Friday, March 31, 2023

Flower Friday: March 31, 2023


Happy Flower Friday dear friends!

Well it sure is a weird spring for most of us.  So many of my readers are still experiencing winter weather.  And then there is the eastern part of the country...where spring is in full and early bloom.  It's been unusual (to say the least) how early things are blooming but I realized that we are experiencing this:

I can't tell you how many years I found the opposite to be true in our part of Pennsylvania.  So many of you sure are experiencing our typical spring this year.  March so often here comes in like a lamb and then we get a bunch of snow dumped on us.

So today let's celebrate our spring and give you hope that yours is on the way!

Usually the weeping willows showing yellow signals spring to us.  What's unusual is a lot of trees flowering this early:

It's not unusual to see the Siberian Squill bloom early in these parts:

But very rare does the bleeding heart begin to bloom so early:

And here's another early bird, the Pachysandra:

So if you are experiencing spring where you are:  enjoy it!

And if not, know that sooner or later, spring will arrive!

Have a safe and happy weekend!

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Color Psychology...and History


Once many years ago, a fabric designer visited our guild.  She told us that during times of economic turmoil, fabric companies choose to produce fabrics with clear colors.  She told us the clear colors often enhance moods and cited the Great Depression and the many colors we associate with the pastel era of that time.

Although I don't doubt the idea of manufacturers producing bright colors to enhance quilters moods, there was another side of the story about 1930s fabric.  Today, let's take a look at it.

By the time World War I broke out, the Germans had already become dominant in the use of synthetic dyes.  The U.S.A had a large textile industry and became an important market for the German dyes.  When the U.S. entered the war, the U.S. government seized a number of German patents.  Among them, dye patents.

The government did in fact do this.  
Only a month after the Armistice had been signed, the U.S. government sold the patent for the dye formulas to an American company. 

And to make matters worse for the Germans, the Treaty of Versailles actually legalized the seizing of technologies.  Another aspect of the dye patent seizure?  Bayer Aspirin.   

Now I know this is probably more history than you need but the important aspect of all this is that results usually have more than one reason.  The dye patents enabled textile manufacturers to offer a wider variety of colors, particularly pastels which became popular particularly in the late 1920s and all of the 1930s.

Did quilters gravitate to these colors because they enhanced moods?  Quite probably.  But a bigger reason most likely was that the fabric was something new, different, and pretty.

I'd like to know more about the colors and kinds of fabric you gravitate towards but we will save that until next week.  

Tomorrow is Flower Friday and please share any photos of what's happening in your region.  Many apologies to our friends who are still contending with snow :(  Our hearts and warm thoughts go out to you!

Have a safe and happy day!

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Spring Cleaning


Happy Wednesday!

Probably the last thing anyone wants to think about is spring cleaning.  Mine is underway but I'm dismayed that instead of taking two days to clean the first floor, it's taking two days to scrub down each room.  Of course there are other options 😁

But seriously, have you ever wondered how women cleaned their quilts in days gone by?  

Although there are a lot of internet articles on cleaning vintage and antique quilts today, and some articles on how laundry was done in the past (here's an interesting article), I didn't find much on specific quilt laundering.  I found more in newspapers, particularly during the early 20th century.


One thing that surprised me was how many ads for laundry shops advertised that they cleaned quilts were marketed in the late 19th century and throughout most of the 20th century.  If you ever have cleaned a quilt by hand, you know it's a hard (and heavy) job.

One British article mentioned the use of dolly-pegs.  Now to many, a dolly-peg is a clothespin but the dolly-pegs of the 19th century allowed women to wash their clothes with a tool:

A 1901 newspaper article talked about using a washing machine, here's a 1901 version of a washing machine:

Although the article about the machine said it was easiest to send out your washing, it did give directions on how to use one of these gadgets to clean quilts:

"Heat the water until quite hot, dissolve enough washing powder in it to make strong suds, and pour it into the machine.  Put the quilt in and rub hard ten minutes, pass the quilt through the wringer, change the dirty suds for clean and wash again.  Three rinse waters will be necessary and add a little bluing.  Fast the quilt securely with clothespins."

However, many women balked at the kind of labor washing quilts created.  Quite a few household articles published questions about an easier way to clean quilts.

"Can you give directions how to clean quilts without washing?  I have some fine quilts, with blue, white, and pink piecing.  Cleaning with flour would do no good.  I once had what is called a French cleaning mixture, composed of gasoline, ammonia and soda, but have forgotten the proportions.  Can you give them?  Also could I use it to clean quilts?"  Asked Mrs. G. S. T.  in 1904.

Okay you can stop gasping about using flour and gasoline to clean quilts. 😟 Here was the answer and I found this solution in a number of newspaper articles:

"I know of nothing except the oft-recommended block magnesia, well rubbed in, that will clean them (quilts).  Leave it on for a week before beating out the powder.  It can do no harm, at any rate.  The French preparation is not familiar to me.  Can anyone give the formula?  I think, however, that a liquid would not do for your quilts."

I have no idea of how dried magnesia would react with fabric.  I do however know that magnesium is used to wash clothes, I read this online.  However, please note that water is needed:

"When magnesium pellets are mixed with water, hydrogen gas and magnesium hydroxide are created.  This reaction results in an alkaline solution of around pH 10.5.  This is the optimal pH for washing laundry, which most traditional detergents also aim to achieve."

Ammonia was also recommended in these articles.  One would add a coffee cupful of ammonia to hot water and wash the quilt in it.  I have read that ammonia is great to clean clothes but has to be diluted.  Again, I don't recommend you experiment with this technique.

In the early part of the 20th century, more and more emphasis was put on cleanliness to inhibit disease.  Quilt cleanliness was even brought up in the Michigan state senate om 1913.  This article focused on quilts used in hotels and apparently there was quite a debate about it.

In the 1930s, it was recommended to wash the quilt, rinse well, and hang it on the line for a few days until dried.  "It is very essential to beat the quilts frequently with a smooth stick or board.  This will have the effect of swelling up the waddling, and prevent it from felting.  Furthermore, the quilts should be repeatedly turned from left to right, and top to bottom to prevent streaks."

Although there were many other suggestions, perhaps my favorite was one that was published many times in the 1930s:

"There are many ways to clean quilts.  The simplest way is to hang them on the line, full length, through a drenching rain..."  It was also recommended that a garden hose could produce the same effect and that stains could be spot cleaned.

More than one article relayed that quilts could be ripped apart, washed and then reassembled.  Clearly this was an oversight from editors who didn't quilt.  A comfort can be untied and laundered but who in the heck is going to rip apart a hand quilted textile?

So before you go off to do your spring cleaning this grateful of one thing.  We have better technology and cleaning aids and all of them make our lives easier!

Have a safe and happy day!

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Tuesday's This and That: March 28, 2023


Happy Monday!

A while ago, I mentioned the outrage of using old quilts to make coats.  Mary Fons did a video about this and was so outraged she used a lot of foul language to express her opinions (a copy of the video is here).  

The thing is that the pieces I'm seeing cut up now have no rhyme or reason.  It clearly isn't to preserve some aspect of the piece.  It's just cut up to sell.
From Ebay

Probably one of the worst cases I have seen lately was at a local flea market mall.  I noticed some odd quilt pieces at the front of the kiosk.  And then I saw the back of the kiosk...and a large steamer trunk just full of cut up quilt pieces.

A grab bag of cutter pieces being sold at Etsy

Many of these pieces are even being marketed as "hand pieced and/or hand quilted."  One of my friends pondered that there is a market for this and possibly other crafters find these pieces desirable. I have questions about this and wonder if you can give me insight.  What kinds of crafts use cut up pieces of quilts?  I found a bunch of ideas on Pinterest (stuffed animals, stockings and holiday ornaments) but these could have used other fabrics to create.  Are these considered 'shabby chic' or 'primitive'?  I'm so confused...

In the late 1970s, my sister-in-law made a stuffed rabbit toy for my daughter.  My sister-in-law had pieced some patchwork for the front of "Patch the Bunny" and used a solid fabric in the back.  My daughter loved that bunny and dragged it everywhere.  Later, both of my grandkids played with Patch too...and the bunny is packed up in a trunk in the back of our attic.  My point is Patch endured because Lydia used new fabric.  How many of the stuffed animals made in the 1970s and utilized old quilts survived?  How many of the coats made back then survived?

Throughout my study of old quilts it has repeatedly been discussed that many quilts survive because they did NOT upcycle clothing in their quilts.  They used leftovers from sewing garments, etc.  The Great Depression was the big era of quilting with used clothing fabric and that was done out of necessity.  Sure some of those quilts survived, but many of them have considerable condition problems (although other factors like the quality of the fabric is a consideration).

But with all this said, just look at this quilt pieced from other quilts and now being sold at Etsy here.  The quilt is priced at $799.  This woman cut up quilts for projects and saved an 8 inch block from each quilt she cut.  The result is this:

I'd love to know your reaction to this!

Wishing you a safe and happy day!

Monday, March 27, 2023



Happy Monday!

Today I'm focused on inspiration.

Where do you find your inspiration?  Many of us now look at what other quilters have made for ideas on what to sew next.  Recently I have been revisiting some old websites that I used to frequent when the internet was young.  It feels...nostalgic and kind of comforting to do patterns I haven't done for a long time.

Although I have many projects in the pipeline, I just felt like revisiting an old pattern and decided to make a Roman Stripe Quilt.  I have lots of strips to use up and a piece of backing that is too small for a quilt but large enough to give me the needed triangles.  My inspiration for this piece has an additional  source.  I wanted to use up some colors that were bright, cheerful and spring-like.  The candy colored log cabin quilt seemed like a good choice.

But inspiration can come from other areas.  I was watching The Band Wagon, a movie from 1953.  I was awaiting my favorite scene in the movie (Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse twirl together in "Dancing in the Dark").  And then I noticed a skirt Nanette Fabray was wearing:

Colored version--it's gingham!

Sometimes a photo just grabs you.  I was reading an article called "Philly's Hidden Gems" and saw this photo from the  Clay Studio in Philly:

It's the wall in the background that caught my eye.  Mugs or cups with a black background and a wide border of white around each piece.  Now I have made a number of tea cup related quilts but this photo made me wonder if I needed to do another one.  Maybe coffee mugs because that is my choice of beverage?  It's so modern and fresh looking!

For some projects, the fabric itself is my main inspiration.  On both of these quilts, I just fell in love with the print and wanted to feature the fabrics predominately:

Where do you find inspiration for your quilts?

Have a safe and happy day!

Friday, March 24, 2023

Flower Friday: March 24, 2023


This week Sue is our gardener of the week!
She braved the rain yesterday to get these photos.

Tete-a-tete daffodils:  This type of daffodil is a miniature daffodil.  Some are very fragrant!

Japanese Andromeda

Sue said the Bloodroot is trying to open but will likely bloom once it's sunny.  

Thanks Sue for sharing what is going on in your corner of the world!

Have a safe and happy weekend!

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Daffodil Days

Happy Thursday!

Well my daffodils are finally blooming in the backyard!  It will be a while until the front yard flowers begin to bloom, some of my daffs bloom early, some later.  This may seem like little consolation to those of you who are still battling winter conditions.  But take heart!  Spring will arrive soon!

Some scholars speculate that the daffodil comes from the word Affodyle, meaning "that which comes early."  I've always thought that the center of the flower (technically referred to as the cup) resembles a trumpet and a perfect way to herald in the warmer weather.

Before Flower Friday tomorrow, I thought I would share some of the many quilt patterns that feature daffodils.  

Anne Cabot pattern from 1943:

A more geometric pattern from the St. Louis Dispatch was featured in 1935:

But I'm rather partial to the pattern below.  The title is "Dancing Daffodils" and that too seems like a perfect phrase for the beginning of spring.  The 1934 ad featured this quilt from the Colonial Quilt Book:

What is happening in your garden?  To share images with us all, please email me at

Folks have a safe and happy day.  I'm hearing of more and more people catching covid so please be careful!

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Salada Tea Contest


Good morning tea drinkers and coffee drinkers (like me).

The Salada Tea Company was founded in Canada in 1892.  The founder, Peter Larkin, innovated the sale of tea by packaging it tin foil instead of a tin.  By the early 20th century, sales in the U.S. were so brisk that a headquarters was founded here.

I don't drink tea so it isn't like I am promoting the product.  I just remember seeing the tea packages when I was a kid.  The tea is still sold in the U.S. and it's nice to see a company survive for over a century.

But today's post is about a contest held in Canada in the 1950s, possibly into the 1960s.  What caught my eye was a blurb about a tulip quilt:

Although I knew of a lot of quilt contests during The Depression, I was surprised to see a contest in 1954.  I never could find an image of the quilt pattern chosen by the ladies so here is a coverlet from collection to get you in the mood:

I continued to investigate this tea contest but I'm afraid I couldn't find much.  I even emailed Salada tea for information and they directed me to the headquarters in Canada; the website has only a phone number and no email so I let it go.  

But here is what I did find.  Apparently a lot of Women's Institutes (or W. I.)  throughout Canada participated in the Salada Tea Contest.  If you don't watch PBS shows from Britain, you might no be familiar with the W. I.  The W. I. was like a women's club but originally was founded during World War I to encourage women to produce/grow food during the war.  Since then it has a much broader scope and is one of the largest volunteer groups in the U.K.  So it's not surprising that Canada, as part of the Commonwealth shared many of the same types of organizations.  The W. I. is still active in Canada.

The focus in the 1950s contest appears to be handicrafts.  In Red Deer, Alberta, Canada a 1957 newspaper explained more in an article about a local W. I.:  "Mrs. Morrison outlined the 1957 handicraft list and explained the Salada Tea Contest."  This made more sense when I found other articles that mentioned that cross stitch, knitting, embroidery, and even a baby layette were made for the contest.  Another quilt was mentioned as having been produced in the 1952 minutes from the W. I. in Cowal, Ontario:  "In 1952, the 'Morning Glory' quilt was made and entered for the Salada Tea Contest and displayed in the department stores in St. Thomas..."

Again, no image to show you but here is a Morning Glory quilt from Ebay that you might enjoy:

Some articles indicate that particular women won $100 for their entry.  It appears that as the years went on, tea drinkers could compete for a winning prize by enrolling in contest via mail and need not produce handwork.  From 1967:

What this did make me wonder is if the Salada Tea Contest (at least the handicraft aspect) was similar to premiums offered at local fairs.  There was a recent time when certain prizes were offered by companies for things made by the 4-H and other participants.  I wonder if this was similar.

Quilt contests continue through the present day but rarely are they sponsored by a non-sewing entity.  A few exceptions include a contest in Edmonton, Alberta in 1956 and sponsored by The Star Weekly or another contest sponsored by a department store in Chicago that offered $100 prizes for new and antique quilts, lastly the contest most similar to the Salada Tea version was one 1952 contest offered to a Grange in Oneota, NY and sponsored by the Sears Roebuck Foundation.

If you know of any other contests or more about the Salada Tea Contest, give me a shout out!

Have a safe and happy day!