Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Machine Quilting 2

 When our Study Group met before the pandemic, we were lucky enough to see one or two quilts that had machined quilted in the late 19th century.  The quilting was often awkward and we surmised that the work was done at home on a machine.  As one of the elders in the group stated, having a sewing machine was a status symbol and it made sense that women used it to quilt.

However, let's not overlook the importance of the sewing machine to families.  By the late 1880s, more and more families owned sewing machines.  The popularity of the machine created a plethora of new machines and attachments or gadgets that could be attached to the machine.  Imagine your cell phone and all the apps available and you kind of get the idea.  How do I know this?  Well I checked the U. S. Patent Office:

Button and Eyelet Sewing Machine

Ruffler Attachment 
Even an attachment for sewing on beads!

But my favorite attachment was The Quilting Attachment!

I'm not sure who invented this first.  Scientific America ran an article in 1886 on the Davis' Quilting Frame.  And better still, there was an illustration!
According to the article, "a lady can make a full size quilt within two hours, a comfortable in one hour, can also quilt children's winter cloaks, bonnets, dress skirts and coat linings, and do all manner of quilting from the largest size quilt to the smallest cloak."

In 1887, Henry T. Davis (inventor) boasted, "the frame works on any sewing machine, can be attached or detached in half a minute, requiring but little space, and is so simple that a child eight years old can use it and do all the quilting of a large family."
But wait there's more!

  A newspaper ad from 1888 touted The Eureka Quilting Attachment!  

From the ad:  
"No Family Sewing Machine is complete without this attachment."

Retail Price:  $7.50 (online inflation counter suggests that is equivalent to $218 today).

And there were others like Fraley's Quilting Frame,  which promised a quilt could be completed in 2 hours.

What surprises me so much about the images is how much they remind me of early modern quilting frames.  Our local quilt store had one in the back of the store--at first as a model and later you could use it in the store for a small fee. 

Through the 1890s, there were a few ads I found that advertised the Eureka and the Davis frames.  I never could find out how many frames were sold.  In 1894, the New England Farmer published an extensive article on machine quilting and stressed that machine quilting could be done without a frame but it was more challenging.

Tomorrow we'll look at a machine that was supposed to do it all!

Have a safe and happy day!

1 comment:

  1. She's sitting at an angle in front of the machine which to me looks like an uncomfortable position. But wow, I had no idea these existed so long ago!