Thursday, May 14, 2015

Mother's Day and This and That

This was my Mother's Day present, a copy of The Ohio Collection by Anita Shackelford.  I have been following Nancy's progress on Tattered Garden, and I wanted a copy of the book myself. 

Some of Nancy's blocks - more at Tattered Garden Blogspot

I often choose my own presents.  I buy something online and when it arrives I give it to my husband, unopened, to be hidden until the appropriate day.  It's the best way to get just what I want.  (One of the local advertising flyers said, Surprise your Mum! with a range of perfumes.  I certainly would have been surprised with a gift of perfume...)

This was my Mother's Day present in 2013. The range was Pomegranate by Blue Hills Fabrics.  It made another appearance at our Primary Patchworker's quilt show last month.

And if you'd like to see some fabulous red and green quilts visit Collector With a Needle. Dawn has pictures from an exhibition with quilts from the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in Colorado. About halfway down the post is the Osborn Signature Quilt with autographed fleur de lis blocks.  The signatures are around the edge of the block, rather than in the middle like Rachel Dickey.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Time for some Photos

I was reminded that it's been a while since I posted links to everyone's blog photos.  I was amazed to find it's been almost six months since I asked for your photos.  So, if you've finished one of the following blocks now is a good time to share your handiwork.

Block 26 Elizabeth Cummins

Block 27 Susanna Criswell

Block 28 Mary McDowell

Block 29 Maria Criswell

Block 30 Elizabeth Crosby

Block 31 John and Martha Dickey

1. Write your blog post. Publish it on your blog.
2. Copy the link of the specific blog post. This is not just the link to your blog itself (, but the link to the specific post: (
3. Click the blue link up button below and paste your link into the box.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Godey's, Patchwork and Fashion

The Godey's Lady's Book was it and a bit for women in the 19th century.  This blog has a few posts on the famous magazine.

Patchwork doesn't get much attention in Godey's.  Patchwork was menial, like mending socks and hemming sheets.  The following entry is typical - one picture with no description.

Fashion, of course, was another matter.  The fashion plates and the current fashion news from the big cities was a feature of the magazine.  I do love these over the top drawings and was pondering about a blog of Godey's fashion plates or printing a set of postcards.  I ran the idea past my editorial staff.  They (daughters and sister) suggested I would need to add some captions to the pictures and offered a few suggestions.

Emily wondered if anyone would notice the excess baggage hidden under her skirt.

Emily hoped that by wearing all her clothes to the weight watchers weigh in they won't notice the extraordinary number of Easter eggs that she had consumed over the weekend.

If I don't move my husband will never find where I've hidden my fabric stash.

After 5 hours ironing her outfit Emily was too scared to move in case her skirt creased.

Emily hoped no-one would notice her clunky orthopedic shoes at the school sports day.

What do you think?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Appealing Yet Absurd

I have been looking for information on the traditional House or Schoolhouse block.

House Block  from Malaga 1937

The house block appeared in quilts at the end of the 19th century.  It was firstly called Log Cabin, then Old Kentucky Home, Old Folks at Home or Lincoln’s Log Cabin.

I discovered that it was first called Little Red Schoolhouse in 1929 by Ruth Finley in “Old Patchwork Quilts and the Women Who Made Them.” I went to my bookshelf to see if Finley had any more information on the pattern. 

I discovered that Finley wasn’t a big fan of this block.  In her opinion the pattern was “appealing yet absurd”.  She dates it as a “new” pattern, i.e. appearing after 1870.
Finley mourned the demise of quality needlework due in part to the Victorian era.

“… no well-known pattern was evolved after 1880…. As a universal medium of feminine expression, quilt-making ceased to exist.  It vanished in the general night, as it were, of hideousness.”  page 196-197

My House blocks - "appealing yet absurd"

I wonder what Ruth Finley thought of Sunbonnet Sue?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Sojourn in New South Wales

I have been on holidays. We spent some time on the south coast of New South Wales, one of our favourite locations.  Apart from the delights of sunshine, beaches and no cooking, I found I few nice surprises along the way. 

Mogo, NSW is the new home of Rosemount The Patchwork Shop.  They used to be located in Canberra.  Downstairs is lots and lots of fabric and upstairs is a collection of antique sewing machines.

This Singer 319K attracted my attention.  It has levers on the top for stitch selection.

