Friday, March 27, 2020

Suffrage Centenial Quilts: Lelane H.

I love this piece because it gave me an opportunity to learn!  Thank you!  Lelane writes:

Gender equality is one of the Shaker tenets but Shakers usually kept their actions within their communities. 
Catherine Allen (1852-1922) was more active in both peace causes and equal suffrage outside her community at Mount Lebanon , New York. As a child she was sent to board with the North Family at Mount Lebanon in 1865. She stayed with the community and in 1908 she became an Eldress of the Central Ministry.
  As a Shaker leader she was an active women's suffrage proponent.  She spoke at conferences and led petitions urging women's suffrage.
  The production of Shaker "Dorothy" cloaks became a profitable business venture from 1890 to the 1930s. Mrs. Grover Cleveland wore one to President Cleveland's second inauguration in 1893. The cloaks were wool lined in satin with a satin ribbon at the neck.
  I chose to quilt a cloak as a representation of a Shaker I admire.

I loved the background fabric and asked Lelane about it.  She said that she a quilt study group had dated the fabric in the 1940s or 50s and the fabric was quite heavy (perhaps decorative fabric).  It's a wonderful piece!  Well done Lelane

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Suffrage quilts from our readers: today Cass G.

I was going to wait to post photos of some of the suffrage quilts that people have been showing me in their emails but I think it best to begin to share them here.

Today we feature two quilts made by Cass G.  These quilts are being featured in Lebanon Township Museum which due to COVID-19 is closed.  

What I love about these quilts is that they are really unique.  I love the crazy quilt backgrounds, perfect for the time that Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton really rose to fame.  
Susan B. Anthony

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

These kinds of silhouettes were popular in the 19th and early 20th century.  Well done Cass!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

What you are working on!

Beth is working on this right now!  Many of you know her because she does the By the Chimney No More program with me.  Isn't this quilt lovely?  She had texted me a photo of the masks she is making but for whatever I can't download those photos.  She writes:  

I am grateful to work remotely during this pandemic and the ability to sew during my lunch break is wonderful.  I have three projects in the work during this time of social distancing.  Chain piecing an Irish chain quilt.  Hand sewing the binding on a rail fence quilt .  And making covers for the N 95 masks so desperately needed for our dedicated health workers.  quilters and makers have always used our sewing as therapy during hard times and to support causes.  Let us all use this time to be productive, help where we can, and if you are in lock down with a friend or a family member now is a great time to teach them the art of sewing.  Stay safe, strong and stich on!

I also want to let you know that I have another blog that you may wish to explore called 3 poodles and a nana.  I've had that blog since my granddaughter was a toddler.  I'm sharing it with you in case you need some kind of diversion--there are lots of other quilt related blogs that show up on the main page on the Your Are my Sunshine list to the right of the blog.  Enjoy.

On Wednesday I'm going to post some photos of Suffrage Centennial quilts that you have been sending me.  Stay safe in the meantime and my prayers are with you all!

Friday, March 20, 2020

Suffrage Sewing Week: Knitting

Sojourner Truth, suffragist and well known speaker.
Her portrait shows her knitting.

"Knitting is the saving of life," Virginia Woolf wrote.  To Woolf and other crafters, there is something very comfortable about knitting.  I admit, the only time I did serious knitting when I was in college; my best friend in nursing school knitted as well.  There's something comforting about the rhythm of the needles as we work away at our knitting or purling.  It's most likely why so many people took up knitting (and quilting by the way) after 911.  

Of course, knitting can be political as well--case in point--the pink pussycat hats worn a few years ago:
A pink pussycat knit by Jayne B.  Apologies for the color being off, we are having a few dark days here.

Suffragists knitted as well.  Like embroidery, there were special clubs for knitters associated with various suffrage branches:
There were even classes taught:

Piecework magazine published an interesting article on suffrage and handwork (read here).  The aspect of this article that I find fascinating is the consistent rationalizing of why women shouldn't have the vote.  On one hand, suffragists were perceived as unwomanly creatures who shirked their domestic duties; but when they sewed or knitted to raise money for the cause, they were portrayed as frivolous.  

In 1915, while World War I ravaged Europe, an article was syndicated throughout the U.S. about Belgian suffragists who tried to help their country:

When the United States entered World War 1 in 1917, people knitted socks and sewed articles to support the troops:

Everyone knitted to do their part including boys:

And of course, suffragists:

Under the direction of Carrie Chapman Catt, the president of the National American Suffrage Association, suffragists knitted throughout the country to help the war effort.  They were joined by all groups of people in the country to do their part, just as we are doing our part now to try to protect ourselves and communities:

If you are knitting a project and would like to share a photo with the group, send me an email and I'll post it on the blog!
Stay safe dear friends!

