Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!  I wish you all a safe and happy holiday and healthy and successful new year!
Looking back...
Before I collected quilts, I collected old books and patterns. Some were given to me by family and friends, others came to me via paper shows or auctions.  Back in the 1970s, most people (except my Dad) perceived these things as trash;  others simply couldn't discard things saved by a family member.  
Modern Priscilla magazine, February 1917, illustration by Harold Cue.

I am enchanted by the many things that quilters saved as inspiration.  Many of them kept stacks of newspaper clippings like this one:

I can't tell you anything about the lady who saved this pattern, except that it was in a plastic bag with other clippings I purchased at an auction.  I once drafted a pattern for this block but it is "somewhere safe."  
Looking forward...
For 2016, my quilting goal is to use up as much of my fabric as possible.  I know I'll be doing some scrap quilts and here are two local pieces that I love.  I categorize them as "good to the last drop" quilts.  It's as if the quilters had to use every scrap possible.  

The piece to the left is a quit top and has 5 inch blocks made up four 2.5 inch blocks.  The second is a tied comfort that I purchased from Sharon and Bill (of and is featured in my program, "A Perfect Match: Embroidery and Quilts".  Do you have a quilting goal for 2016?  If so, I'd love to hear about it!  Happy New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Penn Dry Goods Market at the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center

Penn Dry Goods Market is a wonderful spring event held at the Schwenkfelder Libray and Heritage Center.  Two days of classes are offered by expert textile historians and there are wonderful antique dealers there at the market.  Why not consider attending?  You can learn about it here.  Perhaps I'll see you there!  I've already registered for three classes!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Eye Candy, Part Deux!

As promised, here are some more photos taken out Quilt Study meeting last week.  Rosemary managed to save these.  They were headed to a dumpster.  Great job Rosemary!  The (quilt) force is strong with you now!  These quilts were made in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania which is located north of Allentown.
Log cabin in pristine condition!
(Above) Now THAT'S Pennsylvania Dutch!  Beautiful quilt with a "strippy" back; a favored style of backing in our region!
This interesting quilt actually features three sizes of square blocks!
Also in the save were two quilt tops.  We love quilt tops because we get to see the workmanship of the maker.  
Not one but TWO redwork quilts, both dated 1911:
and featured many art nouveau flowers
This block (below) fascinates me.  I'm speculating but I'm convinced this was based on a political cartoon:
The animal is indicative of other political cartoons of the era, and appears to be a donkey stirring the pot:
1912 cartoon from the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The idea of the "melting pot" with the word democracy in it seems to be indicative of the controversy regarding immigration in the early 20th century.  As many as 10,000 immigrants could be processed at Ellis Island in a single day.

Irish Stereotypes Political Cartoon
Late 19th century cartoon of the "melting pot" indicating a fear of a Irish immigration.
The fact that the donkey is dressed in a jester's outfit appears to ridicule the idea of a democracy being produced by melting cultures.  No matter what the maker's intent, it is an interesting and provocative block.
Special thanks to Karen, Sharon, Bill, Sue, Lisa, and Rosemary for allowing me to share photos of your quilts on the blog!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Eye Candy Weekend from the LV Quilt Study Group!

We had some wonderful quilts to study at the Lehigh Valley Quilt Study Group Meeting last Thursday.
Bill and Sharon, quilt dealers from brought some lovelies, just perfect for the holiday:
Adorable holiday feedsack!
Great poinsettia quilt!  
Redwork quilt top and up close:

Economy quilt with a beautiful backing:
Their baby quilt was an interesting piece to study.  It is double sided and while we studied it, we realized there is another quilt inside of it!
Karen Dever is a quilt professional from NJ.  She is a certified appraiser, pattern designer and has various lectures and workshops available on her website here.
She brought two quilts that also reflected the holiday spirit:

Another member, Lisa, may be new to quilting and collecting but she had some beauties:

Sue brought a wonderful silk piece:
Tomorrow I will feature a few more quilts and some exciting pieces that Rosemary shared!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Redwork and Roadie Bags

My husband grumbles that I never met a piece of embroidery that I didn't love.  It's true; I even created a program to focus on this passion entitled, "A Perfect Match: Embroidery and Quilting."
I also love to make embroidered quilts and thought I would share a holiday piece I completed a few years ago:

I've been blessed to have an extensive collection of old transfers; most I inherited from my grandmothers and others were given to me by elderly women who had given up sewing.  These blocks came originated from transfers offered in The Workbasket magazine:  

People often ask me how I manage to accomplish the completion of so many blocks.  The answer is easy: always have a roadie bag ready.  A roadie bag is usually some kind of tote that I store by the front door. 

I started using roadie bags because in my family, I tend to be the main caregiver to well--everyone.  I've gotten phone calls in the middle of the night and rushed out to get Mom or a relative to the hospital.  A bag by the front door means that there is something I can do in a waiting room besides get anxious.  My friend Carol addressed this succinctly:  "I am never as calm as I am when I have a needle in my hand."
Inside the roadie bag I keep a project and supplies:
If you are interested in making a retro inspired Christmas quilt and don't have vintage transfers, you can check out one of my favorite blogs, Q is for Quilter, and find some of these patterns here.  

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Lehigh Valley Quilt Study Group

Shu-Ha-Ri is a philosophy about learning that is often discussed in the martial arts.  Shu (follow) is about learning from a master and learning from tradition; Ha (breaking away) is about being knowledgeable enough about the foundation to discover exceptions.  Ri (separation) occurs when the student has learned enough to transcend; although the journey of knowledge is never complete, the student begins to develop original work that takes the field farther.  This is a rather simplistic explanation but I like this concept in learning about anything.

