Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Designs Still Worth Doing: Jolly Circus and Nursery Rhyme Quilt

In September of 1921, McKim's quilt design for the Jolly Circus Quilt was published in Woman's World magazine.  This was a coup for the designer.  Woman's World magazine was one of the most popular women's magazine at that time.  
Apologies--the magazine is tall and I couldn't get the full image to scan.  Here's another look at the quilt:

What I like about this quilt:  The images are joyful and I love the design of the quilt with the two horizontal stripes flanking the top and the bottom.  It's a different look and appealing!

Is this a design still worth doing?  Well I loved the pattern and even bought fabric to make this one:

But the problem is that none of the younger generation was interested in having a Jolly Circus Quilt.  The truth is that circuses have not been popular for some time (and evidenced by the closing of Barnum and Bailey in 2017).  

But as an historian, I know very well how popular the circus used to be.  In the first half of the twentieth century, it was a big deal when the circus came to town.  Even the arrival of the circus by train was an event.  Animals and performers would parade and perform en route to the venue (a clever marketing ploy) and if a child was too poor to attend...well schools closed that day so all the children could see the antics and magic of the circus.

So I have to ask...would you make a Jolly Circus Quilt for a child in your family?  How well would it be received?

In 1922, another series quilt designed by Ruby was published throughout many newspapers.  This one featured Nursery Rhymes:

Things were about to change more for Ruby and we'll talk about that next week!

Have a safe and happy day!


Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Tuesday's This and That: May 30, 2023


Happy Tuesday!

I hope that all of you had a wonderful holiday weekend!

My husband is home and getting hand surgery tomorrow so if posts are sporadic this week, that's why.  Hopefully everything will go smoothly.

I had some finishes over the weekend!  I finished Karen's bird quilt:

Finished 4 quilts for Christmas that are based on the "Out of the Blue" quilt pattern that was a free tutorial at Riley Blake's blog.

Three of them were blue and white like this one:

I had a long talk with Beth on Saturday.  We always make sure to chat at least once a week for at least an hour (usually longer).  At one point, Beth considered getting rid of some of her Civil War reproduction fabrics.  My advice this week was to use them up.  The price of fabric is so high these days and there are always people that like muted tones.  Don't you agree?  

I'm actually working on using some of mine up right now.  I have a jelly roll of Barbara Brackman's "Baltimore Blues" that I won a few years ago and am using them up to make a gift quilt (not even sure the recipient yet).

What are you working on?

Have a safe and happy day!

Monday, May 29, 2023

Happy Memorial Day!


Happy Memorial Day! 

Taking time today to remember and give thanks for those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country!

Have a safe and happy day!

Friday, May 26, 2023

Flower Friday: May 26, 2023


Happy Flower Friday!

Today Nann shared photos from a recent trip to Volo Bog.  The bog is in Illinois and looks fascinating!  Nann shared all the names associated with each plant!  You can read more about her visit at her blog here.

Water arum, calla palustris.  Also swamp lily, water-dragon, bog arum:

Cleft phlox, phlox bifida: 

Golden Alexander, zizia aurea:

Purple pitcher plant, sarracenia purpurea.  Also Huntsman's Cup, Side-saddle flower, Turtle Socks:

Over here in Pennsylvania, my garden is in full bloom.  I was concerned about my Nikko hydrangeas, they are still slowly starting leaves on the woody branches and I wondered what was wrong.  I'm wondering if the hydrangeas struggled during our winter (often warm but occasionally cold) because the bushes at the rose garden are similar in their stunted growth.  Hopefully we will be getting some flowers later in the season.

But what is blooming:

Sundrops and Missouri Primroses are beginning to bloom:

Both of these are in the evening primrose family and both tend to take over the garden.  (the pink Missouri primroses invaded the lavender).  I always have to pull some out after they bloom.

Astrantia with Japanese painted fern in the background:

Foxglove with more primroses in the background:

Black lace elderberry:


Wishing you a safe and happy holiday!

Thursday, May 25, 2023

More wall hangings...


Happy Thursday!  

Well I have a couple of things for this post.  After the Monday wall hanging post, Louise kindly reminded me of the Noah's Ark wall hanging.  I had forgotten all about that and even wrote about it in 2020 (the year that I seemed to have forgotten a lot of things I wrote).  Anyway, the post is here if you want to see the Noah's Ark wall hanging pattern.


Over the weekend I was going through textiles again and came upon some cross stitching I did in the 1980s.  I'm trying to clear things out (a constant in my life these days) so I decided to make some wall hangings.  I finished them this week.

I went with plain borders because the original pieced borders I made overwhelmed the cross stitch.  When I checked Pinterest to see what others did with cross stitch, I found that most folks did plain borders and those worked the best.  I still have one piece left but it is big and I might have that framed for my aunt who has green in her living room.


We need rain in the Lehigh Valley.  We haven't had any rain for two weeks and I'm grateful to have the soaker hoses.  To make matters worse, we have had breezy days which dries out the soil.  So we are in a holding pattern.  I can't have Andy mulch the backyard until we have a good rainfall.  The tomatoes remain on the patio table until we have good rain.  When I talked to Linda this week, she was doing the same thing with her tomatoes.  What's it like where you live?

And just for fun...

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

Have a safe and happy day!

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Designs Still Worth Doing: Mother Goose Quiltie


In 1916, the Kansas City Star published another quilt series by Ruby Short.  This one was similar to the angular lines of the Quaddy Quiltie but featured Mother Goose characters.  Sometimes in newspapers it was referred to as the "Mother Goose Colonial Quilt."  It was also picked up by the Boston Globe that year:

The interesting aspect of McKim's work is the staying power of her designs.  The design series were often used for quilt contests.  The Brooklyn Daily Eagle featured the same pattern in the early 1920s and a "quilting bee" contest for children who completed the quilts (2-first prizes of $10; 2-second prizes of $5--a huge sum back in those days).

Ruby Short married Arthur McKim in 1917 and the couple had three children during their marriage.  Arthur had worked in public relations and the couple created one of the most successful sewing cottage industries.

Jack and Jill from Mother Goose Quiltie

The couple took quilt marketing to a whole new level.  After their first child was born, the couple took a trip throughout the U.S. to meet various newspaper publishers and developed strong relationships with them.  From all accounts, the McKims had a deep affection and respect for each other and worked well as a team.

Another factor was the trend that occurred at the time.  The Colonial Revival was in full swing and a renewed interest in quilting blossomed.

Wishing you a safe and happy day!

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Tuesdays This and That: May 23, 2023

 Happy Tuesday!

The Philadelphia Museum of Art has an exhibit right now of Kanthas.  These are quilts made by the women of Bengal and features textiles from 1870 to 1970.  You can read about the exhibit here and here.  I have often been fascinated by these pieces and even considered buying one before the pandemic.  


I heard from a reader named Kathleen McMusing last week.  She has a wonderful blog with tutorials and patterns.  You may want to explore her blog here.


Many thanks for all the wonderful photos you have been sending for Flower Friday!  My feature of the month is my Weigelia bush which has left me breathless.  It's a fountain of pinks!

The nice thing about this bush is that when the flowers fade, I'll trim and guess what?  I'll get another blooming.  The second blooming won't be as amazing as the first but I sure do love whatever blooms on this bush.

If you have a show stopper in your garden, please let us know when you email photos.  Flower Friday is so popular and I'm sure gardeners will appreciate recommendations!

Have a safe and happy day!

Monday, May 22, 2023

Wall Hangings


Happy Monday!

Although I've made a lot of small quilts through the years, I haven't done any since last summer when I made doll quilts. 

A lot of my friends regularly make smaller pieces to use up blocks or to create a variety of projects.  Diann at Little Penguin Quilts makes wonderful table runners and wall hangings if you need inspiration.  In the past I've made table runners and wall hangings but also mug rugs.  I have a whole drawer full of fabric put aside for placemats; our guild collects the placemats to give to folks who receive meals on wheels.

I was thinking of these projects and then I began to wonder when did quilters began to make wall hangings regularly for their homes or others?

Well in 1910, a young woman decided to hang quilts on the wall inspired by the tapestries that once were used to decorate homes. 

 She was an artist and wanted to make her garret more artistic and used suspended rope to hang the quilts that "her sisters had voted out of style...and ultimately discarded."  Although this idea was published widely, it didn't seem to be adopted by the public.

In  February of 1941, I found this blurb:  "Mesdames Margaret Doty and F. A. Ditzler presided at the attractive tea table set before a striking colonial quilt hung as a wall hanging."

Both of these examples were of bed quilts being hung.  But what a quilt made especially to be hung on a wall?

I should have realized earlier, it was Jean Ray Laury who specifically made wall hangings.  Here's a photo from a 1959 newspaper article:

I've written about the designer before (here) but she was an artist who really stretched the concept of quilting by making it personal--and fun.  In a 2000 interview with the Quilt Alliance, Laury stated, "I don't see a big difference between fabric on the wall and paint on the wall."  She was such a strong influence in the quilting world that she was inducted into the Quilters Hall of Fame in 1982 (read here).

In 1958, her quilted wall hangings were even exhibited at Stanford University:

By the 1960s and 70s, more and more (usually young people) were hanging textiles on the walls.  Pattern companies adopted the idea as well:

The Flower Alphabet pattern was marketed in 1969 as a quilt or a wall hanging by Laura Wheeler Designs.

Although other makers may have created wall hangings, I haven't really found one that made a smaller scale (not quit sized) piece.  Do you know of any?

Have a safe and happy day!

Friday, May 19, 2023

Flower Friday: May 19, 2023


Happy Flower Friday!  

We have a nice selection of different flowers this week, courtesy of Barb and Sue!

From Barb, we have some Major Wheeler Honeysuckle:


Alliums,  false indigo, catmint and more alliums:

From Sue we have some knock out  Irises:


The Clematis uses the azalea as a Sue says, "Lord, I love this time of year!"

Thank you Barb and Sue!!!

Wishing you all a delightful and happy weekend in the garden!