Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Patchwork Book 1931

I was searching for publication dates for the patchwork block Cracker a few weeks ago.  According to BlockBase it first appeared in 1931 in The Patchwork Book.  Serendipitously my watch list on eBay had a copy of The Patchwork Book and although the freight was three times as much as the book I managed to justify the purchase.  So here it is.

The Patchwork Book was published in Chicago by the Woman's World Service Library.  It is a catalogue of patterns that can be purchased by mail as well as some social commentary on quilt making. It is sixteen large pages, all in colour.

One of the most interesting things I found in The Patchwork Book is the naming of the patchwork blocks.  Names were not yet set in stone because not many quilt books had been published; patchwork designs still showed regional variation.

Cracker is in the bottom right hand corner.  The green block above it the Peek-Hole, now more commonly known as Necktie or Bowtie.  The blocks on the left hand side have similar unusual names; Dragon's Head (Churn Dash), Aeroplane (Monkey Wrench) and Signal Design (Goose Tracks).

And while you were stitching away you could reflect on these gems of wisdom from The Patchwork Book.

In Colonial times the art of patchwork quilt making reached a high perfection in America.  As our great-grandmothers were forbidden to wear bright colors, patchwork quilts became the medium of expression for their love of them, and into their fine stitches they wove their dreams, their aspirations.

Feminine fancy for this season decrees pillows - more pillows - and still more pillows.  When the demand is so unmistakable as this feminine, nation-wide interest in pillows, we feel we just have to do our part to make this sensible interest both an artistic and a practical adventure in home-making. 

These historic pillows which we present for your consideration on this page are as much a part of American life and tradition as is the American flag - for they show the spirit and patriotism of our home-making women during the last two hundred years. 

Better go make some pillows.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Condition Not Important - Part 2

Last post I shared my latest addition to the quilt collection. I initially thought that the quilt maker had taken her patterns from Ruby McKim's 1931 book One Hundred and One Patchwork Patterns.

As I was searching in cyberspace for Ruby McKim quilts I found a few sampler quilts with Ruby McKim blocks.  Here is a lovely example from blogger Lynn at Quilts - Vintage and Antique.

 And another from Barbara Brackman Material Culture.

I always thought of these quilts as Ruby McKim samplers (with a small 's').  What I hadn't realised was they were actually Ruby McKim Samplers (with a capital 'S'). These quilts were a weekly pattern first published in the Denver Post beginning in September 1931.  All the twenty-five original patterns are thoughtfully archived on the Denver Post blog.

The original layout was blocks set on point with negative space to show off quilting. Not all of the Samplers were made this way - not everyone follows directions.

What I realised now was that I was the new owner of a Ruby McKim Sampler quilt. As we say in Australia .... I was gobsmacked * (which is good).

My quilt is twenty-four blocks instead of twenty-five; Grandmother Cross is missing.  My quilt's maker had no desire to show off her quilting skill (which is probably why it is tied). My poor worn-out orphan now has a lineage.

I promise that you will hear more about this quilt.

*gobsmacked ˈɡɒbsmakt  adjective British informal
adjective: gobsmacked; adjective: gob-smacked 
utterly astonished; astounded.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Condition Not Important (well, maybe a little ...)

I have been on the lookout for a new quilt for my collection.  I had a birthday last month, and what could be nicer than a fresh quilt to research? I started looking online about six weeks before my birthday but could not find anything that was both interesting and within budget.  I had just about given up; but with only two days to go I found a candidate. Now, I always say that condition doesn't matter because I like to reproduce a quilt rather than restore it; but I was wondering if this one was too worn out even for me.

The quilt arrived earlier this week.  The seller's description was accurate.  It is a sad orphan.

There is no batting, just top and back.  It isn't quilted, it has been tied with thick yarn which explains all the dots in the photo.  Some fabric is faded to white (bottom right had corner), some pieces are unstitched (Grandmother's fan with black, bottom row) and some material has vanished.

Here's an example.  What was it? I started with BlockBase and after some detective work I found a name - it's Corn and Beans.  There are traces of a pretty yellow print, and the fugitive green is completed bleached.

This block is in better condition but I couldn't find it in Blockbase.

I had a look in 101 Patchwork Patterns by Ruby McKim and found it straight away.

I kept looking in 101 Patchwork Patterns and found all twenty-four blocks.  I thought it would take a fair bit longer to name them all but it was nice to identify each neglected block.

The maker must have used the 101 Patchwork Patterns to choose her blocks.

