Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Tuesday's This and That: August 16, 2022

 Happy Tuesday!

It's hard to believe that it's mid-August and almost time for the kids to go back to school!

Last week I posted photos of some of my star quilts.  Robin shared with me a post she had written on some star quilts she inherited from her Great-Aunt.  It's a wonderful post full of photos and history of her Aunt Mollie.  Please go over and visit it here.  

The second star quilt photo has an unusual aqua incorporated into the stars.  I think that fabric might be what we call "centennial green" and unusual aqua that appears to have only been sold around the time of the Centennial in 1876.  

These quilts are wonderful treasures.  Robin, I would suggest you have them all officially appraised if you can.  They are treasures!!!

Do you have any antique/vintage star quilts?  Please share as I think that many of would appreciate the inspiration!

Have a safe and happy day!



Monday, August 15, 2022

Tomato Quilt


The tomatoes are coming in!
It's my husband's favorite time of the summer.  He eats corn on the cob and fresh tomatoes as much as he can.  Last weekend, we noticed that we had a good half dozen tomatoes that would soon be a bright red.  "They'll be all ready when we get back," my husband said.  We rejoiced that our garden has been squirrel and chipmunk free for the past few months.  

Unfortunately the critters heard us.

They got all the tomatoes except for one.  Sometimes they don't even pick them off the vine.  Just take one lousy bite and then move on to the next one.  My neighbor said they want the red ones because they need fluids and the juice helps the animal.  Yes we haven't had much rain and the temperatures are oppressive. 

"Leave a bowl of water out for them," my neighbor advised.  Oh yeh, we did that...and our outdoor camera recorded a menagerie of wildlife coming to the garden for a drink:  rabbits, feral cats, foxes and skunks.  And guess what?  The freaking squirrels still ate the tomatoes.  We took the bowl away.

So we are back to harvesting tomatoes as soon as they show color.  Actually, for those of you who face similar challenges, this article here may be of some interest.  It's actually best to pick tomatoes once they begin to show color and it explains the science and how to ripen tomatoes indoors.  It's very interesting.

But let's talk about tomato quilts.  Actually any of us that have viewed 19th century quilts--particularly the red and green applique kind--have likely seen a tomato quilt.  That is because another phrase for tomatoes is Love Apple.

Brackman has 4 versions of this pattern in her Encylcopedia of Applique.  Here's a couple versions I found on the internet:

The "Love Apple" pattern had staying power.  It was promoted by various designers in the 1930s:

1932, Detroit Free Press

 1933 Palladium Item, Indiana

Another pattern by Nancy Cabot can be found at this blog here.

So why were tomatoes called Love Apples?

Apparently the French thought that tomatoes had aphrodisiac properties and so it was referred to as pomme d'amour (or love apple).  Tomatoes were native to South America and it was only when that continent was being explored that the fruit was brought to the Old World (Europe); still it took a few centuries before Europeans completely embraced the fruit. 

Prior to the pandemic, when I was still traveling and giving programs, I often visited the Love Apple Quilt Guild in New Jersey.  The name of the guild made perfect sense to me.  New Jersey is the 8th highest producer of tomatoes--which is saying a lot since it is also the 4th smallest state.  There is something about driving past the tomato fields in that state that is really charming.  All those pops of red in a green field really takes one's breath away.  By the way, the tomato is the official vegetable of New Jersey (despite it being a fruit--the blueberry is the official fruit of the state).

Nancy Page, 1942

Maybe you are similar to me and always wondered what that striped aspect of the fruit on the quilt pattern meant?  I mean is it just a shading technique?

Maybe our foremothers were telling us to pick the tomato before it completely ripens and the squirrels or the chipmunks get it.  😂

Have a safe and happy day!

Friday, August 12, 2022

Flower Friday: July 12, 2022

 "As the garden grows, so shall the gardener."

August:  August reminds of the fleeting time of the summer.  Some of the autumn blooming plants are beginning to show and many of us can sense the inevitable autumn.

August is the month I deadhead the flowers as much as possible.  The bees will need new blooms in the Autumn and I want to make sure they have enough food!

Despite the shorter days, there is always hope in the garden.  This past month, I was surprised to see some annuals from last year's garden suddenly germinate in late July and begin to bloom in August.

A lovely petunia burst over our walkway and cheerfully raised our spirits!

I had forgotten how much I loved this pink salvia annual I bought last year.  It's growing all along the walkway too and it surprised me that the self-sown seed held it's pink color.  It's something I have to remember for next year's list.  It's called "summer jewel" and it certainly has lived up to it's name!

