Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Story Time Stitches: Jessie Willcox Smith


In March of this year, I wrote about how Marie Webster's quilt designs were published in the Ladies Home Journal (see here).  The magazine was the most popular ladies magazine in the country and one of the first in the world to have over a million subscribers.  This was due to the leadership of the Edward Bok who was not only the editor but a strong supporter of the Arts and Crafts Movement.  Bok believed that there should be affordable housing for the middle class and even supported changing the main room of the home from parlor or drawing room to living room.  

Bok must have been absolutely delighted when Webster submitted her quilts for review by the magazine.  In 1905, he had published a number of articles of quilt designs that he requested some of the best known illustrators to create: 

January: Ernest Thompson Seton

March:  Maxfield Parrish (1)

May 1905: Gazo Foudji

August 1905: Peter Newell

November 1905:  Jessie Willcox Smith

By the 20th century Jessie Willcox Smith was already a well known illustrator and a darling of the Ladies Home Journal  as well as other magazines.  She had established herself as a book illustrator in the 19th century and her illustrations were regularly featured in the LHJ magazine:

Jessie Willcox Smith (1863-1935)

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Jessie studied at what is now the Moore College of Art and Design.  She also studied extensively with Howard Pyle.  In my opinion, she is unrivaled in tender illustrations of children.  Her design of "A Child's Good-Night Bedquilt" is exceptional but I've never seen one done.  Here's a close-up:

 It is very humorous to me that all the quilt design articles published in LHJ in 1905 included a disclaimer:

"It is impossible for us to supply Patterns for this quilt.  All that can be told about it is told here."

But Jessie's contributions to quilts did not stop here.  In 1914, her book, The Jessie Willcox Smith Mother Goose was published.  It's 107 years since the book was released--and it's still in print:

In the 1920s, Butterick patterns published iron-on transfers from her book:

What a wonderful present for a new baby--a copy of Jessie Willcox Smith's book and a coordinating quilt!


If you are wondering how I was able to embroider the above block, well--just as Jessie's Mother Goose book remains in print, the transfers that were made of her book are still being published:

Only now do I occasionally find that these transfers credit the images were designed by Jessie Willcox Smith.  

But wait there's more!  The designs have also been printed this century on panels by Amy Barickman:

If all that isn't enough, I still find an occasional transfer with an image I recognize as Jessie Willcox Smith's:

Enjoy yourself today and stay cool or do some reading...

I'm taking tomorrow off from the blog so I can do some sewing.  If you have flower images you want to share for Flower Friday, please email me at!

(1) An interesting blog post on this quilt can be found here at Martha Dellasega Gray's excellent blog, Q is For Quilter.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Tuesday's This and That : Summer Reads

Happy Tuesday! 

Well the dog days of summer are really upon us now!  For our family, that means waking early to walk the dog and water the garden.  It's also time to hibernate during the afternoon.  I tend to do hand sewing because my attic sewing room gets pretty hot.  Most of all, I like to read.  Here's what is on my reading summer list:

The Premonition by Michael Lewis:  I finished this a few weeks ago.  I had expected to be political but it isn't.  It's more about medical experts and what they saw and studied during the pandemic.  It sounds boring, right?  Nope, I couldn't put the book down!  I really got invested in the characters and was sad to see the book end.

The Bird Way: A New Look At How Birds Talk, Work, Play, Parent, and Think by Jennifer Ackerman:  Here's a book I just started reading and it an enormous amount of updated information on birds.  I'm really enjoying it and you might too if you are a birder!

Born a Crime, Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah:  My father did work in South Africa years before the word "apartheid" was well known in this country.  He was appalled by some of the things he witnessed.  I haven't started this book yet but it looks it will be insightful!

Betsy recommended this book.  Set after World War 1, all I needed to read was the phrase "surplus women" and I had to order the book!

I found this book on the must read summer lists of an online publication.  My understanding is that HBO is making a film about it.  I read the preview of the book and got sucked into the story right away.  It's about a woman detective in Botswana.  The book was delivered last night and I already read 4 chapters!
Many of you wanted the Modernistic Flower Quilt pattern and I was happy to send it on to you.  Can't wait to see if any of you put one together.

What will you be reading this summer?

Have a safe and happy day!

Monday, June 28, 2021

I'd like to See That Quilt: The Modernistic Flower Quilt

Well it's hot and humid here in Pennsylvania! But it's a perfect time to post an image of a quilt that I've never seen but wish I could!

It's called The Modernistic Flower Quilt and "Mullen" is the signature on the design.  Here is the overall quilt:

I found this pattern was published in two papers:  The Oregonian and The Oakland Tribune.


I've looked everywhere to find an actual image of the quilt with no success.  Have you seen it?

One of the challenges has been that "modernistic" was really a buzz word in the 1930s.  Everything from bridge clubs to sewing groups adopted the word "modernistic" to describe their groups.  This quilt is what I would describe as an art deco style quilt, wouldn't you?

I have the whole pattern for this quilt and if you would like a copy, shoot me an email and I'll send you one.

