Friday, June 11, 2021

Flower Friday: June 11, 2021

 Happy Flower Friday!

Today we have some real beauties!  

Lorraine sent these photos:

"Circle Flower" aka Lysimachia

"Rose Campion" aka Lychnis 

Sue sent these lovelies!

Lettuce!!!  Sue your lettuce looks grand!

 "Evening Primrose" or Oenothra Biennis

I've always known these primroses as "Sundrops" for the common name.  I think they are the same as Sue's.  Here is a photo of them blooming in my garden with spiderwort and feverfew:

The lavender is blooming now and those pink flowers are "Missouri primroses" or Oenethera Speciosa.

First rose on the last tea rose in our garden.  My husband and I loved to grow tea roses and had many varieties until about the last 5 years when they began to fade.  Some got the dreaded rose rosette disease.  This is the last chap standing and to be honest, I don't even remember the name of the rose anymore.  But it is pretty and fragrant!

Wishing you a safe and happy weekend!

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Gardening Day

The heatwave broke here in our valley!

No blogging today...
I'm spending as much time possible in the garden today!

If you would like to participate in Flower Friday tomorrow, please email me your images:

Have a safe and happy day!


Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Story Time Stitches: Kate Greenaway


Children's literature entered the realm of The Golden Age of Illustration with three British artists:  Randolph Caldecott, Kate Greenaway, and Walter Crane.

It is Kate's work we want to study because her work shows up on so many of our quilts.  As technology in sewing and even embroidery improved, so did publishing.  Greenaway's art was reproduced in books by an improved printing process called chromoxylography.  The printing process was time consuming but created a greater variety of colors, tones, and shading than previous printing techniques.  It was the perfect technique for Greenaway's artwork.

Like many illustrators, much of Greenaway's earlier career started in greeting cards and a few magazine illustrations.  Her book Under the Window was published in 1879 and was a great success. 

Her books and illustrations continued with great success throughout the next decades.  She would become the first woman illustrator to actually earn a decent living from her work.  

Greenaway depicted children as innocent looking with pensive expressions.  Her children were dressed in Regency-style attire (The Regency period was 1811-1820; films of Jane Austen's books exhibit the attire of that era).  Girls often were depicted in high waisted dresses with mobcaps;  boys wore skeleton suits.

Above: a skeleton suit for a boy.

The popular illustrations generated a fashion fad.  Liberty of London marketed "Greenaway clothing" for children.  China was decorated with her figures and even wallpaper printed:

 Her work was beloved not only in the U.K. and U.S. but in many European countries as well.  Kate was amused to learn that she was so popular in Germany that Germans were convinced she was actually German. 

Unfortunately, there were also many companies that tried to copy her work, some even wrote books and crudely used her style in children's books.     As one writer would note about Greenaway:

"In France and England there were also many manufacturers who recognised the adaptability of her designs for printed fabrics and did not hesitate to 'lift' them for their own purposes." (1)

The problem of copyright protection would plague most illustrators well into the 20th century. 

It was only natural that the highly popular illustrations would be sought for embroidery patterns.    The Greenaway figures appear again and again on crazy and redwork quilts of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Her illustrations were published as iron-on transfers by William Briggs who had patented the first iron-on process.

A great mystery is why biographers don't talk about the inclusion of her work into Briggs' transfer books.   It is odd that of all the products biographers mention, embroidery transfers are not discussed outside of quilt books.

The transfer books notate the figures are "Village Life by Kate Greenaway" and the word copyright is printed on the pages which makes me think that she gave permission to have her illustrations to be reproduced:

 The images I am sharing are on redwork because the images show up better.  Often on crazy quilts there is a problem with lack of contrast and the figures don't show up as well.  Painted characters or worn from age:

A favorite Greenaway motif used on quilts is the "Scandal" illustration:


Half of the transfer (above) was used for this quilt made by a young child here in the Lehigh Valley:

Some other Greenaway characters in redwork:

Kate died in 1901 of breast cancer.  She had never married.  Her books continue to be marketed and transfers of her designs are still available.  She set a standard for women in the world of illustration.  
In 1955, The Kate Greenaway Medal was established in the United Kingdom.  The award celebrates "the most distinguished illustration in a book for children."

Kate Greenaway created the precedent of incorporating illustrations of children's books onto our quilts.

Have a safe and happy day!

1.  Kate Greenaway by M.H. Spielmann and G. S. Layard, London: 1905.

© 2021, Story Time Stitches, Michele McLaughlin

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Tuesdays This and That


So I found another blog post that intrigued me (we're having a heat wave so I'm in the house a lot more).   I'm intrigued by this block that I found on the Quilting Patchwork Applique blog.  This is the blog of a French quilter and I like to follow her work.  Her post that intrigued me is a block or technique she called Hungarian Squares Pattern.  You can see the block here as well other photos of her friends who also used the technique.  It reminds me of a Cathedral window and also maybe something I've seen on a Japanese quilt...but I'm not sure.  Have you seen this before?  It is really neat and I would like to know if there is another name for this block.

About a month ago, bloggers were informed that our readers will not be able to get our posts through email.  The company that does that is discontinuing the service in July.  I wanted to tell you that now so you can bookmark the blog or follow me through bloglovin (see the bloglovin' link to the right of the post).

On a whim I looked through newspaper articles a hundred years ago.  Most of the articles started with:  An old fashioned quilting party was held at Mrs.  So and So's house.  But I liked this ad about a quilt contest held in Des Moines, Iowa.  Quilting contests before the Depression tended to be a way to interest children in quilting.  The quilts were usually embroidered blocks that could be assembled  into a top with the assistance of an adult. 

Love the illustration of a child fondly admiring her quilt!

Even though the article doesn't mention the designer in this ad, this quilt appeared to be a Ruby McKim design.  She was a very popular designer for these kinds of contests and made her first real splash into quilt design with the Quaddie Quilt in 1916.

Later updates in the newspaper confirmed the designer:

McKim's Nursery Rhyme Quilt

Some of us of a certain age remember that the local newspaper had a special section for children.  Unfortunately, some of those pages aren't all included in most of the newspapers I've studied. 

I never did find out who won the contest or what kind of prizes were given.  But I found a sweet article a year later.  The article appeared before Christmas and shared what children in the hospital were hoping to get for Christmas.  

"Last year some small quilts with Mother Goose stories in outline were received," said one of the doctors.  "We placed them on the beds of the sickest children and the results were better than the most potent medicines could have obtained."

I leave you on that note and the healing powers of our quilts!

Have a safe and happy day!


Monday, June 7, 2021

Inspiration and Conversational Prints

 Sometimes you get tired of a particular type of fabric.  Both Beth and I mused about this during the past year.  We had gotten tired of our 19th century reproduction fabrics.  The one exception was that we still adored shirting fabrics.

I love 19th century conversational prints.  They were a style of shirtings popular from about 1880 into the 20th century.  I bought a lot of reproduction fat quarters of the prints at the Lancaster Quilt Show about 17 or 18 years ago.

Excuse the color or lack thereof.  I photographed these early in the morning!

I use these fabrics sparingly because I really love them!

I read that they were often used for men's shirts in particular.  It makes sense because some of the prints seem more masculine.  I couldn't imagine a woman wearing a shirt with baseball players, crickets playing pool or fishing rods:

But of all the ways that I have seen these prints used, I have never seen anyone use them the way that Wendy Caton Reed used them in a quilt called Happy Hexagons.  I've mentioned Wendy before.  She has a blog called The Constant Quilter and her work is currently on display at the New England Quilt Museum.  I know I mentioned that before as well.  But you need to SEE more of Wendy's quilts.  

I saw the Happy Hexagon quilt on a post at the GladiQuilts blog and I have to say I am crazy about this quilt and the way Wendy used her conversational prints.  You can see it on Gladi's blog here.  I must have looked at this quilt 5 times this week.  But I want you to see more of Gladi's photos of Wendy's work here and here (check out the Esther's Cheddar Casserole Quilt!) and here .  

I really think of Wendy as an artist.  She's made me re-evaluate my stash and I'm taking a fresh look at my 19th century reproduction fabrics.  Thanks for the inspiration Wendy!  I'm also super grateful for Gladi's blog this week!  You should also check out the photographs she posted from the Pilgrim/Roy Collection as well!  

Have a safe and happy day!

Friday, June 4, 2021

Flower Friday: June 4, 2021

 Happy Flower Friday!

Happily, we are getting some wonderful rain after 3 dry weeks!  Let us know how your weather and garden is doing!

Sometimes a section of a garden can just make you happy to see it.  Linda loves the combination of these colors in her garden!  It really is soothing and happy!

This little corner of my garden has been making me happy.  I don't even mind that a lot of things are smooshed from the rain!

Here are some images of Lorraine's garden this week.  Aren't they lovely?

Other flowers from Lorraine's garden:

Other things in the garden make us happy.  Betsy sent a photo of what she thinks might be heirloom peonies.  She got them from a friend who lived in a late 1700s farmhouse!

I do have a question for you gardeners and I hope you can help me.  I found this plant in my garden.  I think it is a squash or maybe a cucumber (Denise my neighbor guessed zucchini).  Do you recognize it?  It must have been sowed by a bird or the wind.  Since we got rain, it has jumped to about twice this size!
And now these seedlings are coming up in a different part of the garden but I think are similar to the above plant:


Do you know what this plant might be?
Inquiring minds want to know!

Thank you and have a safe and happy weekend!

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Thursday, June 3, 2021

Story Time Stitches: Connections, Part 2



The development of children's literature really began in the 18th century.  Children's books before that--when they were available to the general population--tended to be religious in nature like A Token For Children by James Janeway.  Janeway was a Puritan minister and among other things, the book features the deaths of 13 children who were grateful to go to Heaven:


More strides were made in the 18th century.  In particular I'd like to focus on John Newbery of England.  He believed that the philosopher John Locke was correct when Locke suggested that the best way to teach children was through amusement.  Newbery is considered "The Father of Children's Literature" and the publisher's most famous book is The History of Little Goodie Two-Shoes which has a theme familiar with many fairy tales like Cinderella.  The book was published in 1765:

Newbery proved that children's literature could be profitable and at it is he who is honored by the Newbery Medal;   each year since 1922, American librarians celebrate "the most distinguished contributions to American literature."  It is the highest honor given to a children's writer.

In the early 19th century, the Grimm brothers book of fairy tales was introduced in England in 1824.  The illustrations were by George Cruikshank and are credited with being more dynamic than previous children's books:
Cruikshank's illustration for "The Goose Girl"

The real changes in illustrations for children occurred between the 1880s and 1920s.  It is referred to as "The Golden Age of Illustration" and included many of the illustrators we will discuss.

All of the connections discussed yesterday contributed to the rise of illustration but there was one other art movement that also was integral: The Aesthetic Movement.  From 1860 to 1900, this movement altered the perception of art.  Aspects of the philosophy relevant to illustration included "art for art's sake", that art should be available to the general masses, and that crafts should be embraced like ceramics, metalwork, fashion, and yes, illustration.

Despite the disdain of people in the "high arts" aka the fine arts, illustration fulfilled one of the concepts of the Aesthetic Movement.  Illustration was extremely popular with the general public.  People of limited means decorated their homes with colored illustrations.  All types of illustrated works were collected and used.  One way the illustrations were integrated were screens comprised of collages of illustrations--see here for an excellent example.

Scrapbooks that often featured only illustrations were assembled and it was not just a hobby for young girls or women.  One of the books in my collection is a scrapbook by Samuel Maucher and dated 1881.  A page from Samuel's book:

Illustrations were so popular that businesses used the cards to advertise.  The concept was not unlike the calling card and usually similar in size.  The products were referred to as trade cards and were not only popular then but are still sought by collectors today.
Companies like McLaughlin's Coffee often included a trade card with the purchase of the product.  The illustrations often were in a form of a series which could be collected by the consumer.  The series could be in the form of children's lives (above), stories, or even historical or current events:
This trade card portrays the christening of Grover Cleveland's second child Esther.  

Other cards simply advertised a product or a company.  Almost any kind of business could advertise like this including sewing companies:

The last factor that I need to touch on is one that directly impacted illustrators:  the rise of the greeting card.  In the mid-19th century, companies began to sell illustrated greeting cards.  By 1860, mass production made the cards more affordable to customers.  As you will learn, many of our illustrators began their careers in this field before the work with book publishers.  
This trend of greeting cards-to-book illustration continues today.  Mary Engelbreit and Sandra Boynton are two examples that come to mind.
Illustrator unknown

Magazines also employed illustrators which increased the popularity of their magazines.  Illustrators like Randolph Caldecott (as in the Caldecott Medal given in this country to the artist who created the most distinguished picture book in a given year) first were employed in magazine illustration.

All of these aspects contributed to the rise of illustration.

Next week we will begin with our first illustrator and yes, look at quilts.  

Tomorrow is Flower Friday and if you have any images you would like to share, please email me at

1. 1894 etching of children reading.  Artist unknown.

2.  A Token for Children was published in England in 1671-1672.

"Story Time Stitches" © 2021, Michele McLaughlin