QUILTS & FABRIC: PAST & PRESENT

QUILTS & FABRIC: PAST & PRESENT By Quilt Historian Barbara Brackman Above: Moda's Morris Earthly Paradise

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Morris Hexathon 21: Queen Square

Morris Hexathon 21: Queen Square by Becky Brown

I named this week's hexie Queen Square for a Morris home in London's Bloomsbury neighborhood. In 1865 the young Morris family moved their residence and workshop here, combining the two in a building at 26 Queen Square.

Selvage from fabric printed at 26 Queen Square
The firm and home remained together for over a decade.

 American author Henry James visited a few years later: 
"Morris lives on the same premises as his shop, in Queen Square, Bloomsbury, an antiquated ex-fashionable region, smelling strong of the last century."
Daughter May remembered growing up there among the crafts workspaces:
"The glass painting pleased me the most of all the different things that went on there: the jewel-like colours of the glass that lay about were so attractive, and the silvery net-work of the leading."

26 Queen Square by Amédée Forestier
published in 
William Morris: His Homes & Haunts in 1909.

Walter Crane gives us an impression of Queen Square and it's distinguished tenant about 1870:
"The first time I saw William Morris was from a window in Queen Square...We were leaning out of the open window one summer's evening, chatting, and watching the people passing to and fro across the quiet stone-paved square (which always had a retired old-world and rather Continental look at the south end) when we caught sight of a sturdy figure clad in snuff-brown, striding along in a determined manner, with an oak stick in his hand and a soft felt hat on. ...We met quick, penetrating eyes set in a handsome face and a fair beard with grave and abstracted look..."

The buildings on the Morris's side of the square were knocked down, replaced by a hospital in 1885.

Morris Hexathon 21: Queen Square by Bettina Havig
24 diamonds; 6 triangles.

Block 21 by Ilyse Moore

This week's hexie block has no BlockBase number as a hexagon,
but as a square block it's #3708 Columbia Star.


Pattern for an 8" Hexagon
(4" sides)
To Print:
  • Create a word file or a new empty JPG file that is 8-1/2" x 11". 
  • Click on the image above. 
  • Right click on it and save it to your file. 
  • Print that file out 8-1/2" x 11". The hexagon should measure 4" on the sides.
  • Adjust the printed page size if necessary.
  • Add seams when you cut the fabric

A late-19th-century version found in the Rhode Island
project. Photo from the Quilt Index.

One dated 1956 by Lila Dunn, Nebraska project. Quilt Index

The Brown Collection of Amish quilts has this
ca. 1920 example.

The repeat is difficult to show. Pattern vendors tried to fit the pattern into a square but that really doesn't work well.
The Ladies Art Company published a vague pattern for The Columbia.

The Nancy Page newspaper column 
called it Building Block.

Collection Spencer Museum of Art
Carrie Hall appliqued the cubes.

The names Columbia Star and The Columbia probably refer to the 400th anniversary of Christopher
Columbus's voyage to the Americas, celebrated in 1893 with a Columbian Exposition in Chicago.


Same pattern, different shading.

An example from the 1940s or '50s, appliqued because she couldn't figure
out how to piece it into a square.

Read daughter May's memories of Queen Square at Google Books:

One Last Inspiration


Crayon Box by Jinny Beyer

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Vine Tapestry & A Label for Your Morris Quilt

Here is a free label for your quilt made with Morris Earthly Paradise prints.
Print it out on pretreated fabric


The artwork comes from a catalog that included printed and woven fabrics
from Morris and Company. It dates from about 1910.

The black and white pictures included several "hand-woven tapestries".


Vine, a woven wool, was advertised as "Designed by William Morris"
but since he had died about 15 years earlier
and the firm was fairly loose with its attributions, I am not so sure.

Block 1 from the Morris Hexathon by Becky Brown

For Morris Earthly Paradise we colored the black and white photo
into a lovely serpentine stripe print.



It comes in four colorways.

Becky # 7
Which Becky, Ilyse & Bettina have been making the most of for the Morris Hexathon

Bettina #5

Ilyse #7

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Henry Clay Quilt at the 1853 Worlds Fair

In 1853 quilts won prizes at New York's Crystal Palace Exposition. 


Miss Ellen Anderson of Louisville, Kentucky, won a bronze medal for a
"Patchwork Quilt 'Henry Clay'

 Henry Clay campaign ribbon

Ellen Anderson's quilt received a good deal of publicity. Henry Clay, a famous politician in the first half of the 19th century, had died a year earlier at the age of 75. The Kentuckian had run for president several times but never won. He was the standard-bearer of the disintegrating Whig party and considered a brilliant statesman for his ability to persuade Congress to compromise.

