Happy Flower Friday!
Have a safe and happy day!
Happy Flower Friday!
In the early twentieth century, the phrase, "color fast fabrics" was used extensively in marketing clothing and fabric.
During the early part of the twentieth century, a movement was started to really insure that fabrics would remain color fast. During World War I, European dyes were not available due to blockades. The American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists was formed in 1921 and is still in existence today. Their website is fascinating and has a great textile timeline here.
Color-fast fabrics are an interesting topic. Originally the thought was to inhibit fading of fabrics and a lot of work was done by a UK manufacturer, James Morton. He literally tested fabrics not only at home but sent fabric swatches to his brother in India to see how they would withstand extreme sunlight. With the assistance of a chemist named John Christie, he developed "sundour" fabrics that could withstand sunlight. A great website is here that explains some of his work.
By the 1920s, most ads promoted that fabrics were "color fast":
"Give a man a dole and you save his body and destroy his spirit. Give a man a job and pay him an assured salary, and you save both body and spirit." --Harry Hopkins, architect of the WPA
This quote could be applied to both men and women during the depression. On Wednesday I posted some tidbits about WPA Sewing Rooms.
But let's not get nostalgic or sentimental about the New Deal and sewing.
I had noticed in my local newspaper a lot of articles about our city funding WPA sewing rooms. Women were given a salary of $35/month (in contrast to men who earned $41.70/month) which was paid for by the WPA. But local municipalities were required to pay a portion for all the WPA projects. Often, the local towns or counties were expected to pay for materials and rents of the sewing rooms. It often put the women in precarious positions when funding was being renewed. Case in point: Pleasantville, New Jersey.
In late November/earlyDecember of 1936, the city council and mayor of Pleasantville decided that they could not fund the two local sewing rooms; the rooms employed about 112 women. The women did not take this decision passively. They decided to literally fight city hall.
In a move that appeared to have surprised the local politicians, the women organized and staged a sit-in at city hall. "We want work not relief," the women told the politicians. They chose to use strike tactics to fight for their jobs and made headlines not only in the United States but in Canada as well.
"They can stay up in city hall until they rot or Hell freezes over. We've done everything to show them we are sympathetic and that we just don't have the money. But they won't listen. I have only one more month to serve, and nothing to worry about, so to Hell with em."
The community of Pleasantville rallied behind the women. Merchants sent the women food, hot meals were provided by the local Democratic headquarters. WPA workers from other areas made signs for the women:
Local detectives said they didn't find illegal gambling at any of the establishments but newspaper reporters were skeptical. At one store, the proprietor told reporters that he had been closed for five weeks.
"But how about the people we see in the back room--there must be 75 inside?" asked a reporter.
The man was somewhat embarrassed. "Well it's closed anyway, the chief just told me to close it up."
I wish I could tell you a satisfying ending for this story. It appears that the WPA Sewing Rooms remained closed and in fact, other sewing rooms in Ocan City and Hammonton were also closed in New Jersey that year. In fact, it seems like whenever there was a budget crunch, WPA Sewing Rooms became the first cut that local municipalities made.
The mayor of Pleasantville had been quoted as saying "we've done everything to show we are sympathetic..." Unfortunately sympathy doesn't pay for rent or put food in the mouths of children. A record number of children were placed in orphanages or foster homes during the Depression. By the time the Depression was wound down, about 200,000 children were "vagrants" outside the system.
We can completely understand how these women chose to fight for their jobs and their families.
Hope you will have a safe and happy day!
Happy Flower Friday!
Hi! I hoped to share another WPA story with you but I now need to run and help a family member and then take Scout to the vet. Will resume the WPA next week. Tomorrow if Flower Friday and if you want to share a floral image, email me at email@example.com
The Six Know-It-Alls had another discussion yesterday and if you want to listen, click here.
Here's a nice quilt to enjoy:
"A certain girl has pieced a 'crazy quilt' containing 9,000 bits of ribbon. It must have taken at least three minutes' sewing to the piece. That would make 27,000 minutes--an hour a day for a year and nearly three months. In that time this foolish girl might have learned a modern language, become an accomplished cook and housekeeper, studied no end of history and science, or have done benevolent and educational work among the ignorant and poor that would have lasted to the eternities."--The Morning Call
This blurb was found in an Allentown PA newspaper in 1884.
This is in my file about number of pieces per quilt. Newspapers (or perhaps quilters) loved to share the amount of pieces in a single quilt well into the twentieth century. I've often wondered if quilters shared the number of pieces in a quilt so that their work would garnish more respect.
I also dislike the editor's comment about the "foolish girl" who could have used her time better to study history or science...for what end? Women were excluded from those fields at this time. There's a lot we don't know about this girl. Did she work in a ribbon factory and collect scraps that were to be discarded? Was she infirmed and spent her days making her life more beautiful by creating this piece?
One of my favorite pieces in my collection is my crazy quilt dated 1883. Today's eye candy features this lovely piece. To me, crazy quilts are often like textile scrap books, full of images that were meaningful to the maker. What do you think?