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Suffrage Sewing Week: Grandma McLain's Suffrage Quilt

Close-up of a quilt from my collection, dated 1908.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, quilts were often used by suffragists to raise money and awareness for the cause.

In 1912 a quilt was circulated to different suffrage meetings in Kansas.  The quilt was attributed to "Grandma McLain" of Santa Fe, Kansas.  She was a 92 year old suffragist; her  daughter, Clara Colburn, was active in the movement.  

No description of the quilt pattern or color was reported.

Flowers for Grandma

Sarah A. McLain (1821-1913) had nine children, six of whom had passed by 1913.  According to one newspaper report, she had actually pieced the suffrage quilt for the association and the top was sent out to be quilted.  

The quilt was "offered to the town who would donate the largest amount to the cause."  The quilt was reportedly sold in Liberal, Kansas in August. 

One article reported, "If the voters do their duty at the polls in November, Grandma hopes to be able to vote in the future."
A twentieth century quilt block, recently donated by Pam B. 
(Thanks Pam!)

Grandma did get her wish.  The Kansas referendum allowed women the right to vote in November of 1912!
Have a safe and happy day!
Stay healthy!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Suffrage Sewing Week: Embroidery

One of the things that some suffrage branches did was have special clubs that women could join.  Embroidery in the early 20th century was still fairly popular (in contrast to quilting which lagged in certain areas and would gain momentum in a few years and explode during the depression).  In San Bernardino, California there was a very active suffrage embroidery club:
Here are some pieces that I found online of suffrage embroidery:

In Britain, one touching piece was made when suffragettes were imprisoned:

One article that provided an interesting insight was published in Arizona in 1906.  It doesn't provide anything factual about suffrage but it does reveal the writer's dismissive perspective of suffrage meetings.  The article was called "How to Stop Hazing" and called for a halt to hazing at West Point and the Naval Academy.  "The best way to stop hazing is to dismiss the hazed," the writer wrote.  "Let such creatures go to advocating woman's suffrage and discussing embroidery."  

I'm working away on quilt blocks that features work the suffragists women did in my home state in 1915.  I was particularly touched when one article relayed that farm women were donating their egg money to suffrage associations.  

I know from family tales how important egg money was to a woman.  In dark economic times, the money from the sales helped tide over the family.  During prosperity, the woman had a little cash to buy things like fabric or goodies for her children. I knew of an embroidery pattern I wanted to use for the this aspect of suffrage in 1915.  It's a pattern I had seen somewhere online; I added the ribbon on the bonnet. 

I hope you are staying safe and healthy!  If you have a project (knitting, sewing, or other) that you would like to share with the group, email me photos and a little blurb about what you are doing to

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Suffrage Sewing Week #2: Readers respond and Aunt Susan's Quilt

Good Morning!  Yesterday I received two emails from readers that I would like to share with you before I post about suffrage sewing.  What are you working on?  You can share your photos and story with us by emailing me at

Isn't this quilt fantastic?

My name is Madelon. I am a retired elementary teacher. I started this hand pieced basket quilt as I traveled back and forth to my hometown in Illinois during the 90’s. I collected and used fabrics from my mother, my friends, and my scrap pile. I am finally finishing the hand quilting on it by doing the borders. I used a basket pattern on some of the borders. One of my granddaughters will probably get this one. 

Here's one for us dog lovers from Sam (Samantha) C. :
My name is Sam and I have been sewing for about 10 years.  I work in eye care and love all the 20/20 jokes this year.  I have 2 dogs.  I love to sew, walk my dogs and bake for my hobbies.  Here is a dog quilt that I am working on.

Your projects made my day and I'm sure our readers will love seeing them too!

Now as for suffrage--did you know that Susan B. Anthony made a quilt?
She was affectionately referred to throughout the United States as "Aunt Susan" and was a leading force in the suffrage movement.  I've read articles that her first speech was at a quilting bee in Cleveland but haven't found much research to substantiate that claim.

Like most women, Susan learned to sew when she was a child.  One biography of Anthony said she was "noted for her skill with a needle."  Like most young girls during that time period, she made a sampler;  you can see her sampler here.

Anthony also made a Lemoyne star quilt in 1834 when she was 14 years old.  Perhaps you too remember a few years back when her quilt made news in quilting magazines.  Her quilt had become so fragile that a replica was made to be shown to the public.  You can look at the replica and read the story here and here.
A Lemoyne star quilt from my collection; the top was made circa 1840.

In 1900, a Pittsburgh newspaper reported that Aunt Susan's quilt was featured at a Suffrage Bazaar held in Madison Square Garden in New York at the Susan B. Anthony table, as well as many other family antiques.  It's not known how many other events the quilt accompanied the suffragist but perhaps that is why the quilt was so fragile later.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all of us!  
Have a safe and healthy day!