Wednesday, March 14, 2018

EPP Conventional Wisdom---Wrong?

Here's how WE stitch paper-pieced hexagons.

You baste or glue the fabric edges over paper.
Put the hexagons good sides together and stitch on the sides by
barely catching the fabric.

But  I've been thinking about it and I'm beginning to 
believe that we are doing it all wrong.

I read some 19th century how-to's and they do not mention placing the hexagons face sides together.
In particular, American Jane Cunningham Croly's 1886 book Ladies' Fancy Work.

She gives instructions for a mosaic patchwork window shade.

After turning over and basting the silk on the wrong side of the hexagons...
"The two are then exactly fitted and sewn together, according to the design."

Well, that's a little vague but the illustration is excellent, showing the whip stitching or over-and-over stitch in progress.

The stitching is about 60% done and it is done from the back with the pieces placed side by side.

Englishwoman Matilda Marian Pullan, who published in England and the United States, was not fond of hexagonal patchwork but she gave instructions more than once.
In The Lady's Manual of Needlework, 1859.
"If you are going to do a large piece of work, it is well worth procuring a die for stamping out a pattern of each of the sections, as you thus attain an accuracy hardly otherwise procurable. With this you stamp out a number of pieces of stout writing paper; and then cover one side of each with the material, turning over the edges, and tacking them round. They are sewed together, on the wrong side, in their proper places, and the papers are generally, but not always, afterwards withdrawn."
No how-to illustration.

She also co-authored Treasures in Needlework with Eliza Warren in 1855 showing this well-copied illustration of mosaic patchwork ideas.

Instructions were more austere: 
"The pattern should be placed before the person...several pieces arranged so as to form the design and the edges then neatly sewing under."
Most references I found do not tell the reader exactly how to stitch these.
Englishwomen's Sophia Caulfeild and Blanche Saward's 1882 Dictionary of Needlework:

"Take a dark coloured patch and sew round it six light patches."

Eliza Leslie's 1857 "American Girl's Book"
explains more about shading than technique.

"Sew together neatly over the edge, six of these patches, so as to form a ring."

I guess everybody knew how to do it.
 Their grandmothers showed them.

Instructions were not worth the type.

 Little Wide Awake Magazine in 1881 told you to lay the diamonds out "before you with the point towards you and then sew on to the right hand...another of darker color." 
Are we supposed to join them on the front? Illustrations would help.

So why do we do it this way?

I'm going to credit Averil Colby

She wrote the book on English Patchwork in 1958

And was quite a devotee of hexagon patchwork herself.
These scraps by her are from the Quilt Museum in the U.K.

And this is how she told you to do it.

Well, you can do it any way you want but I have been doing it the way Jane Croly showed it

Placing the pieces side by side and stitching from the back.

Stitches don't show and it goes faster.

I learned this method from Karen Tripp in her video on the "flat backstitch" method of joining
paper pieced shapes. 

And a P.S.
Here's one of the patterns Matilda Pullan thought you might prefer to hexagons.


And this Mrs. Pullan pattern has always puzzled me.
Just how would you sew this with the good sides together?

Complex designs would work much better if you laid out the pieces adjacent to each other in pairs and flipped the pair over to sew.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Past Perfect: Jinny Beyer

Inner City by Jinny Beyer, 1980

This month's featured Past Perfect quilter is Jinny Beyer who has been providing inspiration for quilters for over forty years.

Inner City is my favorite Jinny Beyer quilt. I can
recall when I first saw it. 
Uh Oh! Brand new stash necessary!

 If you weren't quilting forty years ago
you won't know of the changes she wrought. 

Jinny won first prize of $2,500 in a 1978 contest
sponsored by Good Housekeeping magazine.
Her quilt "Ray of Light" stood way above the other nearly 10,000 entries.

Good Housekeeping Contest

Ray of Light, Jinny Beyer, 1978

To illustrate my point: Two representative quilts from the period:

Muncie Quilt Guild, fundraiser for the Childen's Museum
Early 1980s, Indiana Project & the Quilt Index.

Mary Schafer also won a prize in 1978 with her Dutchman's Puzzle.

Jinny taught us to see quilt design, fabric and color in a new way

Jinny Beyer, Sunflower, 1974

Or rather in an old way.

