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.

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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.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Photos of Sarah's Laurel Block

Sarah Stubbs' Block was Number 25 in the Chester Criswell Quilt.

The laurel wreath was used with signatures in a number of the quilt blocks.

Ellen Cummins and Humphrey Hood

Did Ellen and Humphrey live happily ever after?  You will find out in Block 26....

According to Wikipedia, the laurel wreath was a symbol of victory, a sign of graduation and is a common motif in architecture, furniture, and textiles.

Grave goods portrait, Romano-Egyptian, 100-110 CE

Escola Eliseu Maciel, Centro, Pelotas, Brasil

You can add your own laurels here.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Quilts in the Barn 2014

Earlier this month I visited Quilts in the Barn at Wonga Park.  QITB is one of my favourite events.  The quilts are spectacular, of course, but I also love the way you can start up a conversation with the person next to you and the talk just flows - there is a lovely sense of community in the Barn.

This year's theme was Inspired by Antique Quilts. 

This quilt is Mrs. Billings' Coverlet, it is on my to do list but I don't have the collection of fabrics for it.  Yet.

I liked this one, the blocks are a collection from a number of different patterns.  Good for those of us that like to start new things before we finish the last project.

And of course, Dear Jane was there.  No, I really mean it, Dear Jane was there.  Brenda Papadakis was at QITB.  I wasn't able to attend any of her workshops but I did meet her on the day.  She follows this blog!! I was very excited and a little bit pleased.

Dear Jane is not on my to do list.  Please don't throw anything, the workmanship and patience of those who have made a Baby Jane is admirable, I love the finished look, but it doesn't say 'make me.'  However, what has caught my attention is the first blocks from the lucky people that did get to the workshop.  I'm itching to have a go at these lovely little blocks. Brenda might be right, everyone comes to Jane in the end. :)

Sew Many Quilts, So Little Time

Wheels on the Warrandyte Bus

Quilts in the Barn

Quilts in the Barn is a fund raiser for breast cancer research and over $16,000 was raised on the weekend.  Thanks you to Linda and her wonderful team, I can't wait until next year so we can visit again.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

CCCQ First Year Finish

I received a photo this week from Kathleen Connor in the north west hills of Connecticut.  She's a CCCQ fan and has made this quilt top from The First Year patterns.  Not only does she have a finish, two of these blocks are Kathleen's own design.

I asked Kathleen about her journey with the Chester Criswell Quilt.  She says,

"I've enjoyed every stitch I took for this quilt! The first Chester Criswell block I made was Jane Wilson's block, #1. I found that I loved doing the one piece, papercut style block with needleturn applique. Next up was Block 2 which reminded me of the traditional leaf and reel blocks found in many antique quilts. Sharon's patterns were a joy to work with, well drawn and not difficult to stitch. At that point I thought of making a 9-block quilt with the leaf and reel style blocks balancing "square-shaped" blocks like Block #1. I knew I wanted to put the circular Block 4 in the center; this is my favorite block though it's hard to choose a favorite, isn't it?
I designed two new versions of reel blocks for the quilt.  I thought I'd design an applique border for the quilt, but when the blocks were put together with the sashing, I visited a new-to-me quilt shop and found the perfect large scale paisley. I'm going to hand quilt around the edges of each applique motif. Then I might do echo quilting in the background of each block, or I'll do diagonal quilting lines across the backgrounds and sashing. I had better decide soon!
I've had a great time with this quilt, and I plan to use more Chester Criswell blocks in a future quilt."

Thank you very much Kathleen, for sharing your work.  I'm impressed with the way Kathleen's new designs blend with the old.  Every one has favourite blocks ... and not so favourite blocks.  If you don't like the block you have to make next just replace it with one of your own. 

Another CCCQ fan, Wanda at Scrap Happy aka Blended Quilter, is looking for a swap partner for Block #24.  If you're interested just hop over to her blog.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My Turn in the World Blog Hop

If you are blog hopping around the world, welcome to my blog.  My name is Sharon Barnes and I'm writing from a rural area called Longford in the state of Victoria in the land Down Under. I wasn't born in Australia, I was born in Florida and grew up in Ohio and immigrated with my parents and siblings in 1970.  My own children have left the nest long ago and my grandchildren are beginning to visit under their own steam.  By day my husband and I work in our own retail store selling electronics; by night I fondle my sewing machine and follow flights of fancy through social media.

I'm a little late for the World Blog Hop, but I've been tagged by Carole from Wheels on the Warrandyte Bus. Carole named her blog after her daily commute to work, and she put the bus travel time to good use practicing her applique.  You must check out her blog, Carole's work is amazing.  I've borrowed my favourite photo, it's Carole's Morrell quilt.  If I could make a quilt like this I would be very happy.

There are questions posed in the World Blog Hop, I've made up some answers.

What have I been working on?

When I am at home I spend much of my time in my sewing room.  All I make is quilts, nothing else.  I have turned some quilt tops into kids' quilts with a fleecy backing. I will be donating them to a local charity for Christmas presents.

