Thursday, March 31, 2022

Quilt Protectors

 "Everyone needs protective covers for the bed,"  a 1941 newspaper article relayed.  "The protective covers needed for a bed are spring-covers, mattress covers and mattress pad, pillow protection and quilt protection."  Of course these are basic necessities that we include in our bedrooms.  Until you wonder...wait...quilt protection?

We now call them "chin guards" or "whisker guards" but old newspapers and booklets suggest that they were always referred to as "quilt protectors".  So what is this thing?

A few weeks ago, I shared a photo of a 16 patch quilt from the turn of the century:

See that blue stripe of later fabric along the bottom of the quilt? The quilt pictured there is likely upside down.   That blue fabric was likely a repair job that someone did because the edges of the quilt were likely fraying.  Beth and I always mused that if the quilts had a guard on the edge, there wouldn't be so much damage.  I don't have a quilt that shows what kind of wear a quilt can endure but here is a great photograph that illustrates common damage.

Enter the quilt protector.  I found this photo online that demonstrates the use.   A piece of fabric was folded over the top and adhered to the quilt:

That piece of plain muslin basted to the top of the quilt helped keep the quilt clean.  As a 1928 article stated:  "they (quilts) are bound to get soiled.  A splendid way to protect against this is to sew a white strip across the top of the comfort.  This is easily laundered and sewed on the quilt, and of course, may always be kept clean as well as keeping the quilt clean.  It could be removed, washed and re-basted onto the quilt to protect the edge of the quilt." 

Now folklore suggests that the most damage down to that edge of the quilt was due to a man's beard rubbing against it, hence the name "whisker or beard guard".  But the truth is that most of the wear on quilts was due to being pulled up.  Quilts were often heavy, especially older quilts with a lot of quilting and heavier batting.  And yet...
I never found an article that suggested the beard theory or even fraying.   Cleanliness appears to be the number one reason it was recommended.  Believe me, if you ever washed a quilt without a washing machine, you will know that it is a cumbersome task.  Getting quilts dried on the line might have taken a day or two.   

So when was this "boudoir accessory" first used?  I don't know.  There isn't much mention of the pieces before the 20th century. A 1910 ad mentions that they sell quilts and protectors as if the general public would understand the concept.  Shortly afterwards, more and more articles discuss the value of the protector, ads sell protectors (finished or stamped for embroidery).  

The protectors were often suggested for infant quilts.  One 1925 article describes how to make a protector for an infant quilt and states that it will protect the quilt from being soiled--but also-- "protect baby from inhaling or having contact with any dust which ay have collected along the quilt edges."  I am now wondering if the protectors were first used on crib quilts because the article ends with this question:  "I do not see why we could not carry out this same idea with our big 'puffs,' on our full-size beds?"

Lightweight fabrics were often recommended for early twentieth century protectors.  One 1913 article suggested that the protector should be made of cheese cloth.  I'm not sure why but maybe because it was cheap and could be adhered and removed easily.  Voile was another option sold.  Some articles suggested lawn or handkerchief fabric.  This article, suggested another lightweight fabric, dimmity:

Note that this article indicated protectors on all of the sides of the quilt.

By the 1930s, muslin was recommended more frequently:  

"take two yards of twenty-inch muslin, scallop the raw edge, then bind the scallops (do not cut them too deep) and both ends with colored bias binding.  The selvage edge does not need binding.  Now embroider sprays of flowers in the center of each scallop..." (1934)

During the depression, demonstrations were featured at community groups like the 4-H and women's groups.   Fabric suggestions included fabric scraps, scraps from worn clothing, unbleached muslins, old sheets, gingham or print materials--"just so it is washable."

A quilt protector from my collection.  The fold is at the top and the bottom is edged with embroidery:

Stamped linens and transfers were also sold for women to make the protectors.

Ad above from 1915
Ad below from 1925:

So what happened to the idea of the quilt protector?

What I can tell you that teaching demonstrations for the protectors continued through the 1950s.  There were fewer discussions in the 1960s and predominately in midwest rural communities.  One reason may be the idea of what was similar to a duvet was being marketed:

By the 1970s, the one reference I found was a description of a woman who taught how to make cheese, can food, and taught how to make quilt protectors--but the article was referring to her work in the 1930s.

One interesting article from York, PA was published in 1983 but the quilt protector described in the article was actually instructions on how to make a duvet cover.

