Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Tuesday's This and That: Feburary 28, 2023


Happy Tuesday!


A quilt in Virginia has been named "one of the Top Ten endangered artifacts."  Photos of the quilt and the history can be found here

Over the weekend I found another quilt designer who has a lot of free tutorials.  I'm not sure how I ever missed this but I wanted to share the site with you!  Tilda is the name of the company by Norwegian designer Tone Finnanger.  Tilda's World can be found here and there are lots of interesting designs to peruse!

The designer is clever.  A traditional fan pattern becomes the tail feathers of a bird.  She has some interesting patterns for women and girls in a very large scale that is interesting as well!  Enjoy!


Tomorrow is officially Scout's 5th birthday and I'm taking the day off from blogging.  I'll probably be making more Christmas quilts which appears to be my method of grief quilting these days.  See you back on Thursday.

Wishing you a safe and happy day!

Monday, February 27, 2023

Applique Crib Quilts

 Happy Monday!  I hope you had a good weekend!

Even when quilting wasn't extremely popular, it seems like quilts were still made for babies.  This weekend I checked on some online sites to see what is available.

There were more than I expected that were machine appliqued.  Not to be unkind (and I'm a women who's used this technique) but I'm grateful that we have better these days.  During the mid-20th century, there appears to have been a trend of doing zig zag machine applique.  


I actually love the piece below:

It's zig-zag applique but done fairly well and the piece is designed in an intriguing way: 

Throughout the century and even today, a lot of blanket stitch was done by hand.  A lot of women used the old broderie perse technique and cut out images to make the textile:

This is possibly an earlier piece and reminds me of old rattles that babies used:  

My favorite was this one and Beth would have loved the clothesline use (she is crazy for clotheslines and clothespins):

All of these are available on Etsy if you are intrigued.

Wishing you a safe and happy day!

Friday, February 24, 2023

Friendship Friday: February 24, 2023

 24 Days Until Spring!


Sue P. sent this lovely photo of her cats.  She wrote:  

"We're just hanging out waiting for Friendship Friday to return to Flower Friday.  This is not a two headed cat.  It's Linda and Maggie May, two of my calicos cuddling on a vintage quilt.  They really aren't bonded, just stubborn.   Neither is giving up her turf."

Sue sent another photo of the same quilt, different occupants--Linda the cat and Violet the dog.

We are all waiting for Flower Friday.  Even though it is tempting to begin it before the first day of spring,  I think we should respect the folks who are at home reading this while it is snowing outside.

Whatever weather you are facing, I hope you all have a safe and happy weekend! 

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Ample Old Scrap Bag

 "Among the earliest recollections of our childhood was the 


that hung in the closet.  It was sort of a family savings bank, into which all the odds and end bits of dry goods were deposited.  It contained scraps left from the dresses of all female members of the female family connections, from the grandmother down to the baby.  If a neighbor volunteered a contribution in the shape of a roll of scraps, it was accepted as the highest favor that one lady could offer to another in those primitive days.

When the capacious receptacle was filled to its utmost extent, the sorting out of pieces, the blending of different styles of prints, and the harmonizing of colors preparatory to the long thought of manufacture of a quilt, was a joy of which ladies of the latter day have never dreamed.

For now times have changed.  Scrap bags are memories of the past, and people don't hoard up their dress clippings to make quilts of, for modern inventions have supplanted the old time industrial arts.  Today's quilts, the most bizarre of almost every known pattern, cut and color, are printed all ready for the frames and are sold for eight cents.  'Sic transit,' etc."  

Good morning!  

Ladies and gents, today we are going to play a new game offered here at Pennsylvania Piecemaker.  It's called "Phases and Crazes."  Are you ready?

First question:  

When was the above article published?

The answers are coming in fast and furious...

I'm sorry, The Great Depression is not the correct answer...wait here's another response...no I'm sorry it was not published at the turn of the 20th century.  Good guess though.

The above article was published in 1878 and featured in The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi.

Okay, take a deep breath and here we go again!  

Question 2:

What phase or craze was the writer referring to?

Wow, many of you are thinking 1878--and Crazy Quilts is a good educated guess but it is not correct.  Oh wait, a few of you budding (or actual) quilt historians have answered correctly!

The answer is Pre-printed or simply Printed Patchwork aka Cheater Cloth.  

A really good article on the cloth is here at Barbara Brackman's blog.

