Monday, February 28, 2022

Calico Monday

Happy Monday!

On Friday, I posted the video Quilt Clothes Must Die.   Libby wrote:

"I made a quilted maternity dress (wish I had a picture) but I quilted the fabric in the skirt myself! It was winter and all I had on hand was cotton."

That rang a bell for me.  I have a file with the heading "calicos".  The reason it rang a bell for me was there was a fashion trend in the early 1950s.  Quilted skirts were referred to as "calico quilts" and quite popular:

Above: 1951
A variety of fabrics were used for these skirts (not just cotton) so I think it was just a nickname for a quilted piece of fabric.

Above and below: 1952

The term was used again in the 1970s:

Of course this wasn't the only time that a quilted piece of fabric was used to keep women warm.  Petticoats were often quilted and provided extra comfort to women.  I wrote about one that Beth and I found that was used as quilt batting in a tied quilt here.

Most of us know that calico actually refers to printed cotton and was named after the town in India called Calicut.  Still I wonder what comes to mind when you hear the word.  For me, the variety of prints offered in the 1970s that were popular many that were printed by Ely and Walker.  Their fabric was often referred to as Quadriga Cloth:

Early in my quilt collecting days, an appraiser was sure that my quilt hailed from the 1970s because this fabric was in the quilt.  She (the appraiser) said she had sewn clothes using this very fabric:

Later as quilt scholarship evolved, we all learned that Ely and Walker manufactured very similar if not identical prints for decades.  

Linda was very fond of bright colored calicos.  When she gave up sewing, she gave me her stash of fabrics.  Many of the fabrics were from the 1970s and early 1980s and I made her this quilt:
The red was actually parts of an unfinished dress that I took apart to use.

What do you think of when you hear the word, calico?

Have a safe and happy day!

Friday, February 25, 2022

Friendship Friday: February 25, 2022


23 days until Spring!

New blog posts on the side bar!  Check out Pat and Gail's blogs that I recently add to the list!


Lorraine shared her amaryllis which is blooming now!  


Beth called yesterday and she wanted to share with us a video that Mary Fons (daughter of Marianne Fons) has made.  She has taken a stand against a trend that is surfacing...again.  

Antique and vintage quilts are again being used to make clothes.  The video is here.   I've seen example of this on Instagram and a few other websites and it is nothing short than disgraceful.  I'm not sure the video below is working which is why I gave you the link above.


I'm hoping that all of you have power and are warm and safe at home.  The ice storm is here now.  The silence is strange--no cars or anything moving out there.  Stay safe and warm and if you have to go out...bundle up!

Have a safe and happy weekend!

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Aprons...All Tied Up, Part 2


Sheet music circa 1880, 
"That Old Checkered Apron."

There are some aprons that I have great admiration for:  The egg gathering apron that I learned about when one of my friends had or made one.  Multiple pockets are featured on the apron and each pocket is for an individual egg. There are lots of examples on Etsy.

The harvest apron as it is called now, was good for eggs but really good for picking produce.  I wish I had one every time I am picking tomatoes in our garden.

I think the clothespin apron is much more functional than clothespin bags:

Sewing aprons protected ladies' dresses from lint and thread and often had a large open pocket at the end of the apron to catch thread and scraps.  The aprons were usually full and covered more of the clothing.  One article said they should always have pockets for the seamstress.  Of course that didn't prevent some manufacturers to market a decorative "sewing" apron:

But what about the other kinds of apron?  One of my favorite is the "Hoover Apron" which became popular during World War 1.  Named after Herbert Hoover, "the food czar", who headed up the Food Administration.  The apron was part of the Food Conservation Program and women could buy or make aprons and--if they signed a pledge to uphold the conservation program--they could sew a special badge onto their aprons.  Here's a fine front page headline from the Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington) in 1917:

Women really liked this apron.  They continued to wear variations of the apron after the war.  And then there was this headline from 1919:


While searching for the Hoover apron, I found the Bungalow Apron...

And another style is here, fourth apron pictured:

Rubber and oil cloth aprons added the ultimate protection:

Here is another aspect I'm curious about.  There were aprons that were pinned onto a woman's dress.  That style goes back to the 19th century and remained popular throughout the first half of the 20th century:

These confuse me.   Did the woman show the safety pins?  Or were special pins outside the apron?  Did you have to take your dress off or loosen it to get the apron pinned on properly?

This concludes my thoughts on early 20th century aprons.  I hope you don't mind these posts.  I've been trying to concentrate on something other than the news...prayers for the people of Ukraine this morning.  Enough said.

Tomorrow is Friendship Friday.  If you have anything to share, please email me at

Have a safe and happy day!


Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Aprons...All Tied Up, Part 1


My mom and I have been talking about aprons.  

Mom:  "Do you know who never wore aprons?"

"Of course," I respond.  "Nana Elsie (my Dad's mom).  I never saw her wear an apron--and then again, I never saw her wear slacks either."

Mom's mom, Nana Betty, always wore an apron--always a half one.  It served a variety of purposes: tea towel, hot pad, and rubbing something that suddenly needed cleaning.  Great Grandma always wore this big apron that resembled a dress--similar to this:

My mother always wears an apron in the kitchen.  I'm not a big apron wearer especially because I don't do much baking anymore.

Do you wear aprons?  Do you have fond memories of family members wearing aprons?

Mom and I were talking about this because every now and then, in an old magazine or newspaper, I will find a reference to a specific type of apron that befuddles me.  Last week the reference was "the fudge apron" in an early 20th century newspaper.  😕😕😕  Did one need a special apron to make fudge?

So after studying newspapers and magazines, here's my theory and it applies to specialized aprons.  There are very few types of aprons sold or featured in articles in the 19th century that included a purpose for the apron.  Most of the ads and articles instead focus on the fabric used to make the apron like gingham aprons, linen aprons, cambric aprons.  It seems like towards the end of the century more and more articles featured aprons that were embellished with doo-dads:

But in the 20th century, it seemed like there as an apron allotted and sold for every purpose.  In 1917, "a bathing apron" was discussed:  "A pretty gift for a the mother of a small baby is a bathing apron made from a Turkish towel."  An earlier article (1903) suggested the bathing apron be made of flannel.

The mysterious "fudge apron" was probably named after the confectionary.  Fudge became popular during the late 19th century (at colleges of all places).  By the 20th century, so many fudge recipes had been printed in newspapers, that some readers complained or even made fun of the fudge makers:

I honestly don't know what's funnier to me...the fudge controversy or that the writer signed herself as Lady Macbeth.

One fudge apron pattern from Royal Society, no date known:

Perhaps more intriguing is this pattern from a 1915 children's magazine:

Most of the articles and ads I found were selling "stamped fudge aprons" for women to embroider.  

This of course begs the question, why do all that embroidery for the apron to just get dirty?  Apron lovers will think I'm a heretic for that question.

But wait!  There's more!  Stay tuned for more thoughts of other various aprons!

Have a safe and happy day!

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Tuesday's This and That: February 23, 2022

 Happy Tuesday!  

Today let's celebrate Martha Ann Erskine Ricks, a former slave who met with Queen Victoria and presented her with a quilt.  There are a lot of articles about Martha and her quilt but I think you will like this BBC video that was narrated by a descendent of Martha's.  


Dana Balsamo is a well known quilt historian, appraiser and more recently an auctioneer.  She has a big quilt auction coming up that features the collection of Laura Fisher--a well known quilt dealer from NYC.  I met Laura years ago and she was fun, supportive and very charismatic.  Laura passed away in 2021 and it was quite a loss to our community.

If you are interested in purchasing a quilt or just seeing pages of lovely textiles, visit the auction catalog here.


Have a safe and happy day!

Monday, February 21, 2022

Happy President's Day!

We quilters go through phases.  Fabric colors we love, techniques we find enchanting, and patterns that we love.  Decades ago, I loved churn dash blocks.  I like them particularly for baby quilts and made quite a few. 

Quilt names go in phases too!  This particular pattern has a variety of names including Monkey Wrench:

But wait...what is this?


Yes, names can be misleading.  There wasn't--and probably still isn't one name only for a specific pattern.  Admittedly, it adds to the folksy character of our craft.

I didn't find many references to the "Churn Dash" in the 19th century but I did find that in 1895, a newspaper had one sentence, "The 'monkey wrench' quilt is the latest pattern."  I'm not sure what pattern they meant by this--because I also found this from Nancy Page in 1933:

Like you, I considered this pattern, "snail's trail" and made a table runner for the kids years ago.  It was a variation because I chose not to do the 4-patch in the center so the kids' could see the cat fabric.