We spent a day driving up the mountain to Braidwood. Braidwood is a historic town that grew during the mid 1800s gold rush and many of the buildings are still in the main street.  The Hanging of the Quilts takes place in Braidwood each year, November 2015 will be the 21st time this event has been organised.

 This is the famous Braidwood Quilt Shop.  Its website says it has the largest collection of theme and novelty prints available in Australia.  I believe them.  The shop is full.  Very, very full.

I found a signature quilt in Braidwood too.  This is hanging in  St. Bede's Catholic Church with a lovely mix of contributions from families and church groups.

You can tell a quilter on holidays - we take the most interesting photos.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

On Your Mark, Get Set, ....

Mary McDowell's block was January's Block.

CCCQ Block 28 Mary McDowell

Now January is nearly finished and February is the day after tomorrow.  Block 29 is in the gates and ready to sprint through the ether to lucky computers.

I have been thinking about projects for 2015.  I could finish UFOs but that seems too boring.  The last block for the Chester Criswell Quilt will be released in June so this project will be complete (apart from quilting...) I have spent three years in the 1850s and am ready for a new decade. I am working on a special something, I don't want to give too much away, but I will leave you with some clues.  Ready?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Digging for Gold - Looking for Those Signature Quilts

This blog has been a little quiet because I have been searching for stories to use on my Remember Me signature quilt digest.  Oh, and there was Christmas and New Year and visitors and grandchildren and all sorts of good things too.

I found a story about a set of old blocks discovered in a flea market.  The blocks were dated 1863 and made during the American Civil War.  The blocks were traced to their original home, and were returned to the local historical society.  Believe it or not, one of the names on the blocks was the great-grandmother of the person who received them into the collection!  You can read the whole good news story at Cape News.

I found the webpage of the Illinois Quilt History group.  They have an index of stories about quilts, archived newspaper articles and links to all sorts of interesting places. There is a detailed article about researching one of the quilts in their collection, the 1933-1935 Schuyler County Signature Quilt.

1933-1935 Schuyler County Illinois Album Signature Quilt

I also found pictures of the infamous "The Sun Sets on Sunbonnet Sue".  Made in 1979 it is a tongue-in-cheek depiction of poor Sunbonnet Sue's demise in a variety of incidents.  But it was also a statement about women who quilt - we are not all Grandmothers and Old Maids and faceless women doing nothing.  This quilt and others are referenced at "In the Shadow of the Quilt: Political Messaging in Quilts" at the Quilt Index.  The article includes a signature quilt that I'm hesitant to list - a 1926 fund-raising quilt for the KKK.

I am on the lookout for more gems of quilts.  If you have a favourite signature quilt in your local museum, or have discovered a great website, or if you have a quilt or some blocks in your own collection that you would be willing to share I am always ready to hear from you.

Have you signed up for the Remember Me When This You See email digest?  It's not a dated newsletter, when you sign up you receive the first email the next day and the second email a week later so you never miss out on the 'news'. It's easy to begin, just jump to Two Bits Patches and fill in the blanks.  Enjoy!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

A New Sewing Machine for Christmas?

Did you get a new sewing machine for Christmas?  If you didn't, why not check out the latest sewing machine from 1854?

It's so handy - it will with ease sew a yard per minute, and you can drive it by hand, foot, or steam-engine. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Block 27 and an Invitation

What did we do before the internet?  I had no internet at home this weekend and I was at a bit of a loss. Couldn't post on the blog, couldn't check what the grandkids were up to and couldn't print out my next basket block pattern for my patchwork group's challenge.  And it was pouring rain all weekend so the gardening had to wait.

Block 27 of the Chester Criswell Quilt is on the website now.  It is a little unusual, I've called it a Floral Medley. 

I find all signature quilts fascinating, not just the 1850s ones. I've added another 1944 friendship quilt to my collection so now I have about four... or five....or many six or so....  I have also started an email digest to share my research and links to museums and collections with signature quilts.  If you would like to receive an email each week that explores these quilts just fill in the blanks.  You will then get an email to confirm, if you don't see it just check your spam folder.

Remember Me ~ A Short History of Signature Quilts

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

CCCQ Block 26 Elizabeth Cummins

Block 26 of the Chester Criswell Quilt.