Third question:  

How accurate is the writer's depiction of what is going on in the quilt world during the last quarter of the 19th century?

Well most of you answered that correctly!

Answer:  Not accurate.  Yes printed patchwork was used but it was merely one type of quilt that became popular in the last quarter.  Crazy quilts, multitudinous quilts, log cabins, redwork quilts, and others were chosen by quilters throughout the last 25 years.  

Bonus question:  What does the writer mean by Sic Transit etc?
The full phrase is "sic transit gloria mundi" and it means "thus passes the glory of the world."

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, numerous articles were published about "olden times quilting bees"  Even more numerous were articles about "the return of quilting bees"--so many that I often wonder if the quilting bee or even quilting had faded or did the writer long for something else?

In this particular article, the writer expresses a yearning for the return of "industrial arts" aka industrious domestic arts.  Was the writer really writing about sewing or was he or she longing for a time when women were less independent?

The Civil War changed women.  They learned what they could accomplish and many changes occurred after the war--a big one being the establishment of women's colleges throughout our country.  A woman's economic independence would have been very threatening to many folks (not just men) and throughout the last quarter and into the 20th century, many articles seem to suggest that it was the end of civilization if women chose a career over family life--or worse if they chose to do both (although the kibosh was put on that--most company policies dictated that when a a woman married, she could no longer be employed by the company).

I've written about this before--see Log Cabin Lament here.  Still I am grateful to live in a time when I can be an independent woman and a quilter and pursuit the interests I choose.

Thank you for playing along with out little game today!

Tomorrow is Friendship Friday.  What's the weather in your neck of the world?  Any flowers blooming?  Any projects you want to share?  Email your photos to me at allentownquilter@gmail.com.

Have a safe and happy day!

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Two Color Quarter Log Cabin

I've spent months working on Christmas and kids' quilts.  It's fine and I'm happy to be using up the fabric.  But here's the thing...after a while, it feels like I've been eating nothing but candy for weeks.  Eventually we all want a piece of meat, baked potato and a vegetable.  This all brings me to the evenings when the tv is boring (usually), and I look at antique and vintage quilts online for inspiration.  

My meat, potato and vegie dinner are two color quilts these days.  In particular, I gravitate to navy and white quilts.  I don't know why, perhaps it is calming, perhaps it is just a cleansing of my visual palette.  

I found this one last week at Etsy (here):

At first glance, I thought it was a modern (today) quilt.  But on closer scrutiny, realized the quilt is about a 100 years old (give or take).  The graphic nature of this piece is so unusual and yet it fits so well in the two color category.  

This pattern is known as quarter log cabin and Barbara Brackman did a nice post about the pattern here.  The pattern is really popular with current quilters.  It's easy to assemble, often has a festive look about it, and you can see some examples here on pinterest.

Years ago,  I made a variation of the pattern but with a much bigger middle section.  I'm most inspired by fabric itself and wanted to show off this poppy fabric.  I can't find a photo of the finished quilt (gifted long ago) but you get the idea:

All of this is well and fine but I think at this point I prefer the graphic simplicity of the simple blue and white quilt.

When I look at antique or vintage quilts anymore, it isn't with the thought of actually buying them but instead making something similar myself.  In fact, I rarely make quilts that have the same pattern as ones I've collected.

I am sure I can easily draft a pattern for the blue and white quilt and hope to make one someday soon.  I'm just not sure about the stripes on the piece and wonder what you think about them.

Do you like this quilt?  What are your thoughts?  What is your favorite two color combination?

Wishing you a safe and happy day!

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Tuesday's This and That: February 21, 2023


Last week I wrote about batting and Sue responded with an interesting insight!

"My dear friend Dottie (1914-2017) told me her family used felt as quilt batting.  There were several paper factories here along the Delaware.  Dottie's father worked in one.  Large pieces of felt were used in the manufacture of paper.  When that felt was exhausted,  workers were allowed to bring it home.  Her family used it as batting in their utilitarian quilts.  

My mother,  raised in Northern Minnesota,  without electricity,  insulation or central  heating, slept in a bed with her two sisters under a pony skin.  Newspaper doesn't surprise me.  We used it for so many things when I was growing up.  Paper training puppies, keeping a casserole warm, in the garden, shredded for cattle bedding, wrapping garbage.  Think of all the plastic now being used!"

Thanks Sue!  I could see how felt would make a great batting! 


