Thursday, January 28, 2016

Three Hundred

What a surprise to see that my last post was number 299!  That meant my next post (this one) would be Three Hundred.  It's hard to believe I've had that much to say about quilting from my little corner of the world.  And what pressure!  This post has to be something just a little more significant than a project update.

So I'd like to share a marking tip for dark fabrics that I was recently reminded of, and started using.

Mom's little box of soap slivers, lower right.

Yep, that simple old, nearly used up, last little silver of bar soap.

While going through my mother's drawers of sewing notions and supplies I came across a little box filled with little slivers of bar soap.  Memories flooded over me, seeing her use a simple, and basically free, little piece of soap to mark darts and button holes on dark fabrics.

Her mother, and grandmother were both excellent seamstresses, and I would not be surprised that this tip is generations old.

Marking Allietare blacks
I was just about to start marking the diagonals on the black squares for Allietare, and put two-and-two together.  Works like a charm! It makes a much crisper line than chalk, and doesn't keep breaking like my white marking pencils.

It works to mark my quilting lines on this dark burgundy sashing too.  And it's going to wash out, 100%  every time.  It's soap!  The firmer brands like Fels Naptha will get a sharper edge than brands with lotions in them.  So, the perfect marking tool for dark fabrics might already be in your laundry room!

Marking sashings for Cabin in the Woods.
Thanks for coming along with me to Quilt Awhile.  Your encouragement and comments keep me going when the quilting gets tough.  It's so great to have you as friends!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Mingei Museum finale

Let's complete our tour of the Mingei International Museum in San Diego, shall we?  We've seen the red and white quilts on the first floor, and some of the quilts from around the United States.  Here are the rest....

Signature Quilt  Top-  Ethel Shepard
1934, Macon, Georgia
This red and white quilt is truly a Signature quilt top to me!  255 names written in ink and hand embroidered in a running stitch.  Quilts like this always make me ask the question, "How were these people connected?"  This quilt surely has a story to tell.  Names of people and towns, not all in Georgia.  A few, sadly, have a date of death also recorded.

I looked up a few names on Ancestry.  Some could not be found easily, but of the couple that I could quickly identify, they seem to have been born about the same year, 1911-1912.  Doing a little math, and noting that a number of the women have both maiden name and a married name on their block, I wonder if this was made for a 5-year High School Reunion.

I hope the Mingei Museum has had the staff and time to find out the story of this quilt.  There wasn't room for elaboration in their display, but there is so much information on this quilt.  Such a treasure that Ethel Shepard has made!

String Quilt Top - String Triangles
Early 20th century, Kentucky
Oh, this one looks fun!  String pieced triangles set alternately with a single double-pink from Kentucky. This is also unquilted.

Wall Hanging - Frances Osceola
The next quilt is a wall hanging from Florida.  It features a distinctive regional style of quilting known as Seminole Quilting.  Modern quilting techniques were used in this 1990's piece.

This sampler shows (from top to bottom) Rain, Man-on-Horseback, Broken Arrow, Bones, Sacred Cross, Fire and Lightning.  This may have been made quilt-as-you-go because there are no visible quilting stitches on the wall hanging front.  Perhaps this was paper pieced, to get such crisp edges.

Here's a wonderful basket quilt from Missouri.  What an unusual setting!  Can you see the center medallion of baskets is off-center by one row?  I think the colors in this are delicious, and I've long had a soft spot for basket quilts.   There is beautiful quilting too.  Feathers around each basket handle, and closely spaced parallel lines between.
Quilt - 1840's, Philadelphia, Missouri
Signature Quilt - Elizabeth Dorks Nettles (1865-1944)
1891 - Illinois
Oh my!  Look at the teensy, tiny triangle pieces in this Tree of Life quilt from Illinois!  We're talking small here.  And really detailed quilted feather wreaths in the alternate blocks.  This may look scrappy, but I think it was really very well planned.  Only four fabrics (tan, pink, yellow, dark green with white pinstripe) and muslin.  Each tree appears to have the same color placement of triangles.

