Friday, January 30, 2015

1956 Friendship Quilt, Westfir, Oregon

This awesome Friendship Quilt came from an eBay seller in Camas, Washington, and the inscriptions indicate it was made in 1956 in Westfir, Oregon.


Although there are plenty of old quilts to be found for sale in Oregon, many are anonymous and not in good condition. It's something to crow about when you find a vintage, Oregon-made quilt that can be definitively traced to a maker or group of makers, and in good condition! The year 1956 is found in a few places, along with Westfir, Oregon, a town not far from Eugene to the southeast.

Love the ink inscription with the staff and G clef, and shout out to my Facebook friend Kay Sorensen- same family name. There are also several Abercrombie family members on the quilt.

The quilt is 66" x 80" and the pattern is called Friendship Quilt, Brackman #1648. The pattern was published by the Kansas City Star in 1934. Took a few moments to find it since the block looks a bit different in the drawing, with inscriptions in nine patches rather than one in the center.

Each of the 30 blocks has 21 pieces, and the sashing (with cornerstones) includes 113 pieces. The total number of pieces in the quilt is just under 750. An interesting quilt, great colors, and nice to find something made in Oregon.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

something special

Something special has been going on behind the scenes over the last couple days. The electronic proof of my Quiltmania book arrived, and I have been proofreading. There will be 70 quilts in the book, New York Beauty and related designs with a few cousins and second cousins in the mix, and the book will be bilingual-- in English and French.

My French teachers from high school will be amazed

I did all the photography, and the layout is just gorgeous. Shelly Zegart wrote the foreword, I wrote an introduction and the descriptions of the quilts, and Quiltmania took care of the translation and layout. Originally the book was going to be 250 pages, roughly speaking, but turned out to be over 300 pages. Wow! I appreciate and thank Quiltmania for going the extra mile with me.

Book should be available in April. We are kicking it off with a big celebration in France, and I'm very much looking forward to it!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Amazing 1970s Double Wedding Ring

Double Wedding Ring, c. 1970, California
This amazing 1970s Double Wedding Ring was discovered at an estate sale in Altadena, California and came to me through The Quilt Complex. It is mostly polyester double knit with some cotton and bits of wool, and the maker is unknown. The quilt is roughly 90" x 90" in size, and it has a fun connection-- a sibling quilt in the collection of Roderick Kiracofe.

Each block is about 22 & 1/2" square, and a variety of solid and print knits are included. One of the most visually exciting things about it is the way the background color changes throughout the quilt. Most Double Wedding Rings have a single-color background, and a majority of the traditional ones made in the 1930s and later have white background fabric. It is sparsely quilted in a wavy, hanging diamond pattern, bordered in solid black, and the backing is brought from back to front for binding.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

"Pisces in a Pillbox Hat" 2014 by Susan Shie

Susan Shie is one of my favorite living artists. She is trained as a painter and known for her whimsical paintings on cloth, covered with text and finished as quilts.

I haven't been lucky enough to meet Susan yet, but we're Facebook friends. Every so often she posts artworks for sale. Recently she posted pictures of some small paintings with signs of the zodiac. Since I'm a Pisces, I fell in love with "Pisces in a Pillbox Hat" made in 2014.

The painting has all the elements of her larger pieces except it is not quilted. It is about 8" x 10" and the text is sparsely applied compared to her larger works, which include whole diary entries. It is remarkable to see her working small and distilling her characteristic diary entries into individual words. Love the painting, love Susan Shie, and a happy early birthday to me!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

wonderful wonky wagon wheels

This wonderful, wonky wagon wheels quilt came from an eBay seller in Redding Center, Connecticut. It is 55" x 72" and has an assortment of fabrics from the 1960s and earlier. Each block includes a radiating circle in the center, similar to a Dresden Plate design, and four wedges in the corners.

The funny thing is, while the wedges are probably supposed to create a secondary circular pattern, they don't line up. All of the motifs including the pink and orange "grandmother's sofa" floral sashing, are outlined with hand embroidery in red floss. When I saw the quilt, I thought, "What a hoot!" The maker threw perfection out the window, and that spirit is what I love most about the quilt. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

more about "Fruity Beauty"

"Fruity Beauty" 2015, detail 
Whenever I make a quilt, there is inspiration involved. The inspiration behind my "Fruity Beauty" quilt is the "New York Beauty", a complex American patchwork design that goes back to the middle 19th century. After writing a book on the subject, soon to be published by Quiltmania, I was inspired to make a New York Beauty. However, as a novice quiltmaker, I had to play to some of my other strengths.

the original photo source for the citrus fruit in "Fruity Beauty"
Digital image editing is a self-taught skill for me. Photoshop was created around the time I got my undergraduate degree in photography. I didn't learn about it until ten years later, 1998, when I picked up a package with Photoshop, Illustrator and Pagemaker, the predecessor of InDesign.

The image was edited in Photoshop to remove the background and boost color
I had five years of computer experience, all post-grad and self-taught, and was using Corel Draw and Pagemaker on a laptop purchased three years earlier. I also had a Casio QV10 digital camera, and later, the Sony Mavica. It was really the beginning of the digital age in photography, and ironically, it happened just after I'd completed the best college photography education money could buy.

Do you remember the Casio QV10? How about the Sony Mavica?
Today, Photoshop and digital single lens reflex cameras (SLRs) are central to an education in photography, but back in the 80s and early 90s we were working with film cameras, roll and sheet film, photosensitive papers and chemical solutions. All my training was with materials that would soon be antiquated. Fortunately, all the concepts still apply. The tools are just different, and to be honest, I don't miss the chemicals.

I designed fabric using the edited digital images
Learning Photoshop came naturally, and it was probably because of all those years of experience in the darkroom. Spoonflower, the print-on-demand fabric website that allows people to design and print their own fabrics, also came naturally. So, I came up with a digital-age solution to the problem of not knowing how to sew but wanting to make a New York Beauty quilt.

pieced quilt, c. 1880, Texas
The traditional "New York Beauty" design, which got its moniker in 1930 from Mountain Mist, includes a radiating circle broken into four quarter-circle wedges or arcs. These wedges are placed in the corners of a block, with points radiating from the curved seams toward the center of the block. It is an advanced design, and quilts are made with rows of blocks, set with elaborately pieced sashing and small, radiating sunburst cornerstones. The intersecting points of four blocks revolve around the cornerstones, and the wedges in the corners of the four adjoining blocks form larger broken sunbursts.

The subject matter of "Fruity Beauty" was almost incidental at first. I wasn't as turned on by citrus fruits as I was by finding a simple way to make an elaborate looking quilt. When the quilt was finished, I felt it had all come together nicely and I'd gotten behind the citrus fruit. Roughly speaking, the shapes could stand in for those found in the traditional design.

wood juicers
One of the details I love is the color of the wood juicers in the sashing. If you look at a lot of antique quilts such as the 1880s example pictured in this blog, often you will see tan fabric that has faded from its original, more saturated color.

As mentioned in the previous blog, this four-block quilt is a sample. I plan to make a larger one with 16 blocks, and may play around with it just a bit. It may take a little while to get back to the project, lots going on in the first few months of the year, but it's nice to have the sample done. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Fruity Beauty

"Fruity Beauty" 2015, quilted by Jolene Knight, 35 & 1/2" x 36 & 1/2"
My "Fruity Beauty" four block sample is done, and I love how it turned out! It is 35 & 1/2" x 36 & 1/2" and was made with my custom-designed Spoonflower fabrics. I pieced it together at Modern Domestic while receiving sewing instruction from Michelle Freedman; and Jolene Knight of Good Knight Quilts did the beautiful quilting.

Since the quilt is just a sample, some things will change when I move on to the larger 16-block. The great thing is there's lots of room to play. My idea was to play with a traditional patchwork design, the New York Beauty, using fabrics with digital images. Can't wait to get to work on the larger quilt. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Polyester Quilt from Ventura, California

Just in: a great 1970s polyester quilt from an eBay seller in Ventura, California. It's a familiar type of radiating fans design, but one I have not seen in a 1970s quilt before. I have had examples from other periods, though.

The quilt is 60" x 86" and has dark brown sashing. There are fewer rays in the fans than in some of the earlier examples I have seen of this design, and there's something really great about the simplicity. The colors are incredible, and it's very graphic. An amazing bargain, too. Just the kind of quilt I love!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Quilters Newsletter Magazine & Web Seminar

The February/March 2015 issue of Quilters Newsletter Magazine (QNM) is now out, and a four-page feature article about my 1970s quilts is included. It is the second feature article about my collection in Quilters Newsletter, the Grande Dame of quilt magazines. Thank you, Quilters Newsletter!

I am very happy with the article, and honored to be part of the magazine. My first QNM feature article was written by Mary Kate Karr Petras in 2012 and featured the New York Beauty quilts. I remember being nervous about shipping the quilts to Colorado for photography. Seems like a long time ago. It really wasn't, but a lot has happened since then including several cameos in QNM. This time, I wrote the article, provided all the photos, and helped plan the article to be published in time for my exhibit at QuiltCon. The way it should be done!

On Wednesday I will offer a web seminar with Quilters Newsletter, and the subject is Quilt Collecting 101. It will include many outstanding examples of quilts made throughout the ages, representing America's amazing quilt heritage. Live broadcast is Wednesday, January 14th at 1pm EST. Will also be available after the live event. To sign up, click here

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

1950s Patchwork Sampler

This 1950s patchwork sampler came from an eBay seller in Brooklyn, New York. It is unquilted, a single layer, and is 58" x 98" with 7" square blocks. There are 84 blocks, all appliquéd with patches of mid century modern fabrics cut in shapes, outlined with satin stitch. The blocks are crocheted together and the edge finish is also crocheted. Here are some more pictures, including some close-ups of the stitching and crocheting.

There are lots of shapes, some look like letters of the alphabet, others are fruit, flowers, or motifs selectively cut out of print fabric.

The stitching and crocheting looks like handwork when you see it up close. It's interesting how the blocks are joined, and how the appliqué was done.

I asked the seller if he knew anything more about the piece, and he said he found it at an estate sale on Long Island, but that was all. It would be interesting to find out why this piece was made and by whom. Tim Latimer found a similar piece a few years ago and blogged about it here. It wouldn't seem these pieces were made by the same makers, but it's interesting to see a consistent style of patchwork. Maybe some more comparable examples will surface, with more clues.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Interesting. Very interesting.

Found this cool 1950s quilt top on eBay the other day. I thought, "Hmmmm...interesting. Very interesting." So I bought it. The package arrived today, and it was even more interesting than I first thought.

The blocks appear to be joined with some type of crochet, and there was some discussion on Facebook about whether it was hand or machine work. Also, the applique is edge-finished with satin stitch, and there was the same discussion about whether it was done by hand or machine.

I'll post some better pictures when I have some daylight, but for now, here are a few Instagram pics. It's got some interesting shapes and very cool mid-century mod fabrics. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Are you going to QuiltCon?

Are you going to QuiltCon?

...because I'm bringing eye candy...

In 2013, Roderick Kiracofe displayed vintage quilts at QuiltCon, kicking off what I feel is a wonderful tradition. And I'm happy to keep it going. This year, I will debut my 1970s collection at QuiltCon, and there will be an article about the quilts in the upcoming Quilters Newsletter Magazine. I will also do a webinar about quilt history with QNM in a couple weeks.

one of the colorful polyester quilts
One of the intriguing things about the 1970s quilts is the color. Chemically produced, synthetic fabrics hold color remarkably well. Polyester is one of those fabrics. It is very resistant to fading because the pigment is part of the chemical solution that produces the fiber. Cotton and other fibers are typically dyed, but the color is actually part of the fiber in polyester.

100% polyester double knit and very American
I was recently invited to write an article about polyester quilts for Blanket Statements, the newsletter of the American Quilt Study Group. It was a lot of fun reading about Wallace Carothers, DuPont, and how polyester was invented.

a smorgasbord of fabrics
 The quilts of the 1970s hold a lot of that history from a production point of view. There are many samples of polyester double knit, all colors, embossed, printed, woven designs, and other fabrics such as rayon and cotton-polyester blends throughout the quilts.

a quintessential 1970s moment, made of cottons
There is a spirit of discovery in the quilts of the 1970s, and it should be noted that the quilts in my collection are mostly made for domestic use rather than as works of art. These quilts are cheerful, even though most are not masterfully constructed. They are often quirky, too. After QuiltCon, the quilts will be displayed during Quilt County, later in the year at the Benton County Museum in Philomath, Oregon. I'm happy to have such great opportunities to share this exciting group of quilts!