And then I found this article from 1940.  The headline across the page said, "The Old 'Monkey Wrench' Quilt Pattern Back Under a New Name'".

Personally, I would prefer the world be a better place so more quilt patterns could make headlines!  I'm just wondering if years before, quilters protested the name "monkey wrench" being applied to a pattern they knew as "snail's trail." 

Although the pattern is called a variety of names, I chose to focus on this one because it is also referred to as "Lincoln's Platform" and was called that by Carrie Hall, author of The Romance of the Patchwork Quilt in America.  It seemed fitting for President's Day.  Of course there were variations on this name as well such as this one in a 1934 newspaper:

Florence La Ganke also featured this pattern in a Nancy Page ad 4 years later.

Whatever name it is called, my favorite quilt that featured "churn dash" or "monkey wrench" or "Lincoln's platform" was owned by a friend that I used to sew with at our local quilt shop.  This was many years ago before the store relocated.

My guess is that it was from the last quarter of the 19th century.  The quilt was tied and featured circular woolen buttons to protect the fabric.  That was done frequently in Pennsylvania German quilts here.  The best part was that Betty (the owner of the quilt) found it in a family cabin.  A stool felt very lumpy to sit on and when she decided to reupholster the seat, Betty found this beauty folded up and used for batting.

Whatever we call it, it's a fun pattern!

Have a safe and happy day!


Friday, February 18, 2022

Friendship Friday: February 18, 2022


Deepest sympathies to those of you in the midwest and north who are getting hammered with more snow.  I hope we don't get anymore but the weather prediction here is "flurries on Saturday."  The last time there was a modest prediction of the white stuff, we got 5-6 inches.


Linda asked if we will be going back to "Flower Fridays" once the blooming begins.  I don't see why not--although I will always welcome what you share.  


Here's a lovely share from Libby:

Her sewing friends gave her the bouquet to thank her for teaching a class.  What a thoughtful gesture and they are truly lovely.  Thanks Libby!
I added Pat's blog to the side bars of blogs that readers have.  "Amity Quilter" is the name of the blog and she has lots of wonderful quilts and inspiration!


Have a safe and happy weekend!

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Taking a Day Off...

 I'm fine.  But it was a rough week and today the weather is warmer and I need some walking therapy with my dog.

I'll be back tomorrow with Friendship Friday.  If you have anything you would like to share, please email me at

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Pan-American Exposition Quilts


Of all the redwork motifs that were sold in the late 19th and early 20th century, my favorite have always been the designs that celebrated the Pan-American Exposition.

Held in 1901 in Buffalo NY, penny squares were sold at the event and later marketed in stores throughout the country.  

What I found so charming about the Pan-American Expo blocks were the architectural renderings of different buildings that were featured at the fair.

One of the funniest buildings was the "Upside Down House" the house was supported on the chimneys and was a "fun house" experience.

It is depicted in redwork on this blog.

I never really thought I would be able to own one of these beauties and years ago, I even bought the redwork patterns (now available at Amazon here if you're interested).  But then... I found this coverlet with many of the motifs on it:

It's a coverlet, with a pretty crocheted edging.  I think it was embroidered by children:

Usually all these quilts and coverlets include President McKinley.
He was shot and later died from the wounds.
After the assasination, the phrase "our martyred President" was added to this block.

Of course there was his successor:
President Roosevelt

Another historic block was the building that commemorated the Johnston Flood:

One aspect that I want to point out is the women's building at this fair.  Although a building was designated for women, it was quite different from other fairs.  The building did not exhibit any achievements of women but was a place where women could rest and socialize.  This is quite a contrast to other fairs.  At these fairs' women's inventions and other accomplishments were featured.  Examples include the 1876 Centennial in Philadelphia and the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.  The Columbian Expo even had a woman architect design the building.

Celebrating a world's fair with redwork appeared to be a popular trend for a short time.  In 1915, the Panama-Pacific Exposition was celebrated with redwork blocks.  I found this is a box of quilt patterns I got a local auction:

This transfer didn't require an iron but came with a wooden instrument that one used to rub the motif on to the fabric.

The Panama-Pacific Expo did not have a women's building either.  Instead,  the women worked side by side with the men.  Of note is that the first "Woman's Voters' Convention" was held at the fair.  Of course, women in California already had won suffrage in that state in 1911.  

Have a happy and safe day!