Monday, April 24, 2017

A Quilt Show and a Mystery

Our patchwork group has just finished our bi-annual quilt show. The new gigantic cover photo shows my Chester Criswell and Malaga 1937 which had their first public outing.

We changed venue this year. The space was new to us so the set-up time was longer, but we had twice as many visitors as our previous show.  Our group has 25 members and we only show quilts that have been finished in the last two years.  We hung a total of 173 quilts!

This is my chimney sweep swap, with reproduction blocks made by friends at Quilts in the Barn / Wonga Park.

Ryan turns three next month, this is his big bed quilt.

Now that the quilt show is done and dusted .....

Are you ready for a mystery?

The blog posts over the last few months have shown blocks inspired by the Malaga 1937 friendship quilt.  Some people have been sewing along, some have been reading the stories.  I have been trying out layouts and ideas and have finally decided what the finished quilt is going to be.

I plan to release the pattern (and stories) in September 2017. I thought it might be fun to run the blocks as a mystery from May to August.  Weekly deadlines keep me on track, and you can all be pattern testers as well as getting the instruction for free. 

If you are interested please leave a comment below.  This isn't a binding commitment, you can always make as few or as many blocks as you like.  If there is no interest I won't run the mystery ... but it might be fun.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

House on the Hill

I've made a House on the Hill block now.  It's a six inch block.

It's easy compared to the Honeymoon Cottage. I also found that Ruby McKim's book 101 Patchwork Patterns is accessible on the 101 Patchwork Patterns website. You can download House on a Hill as a pdf of the original page and use the pattern to make a 12 inch block.  All the pages are available free for personal use.

Still not a good photo of my Honeymoon Cottage; the background fabric is white.  Honeymoon Cottage is also in 101 Patchwork Patterns.  Unfortunately the pattern isn't printed, you had to send away and buy the pattern for 20 cents. Material for the whole quilt was $2.95.

I've been pretty happy in 1937 with feedsacks and house blocks.  But if you look in the sidebar to your left you will see a ready to be quilted Chester Criswell Quilt.  Three cheers for turkey red and green and 1852!

Carole at Wheels on the Warrandyte Bus had been always ready to post her progress on the CCCQ, and she was also a guest blogger back in 2013. Carole didn't use all of my patterns, some of the blocks pictured are her own designs. Can't wait to see it quilted!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Schoolhouse or Honeymoon Cottage?

I have written about these schoolhouse blocks in a previous post. The Malaga quilt has four in all, each one a little different.  The 19th century schoolhouse block doesn't seem to fit in a 1930s quilt, so I wondered what might be more appropriate in a feedsack quilt.

Ruby McKim has two options.  The first one is called House on the Hill.

House on the Hill is a simple house block, quite reminiscent of Schoolhouse. I haven't made this one yet. I'd like to try it as a six inch block but it might be better as a nine inch.

My preferred 1930s option is also in Ruby McKim's book, it is Honeymoon Cottage.  I first saw Honeymoon Cottage in a quilt for sale online.

The quilt was enchanting, even though the path lead to the chimney and not to the front door.  I couldn't afford to buy the quilt so I made a block of my own.

Shortly after I finished my own block I found another Honeymoon cottage online.  I could afford this one and that's it on the right.

I constructed another cottage for this current project.

(The colours aren't quite right but it's too late in the evening to fix it. The roof is blue.) The pattern is in 874 in BlockBase.  I printed it in EQ7 as 9 x 11 inches rather than 12 inches square.  I printed the pattern onto two applique wash away sheets.  I cut the pieces apart and ironed onto the back of my fabric.  Then I hand pieced the block as if it was English paper pieced.  It was a nice project to take on a long weekend away, and the end result is very neat (for me - I'm not a perfectionist).

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Ohio Stars

According to the experts the Ohio Star or Variable Star block has been around for a long time.  It was first published in Godey's Ladies Book in 1862.

Now, I have a copy of the 1862 Godey's Lady's book on CD-ROM.  I have been through all 1000+ pages, January to December, and I haven't found an Ohio star anywhere. There are many interesting pictures to look at - here's the latest fashions for January 1862.

Patchwork does appear in the June issue and also in September.

And that's all you get.  No instructions, no templates, no handy hints.  Patchwork was menial work and not really worthy of notice by Godey's editorial staff.

