Vintage View: The Ties That Bind

BLOGTOBERFEST: Day 7

Last Sunday, my sweetie and I visited Living History Farms, a living history site that includes a recreated, fictional 1875 town, Walnut Hill, Iowa, a 1700 Iowa Indian Farm, an 1850 Pioneer Farm, and a 1900 Farm, built on the original Flynn estate (the Flynn Mansion and Barn are the two structures original to the site).

My favorite building is the Tangen House, a more modest home than the mansion:

There is a wonderful ladies parlor, with an old Howe treadle sewing machine and other handwork tools and samples:

Our reason for visiting was to see the annual display of quilts from the museum collection. (I’ve written about this quilt show in previous years, here and here.) This year’s show was entitled The Ties That Bind.

This quilt is a reproduction, made by museum volunteers, displayed on the bed in the Tangen House:

Does anyone know the name of that block pattern? Linda identified the block from Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia, Tonganoxie Nine Patch, and here is a link to a tutorial on how to make it.

The bulk of the quilt show takes place in the Church of the Land, which was built to commemorate the spot Pope John Paul II said Mass from on October 4, 1979, during his visit to Iowa:

The museum has 360 vintage quilts in the collection; every October they bring approximately 30 of the quilts out to display in the church… on wooden framework, amidst the rearranged pews:

The lighting inside the church makes it difficult to take good photos at times, but I still have some nice shots of vintage beauties to share with you.  I’ll spread this out into more than one post, but today I’ll share three crazy quilts with you that were on display last weekend.

This first one was made entirely of wool scraps (from well-worn clothing, I presume):

(The white rectangle is a label pinned to the quilt for the exhibit).  The seams of this quilt are covered in a wide variety of embroidered crazy quilt stitches, using several different colors of thread/floss.  A true crazy quilt.

The second one was more organized, in what we might call a “wonky log cabin” today:

Made almost entirely from scraps of velvet clothing and upholstery fabric, it is “crazy” in the sense that the “logs” are often made up of scraps pieced together randomly, the lack of true uniformity in the log cabin (the maker intentionally made her log cabin blocks uneven), and of course the decorative, colored, embroidery stitches that cover nearly every seam.  This is one I would have liked to take more photos of, but the lighting simply wasn’t adequate.

The real Crazy Quilt gem is this silk, satin, and velvet crazy quilt with very detailed hand embroidered motifs, dated 1886 in the bottom left quilt block:

The central block is a wildflower motif on tan/brown velvet fabric:

The block you can see just to the left of that center block is an ornately stitched spider web block, using metallic threads on satin and silk fabrics, complete with a sequin spider:

The embroidery on this quilt is a beautiful example of the maker’s handwork skills:

I’ll be back soon to share the pieced and appliqué quilts with you!

What do you think of crazy quilts?  Are you a fan, or not so much?

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8 thoughts on “Vintage View: The Ties That Bind

  1. On the photo above the bottom left corner embroidery of the girl with the duck looks like a Kate Greenway illustration.

    I wish I knew what that block was. I’m digging the negative space on it. I guess you can scroll through quilter’s cache.. You might luck out. Now I gotta know….

  2. I love crazy quilts. We did Living History Farms this summer and they were have a victorian funeral with the body in the Tangen house. 10 yo granddaughter was totally entranced by the whole thing. Loved the horse drawn hearse. Missed the quilt, funeral was the order of the day!

  3. I love that first crazy quilt, but the other two aren’t as well done — no contrast and gross fabrics. I like crazy quilts if they’re well done. Also, I really like the square block quilt (obviously *I* have no clue what that pattern is). Very neat negative space.

  4. According to Barbara Brackman’s “Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Blocks,” the name of your mystery block is Tonganoxie Nine Patch. How’s that for a mouthful?! The four nine-patch blocks within the large block are each called a Patience Nine Patch.

  5. Pingback: Saturday the 13th | made by a brunnette

  6. Pingback: Vintage View: Pretty Patchwork | made by a brunnette

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