Have a happy and safe day!

Friday, June 25, 2021

Flower Friday: June 25, 2021


Happy Flower Friday!

I suspect that most of you are actually out in your garden right now.  My husband and I have been working regularly outside.

Hubby is doing a lot of much needed power washing while I prune, weed, and pass along plants to family and friends.  Also we are doing so much needed painting.  It's a lot of work and if you notice that my blog posts are rushed, it's only because we want to take advantage of these low humidity days.

Sue sent this amazing photo of a lichen that grows on her fence.  The lichen is called "British soldiers" and I think it is fascinating and what a great name!

Our garden is really popping with color right now as the hydrangeas, coneflowers, and butterfly bushes blossom!

I'm hoping you are enjoying the summer and wish you a safe and happy weekend!

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Tokyo Intenration Quilt Festival

Well it's official.  The Tokyo International Quilt Festival will no longer be held.  I've been hearing rumors for months that it would be permanently cancelled but yesterday I read on the Wabi-Sabi Quilt blog that an official announcement has been made.  The official announcement is here.

I really enjoy the workmanship in Japanese quilts and am very fond of the work of Yoko Saito.  I also love that the Japanese love sunbonnet patterns as much as I do.  I have a number of pattern books.

My husband and I are about to celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary and lately I've been thinking about all the things that have changed since we got married.  In the quilt world, many things have changed--much of it due to the internet.  On the negative side, Quilters Newsletter Magazine and many of our quilt magazines have folded.  Many of our local fabric stores have closed.

On the brighter side, there are more places to get inspiration because of the internet.  There are often free patterns we can find and as we continue through the pandemic, we are lucky we can order many things for our quilting online (and yes, from our local fabric stores as well).

Tomorrow is Flower Friday and if you wish to share some floral images, please email me at

Have a safe and happy day!


Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Story Time Stiches: Howard Pyle


Batting is an integral part of a quilt.  We don't see it but we can feel it in the quilt.  Today I want to talk about Howard Pyle.  His illustrations (to my knowledge) never showed up on a quilt but he was integral to our research.
Howard Pyle (1853-1911)

Pyle was a successful illustrator in his own right.  But he was, as his obituary in 1911 stated, "The Undisputed Father of the American School of Illustration."  Pyle was born in 1853 in Wilmington, Delaware.  His success as an illustrator really took in the 1870s; in 1894 founded the first school of illustration at the Drexel Institute (now Drexel University) before establishing his own school in 1900 at Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.  His students would become known as the Brandywine School of Illustration.

His students included Maxfield Parrish, N.C. Wyeth, and Jessie Wilcox Smith.  Pyle was also a supporter of women in artists and his list of students include many women that would become well known illustrators and artists later (including his sister Katharine).  You can see some of the works of his students here and here .

Pyle's illustrations were varied but you can see a pretty good selection here.  The man loved to collect costumes and I read a while back that some of his illustrations were inspiration for costumes used in Hollywood movies.

From Otto of the Silver Hand.  Howard Pyle, 1888.

Next week we return to quilts and illustration!

Have a safe and happy day!

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Tuesday's This and That: June 22, 2021

 Some quilt and technology humor from Sue!  😂😂😂


Many of you had comments about the Brownies!

Robin emailed: "When we went sorted through some of the things from my grandmother (1894-1964) there was an old primer or writing tablet with the brownies along the outside border."  She kindly sent us a some photos so we could see!  This is so cool!

Betsy wrote, "
My grandmother, who was born in the late 1880's used to tell me, for example, to put away my toys, "or the Brownies might get it!" It was clear that the Brownies were capable of mischief, though I don't ever remember seeing the story books."

Wendy wrote that she thought it was interesting that Girl Scout Brownies wear beanies like the Cox Brownies!  I agree!


Celebrating the dog days of summer, Sue sent a photo of a quilt she pieced and hand quilted.  The pattern is from Elizabeth Hartman and called Dogs in Sweaters!!  Isn't this the cutest thing!  Thanks for sharing Sue!!!


A while ago I had written about Marie Webster and how important her designs were to 20th century quilting.  Barbara Brackman has an interesting series about Webster and the quilts made before.  See here for the first of a series.


Hope you have a wonderful day!  Stay safe!

Monday, June 21, 2021



Well the dog days of summer have commenced!
Here in eastern Pennsylvania, the humidity is 94% already at 
7 a.m.!

Sam had requested some dog quilts for this week and here is a top from my collection.  It appears to be from the 1930s or 1940s:

The dogs are appliqued on sheer fabric that appears to resemble feedsacks.  The blocks are not on point.

Barbara Brackman's Applique book indicates that the pattern was offered by Alice Brooks/Laura Wheeler.  I couldn't find the ad but I did find this:

Dogs featured on blocks that were on point (diamond shaped) must have been a popular pattern:

This was my pattern:

If you have a dog themed quilt you want to feature on the blog this week, send me an email with the image:

Tomorrow on Tuesday's This and That we have a special photograph that Robin sent.  I can't wait to show it to you!!!

Have a safe and happy day!