For a 9 inch Ohio Star block cut 4 white squares 3.5 by 3.5 inches and one print square the same size.  Cut two white and two print squares 4.5 by 4.5 inches and cut diagonally twice to make 8 white triangles and 8 print triangles.  Join these to make for hour glass blocks.  They will need to be trimmed to 3.5 inches; I like to cut big triangles and then trim to size to make a neater block.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Emma Barr Ohio Star

Emma Barr was born Emma Moler in 1867 in Beavercreek Township, Ohio (near present-day Dayton).  Beavercreek was a bustling community with the railroad and turnpike running through the town.  It was a manufacturing center with a distillery and river power for flour, cotton, woolen and saw mills; finished goods and supplies were shipped to all parts of the country.

Old Miami-Erie Canal lock, Mad River

When Emma married William Barr, carpenter, the couple moved to Mad River, about seventeen miles away.  Mad River was in Montgomery County, Ohio.  If you are interested in historical quilts you may have read Sue C. Cummings's book 'Album Quilts of Ohio's Miami Valley'.

Cumming's amazing collection of sampler quilts were made in Darke, Miami and Montgomery Counties at the time Emma was living nearby.  The Miami Valley quilts are known for their eagle blocks but the Ohio Star appears in a few.

Emma and William had six children, three girls and three boys.  In the 1910 census of Montgomery County Emma was 42 and William three years older.  Daughter Bessie's occupation was 'none' so she was probably running the household with her mother; Ellis was working in stationery manufacture and Edna was working in a box factory.  Alma, Calvin and Chester were all at school.

A couple of years later William Barr decided to try his luck out West and the family moved to Washington to grow apples.  Bessie remained in Ohio with her new husband; Edna moved with the family and found herself a husband in Washington.  The family grew up, life went on and Emma was 70 years old when she made her Ohio Star block for the Malaga quilt.

The Ohio Star block is one of the earliest recorded quilt blocks.  It is another 9 patch block with four hourglass squares and five plain squares.  Other names for this design are Variable Star, Lone Star or Texas Star.  In 'Romance of the Patchwork Quilt' Carrie Hall showed several examples of the block with different color layouts.  The dark and white block was dubbed Ohio Star and that name has remained the most popular name.

This Ohio Star block was probably made by a young girl.  The seamstress learned that after you cut diagonals and sew them together the resulting pieced square is smaller than an unpieced one.  She also managed to get one of the triangle points up on the right side of the block. Late 1800s.

I appreciate Emma's choice of the Ohio Star.  Like Emma, I also grew up in Ohio and often use this block in my own quilts.  When I was just learning to walk I was living in Kettering, Dayton, about ten miles from Beavercreek.  In 1867 the railroad was the great attraction; ninety years later the railroad had made way for the Wright Patterson Air Force Base.

Wright Patterson Air Force Base - USAF Museum Buildings

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Churn Dash by Any Other Name

Everyone loves a Churn Dash.  It's been around forever - mid 1800s - it's simple to piece and it's good design.  A popular block that has been used for over century collects a catalogue of names; Barbara Brackman lists the following:

Broken Plate
Double Monkey Wrench
Double T
Fisherman's Reel
Hens and Chickens
Hole in the Barn Door
Indian Hammer
Joan's Doll Quilt
Lincoln's Platform
Love Knot
Ludlow's Favorite
Monkey Wrench
Old Mill Design
Picture Frame
Puss in the Corner
Quail's Nest
Sheman's March
Shoo Fly
Colonial Design

There are two Churn Dash blocks in the Malaga Quilt.  

Maggie Shaw

Lorena Ray

Maggie's block is an equal nine patch. Lorena's block has a small center block so the nine patches are uneven.  Both variations appear in old and new quilts. Maggie's is easy to make as a finished 6 inch or 9 inch block; Lorena's comes out as a 10 inch if the center is two inches.

These blocks are all antique. The middle one in the top row has a piece of paper attached that says George Kennedy; George never did get his name written on his block.

I also found this collection.  There aren't antique because I made them, but they have been on the shelf for so long they are close to vintage.

According to other bloggers, this block is called Churn Dash because "its name is a result of the resemblance of the triangle and rectangle perimeter of the block to a butter churn and the center square to the stick or dash of the butter churn."  