                        ... or ...

                                    ... is there more to this story? ...

                                                                         ... don't miss the next installment ...

Saturday, June 16, 2018

For a Limited Time Only ....

.... my new e-book is FREE.

A five day promotion has just begun so don't delay.  If you can share this post too it will be much appreciated, sharing makes the world go around. You will find it on Amazon and it downloads to your Kindle or Kindle app.

The book is doing well so far.

And you can still be the first to leave a review!

My first e-book is still available too.  I have redone all the photos and it's looking great.

(Don't tell anyone, but I've already started the next book ...)

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Hurray! A New E-Book!

I am very excited to announce a new title in my Kindle Series (of 2).

You can find it on Amazon - Quilt Block Houses.

It's $0.99 on the US website and $1.31 in Australia.  If you want to wait two weeks there is going to be a FREE special, but you could spend a dollar now if that's too long to wait.

And, if you could, leaving a rating when you finish reading is most appreciated.  Ratings make social media run faster.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Tiles and Quilts

More inspiration from architecture.  This has to become a quilt.

This Ohio Star studded tile floor is the side entrance of the courthouse at Bairnsdale, Victoria, Australia.  The 1893 building itself is described as Federation Romanesque.

I made two blocks inspired by the tiled entrance.

And if you have read this far down the post you deserve a reward ...

I have a new e-book just about ready to release. It will be on Amazon in the next few weeks, and if you keep your eyes open, it will be FREE for a short period of time.  More to follow ....

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Banner, Oklahoma 1938

This just finished quilt top is a reproduction of my 1938 signature quilt from Banner, Oklahoma.

The top has been very enjoyable to make, lots of variety and searches for 1930s prints.  Some blocks are pieced, some appliqued and some English paper pieced.  One of my favourite blocks is the flower pot in the middle, Grandmother's Prize.

The original is marked Banner Progressive Club with a wide variety of needlework skills.  The names have been very difficult to trace, unlike other signature quilts in my collection.  I imagine that Oklahoma in the 1930s had a large transient population without generations staying on the family farm.

Banner Elementary School, about 1940

Thursday, April 19, 2018

An Octagon in Walhalla

A few weeks ago we took a day off to visit one of our favourite spots.

Walhalla, Victoria (Australia) is in the hills of Gippsland.  Gold was discovered there in 1862 and a very busy town grew in the valley for the next fifty years.  Now the town is a tourist destination with about 30 residents and a wealth of history.

The band rotunda was the performance space for the Mountaineer Brass Band.  Mining and brass bands always go together and Walhalla was no exception. The rotunda is octagonal with a high vaulted timber ceiling.  This ceiling makes for interesting acoustics.  My own brass band played in this rotunda a few years ago on a Sunday afternoon.  The shape of the ceiling meant that you could hear the person opposite you in the rotunda but you couldn't hear the players next to you.

Am I the only person who finds quilt patterns in architecture?  I don't think so!  Here is my octagon block inspired by the timber ceiling in Walhalla.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Woman and Home - April 1942

When I visit an antiques shop one of the items I look for are women's magazines pre 1960.  If they are wrapped then the only thing to go on is the front cover.  Sometimes a purchase is a bit lacking in historical information, but I hit the jackpot with this copy of Woman and Home.

Woman and Home was an English magazine and this copy is from April 1942. Every advertisement and article reminds the reader that food rationing and clothing coupons are top priorities when managing the household budget. 

Sewing features are making over current clothes for children and growing girls, and patterns designed for economic use of long-lasting material.

When you think of food rationing you automatically think of the poor consumer.  But what about the manufacturing company that still wants to have a strong customer base when the war is over?  The marketing ploys are remarkable.

"When you do get Pond's Creams, you will, naturally, try to use them as sparingly as possible."

"Any way, we can thank the war for giving us the crispbread habit."

"Madam, our plant works seven days a week at full capacity. And so we plead for patience."
"Until Stork Margarine is again available, let the Stork Margarine Cookery Service solve your wartime cooking problems."

The stand out advertisement for me was near the back of the magazine.  I have been looking for this product but this is the first time I have found it advertised.  Here is the rather cryptic ad copy.

"The married woman who undertakes wartime service must be free 
to continue her duties without a break.  Gynomin Antispetic Tablets". 

Have you figured it out?  When you bought Gynomin at the pharmacy you could also get a plain wrapped booklet on Planned Parenthood.  Before the Pill household disinfectants were promoted as contraceptives. They didn't actually work (but that didn't stop the marketing.)