As I explained in my first post, I became interested in quilt history when I was given a number of old quilts.  I always begin studying anything by reading.  My process has always been that I get to a certain point where I raise questions not addressed in texts; then I go out into the world to seek more information. Trips to museums and quilt exhibits are helpful. One can only read about any kind of art for so long and then have to experience it up close and personal.
Which leads me to the reason of this post:  The Lehigh Valley Quilt Study Group.

When I was first studying quilts, I joined a quilt study group outside of Lancaster.  Nine years ago, I started the Lehigh Valley Quilt Study Group.  

We meet in a suburb of Allentown and have two kinds of groups.  The "Show and Tell" group allows us to look at actual quits that members or the community brings to us.  We throw them on a large table and everyone gathers to see what we can see.   

We learn from each other and from the quilt owners.  We touch the quilts, check out the stitches, point out different fabrics and techniques that relay a time period.  Our group does not provide appraisals, we don't sell goods, we simply look at the pieces and learn from the textile itself.  

We meet at 1 p.m. on the third Thursday of even numbered months.  Our members include quilt collectors, quilt novices, dealers, historians, and quilters.  Some members bring quilts to review, others don't have quilts but simply want to learn.  All are welcomed.

On the odd numbered months, we have a book group and this is particularly helpful to novices. We pick a book, read a chapter or two, then meet to discuss it. When we are lucky, members bring pieces that relate to what we have just read.
The philosophy of Shu-Ha-Ri doesn't imply that the path to knowledge is linear; it's more filled with curves, not unlike quilt history.  Our world is a young field of history, often finding exceptions to assumptions which makes quilt study an exciting field.    
So--if you are interested and...
If you have an old quilt and would like to bring it to the group, and/or-- if you are interested in taking the plunge and learning about old quilts by seeing and studying old quilts, email me and I'll send you the details of the group.  Our next meeting is this week-- Thursday, December 17.

There's room at the table for everyone.

This post is dedicated to my grandmother, Betty Laura Klock Wilson (1920-2010), an artist who exemplified learning at every age.  At 80 years old, she handed me a book and said, "You really must read this; it's quite good."  The book: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Thursday, December 10, 2015


I'll be presenting a number of monthly features on this blog to highlight my collection of quilts and textiles. Paws-day will focus on textiles that feature our furry and feathered friends.  
Illustration by Florence Petz Smalley, from the book
Something to Do, Girls!, copyright 1916

Because it's the holiday season, I thought I would feature a quilt I made in 2010.  I always tell quilt guilds that I am a mediocre quilter at best but I find quilting therapeutic.  This certainly was the case when I made this piece; I was grieving the loss of my poodle, Paddie.

 Paddie is featured at the top of the Christmas tree with a golden biscuit (her favorite treat).
To the left is our beloved Seamus and to the right is our darling Teddy.  Sadly, Teddy passed away during the summer of 2014.
I don't have a Christmas cat piece but in deference to my grandcat, Mitzi, I thought I would include this illustration from a 19th century McLoughlin Brothers book:
Happy Paws-Day! 
Be sure to give your faithful friend an extra pet or kiss today!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Lecture at the Michener Museum

Event next Tuesday!  
December 15, 2015
1 p.m.
Piecing Together Cultures: Quilts of Southeastern Pennsylvania 
Patricia Herr will be speaking at this event at the Michener Museum in Bucks County.  For tickets and details go to the Michener Museum website here.  

While you are at the museum, you may want to check out the "Blanket Statements" exhibit which features quilts Kaffe Fassett and historical quilts from the collection of the Quilt Museum and Gallery from York, UK.  Details here.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Star of Bethlehem

In our region of Pennsylvania, this type of quilt is commonly referred to as "a Star of Bethlehem".  Most of us recognize that this may not be the historical name of the pattern, but we prefer the reference to our culture.

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania was founded in 1741 by a group of Moravians led by David Nitschmann and Count  Nicolaus von Zinzendorf .  The name of the city was chosen because the Moravians founded the mission on Christmas Eve.  

In 1937, a large electrical star was built atop South Mountain to glow above the city. Many of us have "Moravian Stars" in our house; they can be made of paper (below left) and there are many that are made of leaded glass.
      Image result for bethlehem pa star of bethlehem

Two other areas in our valley were inhabited by Moravians including Emmaus which is slightly southwest of Allentown and northwest of Easton is Nazareth.  If you are interested in learning about the Moravians, you can learn more about them here.

 I have a number of star quilts in my collection but "Stars of Bethlehem" remain among my favorite.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Christmas Market this Weekend!

There were a variety of different German groups that settled in Pennsylvania and this weekend you can explore the holiday cultures of three of these groups!

A wonderful tour of Pennsylvania German Christmas traditions and folk art will be presented at three preservation societies near the Lehigh Valley.

CHRISTMAS MARKET is scheduled for this weekend, December 5 and 6, 2015.

Explore our beautiful region and these three cultural centers:

The Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center ( will have shopping and an elaborate Christmas Putz to view.  This is one of my favorite museums and just a short drive outside the valley.

The Mennonite Heritage Center( features a wide selection of reproduction folk art as well as other activities.

The Goschenhoppen Historians ( will transform Red Men's Hall into a Christmas wonderland!

I'm sure there will be food at all the venues and they are fairly close so you can tour all three!

For more information about the Christmas Market, follow this link for details.  Let me know if you have a chance to attend!