I don't see it myself.  Google "butter churn dashers" and select images - if you find one that looks like the quilt block I'd love to know.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Maggie Shaw and the Modern Singer Way

Maggie Griffin was the second eldest of nine children and her father died when Maggie was thirteen.  Maggie married Benjamin Shaw and had five children of her own.  The births of Maggie's children were spread over nineteen years; when Maggie made this quilt block her eldest daughter Mabel was celebrating her first wedding anniversary and her youngest daughter Agnes was just three years old.

Maggie Shaw, like the other women in Malaga, would have spent much of her time at home on the sewing machine.  Singer Sewing machines were at the top end of the market but faced fierce competition from the 'home brands' of the mail order companies like Montgomery Wards and Sears.  The majority of sewing machines manufactured in the 1920s were treadle or hand crank models but electric motors could be added later.

Maggie may have had the little book "How to Make Children's Clothes the Modern Singer Way" (1930 edition, 25 cents).  If she did she would have pondered on the following "practical instruction and valuable suggestions ready for instant use."

“This book is designed to make sewing for children easy, to make the work interesting, and to encourage those who sew for children to appreciate the importance of correct and becoming attire, thus helping in a silent way to build a foundation of good taste and a sense of fitness for the child that will later prove an asset, economically and socially.

“Authorities disagree on the quantity of garments necessary for a baby’s layette, but all agree that beautiful cleanness is absolutely necessary.  Therefore it is better to have plainer and less expensive garments, but to have enough to make immaculateness certain.

“There are a few times in the year when a new dress seems a necessity.  The first day of school is one.  Children bounce off to school with alacrity when their clothes are new and in keeping with the occasion.  Mothers too are filled with satisfaction and pride in knowing that their little folks are correctly attired.

“Play clothes should be provided so that the school clothes may be taken off and kept in good condition.  Mothers can protect themselves and their children by making a plan and interesting their children in adhering to it; that is, to have certain outfits for school and others for play, that they may always be dressed correctly for both.

“Plaited (pleated) skirts, which have been popular for a quarter of a century for school girls, will undoubtedly continue so for a very long period of time, because plaited skirts seem to be absolutely in keeping with the jauntiness that is associated with a girl of school age.

“Party dresses are never in good taste in the classroom.  In this age of democracy no girl desires to show by her clothes that she is in a better financial condition than her schoolmates.  That in itself is considered bad taste.

"If you would know the full enjoyment of making lovely curtains and draperies for you home, as well as clothes for yourself and the children, make them on a Singer Electric.  It will be a surprising new experience.  Both hands are free, both feet at ease.  Merely press the speed control, gently or firmly, and sew at any speed.  Perfect, even stitching flows like magic.  There is no thought of effort on your part, for hidden power is doing all the work.  And in a short time your machine will have paid for itself through the many economies of home sewing."

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Bowties Are Cool

Nellie Sellar's block is a Bow Tie pattern.

I like almost all pieced blocks, but Bow Tie is not a favourite.  That diagonal square for the bow tie knot?  All the other pieces have to be set in around it.  It takes a long time to get it right and mine never quite lay flat when I'm finished.

I went to Carrie Hall's "The Romance of the Patchwork Quilt in America" (1935) to find a Bow Tie.  It wasn't listed in the index so I searched through the black and white plates to see if I could find it.  I did find it in Plate XVI - Hall calls it Necktie.  Her description is of the pattern is not especially helpful.

"This shows that the Colonial women were very considerate of the men-folk of their families."

I'm not quite sure what that statement means.  The photo of the block in the book is 1/2 inch square so I went online to find a better picture.
In 1938 Carrie Hall donated all her quilt blocks to the Spencer Museum of Art in Kansas, and the museum has the whole collection available for online viewing.

There are two Necktie blocks in the Hall collection.  This is the first one.

Now have a look at the second one.

No centre square, just corner triangles!  If it worked for Carrie Hall it works for me.

My block is 9 inches.  I cut squares at 2.75 inches.  The corner triangles are stitch and flip, I cut them at 1.75 inches square, sewed along the diagonal onto a white square, flipped and trimmed.

Turning the bowtie blocks create a range of settings.  If you check the Facebook page this week I will attempt to share a different layout every day.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Coming to America

Nellie Sellar's life is an example of the 20th century migration to the United States from the Old World as well as the internal migration towards the West Coast.