I'm convinced that having UFOs is just part of the culture of being a quilter.  Here's a  UFO reported finished after 58 years!

From Fort Worth, Texas in 1934:

"A bed quilt, started in 1876, finally has been completed and has become the property of E.D. Nicolson, here.  It was started by Nicolson's mother, who is dead.  It was finished by Mrs. Sue N. Hatcher, a daughter, of Fulton, Missouri."

And this just in, a top that was completed possibly 80-90 years later:  

I started giving away pieces from my collection of vintage/antique quilts and tops even before the pandemic.  I gave Sue P. two tops (maybe more, I can't remember).  I was so delighted when she sent me a photo of one of the tops  completed:

Wishing you a safe and happy day!

Monday, February 20, 2023

A New Classification

 Happy Monday!

Some of us have stories of really successful quilts that we completed.  

That isn't this story.  

But it's true...

At our December guild meeting, Lorraine showed us her recent projects.  The story interested me and she graciously shared it and photos with us.  So here's the story:

"I took a large blanket to the laundromat to be washed and when I took it out of the washing machine it was frayed along the edges of the blanket.  I brought it home and dried it on my clothesline because I felt that the blanket would fray more and much lint would come off in the dryer.  I then thought the inner part of the blanket could be put to good use.  The old saying “waste not want not” came to mind so I trimmed off all of the fraying.  

I had just been rummaging around in my quilt closet and found an old flannel quilt top that I made many years ago.  I thought that this would be a good use for the dog beds.  I layered a few layers of the blanket for the inside and put the flannel quilt on the outside.  

All in all I made 3 large dog beds.  I then did very simple straight line quilting on them to hold everything together.  I took the beds to a shelter and they were thrilled.  The woman taking them said that they frequently sell beds like this to customers or the shelter would use them!"

I remember thinking when she told us this story, "Lorraine sure knows how to make lemonade out of lemons!"

Lorraine's cat and dog beds:


A few years ago, I fell in love with Bethan Janine's Aviary fabric for Dashwood Studios.

The fabric reminded me of the bird illustrations done by Charley Harper in the 1950s:

It was one of those "Kawabonga!" moments.  I knew just what I wanted to do with the fabric and ordered some yardage.  

First problem:  I accidentally ordered double the fabric I needed.  This has happened to me a few times.  I click purchase, don't see it in the cart, and then hit purchase again.  I didn't check the cart and dang it, got double the fabric I needed.  It's okay, I told myself.  I love the fabric so much that maybe I'll make two of the incredibly brilliant quilts I designed.  

I didn't have much coordinating fabric so I bought some more fabric...doubled of course.

And then, I pieced together a sample block and...

I hated it.

I can't remember what the design was (disgusted, I threw the block out) but I remember it was a trifecta of mistakes:  visually too busy, not enough contrast, and the poor birds were lost in the mess.

I did what any self-respecting quilter would do:  I bundled up my (double) amount of yardage and stuffed it into the already bulging cupboard.

All of us have stories of quilts gone-wrong and mishaps we encounter.  It's part of the quilting tradition   human condition.  I often wonder if some antique quilt tops were abandoned because the quilter ended up not liking the piece (although the reasons for UFOS are too numerous to cite).

Weeks ago, I got tired of making kids' quilts and opened up a drawer to see what was in there that I might be able to use up.

I found pinwheels!  I had forgotten about them.  I had made them years ago from left over backing fabric.  Often when I have leftover bits and bobs, I try to put them together in some kind of block...anything to keep from adding to the scrap drawer.  

I liked the look of the pinwheels with the old Dashwood Studio bird fabric.  Voila!  A quilt top is born!  It's simple but gets the job done.  

Best of all, my neighbor loved the piece so I'm going to finish it for her.

All this brings me to my latest conclusion.  We need a new classification of quilts.  I suggest we call them lemonade quilts or projects.  

One of the things I like about our guild UFO challenge is the motto "better done than perfect."  Our quilt history is full of quilts that were not perfect but were completed.  We even have a classification for many of these textiles: utility quilts.

We quilters tend to be highly critical of our own work (often to the point of showing folks where our mistakes are).   Sometimes we are even unkind to each other (aka quilt police). Why not embrace our work and celebrate what we can do with our lemon projects with a positive spin?

Quilting--like life--is not linear.  I much prefer to hear about how a new piece was re-imagined and celebrate the ingenuity of the maker.  What do you think? Have you made a lemonade project?