Above is another quilt protector from my collection.  Both of the pieces that I own are in perfect condition and don't appear to have ever been used at all.  So why would someone make this and not use it?  The truth is that many of the articles from the 1920s to the 1950s suggest that a quilt protector makes a wonderful Christmas or wedding shower gift.  It is possible that the pieces were never used because the recipient of the gift didn't want to baste the piece on a quilt or that the embroidery didn't match the colors of the quilt.

Do we need quilt protectors today?  I'm not sure but I do think that if you had a solid colored quilt that it would make a neat accessory to attach to the top of the quilt.  

What do you think?

Tomorrow is Flower/Friendship Friday!  If you have anything to share, please email me at

Have a safe and happy day!

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Honey Bee


I love this quilt!  Today I am sharing a quilt photo simply because the article I was going to post today is taking longer to write than I anticipated.  The quilt was originally made in the 19th century but then repaired in the 20th century so some of the fabrics may look newer.

The quilting on this one is fantastic!  I blew the photo up as much as I could for you.  

Until tomorrow...
Have a safe and happy day!

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Tuesday's This and That: March 29, 2022

Happy Tuesday!

Well as I mentioned yesterday, it's cold here in eastern Pennsylvania.  The daffodils are literally lying down this morning as we cope with temperatures that were in the teens last night. 😔

I'm hoping the daffs will survive and stand tall after the cold snap.


Most of us know about Joe Cunningham (Joe the quilter) and Alex Anderson.  The two of them plus other designers have organized to have a teaching day called "Quilters for Ukraine".

The designers will be doing lightning rounds of demos.  It's an online event and all proceeds will be donated to Ukraine.

More information and tickets ($35 each) are available here.


Here's a tied comfort I recently saw on Etsy.  It's GORGEOUS!

And double-sided!

I think the front and the back are two different eras (the mosaic star being the older) that someone decided to finish.  Here's the listing in case you want to study it more.  

It certainly made my heart pitter-pat to see it!


Have a safe and happy day!

Monday, March 28, 2022

Pansy Quilts


I was considering buying a pot of pansies for my front step...and then I looked at the weather forecast.  Sure enough it was expected to get cold and I decided to wait a week.  Instead, I spent the weekend spring cleaning the sewing room.  I haven't worked up there in weeks because of the dust and I tackled and happy to report it is done.

The gas company isn't done yet but they are moving farther away and I just need to be in my sewing room.

Today I wanted to talk about Pansy Quilts.  I love pansies like most of you do.  I'll bet that many of you have memories of the flowers in their grandmothers' gardens.  I always loved the cheerful flowers and the tiny "Johnny-Jump-Ups" version that grew in both of my Nanas' gardens.

Although I love the flowers I must admit that I'm often disappointed with vintage quilt patterns that celebrate the flower.  The patterns rarely seem to capture the charm of the plant.  It is ironic to me that the flower that symbolizes thoughtfulness had quilted representations that indicate very little thought to the actual colorings of the flower.  

The fabrics on these patterns do NOT delineate the markings of the flower and the flowers end up looking like embroidered blobs (depending on the fabric and color of the outline stitch):

Laura Wheeler,1936

Alice Brooks, 1938

Laura Wheeler 1939, Double pansy version

Case in point:

Fortunately some quilters were gardeners and put more thought in the coloring of their patterns:

Some other patterns of interest:
Nancy Cabot, 1935, no embroidery showed on the ad.

1933 NeedleArts. 

Ruby McKim had two pansy patterns:

This one is rather charming and the pattern is still available for sale at McKim studios.

One of my favorite pansy patterns was a kit offered by Lee Wards in the 1960s:

Wishing you a warm day full of sunshine and happiness!

Friday, March 25, 2022

Flower Friday: March 25, 2022

 Happy Flower Friday!  I sure hope you are seeing some signs of spring where you are--or that you will be soon!

Sue P. has Forsythia blooming in her neck of the woods!

And blood root but it was cool and rainy yesterday and it would not cooperate and open fully.  When it does open, it will have flowers that resemble small daisies:

Lorraine has hellebores blooming at her home:

Here in our little corner, the first flush of daffodils have begun:

Sue sent this photo which seems appropriate.  I'm seeing a lot of ads for quilt shows right now 😀:

Have a safe and happy weekend!

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Spring Time Scrap Quilt

 Happy Thursday!  

Today is just a brief post as we are expecting the gas company to be working here today.  Yes they are still here and the work on our street continues.  The job today is to redo the gasline to our house and change the meter.  The saga dust continues!