James Sellar and his sisters Joan and Barbara emigrated from Scotland to the USA in 1907 to seek their fortunes.  The siblings settled in Chicago, Illinois.  In the 1910 census James was a plasterer and both sisters were working as quiltmakers.

The USA was a sought-after destination for many hopeful immigrants in the early 20th century.  Just a few pages of the 1930 census for Chicago recorded residents and their parents being born in Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, England, Germany, Greece, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Madera Island, Norway, Poland, Scotland and Switzerland.

James returned to Scotland and married his childhood sweetheart Nellie.  Their first son James was born in Scotland before the family returned to Chicago on the SS Columbia.

James Junior was joined by sisters Helen and Elspeth; surprisingly, twelve years later, brother George was born.

The Sellar family left Chicago and traveled West to Wenatchee, Chelan County, Washington.  The majority of people living in Wenatchee had been born in the USA but not in the state of Washington - Wenatchee was a place people moved to from somewhere else.  Three pages of the 1930 census lists 27 different states as birthplace of the individual or their parents.

George Sellar was Nellie's fourth child, born when Nellie was 38.  George's arrival may not have been planned but his life was not insignificant; in 1971 he became Senator George Sellar and he served his community well until his death in 2000.  The highway bridge between Wenatchee and East Wenatchee was renamed the Senator George Sellar Bridge in his honor. 

Nellie would have been very proud.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Looking for the Goose

Gussie Herr's block is made from the traditional building blocks of patchwork - hourglass, flying geese and half square triangles.

I began the search through BlockBase to find a name for this block.  It always takes a while when you don't have a name to start with.  I was surprised when I found the closest match.

This block is Brown Goose.  It doesn't look like Gussie's block until you realise the only difference it the corner half square triangles which have been reversed.  That's why I love the traditional patterns, basic blocks are used to build up a multitude of different pieced patchwork blocks.

Brown Goose isn't the only name for this block.  It is also known as Gray Goose, Double Z, Devil's Claws, Framed X, Old Gray Goose, Old Maid's Puzzle and Ribbons. 

Ruth Finley says,

"While not particularly attractive, this pattern was widely used for every-day quilts .... because it was easy to piece"

Same block, different orientation.  This one was made entirely of half square triangles, reverse the top and bottom to get the Brown Goose.

This one is almost a goose, it needs some corners.  I wonder what happened.  Did she run out of material? Did it fall down behind the sofa and never finished? Maybe the maker was relieving the boredom of pregnancy, and once the labour pains started patchwork was forgotten ....

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Gussie Herr and the Quilting Church

Gussie Herr worked as a seasonal worker in the fruit packing shed when it was harvest time.  Her husband Clemens was a farmer and cabinet maker, and their three children still lived at home; George was a timber worker, Elizabeth a stenographer and Marie was still at school.

Gussie and Clemens

Gussie was an active member of her church, the First Christian Church in Camas, Washington.  She had a long association with her church - Gussie lived to 103!  Her obituary reads, "She was very active in her church and was loved by all until the day the Lord took her home."  I found Gussie's obituary at one of the genealogists' favourite websites:  Usually a hit brings up photos of tombstones, but this time there were photos of Gussie Herr herself.

Christian Church, Camus, Washington 1911

Quilting was often a group activity in the first decades of the 20th century.  In remote communities the church and the quilting bee were the only opportunities for women to meet and socialize.  In the 1930s signature quilts were till popular as fundraisers for church building programs, or as a presentation to a retiring minister or Sunday school teacher.

Church fundraising quilt made by members of the 
Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church,
Allentown, Pennsylvania. Dated between 1934 and 1937

Detail of the Grace Evangelical quilt.  Individuals paid a small amount to have their name embroidered, and further funds were made when the quilt was raffled.

Some church associated groups earned funds by hand quilting tops made by others, the cost being calculated by the size of the quilt, the complexity of the pattern or the number of spools of thread used in the quilting.

Was the Malaga quilt a church project? It doesn't appear to be.  The quilt owner Lena Wallace was a member of the Malaga Christian Church, and the Malaga Homemakers were a church ladies group known for their quiltmaking activities. But the women in the Malaga quilt come from a number of different churches; one was married by a Catholic priest and yet another was Jewish.  Belonging to a church was important to many of the women, but they didn't all attend the same congregation.