Friday, August 1, 2014

Star Pattern Without a Name

Or a number!

It's a common pattern, a variation on the Lone Star or Star of Bethlehem
with what we tend to call "satellite stars" in the corners and edge triangles.

Pennsylvania 1880-1910

Quilt dated 1838-9 Moore
Winterthur Museum
Here's the earliest date-inscribed example I've found

Most seem to come from the Pennsylvanians 
about 1880-1910 or so.

Stauffer family, Mannheim Pennsylvania

The North Carolina project uncovered a few.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a terrific example
they call Star of Bethlehem

The same name the  International Quilt Study Center and Museum
gives this Pennsylvania variation.

But Star of Bethlehem really just refers to the category of large stars of diamonds
(BlockBase #4005)

Example from the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Museum
at Colonial Williamsburg

How could a pattern so distinctive, so early and so common go with an unrecorded name?

My guess is that pattern names were recorded (or made up)
by designers selling quilt patterns beginning about 1880. This complex star with
stars would be hard to show as a block and hard to
draw up or kit up.

By Lydia Hall, about 1900,
 from the Wyoming project and the Quilt Index.

I can't give it a name but I can assign it a number. I'm writing #4005.5 in my copy of my Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.
Philadelphia Museum of Art
I'm lumping in all the variations with different stars and sunbursts.

Marlo Miller has been looking for a pattern name for
this quilt pictured with Grandma----
"4005.5 variation" isn't very romantic but it may have to do.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Shirting Document Print for Richmond Reds

Raleigh print in Shirting Cream

My new 19th-century reproduction Richmond Reds collection for Moda
is due for delivery mid-September, 2014

which means the precuts like Jelly Rolls and Layer Cakes should
be available soon.

There's a full-page ad for it on the first page of this months
Quilt Mania.

Several of the prints are available in a "Shirting Cream" colorway, such as
Raleigh (8304-11)

Here's the original document print for Raleigh--- a shirting with berries and sprig figure in a dark brown or black. Over the many decades the background has yellowed as cotton does with age.
We kept the aged look in some of the colorways, adding a touch of pinkish tan because the line is called Richmond Reds.

A shirting is a term for a light colored fabric with a simple, small figure.

This colorway is an echo of the very serviceable 19th-century
shirtings that were so popular for children's clothing
as in this lot from Augusta Auctions that look to be from the time of the Civil War
or earlier.

The fashion continued into the 20th century, Many of the kids in this one-room school from 1909 are wearing light prints.

Shirtings were also a necessity for scrap quilts.

All these auction quilts look to be about 1870-1920,
shirting's heyday. 

And not so scrappy quilts until 1930 or so.

See another post about vintage shirtings:

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ladies Album: Stencilled Signatures

Not all the inked signatures in Ladies' Album quilts are handwritten.
Many are stamped (perhaps the one above) or inked with a stencil
as in the two below.

Note the breaks in the lines in the letters A and S and m,
indicating a stencil rather than a stamp.

The same way the m is broken here.

Above is a wooden stamp on a larger scale for a grain bag,

a useful item in Europe when grain bags
identified the farmer or the miller's name.

Stencil plates on a small scale were popular in the mid-19th century in the U.S.
The above examples of metal stencils are from the collection of the International Quilt Study Center
and Museum.

The popularity of stencil plates was probably due to
companies that marketed "Name Stencil Outfits " to
people who were looking for a small business. One often finds
ads for name stencil kits in the ads in newspapers and ladies' magazines.

Above is some history from a 19th-century book, saying that the outfit consisted of several tools, and some metal plates with an "alphabet of dies for cutting ornamental designs." The outfits were expensive (see an ad below for someone who bought one for $23 and was willing to sell it for $7.)


Read a catalog of the S.M. Spencer company, which advised:
"There is a Universal Necessity for Stencil Work. A thousand and one articles are owned by each individual in the land which should be marked plainly with their name. Clothing, hats, bonnets, gloves, boots, umbrellas, books, cards, envelopes, writing paper, blankets, boxes, barrels, merchandise, farm tools, robes, etc., etc., etc., all may be neatly and quickly marked by means of a Stencil Plate. Every day, clothes are being lost and stolen, books and tools loaned and never returned, letters sent to the dead letter office, (etc.etc.etc.)"

Big Pay! Who could resist?

From the photos it's often hard to tell if the signature is a stencil
or a stamp.

Possibly stamps from the same designer....

Louisa Sheley

Probably stencils....

or a very neat hand.

Read about a Spencer stencil outfit owned by Princeton University here: