Saturday, January 28, 2023

Scout suffers no more

 We got the call before 6 a.m. to get to the vet hospital.  We held our sweet baby as she passed and left the suffering behind her.

Thank you to everyone for your prayers and support.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Friendship Friday: January 27, 2023

 Happy Friendship Friday!

52 days until Spring!

Alice and Sue both shared a lovely photo of their plants:

This is Alice's Christmas Cactus, as she puts it, "it will be in full bloom for Groundhog's Day."  She got it from our friend Pam B. before she moved to North Carolina:

Sue shared that her orchid is blooming and a sure sign spring is on the way.  Just look at this color:

Thank you Alice and Sue!  

Lastly dear friends, I'm asking for prayers.  Scout our beautiful poodle became suddenly sick on Tuesday.  She has been in the hospital all week.  She has a tick borne disease (not Lyme) and the doctors at the local vet hospital are trying an expensive IV drug which gives her a 50/50 chance of survival.  We won't know if the medication is working for 72 hours.  If you could keep her in your prayers, I would greatly appreciate it.  She is not even 6 years old and I can't even write about it too much because I start crying.  I will let you know when we know more but for now, please know that my posts might be sporadic until we know more.  Thank you so much.

Have a safe and happy weekend!

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Last but not least: Muslin and Plain Backings

 Happy Thursday!

Here's a little backing humor:

Some antique Pennsylvania quilts have plain muslin backings.

This Lemoyne Star, circa 1845, has a plain muslin back:

I've had people tell me that they think this was not made in Pennsylvania because of the backing.  I've had people tell me that it resembles a quilt from New England.  But we might want to take into consideration some other factors.  

Muslin backings might have not been often used by the PA Germans but there were plenty of other ethnicities in our state.  It may be easy to distinguish a Pennsylvania German quilt but not a quilt made in Pennsylvania.

Two cities in our valley were founded by Englishmen.  Early settlers to our region included English, Irish, Wales, Switzerland, Alsace (sometimes Germany, sometimes France), some areas of Germany, and Bohemia/Czechoslovakia (as in Moravians who founded our valley's city of Bethlehem and moved to Germany  to escape religious persecution before coming here).

Early Pennsylvania Germans preferred woven coverlets over quilts.   There was a whole tradition of weaving here in our state (and others) and in just about any flea market you can find examples.

In the mid-19th century, Pennsylvania Germans learned quilting from their "English" neighbors.  I've read that after one generation, weaving was abandoned all together for quilts.

So getting back to those muslin backings....

Another quilt in my collection, similar to the one above also has a muslin backing:

The top of the quilt was made circa 1840.  My appraiser speculated that the quilt might have been completed after the Civil War.  The backing is machine pieced and sewing machines were more readily available after the Civil War.  But who really knows?  

The city of Allentown was already affluent and remained so during the Civil War, earning the name "The Queen City".  There were so many varied industries in the area that the economy remained stable before and after the war.  The variety of different industries were considered the "jewels" in the crown.  A remarkable aside is that if one  company had to face lay-offs, another factory often came in to pick up the workers.  

Accounts of women working as the Sanitary Commission illustrated that sewing machines were also used in some way.  There are lots of stories of so-and-so's machine being used at the church for the things the women were sewing.

Two other 19th century notable quilts in my collection have muslin backings.  Both were signature quilts; the second I am certain was a fund raising quilt.

Judging by the fabric, names, birth/death dates, this was made before the Civil War.  The quilt originated west of us, in the coal mining areas where my Mom grew-up.  

Zig-Zag Fundraising Quilt, circa 1890

I am convinced this was a fund raising quilt; it has over 300 names on it.  

It is possible, possibly probable, that muslin was used on the back of these two later quilts simply to save money for whatever causes either of these quilts were meant to support.

Still, there is another possibility that must be voiced as well.  Betsy G. who is a friend and also sometimes shares things on the blog, had ancestors that moved to Pennsylvania from New England.  If my memory is correct, I think that some of her family landed in Pennsylvania after state borders were changed.

All this is just a reminder that unless one has the full provenance of a quilt, that it's difficult to really know the origin of a textile.  

Things are so much different now and have evolved to more homogenous quiltmaking.  The charm of these quilts and the stories we like to speculate about them is part of the lure of studying old quilts.  But it's always remember that the story is larger than just the fabric and styles we can identify.

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

Have a safe and happy day!

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Pieced backs

More Tales from the Back-Side...

I'm continuing stories about backing today.  I wish I could do more pieced backings myself but my machine quilter prefers one piece of backing and I'm just glad to have her services.

Around 1980 or so, I fell in love with a Postage Stamp quilt that a woman showed me from her collection.  About 2 decades later, I found what appeared to be the same quilt at a flea market.  I learned it was being sold from the lady who had showed me her quilt and I bought it.  

As we chatted, she told me where she bought it (a local farm) and that the woman that had made it had a twin sister.

It was an amazing quilt but look at the back:

The seller was convinced that the maker's twin sister had made a similar quilt which she had seen at a museum in NYC and was listed as made in Pennsylvania.  The seller speculated that the quilt in the museum was made have been made by the twin sister.  That quilt had a unique pieced backing as well.  I never did find the museum's piece but...

I have found other postage stamp quilts that appear to have been made locally.  Here is another one from my collection:

This was a tied comforter and in tough shape.  The weight of the batting and the ties had really damaged a lot of the fabric.  I had to take apart in order to save it.

But here's the thing about this one, take a look at the back:

These quilts have fabrics on the back that match the front so in all probability were made to be the backing.  

It just seems strange that so many postage stamp quilts had special pieced backings.  I've found a few more that had similar lay-outs but never purchased them because I already had two.  

We know that women often shared patterns and ideas in our areas.  Is it possible that completing a quilt like this was a fad at the time?

Sometimes older unfinished quilt tops were used as backing.

Here is a tumbler quilt, circa 1925.

The back side (or the front side--who knows?) is a log cabin top from circa 1900:

And to make this is piece even more special, this quilt was used as a batting for a tied comfort circa 1950.  The quilt is truly the epitome of upcycling and using what one has.

Wishing you a safe and happy day!

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Tuesday's This and That: January 24, 2023

 Happy Tuesday!

Here are some interesting articles you might want to peruse!

I wrote extensively about women's suffrage during the Centennial of the 19th Amendment.  Without the great state of Tennessee, women would have fought even longer.  You can read my post about Tennessee here.

Another story was brought to my attention last week and I need to applaud Tennessee again.  The right to vote was integral to women's emancipation but it wasn't the only battle that women fought.  Economic disparity between the sexes is still an ongoing battle for women.  In 2020, women were making 82 cents for every dollar that a man made.

JSTOR recently shared an article on women's economic rights and it focused on banking and women.  One of the main stories is a Women's Bank opened in 1919 in Clarksville, Tennessee.  You should really read the whole essay and it is here.

I remember well when The Equal Credit Opportunity Act was passed in 1974 and women could apply and receive a credit card in their own name (although trust me, credit card companies didn't make it easy for us). 

Today we celebrate Tennessee again and pray that women continue to make strides for equality in every sector of society!

Another fine article is on Dressmaking.  It's called "Dressmaking Liberated American Women--Then Came the Men"  and it is here.  The one thing that I would say the article doesn't point out is that the development of paper patterns allowed less affluent women to make their own clothing and that was important as well!


I was thinking about bed runners.  Around 2010 or so, there were a lot of quilt books published with bed runner patterns.  I was always fascinated by these but knew that my husband who can't bear a pillow sham would never go for the bed runner look.

If you don't know what a bed runner is, it's like a larger table runner that drapes across the bed (usually the bottom).  It creates a look similar to an extra quilt folded at the bottom of the bed without the bulk.  It ends up resembling this look:

Cute photo found on pinterest.

Anyway, I was thinking about bed runners because I found an article from England requesting "bed runners".  The article was published in 1954 and the hospital in need of the runners was at the Seoul, Korean Red Cross Hospital.  The bed runners were requested for adult and children's beds and the only description I could find was that it was to be "washable and have large pockets".  

I'm so curious about this and imagine it could be even plain muslin that could drape across the top of the bed.  The pockets could be for possessions of the patient.

Do you have any idea what this might look like?


Have a safe and happy day!

Monday, January 23, 2023


 Happy Monday!

Did you have a good weekend?

Today let's talk about the back of old quilts.  At quilt study, the back of the quilt can be as important as the front.  In Pennsylvania, what is used as backing can provide us with important clues as to the ethnicity of the maker.  For those of you outside our state, you may be wondering why.

The Pennsylvania Germans often used printed calico for their backings.  This is in contrast to quilts made in other areas of the country that had plain muslin backings.  

Many historians cite that the Pennsylvania Germans were affluent and could afford to use a nice calico instead of muslin on the back of their quilts.  Here's an example:

Some of you will be asking what's on the front of this quilt, it's a pattern called "The Snail's Trail" circa 1890.

This Star of Bethlehem, circa 1900 also has a pretty backing. 

It looks like a home decorative fabric. I have a few quilts with backings like that and most appear to have been made between 1890 and 1910.  Another example is this Courthouse Steps quilt:


I'm not sure is if quilters outside the state used this kind of fabric as well.  Do you know about your area?   