Our next quilt is an Amish Quilt from Kalona, Iowa, were there is a Quilt & Textile Museum located in the Kalona Historical Village Welcome Center. That may be an interesting place to visit someday!

Don't you love the polka-dot look that appears in this 'bow tie variation?'

Amish Bow Tie Variation Quilt
1920's, Kalona, Iowa
Here is another Amish quilt - a crib quilt from Kansas.  It is quilted with a cable and leaf design.  It has a real optical illusion kind of look to me.
Amish Crib Quilt c. 1935, Hutchison, Kansas

Let's head to Indiana and a Fan Quilt made from various fabrics, including twill and velveteen.  Don't you love how the black background makes the fan colors Pop?  And it's an interesting setting too, alternating directions rather than having all the fans face the same way.  Love the motion it gives.  Herringbone embroidery using all the same color along the tops and bottoms arcs of the fans gives a unifying element.
Fans Quilt c. 1940, LaGrange County, Indiana
Indiana State Museum collection
Finally, we come to our last quilt.  And it's stunning!  From Hawaii comes a Pineapple Quilt.  This amazing regional style of applique quilt, using only one color and white background, never fails to be a show-stopper.  There's a bit of glare on this one, as it was one protected behind a glass case.

  The art of Quilting was brought to the Hawaiian Islands with missionary women in the 1820's.  The distinctive style that developed focused on the applique of local flowers and plants in a kaleidoscope of pattern.

Pineapple Quilt  20th Century Hawaii
What an enjoyable tour of American Quilting this has been.  Quilts aren't just pieced blocks sewn together.  I had forgotten how many distinctive styles of quilting have developed, each a complement to the other, and each a unique work of art.  

Thanks for joining me at the Mingei Museum on our trip to San Diego, CA.

Until next time - hope you have a chance to Quilt Awhile.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

More Mingei Museum quilts

So glad you could join me again as we tour the quilts recently on display at the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park, San Diego, CA. Let's head up to the second floor!
Charm Quilt - Thousand Pyramids 1880s

Up here we find on display wonderful folk art items from each of the 50 states.  The first quilt is this amazing scrap quilt from Connecticut.  See how the top and bottom rows are done with just muslin and grey print to make a border, while the rest is a delightful scrappy mix?

Our next quilt is from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  This signature quilt has the names of members of the Bean family embroidered on each block in a lovely cross-stitch.  So different from the usual running stitch embroidered signatures that one usually sees on a quilt.

The colors are unusually vibrant for a quilt of this age and it is in excellent condition.  It is also unusually loosely quilted for a quilt dated 1858.  I would have guessed 1970's at first glance.

Signature Quilt - Bean Family 1858

Album Quilt - Mrs. Stephen MacDonald (Sarah Jane Trigg)
1850, Ellicott City, Maryland
Maryland Historical Society Collection
Here is a wonderful Baltimore Album quilt from Maryland. I am constantly amazed at this style of quilt.  The detailed applique truly is a work of art, and something I never would have the patience to attempt.  

Which block is your favorite?  The eagle in the second row, the wreath of grapes in the top row, or the floral basket next to it are three of my favorites.

A little farther along we find this Hexagon Star quilt from Virginia.  Tightly quilted in diagonal parallel lines, this quilt is scrappy and fun.  It's called a charm quilt, which indicates no two fabrics in the hexagons are alike.  I didn't check to see if that was true, but I found one red hexagon that was a 'make do,' with a little seaming to add a bit more of a different fabric to make it fit.  Our quilting sisters didn't hesitate to make little fixes like that, and they didn't hide them in the corners either!

