Sunday, June 29, 2014

photos done, descriptions drafted

there are 11 quilts in the 21st century group

"When you have a great and difficult task, something perhaps almost impossible, if you only work a little at a time, every day a little, suddenly the work will finish itself." - Isak Dinesen

OK, so maybe it was a little more than a little at a time. Two months, approximately 600 hours worth of work, 70 quilts, photos and descriptions, and most of my book is done. It's not due until September 14th.

a peek inside Quilt 70 file - what a way to finish!!

this is what each full view image looked like before editing
there was some effort involved making it look like this
The last two months have been entertaining, educational and enlightening. I feel energized despite putting in such a marathon effort. There is still work to be done, but not much on my end, and I will pause during the month of July to spend time with Mom, who will be visiting from Maine. Thank you to everyone who helped, you know who you are. :)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

nailed it!

The Bob Timberlake pillow sham arrived yesterday. In case you missed the whole story, it goes with the quilt I had been trying to identify for the last eight years. Last weekend, I posted a picture of the quilt on Facebook with an urgent plea for help identifying it, and San Antonio quilt dealer Deborah Ursell nailed it. Bob Timberlake!

Words cannot express how truly grateful I am for Deborah and her vast knowledge. I am also eternally grateful for everyone else who helped me with information I have been seeking about the quilts that will be in my "New York Beauty" book. As I may have mentioned earlier, having such difficulty identifying a mass-produced object can be frustrating. Finding out what that object really is-- a huge relief, and a burden off my shoulders!

The pillow sham has its original tag, and it came in a plastic pouch with a price sticker. Original price was $14.99, and the design was called "Sunrise" - product was called "Sunrise Quilted Sham". I found the sham on eBay as soon as Deborah said she thought my quilt was Bob Timberlake. Talk about serendipity! The auction was ending just a few hours later. Of course, the pictures would have been sufficient, but I just had to have the sham-- the clue that verifies the true origins of the quilt.

By the way, a side note. There are many people who enjoy quilts and quilt history who would not understand why I would be so excited about a factory-made, mass-produced quilt that was likely made overseas. My answer is, it's part of quilt history, and we need to know about it. Otherwise, people will buy the quilts and have as much difficulty identifying them as I did, particularly when the tags have been ripped off, as was the case with my quilt.  That is why I plan to include this quilt and a couple other mass-produced items in my book. Maybe other people will see these things in the book and it will solve their mysteries, too. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Who Loves the Sun?

The Willow Tree Quilt #2, shot in full sun
"Who Loves the Sun?" is one of my favorite songs by the Velvet Underground. It must be because I live in Portland, Oregon, where we get a fair amount of rain. It doesn't really rain as often as the residents like to tell others, though. They sometimes use it as a scare tactic to keep too many people from coming here. Oregon is such a sublime place, I can't really blame people for wanting to keep the population from growing too much.

So, who loves the sun, other than Portlanders? The answer: it's not a "who" - it's a "what" - whitework! Last year I acquired the second of the two "Willow Tree" quilts, but have struggled to get a decent picture of it. Last night I had it set up on a stand, and took pictures with backlighting - a good way to see the stuffed design.

The Willow Tree quilt #2, backlit
Today, it was still on the stand. I have been waiting for it to look right with the natural light coming in from the outside, but it's always looked flat, particularly because the foliage of the tree does not have as much relief as many of the other motifs. Before lunch, I went upstairs and saw sunlight blasting through the skylight on part of the quilt. Hmmmmmm.... 

Usually, when I see sun hitting a quilt, I run and take the quilt down to avoid fading. This time I realized there was no danger of the whitework fading, so I admired it for a few moments, took pictures, and then brought the whole setup outside to photograph the quilt in full sunlight. 

I look at this picture and think "omg, I can't believe I hung the quilt outside"
Anyway, I'm glad I did, because the sun is being fickle today, and went back into hiding shortly after I took the photos. It was an "a-ha" moment. I have never been happy with the photos I have taken of this quilt until today. As usual, I edited out the clamps and background in Photoshop. So, yes, whitework loves the sun!

QuiltCon 2015 Members Registration Open Today!

One of my lectures will be quilts of the 1970s - super cool stuff!!
QuiltCon 2015 registration is open today for Modern Quilt Guild members! I will be lecturing, exhibiting quilts of the 1970s, and giving a tour. Happy to be part of it, and looking forward to the event. Come see me! General public registration opens July 1st. Don't miss out!!

Info at:

Monday, June 23, 2014

Into the 21st Century: 61 down, nine to go!

the pile of books on my couch, right next to me
If you could see what a mess my house is right now, you might be able to tell I'm writing a book. Or you might just think I'm a hoarder. After an incredibly productive, even magical weekend, I'm in to the 21st Century and the last ten quilts in the "New York Beauty" group. 

hitting the home stretch, and so happy with how it's going

This collection has really guided me through the whole process because it tells the life story of the challenging, elaborate patchwork design from start to finish. Without missing a beat! Even though I am the one who collected all these quilts, the whole body of work is incredibly impressive to me. 

At the tail end of the timeline, the quilts are becoming much easier to write about because so much of the information is known-- even certain fabrics. It has also been fun to gather the thoughts of the makers rather than focusing on pure physical descriptions within historical context.

Such a tease I am, I know it, but you can't expect me to give it all away now, can you? Descriptions should be drafted this week, then I'll start cleaning the house to prepare for Mom's visit. She'll be here early in the second week of July, and we're going to the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show where there will be plenty of other surprises and delights.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

What is this strange magic?

Bob Timberlake Pillow Sham - a missing link
It's uncanny, and almost a little scary how the answers to all the questions I had about quilts in my New York Beauty collection have come to me in the last month, when I have urgently sought them. A friend said, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." Remarkably, that's exactly what happened.

Judi Boisson New York Beauty, c. 1992-1993
Earlier in the month, I was looking to identify what I thought could be a 1980s quilt from a published source. It turned out to be a Judi Boisson quilt from 1992. The teal quilt with red and white was one of her earliest designs. I called, and found out after seeing a red and white one on the web site.

Last week, I was seeking the answer to a question I had for the last three years about a woven New York Beauty bedspread. On a whim, I googled "Bates vintage jacquard bedspread" and found an Etsy listing with a different bedspread that had the same edge finish and a tag - Bates!

Just yesterday I received my copy of "New York Beauty Diversified" by Linda Hahn, and in the book was the inspiration for the pictorial quilt I bought a couple months ago from Nancy Tanguay. Serendipitous.
Nancy Tanguay quilt inspired by Linda Hahn's "Bensonhurst Blooms"
I had meant to get Linda's book for a long time, and finally ordered it last week, thinking maybe there would be something in the book that was relevant to my research even though Linda's work came at the tail end of the evolution of the New York Beauty design - and I didn't think I had any quilts that related to her work, but I did! As it turned out, Nancy had seen the picture once and made the quilt from memory, but couldn't find the picture that inspired it. So I helped her with a mystery, too.

Bob Timberlake "Sunrise" quilt, c. 1990
Today, the question that had bothered me the most was finally answered. I posted a plea on Facebook, and San Antonio quilt dealer Deborah Ursell saw the quilt and recognized it -- Bob Timberlake. In a matter of minutes, I found a pillow sham with tags still on it, which I won later in the day through an eBay auction, and I found what appears to be the inspiration quilt, sold in 2006 through Brunk Auctions in North Carolina. Wow!!

Inspiration quilt for Bob Timberlake's "Sunrise" quilt?
So, what is this strange magic? Why me? Why now? How did everything fall into place at just the perfect time? Was it luck? Destiny? Preparation meeting opportunity? I cannot explain how or why all the stars seemed to align for me this week, but they did, and I am thoroughly blown away by it. I am also eternally grateful! Thank you to all my friends who helped. It really does take a village to write a quilt history book. I dedicate this song to all of you!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

55 down...15 to go!

So, I can't believe it's me saying this, but the bulk of my book is going to be done two and one half months ahead of the deadline. I was saying that to a high school classmate on Facebook, and had to pinch myself. Back in high school, I was such a clown -- the very last one who ever would have gotten an assignment done ahead of time, or even on time, and it certainly would not have been done well. But it's true. I'm so far ahead of schedule, it's not even funny. And it's good, really good (if I do say so myself). :)

wracking my brains all day...and it's...a QUATREFOIL!!
As of today, 3:30PM I have 55 of the 70 quilt descriptions written, and to boost my efforts, a couple things clicked today. First, Facebook friend Mandy Leins helped me figure out the word for the shape in the "Baby Bunting" design. It's a quatrefoil! (Well, of course it is!) - thank you, Mandy!!

The source of Nancy Tanguay's quilt: "Bensonhurst Blooms" by Linda Hahn
During the week I finally ordered a copy of Linda Hahn's New York Beauty Diversified book, and it arrived today. When I was thumbing through it, there was the source design for Nancy Tanguay's pictorial quilt. It is called "Bensonhurst Blooms" and seems to be related to Jean Wells' Wedding Garden quilt.

Before I saw Linda's book, I was planning on talking about the Wedding Garden quilt in the context of Nancy Tanguay's quilt, but now I'm happy to say I will certainly need to include Linda and her beautiful design in the dialogue. Both of Linda's marvelous books have come at the tail end of the evolution of the New York Beauty quilt design, and making the connection between Nancy's quilt and Linda's design is a big exclamation point. Don't you just love it when things come together so beautifully? 

Friday, June 20, 2014

mystery solved?

Three years ago I purchased this reversible woven coverlet from an eBay seller in Wisconsin, and I have searched since then to find out who made it. Other than being a quilt block design, one of the distinctive features was the edge finish.

Maybe I wasn't trying hard enough, because it seems I may have found the answer today, using just a few simple words in a Google search -- "Bates vintage jacquard bedspread". In particular, I was looking for that scalloped/wavy edge, which appeared to be finished with some type of serger stitch. I found one on Etsy, WITH a label!

Bates! I'm excited! There is nothing more irksome than having a mass-produced item that nobody can seem to identify. Bates was just a hunch, but a good one. I called the company, and they asked me to send pictures so one of their longtime employees could take a look. Should hear back early next week.

Some historical information from the Bates Mill Store website:

The Bates Manufacturing Company was established in Lewiston, Maine in 1850 by Benjamin Bates. It quickly became one of the largest textile manufacturers in New England and transformed Lewiston from a struggling agricultural town into a booming industrial city. By 1857, the Bates Mill in Lewiston ran 36,000 spindles, employed 1,000 hands, and annually turned out 5.7 million yards of the best quality cotton goods. Even after winning multiple achievements and awards for his textiles, including "Best Pantaloon Stuffs" and "Best Plain and Fancy Cotton Fabrics", Bates wanted more. Accordingly, in 1858 the Bates Manufacturing Company wove the first Bates Bedspread.

To read more about the Bates Manufacturing Company history, click here.

So, what do you think? Did I nail it? (can't wait to hear back from the company!) and by the way, I was so excited about the piece with the clue on Etsy, I bought it. :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

40 down, 30 to go

twentieth century files

Still plugging away at the descriptions of quilts. I have 40 of them done, and another 30 to do including 19 in the twentieth century, and 11 in the twenty-first century groups. Things are getting interesting. I'm still counting pieces and quilting stitches and noticing a general trend showing a gradual reduction in the number of pieces and amount of quilting. There are also specifics about pattern names, sources of publication and other supporting information.

sneaky-peak inside Quilt 37 file
Very few of the quilts have any maker's information, but one quilt made by Elsa Snuggs of Tulsa, Oklahoma provided the opportunity to flex the genealogy muscle. Another quilt included pop culture references to a song and two films, as well as the exact date the pattern was published. Pretty cool stuff, if you ask me! I'm happy to be on track to meet my goal of being two months early with the bulk of the materials for the book.

Looking forward to Mom's visit in July, and not having to worry so much about working on the book while we are together. When you really think about it, that's what it's all about. :)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

quilt study - an amazing project

quilt top inspired by a quilt in my collection
Every two years, the American Quilt Study Group (AQSG) challenges members to study quilts by recreating and reinterpreting them. Completed quilts are exhibited at the Seminar, and selected quilts are exhibited in venues around the country. The 2010 Star quilt study, for example, was exhibited here in Oregon at Latimer Quilt & Textile Center. There have also been books available of the study quilts in recent years.

the inspiration quilt, c. 1850, Kentucky
I thought I'd tell you about it because someone is making a quilt inspired by one of the quilts in my collection, and I have permission to share some photos. The maker's identity shall remain a secret for now, but I am so happy to have permission to share these pictures. I have been keeping it a secret until now, but enough of the work is done, it looks like the quilt will really be a reality. It just needs finishing-- borders, quilting and binding.

fabric colors - it's a red, white and green quilt with cheddar orange
fabric with foundation templates - ready to start piecing
templates were first cut out, then the piecing began
tiny cornerstones - amazing!
believe your eyes - it's the real deal 
more piecing - the blocks
sashing sections - more piecing than you might think
going together nicely
the general layout, before sewing it together
this was where it was at, as of today
I am so honored that someone would want to reproduce a quilt from my collection, especially someone I admire so much. And what a wonderful job the maker is doing. I say, "Keep going!!" Can't wait to see the finished quilt! What an amazing project!!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Portland Polyester Pinwheel - "Twin Sister" or "Whirled" Pattern

Just in, via eBay from a seller here in Portland. This polyester double-knit quilt is made of a simple pattern with many names. Basically it's a pinwheel, but two of the other names are "Whirled" and "Twin Sister". Thank you to the folks at Quiltville and Bonnie Hunter for the assist on the ID. Such a happy quilt! Here are a few of the blocks.

my favorite!

It was a bargain, too. I think I've spent more at Taco Bell. :) Love these wild fabrics, and I'm still loving the polyester quilts!