Last autumn as I cleaned out the garden, I shook the balsam branches all over the garden to deposit seeds as many places as possible.  It hasn't disappointed!

And other surprises in the garden include a lace-capped hydrangea which appeared in the front yard at a convenient location so it is staying!  It's there between the foxglove and the hosta and seems very happy with it's position there!

Wishing you a safe and happy weekend!

Thursday, August 11, 2022

19th Century Star Quilts

 Today I'm featuring some of the 19th century quilts from my collection! 

Star quilts have always been popular with quiltmakers and require some skills in geometry.  Anyone who ever suggested that women didn't have math skills had never made a quilt like these!

Here's my oldest one.  Circa 1840 with heavy quilting (the quilt weighs a ton).

Another one from the collection and a similar time period is this Lemoyne Star.  Although the top has a nice sampling of fabrics circa 1840, my appraiser suggested the quilt might have been made later.  The plain muslin backing of the quilt is machine pieced. She speculated that the top may have been made circa 1840 but the top was quilted later when machines were more common.

This is a local quilt with also the Lemoyne Star.  It's circa 1870 and I love the green background:

Another local quilt is this circa 1870 quilt.  It is what we call around here "very Dutchy" because it reflects the love of bright colors by the Pennsylvania Germans (Dutch):

Another last quarter star quilt:

I know this quilt looks like a propeller but actually it too is a Lemoyne Star!  It was made at the turn of the century but the yellow is so transparent that it doesn't show up at all until you look at it closely.  It was truly a great example of the cheap fabric available during that time.

 We tend to spend more time outside in the early morning and evening when it is cooler outside.  I love going out my front door in the evening and looking up at the night sky at the Big Dipper.  

We don't get much gardening in during these times but at least we can get some fresh (humid) air!

Speaking of gardening...what's happening in your gardens?  Email me photos to allentownquilter@gmail.com to be included in tomorrow's Flower Friday!

Have a safe and happy day!

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Making a Splash Again!


A year ago, I did a post on splashers (here).

But there are new people following the blog and last week I had two folks ask me, "what's a splasher?"

Before bathroom plumbing, people did their business outside and often bathed at a basin and pitcher in between their big weekly baths.  Actually my mother remembers this and I think that somewhere there is a photo of her as a baby in the basin (and yes, they had an outhouse).

In the late 19th century and into the 20th century (not everyone had indoor plumbing before World War 2).  A way to protect the walls of the house behind the wash stand was with a "splasher": a towel hung on the wall to protect it and often adorned with embroidery.  Redwork was particularly popular and there were lots of splasher motifs that could be ironed on and embroidered.  Turkey red thread was popular because the dye didn't run when wet.  Sometimes the pieces indicated what they were for!

Usually (but not always) the towels had some kind of water theme.

One of the ways that we can determine if a piece was a splasher was the corners would have marks were the piece was tacked to the wall.

Of course there are always exceptions to the rule.  Many wash stands were built with a bar for one to hang a towel:

One last point that needs to be made is that recently, I read a blog post or article on splashers and it indicated that redwork pieces like this were splashers for various times of the day:

No!  Although there is a slight chance that one or two people in this country used these motifs for splashers, it wasn't common.  The Good Morning and Good Night pieces were pillow shams.  They consisted of a single piece of embroidered fabric that was laid over the pillow until bedtime.  The shams were usually made as a pair.  My favorite of the motifs was one that really did exemplify a woman's life were these:

"I slept and dreamed that life was beauty."

"I woke and found that life was duty."

Hoping this answers some questions for you!
Have a safe and happy day!

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Tuesday's This and That: August 9, 2022


How are you holding up in this heat?  Scout spends a lot of time cooling off in front of a floor fan we keep just for her enjoyment.  Actually most of our dogs have loved this fan and it's become part of our summer tradition. 

One of the articles that has been popped across my screen during these dog days of summer featured taking a siesta during a heatwave.  It apparently is being studied scientifically now and seems to improve productivity during these scorching days.

And speaking of sleeping...are hand embroidered pillowcases making a come-back?  I know some of you are going to say that kits for making embroidered pillowcases have continued to be sold at craft stores.  I stopped buying them because of the poor quality of the fabric.  But I certainly made plenty of them during my lifetime.

The ones that caught my attention are these new fangled ones that appear to be made by younger makers.  In particular, check out the variety offered at Annies UP Attic.  You can hit the link there if you want to explore what she offers.  Here's the one that originally caught my eye:

I grew up sleeping on embroidered pillowcases that my Nana Elsie stitched and I still remember how much I loved each new case that came my way.  They were so pretty and always featured flowers.  Still...I think I would have gone absolutely ga-ga for ones with wee whimsical animals and the sense of humor that I see on Annie's!  Perhaps my new little great-niece Remi would enjoy playful pillowcases once she is older and in her own bed (I have time---Remi is only 3 months!!!  😁)

Anyway, now I wish I could take a nap!

Have a safe and happy day!

Monday, August 8, 2022

More Button Love...

Button bags appeal to so many readers that I'm following up on conversations with some of you.  Here are additional topics you might find interesting:

Beth and Sue both brought up Charm Strings.  The Victorians loved to collect things--including buttons.  The sentimentality of the Victorians even ascribed a meaning to charm strings.  Each button had to be different and the folklore dictated that the 1000th button would be given to a young lady by her true love.  

Although they come up for sale from time to time, I've never purchased one.  Charm strings are expensive and I don't know enough about buttons to determine if the item is real or a fake.   

Sue sent this article about them.  And here's another one with more history.

From a quilting point of view, it's widely believed that charm strings spawned a particular kind of quilt: Charm Quilts.  No two fabrics were alike on the original version of this quilt.  A great article is here for you to read.


Many of us like pearl buttons.  But none of us have the devotion to the fasteners like the Pearly Kings and Queens.  The "Pearlys" as they were/are often called originated with a street sweeper named Henry Croft (1861-1930).  Although some street traders decorated the side of their pant legs with pearl button, Henry was an all or nothing kind of man.  He adorned his entire suit with pearl buttons which not only got him noticed but spawned a variety of followers.

The Pearlys are still active today.  A great article on the group is here and you can see a video Sue sent over here!

Years ago, I found a pair of wooden shoes adorned in pearl buttons ala Pearlys.

The shoes spawned a big conversation on Pearlys with my friend Earl who was an antique dealer.  One question we had was how the heck heavy are those pearl suits?  Numerous articles cited that the suits could weigh as much as 30 kg.....or a whopping 66 lbs!


Before the development of plastic buttons, about 20% of buttons were made of vegetable ivory.  Vegetable ivory is similar in appearance to ivory but...no elephants are killed and it is a renewable resource that makes it an excellent alternative to real ivory.  

Vegetable ivory is made from the seeds of certain palm trees and many artisans use the product now for their works.  What is particularly interesting is that many sewing notions were also made from this product.  A favorite 19th century/early 20th century use was small portable sewing kits, thimbles and needle holders:

Measuring tape:

Pin cushion on sale at Etsy:

So we conclude another look at buttons...at least for a while!

Have a safe and happy day!

Friday, August 5, 2022

Flower Friday: August 4, 2022

 Happy Flower Friday!

Barb sent some wonderful photos from her garden!

Genie magnolia reblooming in this heat:

A victory for Mother Nature!  This Rose of Sharon survived despite starting life as a puny garden center castoff and being set up by chickens:

Swallowtail caterpillar on dill:

Swallowtail on zinnia (what a photo!):

Sue sent some lovely photos as well!

Just look at the color of this gladiola!

Swallowtail on Phlox:

And some yummy vegies from the garden!

Thanks Barb and Sue!

Have a safe and happy weekend!
Stay cool!

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Water Lily Quilts


We are expecting high temps today and it seems like the perfect time to feature water lily quilts.  Most of us are fascinated by these lovely flowers that float on the surface of a pool and look so ethereal.  I've been fascinated with them since I was a child.  My great-grandfather had a goldfish pond he built in his yard and I remember laying in the grass looking into the deep well at the flowers and goldfish.

The Victorians had lots of redwork patterns that depicted water lilies and used them not only in their quilts but on things like their splashers.

20th century kit quilts featured the flowers regularly.  I only own one and that is the Mountain Mist pattern.  I loved that it featured cattails along with the flowers:

But there are plenty more of these quilts!  Here's a few I found on online auctions, etc. for you to enjoy:

Another with cattails!

Currently on sale at Etsy is this one:

If you are looking for a more bold quilt, how about this one?

My favorite is the green one above.  I just love the bold background and the feeling of a cool mountain morning that it conveys to me.

Today will be a good day to stay in near the a/c and relax.  There will be time to garden another day and we don't want anyone getting sunburnt!  Speaking of gardens, what is happening in yours?  At this point, I appear to be growing rabbits more than anything else! 😂

To share what's happening in your garden, email photos to  allentownquilter@gmail.com.

Have a safe and happy day and stay cool!