Here is a great scrap quilt that anyone can make.  I suspect it is circa 1940 and I can't remember if I ever found the pattern name.  However it sure looks easy to put together!

It's a nine patch quilt consisting of blocks of 16 squares, sashed with a corner stone.  Sorry the photos are so bad but I'm not unpacking the quilts until the dust settles (literally 😆)

It sure is a happy quilt though!

Tomorrow is Flower Friday and if you have anything to share, please email me at

Have a safe and happy day!

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Story Time Stitches: A Krazy Addition

 Occasionally I get lucky and find another addition to my theory that illustrations can often be found on crib quilts.  Here's a recent addition I found while browsing through old newspapers.

How many of you remember Krazy Kat and Ignatz?

I do remember these characters and never liked Ignatz because he was so unkind (and yes violent!) to Krazy Kat!  I remember watching black and white cartoons of the pair when I was a small child.

The cartoon was created by George Herriman and ran in newspaper from 1913-1944.  Early short films were created as early as 1916. 

I had completely forgotten about the cat and mouse until I stumbled upon this ad:

The ad reads:

"Krazy Kat and his friend Ignatz, the mouse, are with us in this pattern.  Their astonished and bewildered expressions have been caught in these simple embroidery designs that will make an attractive pillow, crib cover motif, motifs for children's clothes, or a decoration on accessories for the nursery.  These droll figures have long been beloved by children and grown-ups everywhere, and this occasion to embroider them yourself is the first such opportunity given the needlewoman.  

The figures are worked on out in the simplest of stitches, outline and one-stitch being the only ones employed.  The pattern contains one large motif, 10 x 17 inches; one Krazy Kat, 5 x7 inches, and one reverse; one Krazy Kat, 3 x 4 inches and two Ignatz, 1.5 and 2.25 inches and two reverses."

I have never seen a Krazy Kat and Ignatz quilt or embroidered piece.  It isn't the kind of thing I think I would have wanted to make for my baby or even toddler.  Have you seen any?

Have a safe and happy day!

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Tuesday's This and That: March 22, 2022


Happy Spring!
The quilt photograph isn't from my collection but an online auction and it was so sweet I had to share it with you.  Here in Pennsylvania the first daffodils are blooming!  Daffs are such cheerful flowers and they seem to signal that true spring (temperature wise) is here!



A while ago, Sue and I had an email conversation about UFOs and the pressure that UFO challenges put on quiltmakers.  In this day and age, I have to agree with Sue.  Work on what you want to if it helps you cope and keeps you enthused.  

We love UFOs from yester year!  Antique and vintage quilt tops are easier to store plus we get to view up close and personal how the piece was constructed.

Unfinished textiles are nothing new and to prove it, here's a quilt that wasn't finished for about 100 years:

According to the newspaper in Casper, Wyoming, this quilt was originally pieced by a woman in Pennsylvania.  The family said it was 100 years old and the colors were "pumpkin yellow and brown" calico.  The original maker was ill when she finished the top and died before it could be completed.  Her daughter held onto it and took it to Wyoming when she married and moved there.  Apparently the family hired someone to quilt it at some point but the quilting was "botched."   

In 1970, the granddaughter decided to have the piece re-quilted and the top was re-quilted.  The completed quilt was to be gifted to the woman's own granddaughter and the original maker's great great granddaughter.

How's that for a long UFO journey?


Have a safe and happy day!

Monday, March 21, 2022

Just Ducky...

 For well over 2 decades, I've been walking the same pathways around the lake near our home.  I love watching the wildlife there, particularly the birds.  Our most common water birds are Canadian Geese and Mallard Ducks.  But each winter, we get a few unusual ducks that spend the winter at the lake and then leave once spring arrives.

The common merganser is one of my favorites.  The head cocks back and forth when it is swims.  The females have a tuft behind the head and I always tell my husband it reminds me of Woody Woodpecker.  Here's a cool image:

The male looks very different:

It seems appropriate to me that the various breeds visit here.  2 blocks away, there was a duck farm which closed in the 1920s.  During the Depression, the farm was turned into a beautiful terraced park.

All of this is great but what does it have to do with quilts?

Well I'm not the only one that finds watching the waterfowl  entertaining.  So did quilters!  Here are a few of my favorites:

How about some wild duck?
This is a fairly simple block that only requires half square triangles and squares:

Different than the goose track block is the duck track block:

Ducks are always popular for baby quilts.
Here's a pattern that I think is charming:

Of course my favorite is more of true sunbonnet version:

Have a safe and happy day!