Hexagon Stars Charm Quilt 1880s
Nearby, from West Virginia, is this sweet 1920's quilt made from a published pattern.  I love the log cabin center medallion and the fence post borders.  Such soft colors!  It is densely quilted with cross-hatching and scallops.  Another puzzle for me, as this one is also labeled as a signature quilt.  I'm so used to that meaning a quilt with multiple names on it, but clearly that is not the case here.
Signature Quilt - Cora Teets 1920's - 1030's
West Virginia

Housetop Quilt 1920's
Gees Bend, Alabama
Oh my!  Here's a quilt from Gee's Bend, Alabama! This distinctive quilting style, which began on a cotton plantation owned by Joseph Gee, and attained international attention about 10 years ago, mixes bold colors, asymmetry and improvisation.  A uniquely African American art.  

This quilt is a bit more subdued in color than many others of it's style.  What do you think the "A" in the center is for?  Alabama?  

Here's another in a similar style.  This one is called the Hired Man's Quilt and was made in Louisiana by an African American quilt maker. Very densely quilted, this quilt has a pleasing mixture of solids and scraps in soft, worn colors.  Looking at the photo, I see something I did not see in the museum.  The initials B. K. might be seen amid the plaids.
Hired Man's Quilt  c. 1925 Louisiana
One more quilt in this group, and it's very unusual.  It's made from Socks!  Yes, stocking tops.  The W.B. Davis Hosiery Factory in Fort Payne, Alabama made socks.  The 'tops' were made separately from the 'feet' and were sold by the pound.  Ida Jones, the maker of this quilt, acquired the tops from her sister-in-law who worked at the factory.  The backing was acquired from the Agricultural Extension office as part of a New Deal program to aid farm women. Ida made two sock top quilts.  The other one is in the Smithsonian Institution.  High praise indeed, Ida! The knit fabrics must have been tough to work with but I imagine it is one soft, cuddly quilt. The sock tops are hand quilted in an overall basket-weave.

Sock Top Quilt, Ida Jones
Fyffe, Alabama 1934
Alabama Department of Archives and History
That's all for now.  One more museum post to come next week.  Thanks for joining me!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A trip to the Mingei

We made a quick trip to San Diego this past weekend to see family and say 'good-bye' to my dearly loved Aunt Kay.  Between family events, the unusually rainy weather had us looking for some indoor activities.  The Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park was the perfect place for this quilter to spend an hour or two.

After requesting permission, I was able to take photos of many of the quilts on display and would love to share them with you.  So, lets take a walk together through the museum!
Signature quilt top with applique
Rochester, New York, 1911 

At the entry we're greeted with this beautiful applique red and white quilt.  The sign indicated it was a gift to the Mingei Museum from Pat L. Nickols in 2012.  I did not notice any signatures on the quilt, so am a bit puzzled by it's designation as a signature quilt top rather than a sampler quilt top.

Do you ever wonder what stories these tell?  What did each of these blocks represent to the quiltmaker?  Some might be easy to identify: a tulip, an oak leaf, a basket, a music lyre, snowflakes.   Several blocks have a five-pointed star.  Others are more puzzling - is that a cemetery monument in the lower left corner?

Don't you think the center medallion block opens up the quilt and helps your eye see each of the other blocks as individuals?

Child's quilt - ocean waves variation
1890's - 1920's

As we walk farther into the museum there is a room dedicated to red and white quilts, all collected by Pat L. Nickols.  Though other quilts were simply hung on the walls, this baby quilt had Plexiglas protecting it from curious hands.

We are lucky to have stopped in, because the red and white quilt display was only going to be there one more day and taken down January 10, 2016.   The book Red and White Quilts: Infinite Variety, about the popular New York exhibition of quilts in 2011, is on sale in the museum gift shop but the $60 price tag is too steep for me.

Unique quilt with Redwork Embroidery c.1900s
This beautiful redwork quilt is our next stop. Such a delightful collection of embroideries.  Farm animals, swans, beavers, kittens, dogs, birds and flowers as well as several children.  I wonder if the portrait of the girl near the center represents the quilt maker, or perhaps the recipient of the quilt?  Did she embroider her own drawings?  or copy patterns from magazines or books?
Signature quilt - drunkards path
Mary C. Downing  c. 1896

Our next quilt is Drunkard's Path.  Look at that cute prairie-point edging!  It appears that several different solid red fabrics were used to make this quilt.  Some have held up better than others, with some shredding, and others fading to various degrees.  You can see there isn't any quilting through the alternate blocks, and I wonder if this was a summer coverlet.

This quilt is also identified as a signature quilt, though I see no names on it.  Are they using the term 'signature' to mean 'significant?' or is there a quilt label on the back that has a signature? So many things yet to learn.

Finally, a quilt not made by 'Anonymous' -- though there are way too many Mary C. Downings listed in US Census records on Ancestry to figure out which one is our quilter without more information.

On to Baskets!

The next two quilts are basket quilts.  The first is called Cherry Baskets, and each has an applique handle.  How interesting that the blocks are set asymmetrically.  Two rows to the left, two rows upright and three rows to the right.  If quilts could talk, I would ask why the quilt maker decided to use that arrangement.  Today we're so trained to make our quilts symmetrical.  I'm sure I would have felt I had to put three rows upright in the center, or more likely, have all the baskets facing the same direction. No such compulsion for quilters of a century ago! This quilt is heavily quilted throughout, with echo quilting inside the basket handles and parallel lines in the alternate blocks.
Unique quilt- cherry basket variation
c. 1880-1910
Unique quilt - grape baskets
Illinois - c.1890s

The pieced Grape Baskets are also heavily quilted, with feather wreaths in the alternate blocks and feather and cross-hatching on the borders.  Don't you love the sawtooth border?

Finally we come to two pinwheel quilts.
Unique quilt top - pinwheel or flutterwheel
c. 1890-1910

Flutterwheel, an unquilted top, is actually made up of nine-patch blocks (5 pinwheels and 4 solids) put together with sashing of the same dimension and  pinwheel cornerstones.  It has so much motion and looks so crisp!

Unique quilt - pinwheel
c. 1890-1910
The last quilt in the red and white quilt room is this adorable pinwheel quilt.  Can you see that the quilt maker joined the red and white border strips first, and then added them to the quilt?  The borders are quilted in a simple cable design which gives a nice soft contrast to all the angles and points in the pattern.

Thanks for joining me on the museum tour.  Don't you just want to dig through your stash and find some red and white fabrics to play with?  Soooo tempting!

Next time we'll go upstairs and see what quilts await us there!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Starting with two

So excited to see the reveal of Bonnie Hunter's Mystery Quilt "Allietare" before we headed up north to celebrate New Year's Day!  While the men were ice fishing, I put together the first two blocks.  I LOVE how they look!  I knew I couldn't make a large quilt, but I'll be making it as large as I can.  I just shopped my stash, and whenever I run out of one of the fabrics, that's where I'll have to stop.  Since I'm using a directional fabric for my center red block, I think that my quilt will be straight-set rather than on-point.  After I get a few more blocks done I'll make that decision.  It might depend upon whether it looks too strange to have those little people walking down (or up) a 45 degree hill!

Allietare blocks in the snow.
I also discovered that I didn't pay enough attention to 'pressing issues' when I was working on these.  Thought I had read and followed directions, but half of the blocks didn't play nicely together when I joined them all together.  Time to go back and re-read.  Sometimes I can be just as bad as Hubby - not reading directions!

Not much quilting will be done here in January.  We have a busy travel month including quick visits to San Diego, CA and San Antonio, TX.  Just carry-on luggage, so no extra room for sewing projects.  I'll just have to bring a camera & sketch book and see what inspiration I can bring back to share with you.

Linking up Monday with Bonnie Hunter at Quiltville.  Stop in and see what some of those amazing quilters have made!