Barty Phillips with Mary Schoeser as Consulting Editor and the forward by Gill Saunders, curator of wallpaper collection at Victoria & Albert Museum. Of course I had to order a copy of it. What a surprise when mine arrived. It had a fabric cover! Here are a few pages for you to browse. You can find it used on-line cheap, cheap, cheap!

A question I have loved exploring all my life: What are thread and fabric and textiles really all about beyond their practical use?

What an astounding story! It reminds of some of the amazing stories 
I have heard about "lost quilts."

Ah, textile history...human life woven and painted into cloth.

Speaking of textile history, I can't say enough good things about Deborah Robert's Quilt Study Tours! Just like her 2006 French tour I did, her 2007 U.K. Tour made history and as well as the UK itself come alive for me once again! (I had not been to England since my teen years when we family-camped all over the UK in 1960.) After my 2007 tour with Deb, the names of places in the U.K. that I read in the posts on the BQTHL (British Quilt & Textile History List) began to make sense to me.

Just for the fun of it, I have decided to revisit that 2007 tour via my blog.

Museum of Science & Industry –MOSI

I arrived in Manchester one day early on my own thus giving me time to adjust to the
time change and to visit the Museum of Science & Industry. This museum made the Industrial Revolution and textile production history I had been reading in the Chapman and Chassagene book “European Textile Printers in the Eighteenth Century: A
Study of Peel and Oberkamph” come alive! After visiting this museum, I was determined  to track down a copy of Philip Sykas’ “The Secret Life of Textiles”.

No luck finding it at museums or local bookstores while in Manchester (amazing!). However, I was able to get in touch with another British museum by email when I returned home and ordered it from them.  It is a treasure trove of early fabrics from swatch books found in six regional holdings in the U.K.

Also at the MOSI were wonderful quilt blocks and patchwork appliquéd hangings by local school children, some wonderful sample books that the curator showed a few of us, and another exhibit on the British to Asia textile trade routes and the types of fabrics they shipped back overseas --- after buying cotton from India, weaving it, printing it and selling it back to themas fabric.

There was even a corner on medical textiles....

and a jacket made of  “burst” thistledown seeds somehow sewn together. 

It couldn’t have weighed more than an ounce or two! Incredible! 

How in the world they made all those lovely fairy-like seeds stay together is beyond me. And I don’t see how it could ever be moved!

Unexpected Meaty Research Opportunity

In the afternoon of that first full day five of us spent several hours at the large public library, again looking at sample books! Yes, fabric sample books had been donated to the library! However, we couldn’t photograph these books like we had been given permission to do for  study purposes in various museums in the U.K.

While browsing the nearby bookshelves I stumbled upon “Farm and Cottage Inventories of Mid-Essex, 1635-1749” by Francis W. Steer (SBN 900592613) first published in 1950 and republished in 1969. I immediately began looking for the world “quilt”. The question that immediately came to my mind was the fact that the word ‘quilt’ did not appear in any inventories in the book until 1689/90. The last one appears in 1749, the last year the
book documents.

I quickly skimmed the whole book and made a list and had 15 pages copied by the assistant in the Reference Room. (I found far more references in the actual pages than I had found in the Index!) Now I have a list of the quilts and other references to bedding. The book even gave the name of the room in which the object was found! Only one or two give an actual description of the quilt but it was so exciting to even find any descriptive phrase. Wish I had been allowed to xerox the whole book! I later learned from Dorothy Osler that she had mined this book in depth when working on Traditional British Quilts (Batsford, 1987). Fortunately, Dorothy went on to write a book for all of us to reference!

This trip report is getting so long I am going to have to break it down in chapters! Oh, what a marvelous heritage the UK has and how generous everyone was with sharing the quilting part of it for two weeks! It's been great wandering down memory lane. Thanks for coming along! The Whitworth Art Gallery and York will be next!

Deb Robert's Textile Study Tours

Some of my AQSG buddies: Dawn Heefner, Deb Roberts, Mary Edgar and Kate Edgar. Behind Dawn is the curator whose name I do not, unfortunately, recall.

I have been most fortunate to have taken three of Deb Robert's Textile Study Tours. I cannot say enough good things about Deborah's organizational skills and contacts in Europe! The three tours I did had a major impact in my study and understanding of textile history.

Treat yourself. Or ask your partner/spouse to treat you!

Though the Whitworth is temporarily closed for renovation, you can still explore a few things on line.  Here is a link to their Textile history program called Talking Textiles and geared to children.

~ Keep those needles flying and spread the word about how quilts and textiles enrich your life and the life of our communities!



Old Connections: Wallpaper and Fabric

Don't you love Syncronicity!