I work on quite a few different projects at the same time.  I recently coped with all my UFOs (UnFinished Objects)  by packing them into boxes and starting something new.  The new project has some Ohio Stars:

I want to use these blocks in a medallion quilt, so I next made the centre block, this patten is called Flying Swallows.  Most of the fabrics are from Judie Rothermel's Peace and Unity range.  I don't have a finished picture in my mind, I hope the quilt will just grow and end up lovely.

My most important project is the Chester Criswell Quilt, now in its third year.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I have become a fan of reproduction quilts.  The Chester Criswell Quilt was made as a bridal quilt for my great-great-grandmother in 1852 and I began to trace the blocks and re-create them in the middle of 2012.  Not content with just teaching myself applique, I also taught myself pattern making skills and offered the quilt as a block of the month to other interested applique fanatics.  The quilt is a signature quilt made by family and friends of the bride Mary McClellan Criswell, so I include a story about each block maker. It has been a roller coaster ride but also tremendously fun.  I have a small collection of antique quilts from the 1800s and the 1930s and I hope that this pattern collection is the first of many.  

How does my writing/ creating process work?

I don't actually like writing.  I like the idea of writing, I like to imagine what I would write about and I like to read my finished work.  But I do not like that moment of sitting down at a blank monitor or a blank piece of paper and trying to find the opening sentence.  I set myself small goals and try to write at the same time most days.  If I use a pen and paper instead of a computer then I don't get distracted by Facebook and Pinterest.

Now tag three more bloggers to continue.

Ahh.  I contacted a few bloggers but did not get any takers.  Everyone was too busy in the real world to spend time in the virtual one.  I'm not disappointed, I'm glad that real life takes precedence over the virtual.   Thank you for your time, hope to hear from you soon.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Photos of Alice's Oak Leaf ~ CCCQ 24

A work in progress, but the end is in sight.

If you look carefully you will find next month's block.  Block 25 will be ready for the 1st October.

Alice's Oak Leaf has been a popular pattern.  When you finish, why not share your photo?  You can link up your blog post below, or send me an attachment and I'll add it to this post.

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Alice's Oak Leaf

Block 24 of the Chester Criswell Quilt is available now on the website Two Bits Patches.

CCCQ Alice Richmond

The pattern is a traditional one called Oak Leaf.  I've already had a great response, it's one of the patterns that everyone seems to enjoy.

The quilt above is in the International Quilt Study Center and Museum Collection.  It was made in New York about 1850.  I do like the sawtooth sashing and blue and white always looks good.
 IQSCM 1997.007.0711.

I have pinned a few more oak leaf block pictures you'll find them here on Pinterest.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Family Circle

Now that I have discovered Mary Criswell's older sister Agnes Smith I though I would see where her block fits in the Chester Criswell Quilt.

This is the centre of the quilt.  The large block in the centre is Andrew and Alice Criswell, Mary and Agnes's parents.  E3 is Mary Criswell's wreath which is the same as D6, Martha Lambourn's.  (The pattern is the same but not the date - Mary's is dated March 13th 1852 and Martha's is 4th Month 2nd Day 1852.  Mary was a Presbyterian and Martha a Quaker.)
Mary's sister Margaret is F4 and I'm not surprised to find that the 'new' sister Agnes is next door F5.  There are other important blocks here too.

C3   William Criswell, one of Mary's brothers (deceased)
C4   Alice McClellan, Mary's Godmother
C5   Lizzie Lambourn, Martha's younger sister
C6   J Dickey Smith,  Agnes Criswell Smith's son and Mary's nephew
E6   Martha Richmond, Alice McClellan's niece

One of the unanswered questions is as follows:

Who made the quilt?

My first assumption, now called Theory A, is that Mary's mother Alice made the quilt. There are far more relatives represented than friends on the quilt, many of them older cousins and aunts. But would Alice put herself and her husband in the middle of the bride's quilt?  It doesn't quite make sense.

Theory B:  Mary McClellan Criswell made the quilt herself, asking her family and friends to make the blocks.  She put her parents in the centre partly as a thank you and partly as a source of her own 'familyness.'  If Mary already had her dozen quilts in her glory box this could have been the thirteenth special quilt.
 (from Wikipedia - The term "hope chest" or "cedar chest" is used in the midwest or south of the United States; in the United Kingdom, the term is "bottom drawer"; while "glory box" is used by women in Australia.)

"This album's then a wreath for thee"

Theory C:  Martha Lambourn organised the quilt and the collected blocks were given to Mary as an engagement present. The verse on Martha's block suggests a gift from friends; the verse on Mary's suggests receiving such a gift. This was certainly common in the 1850s although pieced identical blocks would be more likely than the large appliques of this quilt.  But would Martha have contacted all of Mary's relatives, and why would she put Alice and Andrew in the middle?

Theory D:  All of the above, but I will never know for sure.  If we had all the answers then there would be nothing left to wonder about. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ready for the Third Year?

I've been working on this block.  Do you see green on white or white on green?

This pattern is part of Block #25 of the Chester Criswell Quilt.  That's right, there are more blocks and The Third Year is about to be launched.

The first pattern of the Third Year, Block #24, is due to be published on 1st September.  If you don't want to miss out you can pre-order now.

Do hope you can come to the Third Year party!

*** Wow - the response to the Third Year party is great - glad I don't have to post all the patterns.....