Medallion Quilt by
Sophonisba Angusciola Peale Sellers (1786 - 1859) 
About 1830. Collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Jinny, from Virginia, had lived in India, where she began a hexagon quilt using scraps of Indian fabric. This accident of geography echoed the scrapbag of early American quiltmakers who used traditional Indian calicoes and European prints copied from Indian calicoes.

Hexagon quilt dated 1825 of Indian prints

We can also guess that Virginia with its history of medallion quilts had some influence on her ideas.

Quilt by Jane Gatewood, dated 1795, Virginia.
West Virginia Project & the Quilt Index

Blue Star Sapphire by Jinny Beyer, 1983

She showed us how to look at composition large scale and small.

Each piece is carefully cut to focus on layers of design---
Another antiquated idea that she revived.

Here's Sophonisba's center star with stripes and florals carefully cut
(but not as carefully as Jinny would do it.)

See more of Sophonisba's quilt here:

Jinny wrote books, chose patterns that would be enhanced by fussy cutting...

Showed us how to do it,

And designed prints to cut up.

Ode to Vasarely by Jinny Beyer, 1985
Mitered borders like an ornate picture frame---a radical idea
at the time.

She's still showing us how to do it well.

Lotus by Jinny Beyer, 2014

See what she's up to today at her blog:

Free patterns every month

Her website is full of Jinny Beyer style.

Read a 1981 article about her in Mother Earth News. 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Clara A. Stone: That's Not What I Meant!

BlockBase #3786

First published as Wandering Jew in the 1906 Clara Stone catalog.

Mary Margaret Watson, West Virginia.
Family name for the pattern: Water Witch.
Quilted in the 1940s.
West Virginia project & the Quilt Index.

This top, circa 1900, was probably inspired by the design in Practical Needlework.

I get the feeling when I look through Clara A. Stone's 1906 booklet of quilt patterns that the designer (whoever she was) might have been frustrated by some of the quilts she inspired. The writer seems to have intended to show traditional designs set in traditional fashion, but because the illustration conventions of the time dictated that patterns be pictured in a square box the traditional setting arrangements were forgotten.

The Tennessee project documented this variation of the pattern
dating to 1840-1860. The block is plain white with an applique bouquet.
The star pattern is in the sashing.

Quilt from the Barker family, Montgomery County, Tennessee 

Stone showed two variations of this star pattern

Quilt in the pattern dated 1889

The blocks are unpieced blue calicoes, the sashing is
made of pink and white diamonds with a blue square on point.

You get the same pattern if you eliminate the box from Stone's
drawing and repeat the blocks.

Late-19th-century quilt

Leaving you a good spot for some fancy quilting with no seams to quilt across.

Turkey red and white version by Lena Glasser, Butler County, Iowa
from the Iowa Project and the Quilt Index.

You could set the blocks and sashing on the diagonal as Lena did
or on the square.

Here's a variation that looks to be about 1890-1920.

The 1930s or '40s

When Eveline Foland drew the pattern for the Kansas City Star in 1929 she knew how to picture it. I wouldn't be surprised to find that she had a copy of Stone's catalog. Stone inspired many quilts between 1895 and 1925 and then many quilt pattern designers thereafter. Cupid's Arrow Point didn't  inspire many quilters however. Foland didn't seem to understand that those pink V shaped pieces at the top of the pattern were absurd. 
"Clip seam" indeed.

Someone followed Foland's pattern.

Hall's block and sashing (she calls it a border) in the collection
of the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas

Carrie Hall included her version of Cupid's Arrowpoint in her book Romance of the Patchwork Quilt in 1935, explaining how to set it as "an all-over pattern a bit different from the usual patchwork, since the center patch is white and the interest is in the border around it." She used the same V-shaped piece Foland pictured. 

The star in a conventional block version was  often made.

Last quarter 19th century,
By Ella Shelton Perry, Tennessee Project & the Quilt Index

Collector purchased in Florida or Georgia. West Virginia
project and the Quilt Index. Maybe the 1940s

Similar look from an online auction

You can keep adding diamonds.

Block style quilt by Elizabeth Jane Hoke with more diamonds,  
from about 1890-1920 documented in the West Virginia project. 
Family name for the pattern was Cross.

Is this what Clara meant?

Like Nancy Cabot and Aunt Martha---Clara A. Stone was a pen name,
Wilene Smith tells me. There was no real Clara A. Stone. Too bad, I had
a mental picture of her in her Boston home with some graph paper and
a bottle of India ink.