Pennsylvania German quilters also used pieced backings like this Lemoyne Star that was brought into quilt study one day.

We refer to these as "strippy backs" ;  I'm not even sure if this is the correct spelling of strippy.  😃  Anyway...this was a common backing technique in Pennsylvania German quilts.

Here's one from my collection, circa 1880:

20th century strippy back:

Front of quilt:

The same maker as the above quilt chose to use rectangles instead of stripes for the nine patch quilt she made:

Front of quilt

In reality, all of the quilts included in the post could be considered 2-sided (or reversible).  But on Wednesday, I'll be talking about quilts that had more time included in the backs.  

Wishing you a safe and happy day!

Friday, January 20, 2023

Friendship Friday: January 20, 2022


Happy Friday!

Well here's a lovely surprise from my garden:

Some of the snowdrops are blooming!

Whenever we get some warm winter mid-winter, these little darlings insist on being seen.  Even if snows in the coming month, they will bravely and stubbornly insist on blooming again when it's warm.

I was surprised at how many knew Grandpa's Weeder and the rave reviews you gave it have encouraged me to order one!  Thank you!

I know so many of you are dealing with snowfall but remember spring occurs in 59 days!

Have a safe and happy weekend!

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Slow But Steady


I love finding vintage quilts that feature the turtle pattern:

Although I see them infrequently online, I've never seen one up close.  Often I see the patterns for them indicating that they are a perfect pattern for a child's room--and in particular a boy's room.



1930 above and below:

This pattern is less literal and not one of my favorites:

I've always liked turtles.  We used to have tiny green ones when I was a kid until the pet stores stopped selling them.  Occasionally my Dad would bring box turtles home from the plant he worked at for us to look at and then return them to their habitat.  But my favorite turtle story occurred in 2015.  My husband and I were walking Seamus at the park when a neighbor came to us alarmed because a turtle was on the baseball field.  She thought it was in distress and since Seamus was a a gentle dog, we went over to inspect.

Turned out that the turtle was simply depositing her eggs...near second base 😃

Whatever you are doing today I hope you take it slow and steady!  If you have anything to share for Friendship Friday, please email me thoughts or photos to

Have a safe and happy day!

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Learning to Adapt

 Happy Wednesday!

I received two emails last week asking about the status of my hands since the surgery.  Thanks for asking!  

Recap:  Trigger finger in 8 fingers, no longer responding to cortisone shots, first surgery in late November to fix 2 fingers on less dominant (left) hand.  

So how's it going?  Good days and bad days.  Learning to adapt is the best way to put it.  Fortunately one of my doctors had the same surgery about 6 weeks before me and we compare notes frequently.  There are days (especially cold ones) when we find that both of our hands hurt so bad that we have to check which one had the surgery.  

The swelling in the hand with surgery persists and the physical therapist told me that it could be anywhere from 6 months to a year before I might be able to wear my wedding ring again.

I tried binding this past weekend and timed it for it only 15 minutes.  The next morning I couldn't use my right hand at all, not even to grasp the coffee pot.  

Binding was always one of my favorite parts of quilting---especially in the winter when a nice quilt on your lap helps keep you warm.  

But I'm learning to adapt to all the challenges these days.  Fortunately most of my quilts this year are going to family members, and many to kids.  No one cares if the binding is machine sewn on.  Here's a recent finish for my cousin's little boy Brennan:

Other elderly neighbors are helping too.  One suggested I get an electric spin scrubber to clean the shower and that has been a godsend to my hands and knees.

My doctor friend and I also talked about how we are going to garden this year.  I've been reading reviews of tools for elderly and am interested in "Grandpa's Weeder."  The reviews look good but I'm wondering if any of you have used it?

In the meantime, I'm plugging along as well as I can with projects.  

Take care of your hands folks!

Have a safe and happy day!

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Tuesday's This and That: January 17, 2023


Here's a thing that delighted me:  Ricky Tims recently published on Facebook a photo of himself with freezer wrap.  Why?

He wrote:  "Did you know that in the early 90s, Reynolds was going to stop manufacturing freezer paper?  But the Quilters wrote in and made such a fuss that not only have they continued to make freezer paper, but they also include quilting uses on the box!"

Yup, I never noticed it before but it's there.

They even have a photo on their website of the paper being used for sewing:

Here's a meme going round the guilds right now that I think is also hilarious:

Last fun thing of the day:  A quilt parade about the village---This video just appeared on my instagram feed but I love it.  Let's just say it's my kind of fashion show and when the women started twirling, it made me joyful!  You can see it here!
Wishing you a fun and safe day!