Have a safe and happy day!

Friday, February 17, 2023

Friendship Friday: February 17, 2023


Only 33 days until spring!

Wendy shared photos of her orchid.  These orchids photos are really making me long for one but my house is fairly dark.  They are so elegant!


Well it's a weird winter here in the northeast section of the U.S.  It's been a warm winter and the temps this week have been in the 60s F.  The gardens are confused and folks around here worry about a snow storm in March or April.

Still, it's a lot of fun to walk in comfort and turn our heaters down.

Lorraine gets the prize for the most blooms in her garden!  I may have snowdrops and the daffs are up about 3 inches, but look what Lorraine has:

Snowdrops and Aconite are blooming!

Lorraine's Witch Hazel is blooming!

And her Hellebore--aka Lenten Roses are preparing to bloom a good 5 days before Lent actually begins!

And...over in New Jersey, Sue has her first crocus blooming!  These all seem so early and I can't get over how many things are blooming.

I think we are all getting excited about the advent of Spring!
Have a safe and happy day!

Thank you Wendy, Lorraine, and Sue for sharing your blessings!

Have a safe and happy weekend!

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Paper Quilts, Part 2

 Today I'm continuing the brief but interesting phase of what was called "paper quilts" by journalists.   Although I've never read a book that mentioned the phrase per se, I found enough newspaper articles to draw a fairly good rendering.

There is always a lot of talk about what folks used as batting in their quilts.  Years ago, quilt historian Xenia Cord did an article for AQSG on unusual things found inside of old quilts--the most memorable item being a mid-century rubber bath mat.  Beth and I found in one of my quilts, a part of a pieced petticoat and a cut-up child's sailor shirt:

The petticoat 

But these items (I always assumed) were used as necessity--items that were ingeniously upcycled by quilters to keep their families warm with what they had on hand.

Paper quilts on the other hand seemed like a genuine fad.  It was repeatedly published as a viable type of quilt batting from the late 19th century until the early 20th century.  

I wanted to know why.

The main reason may have been because of cotton crop failures.  Beginning in the 1890s, crops were devastated by the boll weevil which first destroyed cotton in Texas and gradually spread throughout the south.

The boll weevil feeds on the buds and flowers of the cotton plant.  The above photo was taken when the insect invaded Georgia in 1919.  Below is a map published that illustrated the path and dates of the insect:

It doesn't take an economist to realize that shortages created higher prices.  Perhaps that is one reason newspapers continued to report about this type of batting.

Many articles cited that paper quilts were warm:

1909: Topeka, Kansas.

1912: Akron, Ohio

My theory on this is that paper is not unlike polyester.  Cotton is "breathable"; polyester is not which makes it warmer.  Possibly paper shares the same properties (?).  It didn't hurt that paper was a cheaper alternative either.

By the time World War 1 broke out, quilts using paper batting were reported in Canada, England, and other countries.  This was partially due to the lack of importation of cotton to Europe.  Here in the United States, a variety of articles cited that one could use newspapers for a variety of purposes.

As for the claim by the paper quilt manufacturer (posted yesterday) that it was more hygienic to use paper quilts than traditional quilts--well I am sure that was just marketing.  I couldn't find a single article that explained how one cleans a paper quilt (although as the article states above, one could replace the quilt).

Still, it seems like paper was often used during this time period.  When I googled the subject, I found a lot of quilters and historians who knew of newspapers and paper being used for batting (see here).

Why was the practice abandoned?  Well I'm wondering if the technique was used again during the Depression.  Can't you just hear someone saying, "Grandma used paper for her quilts way back when..."  But--I haven't found any documentation for this.  It isn't like we see a lot of quilts with paper batting inside of it.  In all likelihood, paper quilts didn't survive the test of time as utilitarian quilts often do not.  

Probably most significant was that in the early 20th century, newspapers also began to suggest using a blanket of flannel or wool in the center of one's quilt:

Above--1907: Nashville

1910: Boston

This technique I've frequently seen in old quilts and you probably have too if you study quilt history.

One last thing that makes me catalog "paper quilts" as a fad--the inclusion of the technique into humor.  Here is a popular syndicated joke that brings new meaning to the term "bed and breakfast":

Tomorrow is Friendship/Flower Friday.  If you have anything to share, please email me at allentownquilter@gmail.com

Have a safe and happy day!