Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Churn Dash by Any Other Name

Everyone loves a Churn Dash.  It's been around forever - mid 1800s - it's simple to piece and it's good design.  A popular block that has been used for over century collects a catalogue of names; Barbara Brackman lists the following:

Broken Plate
Double Monkey Wrench
Double T
Fisherman's Reel
Hens and Chickens
Hole in the Barn Door
Indian Hammer
Joan's Doll Quilt
Lincoln's Platform
Love Knot
Ludlow's Favorite
Monkey Wrench
Old Mill Design
Picture Frame
Puss in the Corner
Quail's Nest
Sheman's March
Shoo Fly
Colonial Design

There are two Churn Dash blocks in the Malaga Quilt.  

Maggie Shaw

Lorena Ray

Maggie's block is an equal nine patch. Lorena's block has a small center block so the nine patches are uneven.  Both variations appear in old and new quilts. Maggie's is easy to make as a finished 6 inch or 9 inch block; Lorena's comes out as a 10 inch if the center is two inches.

These blocks are all antique. The middle one in the top row has a piece of paper attached that says George Kennedy; George never did get his name written on his block.

I also found this collection.  There aren't antique because I made them, but they have been on the shelf for so long they are close to vintage.

According to other bloggers, this block is called Churn Dash because "its name is a result of the resemblance of the triangle and rectangle perimeter of the block to a butter churn and the center square to the stick or dash of the butter churn."  

I don't see it myself.  Google "butter churn dashers" and select images - if you find one that looks like the quilt block I'd love to know.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Maggie Shaw and the Modern Singer Way

Maggie Griffin was the second eldest of nine children and her father died when Maggie was thirteen.  Maggie married Benjamin Shaw and had five children of her own.  The births of Maggie's children were spread over nineteen years; when Maggie made this quilt block her eldest daughter Mabel was celebrating her first wedding anniversary and her youngest daughter Agnes was just three years old.

Maggie Shaw, like the other women in Malaga, would have spent much of her time at home on the sewing machine.  Singer Sewing machines were at the top end of the market but faced fierce competition from the 'home brands' of the mail order companies like Montgomery Wards and Sears.  The majority of sewing machines manufactured in the 1920s were treadle or hand crank models but electric motors could be added later.

Maggie may have had the little book "How to Make Children's Clothes the Modern Singer Way" (1930 edition, 25 cents).  If she did she would have pondered on the following "practical instruction and valuable suggestions ready for instant use."

“This book is designed to make sewing for children easy, to make the work interesting, and to encourage those who sew for children to appreciate the importance of correct and becoming attire, thus helping in a silent way to build a foundation of good taste and a sense of fitness for the child that will later prove an asset, economically and socially.

“Authorities disagree on the quantity of garments necessary for a baby’s layette, but all agree that beautiful cleanness is absolutely necessary.  Therefore it is better to have plainer and less expensive garments, but to have enough to make immaculateness certain.

“There are a few times in the year when a new dress seems a necessity.  The first day of school is one.  Children bounce off to school with alacrity when their clothes are new and in keeping with the occasion.  Mothers too are filled with satisfaction and pride in knowing that their little folks are correctly attired.

“Play clothes should be provided so that the school clothes may be taken off and kept in good condition.  Mothers can protect themselves and their children by making a plan and interesting their children in adhering to it; that is, to have certain outfits for school and others for play, that they may always be dressed correctly for both.

“Plaited (pleated) skirts, which have been popular for a quarter of a century for school girls, will undoubtedly continue so for a very long period of time, because plaited skirts seem to be absolutely in keeping with the jauntiness that is associated with a girl of school age.

“Party dresses are never in good taste in the classroom.  In this age of democracy no girl desires to show by her clothes that she is in a better financial condition than her schoolmates.  That in itself is considered bad taste.

"If you would know the full enjoyment of making lovely curtains and draperies for you home, as well as clothes for yourself and the children, make them on a Singer Electric.  It will be a surprising new experience.  Both hands are free, both feet at ease.  Merely press the speed control, gently or firmly, and sew at any speed.  Perfect, even stitching flows like magic.  There is no thought of effort on your part, for hidden power is doing all the work.  And in a short time your machine will have paid for itself through the many economies of home sewing."