I was browsing old family photos earlier today. Later in the morning I was trying to track down the designer of a contemporary fabric panel in my collection. 

In the process I stumbled across the Blue Hill website and saw their new "York" collection

The fabric looked so much like the wall paper behind my parents in a 1955 photo I had just stumbled across earlier this morning that I had to go back and look at the family photo again. 

Although it is not an exact match, it is so very close and was so exciting to find! 

Now I think I'll need to make a wall quilt using this line of fabric to frame the photo of my parents. Yes, one more UFO to add to my list...


"You honor the life that has been given you by remembering and telling your stories."
(from Robin Moore's "Awakening the Hidden Storyteller")

Yippee! It's sunny today here in the Islands!

PS: Update - I wrote a little more today.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Doll Quilts at Historic Deepwood

Just back from doing a talk for Historic Deepwood in Salem, Oregon, where I also have an exhibit of doll quilts on display. I like using doll and crib quilts to teach an overview of quilt history. They are so much easier to transport!

"The Magic of Small Quilts" 
Exhibit Dates: Oct 4 to Nov 5, 2013

There are two rooms in this lovely restored house with a period theme to each room.  One currently is 20th century and the other 19th century. 

I decided to hang several period doll quilts on panels that could be hung on the wall in each room, in addition to any doll quilts that would be on a doll bed.

The late-19th century panel (above)

And now the quilts individually...

#1 (above) is a Four Patch on Point (16.5 x 13 inches) - blues, browns, white w/ red alternating squares,  ca 1870s-1880s.  It was well a used little and hopefully brought some little  girl a lot of joy in its use. The binding is shattered in one corner & worn on another side.

#2 (above) is a Four Block Redwork Nursery Tales Doll Quilt (16x16 inches) - ca 1890-1910. It contains no batting (inner layer) but nevertheless does contain cross-hatch quilting. It is in excellent condition with the slightest "foxing" around edges on the left side.

#3 is a Log Cabin Doll Quilt (18 x 17.5 inches) in dark blues, burgandy, black, a touch of lavender or pink in each block; some shirtings plus plaid binding. It has a dark seaweed-like patterned fabric backing  but can't find the photo at the moment. There is some damage to the center of the middle block, bottom row. Very nicely made.

The 20th century panel (below)

And now the 20th century quilts individually...

#4 - Butterfly quilts of all sizes were extremely popular in the first half of the 20 century. A nine block (ca late 40s-50s) appliqued butterfly pillow cover / doll quilt. Lots of red fabrics with colorful embroidery around each butterfly as well as blue embroidery used as sashing between each block. 10.5 x 10.5. There is no batting and no quilting. It is open on one side so may have been a doll's pillow cover at one time?

#5 - A favorite theme in my collecting is quilts associated with clowns or the circus in general. I have very fond memories of attending the circus as a child when the choices for public entertainment were far more limited than today. Here is a very small (13 x 8.5 inches) green embroidered Clown on yellow background with green binding (ca 1930-1950). This tiny little gem has lovely quilting.

#6 - The ubiquitous Sunbonnet Sue. I was so thrilled to find such a tiny one! This is backed with chenille. I knew "shabby chic" chenille items had once again become popular in the last decade. This little quilt doesn't look that recently made but it does have many elements of doll and crib quilts made out of repurposed materials in the past decade, such as the use of chenille, rick-rack and buttons. But the appliqued blocks themselves and the sashing are older. It's possible that the rick-rack and buttons were simply added recently to jazz it up a bit.

#7 - Sharon Fulton Pinka wrote in her synopsis of the paper she presented at the 2009 American Quilt Study Group Quilt Seminar, "Quilt block designer William Pinch is virtually unknown outside the Midwest, yet his patterns are found in quilts all over America. This study presents the background of William Bray Pinch and his Rainbow Quilt Block Company of Cleveland, Ohio, with an assessment of his influence in the quilt world. Through analysis of existing quilts, quilt block designs, advertising ephemera, and photographs, and aided by interviews, memorabilia, and correspondence from family members, William Pinch, the self-described “Maker of Pretty Quilt Blocks,” emerges as one of the most influential quilt block designers of the twentieth century."

You can read Sharon's paper in the 2009 edition of Uncoverings, the annual AQSG journal of papers presented at Seminar. Check with your local library or order a copy from AQSG.

Here is another source for Dolly Dimple and the Rainbow Quilt Block Co.

#8 - Teddy Bears.  Click here to read about what I wrote about Teddy Bears in an earlier blog post.

More photos to come of the rest of the exhibit!

Also, if you are on Facebook, check out the Crib & Doll Quilts-Vintage and Antique  page I started some time ago. Meanwhile.....   Keep those needles flying and spread the word about how quilts enrich your life and the life of our communities!

and remember,

~You honor the life that has been given you by remembering and telling your stories.       