The New York Herald in August, 1853:
"The ladies will thank us for calling their attention to the beautiful specimens of  needlework.... Among the collection that which particularly attracted our notice was called Henry Clay Quilt, an article exquisitely beautiful and bearing upon it evidences of superior skill. This was made in Kentucky, by a niece of the great 'American Commoner.' It is about eight feet square, upon padded satin with a very heavy white silk fringe, fully twelve inches in depth.... Around the edge of the quilt, about six inches in width is a raised oak wreath, consisting of the leaves and the acorn. The body of the quilt is laid out into stars, each being different in color, and all of them presenting variegations which would be difficult to surpass. The centre of each star is decorated, some by a likeness of the illustrious Kentuckian, and others by an American eagle....the inscription 'His country's friend in the hour of danger.' In the center of the quilt is a large monument, surmounted by an urn and immediate under the urn is written ----Session 1850--and below this is [a] Latin motto..."



A 1942 photo of the quilt by Ellen Anderson, shown by descendant Mrs. George Kremer of Louisville. One can perhaps see the monument in the center, the stars as a field of patchwork surrounding it and the oakleaf border. The fringe seems to be gone.

At that point the family was well aware of the quilt's history.
" 'Star of the West,' the name of the star-shaped patchwork in which the quilt is pieced, was a synonym phrase for Henry Clay, who was called 'the brightest star of the West' in the early 1800's. Diamond-shaped pieces of brocaded satin form a six-pointed star surrounding a hexagon made of part of the Clay campaign badge of 1848. Thus Clay's portrait appears in the center of many of the stars. 'Family tradition says that Clay himself took an interest in the quilt,' says Mrs. Kremer. 'It was finished shortly after his death and won a bronze medal which was the first prize in the first American World's Fair in New York in 1853, the year Henry Clay died.' 
Not only hero worship of a great Kentuckian but family pride and affection caused Mrs. Anderson to undertake such a unique and intricate coverlet. Mrs. Anderson was the great-niece of Lucretia Hart, Henry Clay's wife. Thomas Hart, brother of Lucretia, was the quilt-maker's grandfather and the present owner's great-great-grandfather."

It's interesting that Mrs Kremer called the hexagon pattern the Star of the West.

Forty years later the quilt was photographed again when the Kentucky Quilt Project was documenting quilts. 

A family member brought it in to be photographed--- but by then it was just a fragment of a quilt.
Four photos can be seen at the Quilt Index:

The story of the triumph at the Crystal Palace and
the maker's name was lost but this is very likely the same quilt.
Stars feature eagles and portraits of Clay with an oak and acorn border.


See a post about another quilt at that Crystal Palace exposition here:

It being the political season I thought I'd look at the early-19th-century politician Henry Clay, for whom numerous quilts were made. Don't think politics were any more fun back then. But the quilts will be.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Morris Hexathon 20: Walthamstow

Morris Hexathon 20: Walthamstow by Bettina Havig

 Walthamstow by Becky Brown

Morris Hexathon 20: Walthamstow

I named this week's hexagon design for the village where William Morris grew to an adult. After his father's death his mother moved her nine children to an 18th-century home named Water House. William was 13.

The building where they lived from 1848 to 1856 is now the William Morris Gallery, owned and operated by Waltham Forest Council.


Morris grew up in the country but 
the old village is now part of London.

The William Morris Gallery is open Wednesdays to Sundays.
Here is their website:


Google Earth view of the Gallery location.

Morris might be saddened to find out how urban his boyhood home has become. He idealized a life in the country, writing a friend on his fortieth birthday:
"Suppose people lived in little communities among gardens and green fields so that you could be in the country in five minutes' walk, and had few wants, almost no furniture for instance, and no servants and studied the difficult arts of enjoying life and finding out what they really wanted: then I think one might hope that civilization had really begun."
I was listening to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young singing about Woodstock the other day. The song ends with a recurring theme that Morris could appreciate:

"We are stardust, we are golden, we are caught in the devil's bargain,
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden."

Although he might argue with the poetry.

Block 20 by Ilyse Moore

The block is a new design, sort of a log cabin based on a hexagon. There are two pieces, a hexagon and an odd triangle. Don't flip the triangle.

Here's how Becky added the ring of triangles.

This is actually 20---not 19.
Cross that number out.

Pattern for an 8" Hexagon
(4" sides)

To Print:
  • Create a word file or a new empty JPG file that is 8-1/2" x 11". 
  • Click on the image above. 
  • Right click on it and save it to your file. 
  • Print that file out 8-1/2" x 11". The hexagon should measure 4" on the sides.
  • Adjust the printed page size if necessary.
  • Add seams when you cut the fabric
One More Inspiration


Unfinished English patchwork quilt 1835 - 1955
Collection of the Powerhouse Museum Australia

They have 8 pictures of it.