The original block says
John Cummins
Elizabeth Cummins
West Philadelphia

The other block in the quilt associated with this one says

Ellen Cummins
West Philadelphia
Humphrey Hood
West Philadelphia

The Cummins family don't appear to be related to the Criswell family.  I have found John Cummins and Ellen Cummins in members' rolls of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia.  You know the Methodist Episcopalians, they are the ones that make those fabulous missionary quilts.

Back to Philadelphia.  To research the Cummins I made the assumptions that Ellen Cummins was a school friend of Mary Criswell; John and Elizabeth were Ellen's parents; and Humphrey Hood was Ellen's fiance.

I searched online for references to Humphrey and Ellen Hood.  I couldn't find anything, Humphrey Hood appeared regularly but with the wrong wife.  I eventually searched for Ellen Cummins on her own and made a discovery.  In the 1860 census, eight years after the names on the quilt, Ellen Cummins was still single and was a member of the Dickey household in Chester County.  You may remember Rachel Dickey from Block 10 who moved from her brother's home to Philadelphia to gain her medical degree.  In 1860 Rachel was almost a doctor and Ellen appears to have taken over Rachel's duties in Dickey household.

Humphrey H Hood

What happened to Humphrey Hood who shared Ellen's block?  He became a doctor too and returned to his home state of Illinois with his sister as his housekeeper.  Humphrey served as a surgeon in the Civil War and later married, was widowed and married again.  His descendants are keen on genealogy and Humphrey Hood is easy to find online, but no one mentions Ellen Cummins from West Philadelphia.

If you have made Elizabeth Cummin's block we'd love to see it.

1. Write your blog post. Publish it on your blog.
2. Copy the link of the specific blog post. This is not just the link to your blog itself (, but the link to the specific post: (
3. Click the blue link up button below and paste your link into the box.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Red and White Fundraiser or Two

This is my red and white fundraising quilt.  These signatures quilt were popular in the second half of the 19th century. 

To get your name embroidered on the quilt each person would pay 10 cents and the finished quilt would be raffled to make further funds.  This type of quilt was used to support the temperance movement, the abolition of slavery and for both sides in the American Civil War.  Later on the Red Cross groups around the world would raise funds during World War I by making a quilt, and church groups would continue the practice between the wars.

I bought this quilt online.  It had no provenance, I bought it from a dealer in Pennsylvania but had no date and no location.  There are over 400 names on the quilt so I started putting a few into  I found that the common element for many names was the Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in Allentown, Western Pennsylvania.  I had the place, now I needed a date.  Using again I searched for the women on the quilt, checked whether their surname was a maiden name or married name, then looked for the date on their marriage certificate.  The names were put on the quilt between 1934 and 1937.

I take this quilt along when I am giving a presentation on signature quilts.  I was showing it to a group of Country Women's Association ladies a few months ago.  One woman said quite matter-of-factly, our museum had one just like it.

If we had been in the USA this comment would not have created any interest.  I am sure that most American historical museums have one or two or more quilts in their collection.  But historic quilts in Australia are scarce as hen's teeth and I had to find out more.  I interrupted my presentation to ask when the opening hours were for the museum and I paid a visit the following week.

Without a doubt, a red and white signature quilt.  The quilt was a 1918 fund raiser for the Stratford (Victoria) Methodist Church.  The quilt was covered by a plastic sheet which created some issues for my flash.  A number of women with differing levels of proficiency did the embroidery.

The quilt was found in 1999 in a shed in Seaspray, a little town about 40 kilometres from Stratford.  It was returned to the Stratford Historical Museum .... which happens to be in the old Methodist Church.  Happy Ending!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sampler Quilts

I was visiting Pinterest and typed in" friendship", "quilt" and "antique" (as you do).  Scrolling down the page I came across these two quilts, no information supplied.

Both quilts have similar blocks, for example the school house in the middle.  One of them I really like and the other ... well, it's just not what I look for in a sampler quilt.  I wonder if you feel the same.  Before you see my answer, look and them both and decide which one is your favourite.

 Now you can scroll down.

Quilt Number 1

Quilt Number 2

For me, Quilt Number 1 is the winner.  Quilt 2 is definitely made out of square blocks while in Quilt 1 the blocks appear to float, the edges aren't well defined because the light background fabric flows from one block to the next.

Quilt 1 looks a bit like my Ohio quilt I shared in July's post.

In fact, it looks a little like the CCCQ.

Hmm, I can see a theme here.

I was very pleased to see the new post on Barbara Brackman's Material Culture blog, it's all about sampler quilts too.  Her blog is always worth a look.