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Handsome Quilt - Unusually Easy

This block was a free gift.

It was enclosed with some other blocks that I had purchased from an online seller.  It is a 1930s applique pattern.  The house is made of a single piece of material that is attached to the backing with buttonhole stitch. The 'trees' are buttonholed and the house details are added with embroidery.

This style of house block was popular in the 1930s.  I found a newspaper pattern from November 1937 for a similar pattern.  According to Barbara Brackman it is a Laura Wheeler design #726 called Enchanted Cottage.

Handsome Quilt - Unusually Easy

Pattern 6384

Quiltmaking is always fascinating - but think of the fun to be had when it's an Enchanted Cottage that decorates your block.  Use up your gayest scraps for the simple patch that forms the house.  Do the shrubbery in a plain material for effective contrast.  Finish with a bit of outline stitch.  Pattern 6384 contains the Block Chart; carefully drawn pattern pieces; color schemes; directions for making the quilt; yardage chart; illustration of quilt.

The newspaper is The Land, a rural newspaper published in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.  The Australian newspapers used the American quilt patterns that were so popular in the 1930s.  The Aussie newspapers seem to have a quilt pattern as an occasional feature rather than a syndicated column.  (The exception is the Adelaide Chronicle competitions which is a whole other blog post.)

And just to prove that the pattern is from an Australia newspaper, here is the advertisement in the adjoining column.

"I was the best-fed crow in the state!" 

I was so glossy, fat and sleek ... I used to look and feed like an alderman ... and look at me now.  There was a tuck-in for us boys after every meal up at the Homestead ... and now they're got one of those darned Kerosene Operated Electrolux Refrigerators ... nary a scrap come out to us.  I haven't seen a bit of mutton around this place for weeks ... they're living on beef ... and pork ... and all the good things that city folks enjoy.  Since they got that Electrolux they're living like turkey cocks ... and the money saved on tucker which used to be thrown to the crows, more than pays for running the darn thing.  That's alright, but WHAT ABOUT US POOR CROWS?

Saturday, February 17, 2018

A House Block from France ... or Japan

I made another house block yesterday.  It has a bit of a back story which I'd like to share with you.

The last time I was in France I bought a quilt magazine.

Actually, it was the only time I have been to France.  My one and only trip to Europe was in 2011 and I chose to spend two days in Dijon.  Dijon is a beautiful city with cathedrals and ancient buildings, free museums and centuries of history.  My high school French was border-line adequate to buy some souvenirs and order meals.  I spent the first day walking the heritage tour called the Owl's Trail.  The English guide book says it takes about 1.5 hour; it took me eight hours and 120 photos.


As I was traveling on my own I decided to stay in my seedy hotel room after dark.  The only English language television channel was CNN and the evening's program was 'This Week in Uzbekistan.'  I got settled with some Farmer's Wife blocks to hand piece and opened the quilt magazine.

I had purchased a copy of Quiltmania, the wonderful European magazine.  I assumed that although the text was in French, the pictures would assist in any projects that might appeal.  And I found a lovely quilt project called 'Ryokan'.  Beautiful traditional house blocks, with a patchwork block as one of the house walls.  Ryokan appeared to be some sort of Japanese buildings ... or maybe vegetables. (les peties auberges japonaises = little Japanese eggplants?)

Never mind, plenty of diagrams for each different block, should be easy to make when I returned home. Well, lots of diagrams but not quite enough diagrams.  Eventually I got it sorted.

2eme Partie = Part 2

All I had was the second part of a Japanese pattern. Written in French.

A year later in Melbourne I was enjoying a quilt study day at Quilts in the Barn.  I had been invited by Linda Collins and Bev Bannard to bring my Chester Criswell Quilt to Linda’s home in Wonga Park to share the quilt and speak about my blog and block of the month project.  I had just begun telling the story of my great-great-grandmother’s signature quilt and it was pretty exciting to speak to a group of fellow enthusiasts who all wanted to know, What Comes Next?

During the course of the afternoon I told my sad story of my French Part 2 pattern.  Linda disappeared for a moment and then returned to present me with a copy of Quiltmania issue No.85 - which has Part 1, written in English!  Bonus in this issue was a feature on Australian quilters - which included Linda Collins’ own home and magnificent quilt collection.

Six years later and I still haven’t made the Ryokan quilt.  I have made one block, so at this rate I should be finished about 2090.