(A quote from Robin Moore's "Awakening the Hidden Storyteller")

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Baby Faces on Quilts UPDATE

Update:  August 5, 2013

Yippee! Fellow quilt historian Rosie Werner just sent me a copy of an ad for the Baby Faces quilt I shared recently!  You can see the whole quilt by clicking here.

Rosie wrote: I found the pattern for this in an Alice Brooks booklet "Collection of Needlecraft masterpieces" from around 1958. 

By the way, you must check out Rosie's website. She is doing the most phenomenal job of researching and documenting quilt patterns and kits for babies and young children. Visit her website by clicking here.  You do have to pay a fee to join but once you pay that initial fee, the pdf files she has created of her research are free for downloading. These are not the actual pattern pieces. These are the ads about the patterns and who produced and distributed them, if known.

Here is one example. Click to enlarge:

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Appliqued Girls in Bonnets and Scotty Dogs

I wrote the following for an exhibit I put together of some of my crib quilts in 2010. Eventually I'll add some more history to the Sunbonnet motif as I discover it. A great source for the history of what we have come to call the Sunbonnet Sue pattern is Dolores Hinson's 1983 "The Sunbonnet Family of Quilt Patterns."  If you would like to add more research sources, please feel free to leave a comment on this blog.

Scotties (and West Highland Whites) were very popular in the USA from the 1920s through the 1950s. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s famous Scottie (Fala) brought the breed to the public’s attention once more but did not create the Scottie sensation in the USA to begin with.

Girls in bonnets were first popularized in 1878 by the publication of Kate Greenway first illustrated book. In 1884 the first knock-off Kate Greenway illustrations were published for needlework. Bertha Corbett self-published her first illustrated storybook The Sunbonnet Babies in 1900. Bernhardt Wall, another early 20th century artist, also got into the act and created his own distinctive bonneted little girls plus Overall Sam. Over the last century both Corbett’s and Wall’s simplified designs have been adapted for Redwork embroidery. Sunbonnet embroidery patters were certainly in the Ladies Art Catalogue (St. Louis, MO) by 1910.

But when did the popular Sunbonnet Sue applique patterns appear?

The earliest I have found is Marie Webster's appliqued Sunbonnet Lassies. It appeared in the pages of the Ladies Home Journal in August 1912. Were there any earlier renditions of SBS in applique published in a popular magazine? When did it take on the name, Sunbonnet Sue instead of Sunbonnet Lassies?

Sunbonnet Sue as an appliquéd figure really took off in the early 1930s and remained very popular through the 1960s. In the 1930s outline black embroidery was often added around appliquéd figures.

This particular crib quilt is not as finely made as most you will see from the 1930s and is rather crudely embroidered around the appliqué. It is a very thick quilt yet hand quilted. It is the first Sunbonnet Sue quilt I have personally seen with the Scottie dog added.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Ancient Quilt Designs From Ephesus

I see design everywhere but sense my eye is so "accustomed" to my own culture, it is easier for me to notice designs in other cultures. Do you find that true too?  I seem to have to look harder at my own culture.

Some of the quilts of the new "Modern Quilt" movement rather remind me of looking down a street in Manhattan. Take a look here and see if you don't see some great modern abstract quilt design possibilities.

I saw design possibilities everywhere I went in the Mediterranean on a textile study tour I did with Deb Roberts in 2008. It was almost sensory overload.

Here are just a few from the ancient city of Ephesus that is over 2,000 years old. You can no longer reach the ancient city by water. Why?  Because over the centuries the river carried so much silt down from the hills that it built up a new land mass and a new city eventually had to built on the "new" coastline.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Baby Faces on Quilts

Here is a quilt in my collection that I finally photographed today. I am guessing the date somewhere between 1940 and 1955.

It measures 31x37. Each block is 8x9.5.

If anyone has seen this pattern and knows the source, please let me know.

This is beautifully hand embroidered and also beautifully machine quilted. Someone was a real expert!

Our latest grandson could have been the model for the one above!

After his very recent first haircut....

Update:  August 5, 2013

Yippee! Fellow quilt historian Rosie Werner just sent me a copy of an ad for this pattern! She wrote: I found the pattern for this in an Alice Brooks booklet "Collection of Needlecraft masterpieces" from around 1958. 

By the way, you must check out Rosie's website. She is doing the most phenomenal job of researching and documenting quilt patterns and kits for babies and young children. Visit her website by clicking here.  You do have to pay a fee to join but once you pay that initial fee, the pdf files she has created of her research are free for downloading. These are not the actual pattern pieces. These are the ads about the patterns and who produced and distributed them, if known.

Here is one example: