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Bolt Labels

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Bolt label from Cocheco Mills showing Grecian woman
with a bolt of cloth, 1866. Her friend seems to be the designer.
Collection of Historic New England

Bolt labels were paper records fixed to fabric telling one the manufacturer and  how many yards were on the bolt among other information. 

https://www.historicnewengland.org/explore/collections-access/capobject/?refd=EP001.01.114.01.02.025

A few more:













We occasionally come across a fragment on a piece of patchwork.



Read more:
http://barbarabrackman.blogspot.com/2010/05/bolt-stamps-bolt-labels-and-selvages.html


And see a Pinterest page on one style: Gilt embossed bolt labels:
https://www.pinterest.com/susanvoake/19thc-textile-labels/
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Love of Quilting March, April 2020

Sunday, February 16, 2020


I've been writing a series of articles for the magazine Love of Quilting about recent quilt history to celebrate their 20th anniversary. In the March/April issue I have a short article comparing trends 40 years ago to what is happening today.


We've seen a couple of significant changes in techniques and design. One is the use of rotary cutters, introduced 41 years ago.
Castle Keep by Jinny Beyer, 1979-1981

Another is the shift in emphasis on the quilt block. I showed quilts by several influential people from the 1980s and how they developed secondary patterning, looking outside the square.

Colorado Log Cabin by Judy Martin, 1985

The articles are short so I get space for just a few pictures.
Here's another by Judy Martin.

Card Trick by Jeff Gutcheon, 1973 

I remember very well taking workshops from these innovators as we explored secondary patterning,  repeating seam lines but not shading. What happened when you alternated darks and lights? Shaded the lightest blocks in the center and darkest around the edges? Fragmented blocks into borders?

Goose Junction by Kimberly Sandberg

Today: The Block rules in isolation as you can see from this currently fashionable quilts patterned in the same issue.

Another by Denniele Bohannon. Pinafores & High Tea.

Bonnie Leman, editor at Quilters Newsletter Magazine, 1982
with an interconnected two-block star quilt by Judy Martin, Daisy Chain
Hard to find the star.

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Ethnicity & Quilt Style 2

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Woman and a string quilt variation, about 1910.

Yesterday I posted four string quilts from the Michigan project with the question: Can you tell the maker's ancestry by her style? Are the collectors correct in thinking ethnicity is obvious or is Cuesta Benberry's view (Essentially: NO WAY!)  more accurate?

(1) String quilt made in Holland, Michigan in 1982 by
Josie Lewis Shagonoby (1896-1989) 
Josie's niece said she was of Ottawa Potawatomie Native American heritage and that the fabrics were old clothes.

(2) String quilt made in Marshall, Michigan, probably about 1950 by
Lydia Short Easterly (1870-1960) & daughter Dora Easterly Freed (1890-1987)

Lydia's granddaughter described her ethnic background as Dutch and English and recalled the fabric as family clothing scraps. "Very little material was wasted, and based on the stories; neighbors and relatives often traded fabric."

(3) String quilt made in Idlewild, Michigan, 1986
by Viney Green Crawford (1912-) 

The Michigan project interviewed the quiltmaker for their exhibit and book African American Quiltmaking in Michigan. Viney said she didn't "use store-bought patterns, but instead makes them up as she goes along, putting scraps together in a way that makes a pleasing design. 'I don't make really fancy quilts, just something put together.' "

Viney Green Crawford



(4) Quilt made in Gaastra, Michigan, 1981 by 
Ruth Fuleihan Buntrock (1927- ) signed "Grandma, September, 1981."

Ruth's granddaughter (the quilt was a 3rd birthday gift) described her as of Syrian/German heritage (The family was actually from Syria but their home had become part of Lebanon). She remembered the fabrics as "Pieces of material taken from recognizable clothes or remnants of materials from which clothes were made."
http://www.quiltindex.org/fulldisplay.php?kid=1E-3D-226


"Attributed to an unknown African American quilter...early 1900s."
Perhaps a better caption would be
"String quilt, unknown quiltmaker, early 1900s"


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Ethnicity and Quilt Style 1

Wednesday, February 12, 2020


Girls and a string quilt about 1910
Itinerant Southern photographers often used patchwork for
backdrops when they photographed their subjects outdoors.

Quilt by unknown maker, Corrine Riley Collection
Smithsonian's African American Museum
Pieced of satins, probably cutaways from an underwear factory

We've been discussing string quilts on the QuiltHistorySouth Facebook group page. The question is: Are string quilts, pieced of small, narrow strips of irregular size, a regional Southern pattern? I think we have to conclude string quilts were made around the U.S. after 1880 or so, probably a response to all the fabric waste from the garment factories making ready-to-wear clothing.

Pennsylvania clothing factory

There were perhaps more clothing factories per capita in the South but the North was also home to manufacturers with a lot of factory cutaways. We cannot assign a place of origin to string quilts, much less the ethnic and racial origin of the quiltmaker.

So, why is the above quilt with little known about its source in a museum of African American art? Artist Corrine Riley's collection of African-American quilts went to that museum. In an interview Riley said she bought her quilts at "antique shows, county fairs, flea markets, church gatherings, and quilt shows...in the Midwest and American South." As any of us who do the same thing realize you get precious few facts about the origins of the quiltmaker at most of those venues. 


Quilt by an unknown maker, Johnson County, Indiana
Eli Leon Collection

Have Riley and other collectors of "African-American Quilts" overgeneralized about the quiltmakers? Eli Leon bought many of his quilts directly from the African-American quiltmaker but he also "haunted flea markets and yard sales around the East Bay and beyond, looking for what he calls 'standard traditional' pieces."

For many years Cuesta Benberry argued with Leon that one could not tell an unknown quiltmaker's race by the quilt's style. As both are gone I can continue Cuesta's argument. How can we prove his statement is true or false? Perhaps a somewhat controlled study of just a few examples. I picked string quilts documented in the Michigan project, mainly because they kept good records about the maker's stated ethnic origins, published it in their Quilt Index files and documented quilts made in the recent past brought in by children and grandchildren of the makers who were quite familiar with the quilts' origins. 

Here are four string quilts from the Michigan project. Can you tell the maker's ancestry by her style? Are the collectors correct or is Cuesta' view more accurate?

(1) String quilt made in Holland, Michigan in 1982

(2) String quilt made in Marshall, Michigan, probably about 1950

(3) String quilt made in Idlewild, Michigan,  1986

(4) String Quilt made in Gaastra, Michigan, 1981
More information tomorrow.

Applique Puzzlers

Sunday, February 9, 2020

So how old is this quilt?

Classic applique, chrome orange still vibrant but the green is fading.

Dating Guidelines: 
Applique 1840-1900
Chrome orange not much help 1820-1920.
Fading green probably from a synthetic dye 1880-1930.
Combine those clues and guess 1880-1900

Wrong!

It's dated 1923 in the quilting.
Now that might be an older top quilted later but I have got a collection of photos
here that make me realize the classic applique style continued up into the 1930s.

Turkey red, chrome orange and a fading green
in a four-block set.


"From Margaret Emery, January 1925"

Chrome orange, fading green.
The quilts I've shown here all have a fancy border, something that tends 
to go out of style about 1880 (or so I thought.)

The scalloped edge is one clue to a 20th-century quilt here.

"Made by Laura Harding in 1921 for daughter Grace H Baker."

This one from my collection is not exactly classic in its free-form exuberance, but the fabrics---chrome orange, a fading red and a faded green---would lead one to think late-19th century.


Here's the date.

See 2 related posts:

 

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