Vintage View #7: Dresden Plate

This quilt must have been beyond beautiful when it was first completed… It’s been used, loved, washed, and faded to shreds. If only this quilt could talk, oh, the tales it could tell.
It’s part of a collection I was “gifted” (because I heard they were going to be thrown in the dumpster–gasp!!) after the Spring 2009 floods in my hometown, where my Mom still resides. Mom saved them from their destind fate, and passed them along to me. I have since re-gifted some of them to two members of my quilt guild who craft items from old, worn quilts. I’d like to think this quilt has made it into a beautiful Christmas stocking to be treasured for another lifetime.It’s a Dresden plate pattern, with a three petal flower at the center of each plate. The flowers are all sold fabrics, the background is solid white, and the petals of the Dresden plates are all flower prints, many of them feedsack fabrics.You can click on the photos to enlarge them if you want to see any details. This is one I think I’d enjoy recreating some day…here’s a little history for you:

Exerpted from http://www.patternsfromhistory.com:

The Dresden Plate quilt pattern was one of the most popular quilts made during the 1920s and 30s. It was first published in the 20s but not always under the name Dresden Plate. Grandmother’s Sunburst, Friendship Ring, Aster, Dahlia and Sunflower are all names……for this pattern.

Dresden Plate with Ice Cream Cone border The 1930s version is usually easy to date because of the typical floral prints of the period. Some were made with prettily patterned feedsacks while a few were done with solid prints.

This quilt is made of blocks with fabric appliqu├ęd in a series of radiating “petals” with flat sides. Usually they radiate from a central circle which is more representative of a flower than a plate thus the flower names seen for this pattern.

The earliest example of a quilt made using this pattern is dated Aug. 23, 1785, and was a gift to Anna Tuels, from her mother (whose name is unknown). Her Dresden plate was at the center of a wool medallion quilt.

Vintage View #6: Aggie’s Bow Tie

Those of you who have read my blog for a while might remember the Vintage View posts I was doing last Spring of various vintage quilts, mostly in my collection. But it’s been a while, I don’t think I’ve posted one since April.

This one is special , it belongs to my Mom, and was made by her Aunt Aggie, probably in the mid-to-late 1940s. Aggie was my Grandpa’s older sister. She had a lame foot, I believe from childhood polio. She never married or had a family of her own. Her last decade or so of life, she lived in my grandparents farmhouse with them. I was still a child when she passed away, but I remember her as a constant fixture at our family gatherings, cooking with Grandma in the kitchen, always in a handmade calico or feedsack apron that matched her handmade house dress to a tee. She made the best bread and her Christmas cookies were superb!

Together, Aggie and my Grandma B. left behind six quilts that were divided up between Grandma’s six children. They made many more that were either loved to pieces or donated to missions. Both ladies were avid seamstresses and quilters. I think I got the gene from them.

My Mom is fairly certain that this one was made by Aggie’s hand. All hand pieced, with set-in seams, and lovingly hand quilted. There is even traces of some fussy-cutting here and there, not that common in the frugal rural Midwest at that time.

I love the striped Bow Ties, this one is my absolute favroite! I’d like some of that fabric to work with today…

The quilt is approximately twin size, with a beautiful pink backing and seeting blocks to match.

Click on that photo to enlarge and see her fabulous quilting!

This is a true family treasure, along with the other five quilts that live with my Mom’s siblings. Do you have any of these treasures in your family? Quilts or otherwise?

Going, Going…Gone!

My sewing room has been eerily quiet these days. I mentioned in my last post that I am moving over the next month, and while it will save us a good deal of money in the long run, and I’m getting a fresh and nicely furnished quilting studio out of the deal, I would so much rather be sewing and creating than packing and trying to sell extra things we don’t have room for! And, I’m still working two jobs while trying to get it all done!

Last night I did get a break. It was our guild meeting, and August is the fundraising meeting with a live auction and tag sale. Our guild raised over $12,000 for Breast Cancer Research last night in less than four hours!

I didn’t take anything home from the live auction, but I did find a few treasures in the Mall In The Hall, the tag sale/rummage sale component that took place before the auction. There are books, magazines, patterns, kits, fabric, quilt tops, completed quilts, fresh garden veggies, quilt racks, notions, batting, vintage blocks, new blocks, embroidery hoops, quilt frames, knick-knacks…you name it, it was probably for sale there.

All items are donated by members that cleaned out their stashes, their closets, basements, those neglected tubs that haven’t been opened in five years…

And the live auction included some gorgeous, beautifully quilted quilts, quilt tops with backing and binding included, bundles of quilty-goodness for wine lovers, chocolate lovers, batik lovers, fans of traditional quilts… There was a laundry bundle that included a tabletop ironing board, a Clover Mini Iron, Shout Color Catchers, Dryer balls, Orvis soap, Retayne, and many other quilt care products–clever! The creativity that went into some of these baskets was just amazing in itself! I wish you all could have been there…if you had, we might have been able to raise another $10,000!

I brought home four pieces of vintage fabric from the Mall In The Hall sale…about six yards of 1940-1960 fabric in amazing condition (a few stains that I need to remove) for only $4.00!

This floral piece is just lovely (even if it doesn’t show that in the photo!), it is a cotton chintz, a three yard piece that I think may become a dress or skirt for your’s truly with the scraps going into a quilt…

The leaf fabric is called “Spring Song” it appears to be from the early 1950s, it has the cutest little dragonflies and fruits and leaves…just great! It has a few stains, but I believe I can get them out.

And this one, with the little dutch boys and girls?! Adorable! You can click on the photos to enlarge them and see the deatils better. I’m sure if my mind hadn’t been focusing on downsizing and moving for the last two weeks, I would have brought home much, much more last night! I did pick up these two patterns, though:

I drove across part of Iowa this weekend, to see my Mom and attend the baptism of my grand-niece. I once showed you the barn quilts that you can find dotting the Iowa landscape. On our way home Sunday, we stopped at a BP Station (petrol station) to use the restroom and saw this hanging above the cash counter:

It’s a quilt that shows all of the blocks that adorn the barns throughout Grundy County, Iowa. You can see more here.

Happy sewing!

Rock-n-Roll


Over the last two weeks, in between sewing projects, I’ve been working on re-upholstering my sweetie’s Grandmother’s rocking chair. It used to live in the family lake house on Lake Mille Lacs in central Minnesota. Her sons used to push her around the ice covered lake in this chair in the winter–doesn’t that paint an interesting picture?!

These are the before photos (above) showing the chair in what it was recovered in in the late 1970s/early 1980s (I’m guessing by the fabric that was used). My sweetie’s Mom recovered it at the time, and it lived a few decades in her family room before be passed down to her son last year.

So we tore it apart, down to the skeleton…

Love this “fix” his Mom added, that is lawn chair webbing strips used to hold in the styrofoam that was used to form the back….

And, then sweetie and I went shopping for fabric…revealing just how different our tastes in decorating are (it’s dangerous to find a guy who actually has an “opinion” on these matters…sometimes it’s best if they just don’t care!). I wanted to recover it in a traditional-contemporary print, something like this sofa…or this… But he wanted it to look more like it did when Grandma had it (a dark royal blue “suede-y” fabric. Yikes!). Well, she was his grandmother… so this is the compromise we came up…

It’s not exactly Anna Maria Horner or Amy Butler home dec…but it doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb and blends in with the rest of what I have…

The stripe is a dark blue (so he’s happy) and also has greens and golds in it (so I’m happy).

It’s trimmed in a gold braiding that really sets off the stripe…


And…it’s a million times better than the “before” model…. ;->

The Flour Sack

I do love my vintage. Vintage quilts. Vintage linens. Vintage, shabby chic style furntishings. Vintage texiles of any and all kinds. Vintage toys. Even vintage activities like hanging clothes “out to dry”, collecting fireflies (we call them lightning bugs in Iowa) in mason jars, and washing dishes the old fashioned way. With a dishcloth my mom knitted for me. You get the idea. Often these things remind me of visiting my Grandparents for a week at a time in the summer months, first on the farm my mother was raised on, then later, at their home in town that we sold a few years ago. Or visiting other, now long gone, family and friends, whose houses you were made to sit quietly and still in while the adults visited so you wouldn’t break anything.

A friend of mine recently emailed this poem by Colleen Hubert about feedsacks and the vintage charm they reresent. I love the cloth itself, and the memory of my Grandma and Great Aunt working in the kitchen in their well-worn aprons and house-dresses made from feedsack cloth…this really made me smile.

IN THAT LONG AGO TIME WHEN THINGS WERE SAVED,
WHEN ROADS WERE GRAVELED AND BARRELS WERE STAVED,
WHEN WORN-OUT CLOTHING WAS USED AS RAGS,
AND THERE WERE NO PLASTIC WRAP OR BAGS,
AND THE WELL AND THE PUMP WERE WAY OUT BACK,
A VERSATILE ITEM, WAS THE FLOUR SACK.


PILLSBURY’S BEST, MOTHER’S AND GOLD MEDAL, TOO
STAMPED THEIR NAMES PROUDLY IN PURPLE AND BLUE.

THE STRING SEWN ON TOP WAS PULLED AND KEPT;

THE FLOUR WAS EMPTIED AND SPILLS WERE SWEPT.
THE BAG WAS FOLDED AND STORED IN A SACK

THAT DURABLE, PRACTICAL FLOUR SACK.

THE SACK COULD BE FILLED WITH FEATHERS AND DOWN
FOR A PILLOW, OR T’WOULD MAKE A NICE SLEEPING GOWN.

IT COULD C ARRY A BOOK AND BE A SCHOOL BAG,
OR BECOME A MAIL SACK SLUNG OVER A NAG.
IT MADE A VERY CONVENIENT PACK,
THAT ADAPTABLE, COTTON FLOUR SACK.

BLEACHED AND SEWN, IT WAS DUTIFULLY WORN
AS BIBS, DIAPERS, OR KERCHIEF ADORNED.
IT WAS MADE INTO SKIRTS, BLOUSES AND SLIPS.
AND MOM BRAIDED RUGS FROM ONE HUNDRED STRIPS
SHE MADE RUFFLED CURTAINS FOR THE HOUSE OR SHACK,
FROM THAT HUMBLE BUT TREASURED FLOUR SACK!

AS A STRAINER FOR MILK OR APPLE JUICE,
TO WAVE MEN IN, IT WAS A VERY GOOD USE,
AS A SLING FOR A SPRAINED WRIST OR A BREAK,
TO HELP MOTHER ROLL UP A JELLY CAKE,
AS A WINDOW SHADE OR TO STUFF A CRACK,
WE USED A STURDY, COMMON FLOUR SACK!

AS DISH TOWELS, EMBROIDERED OR NOT,
THEY COVERED UP DOUGH, HELPED PASS PANS SO HOT,
TIED UP DISHES FOR NEIGHBORS IN NEED,
AND FOR MEN OUT IN THE FIELD TO SEED.
THEY DRIED DISHES FROM PAN, NOT RACK
THAT ABSORBENT, HANDY FLOUR SACK!

WE POLISHED AND CLEANED STOVE AND TABLE,
SCOURED AND SCRUBBED FROM CELLAR TO GABLE,
WE DUSTED THE BUREAU AND OAK BED POST,
MADE COSTUMES FOR OCTOBER (A SCARY GHOST)
AND A PARACHUTE FOR A CAT NAMED JACK.
FROM THAT LOWLY, USEFUL OLD FLOUR SACK!

SO NOW MY FRIENDS, WHEN THEY ASK YOU
AS CURIOUS YOUNGSTERS OFTEN DO,
“BEFORE PLASTIC WRAP, ELMERS GLUE
AND PAPER TOWELS, WHAT DID YOU DO?”
TELL THEM LOUDLY AND WITH PRIDE DON’T LACK,
“GRANDMOTHER HAD THAT WONDERFUL FLOUR SACK!”

1000 Pieces, and Counting

In my last post, I showed my recent library loan reads, and mentioned the book above deserved a post of its own. This book was published in 2007 by Sue Reich. She collected 1,000+ snippets of newspaper posts spanning 100 years of “news-worthy” quilting announcements. The newspaper coverage of our craft in the 19th Century apparently spurred an un-official “contest” among quilters to create the quilt with the most pieces, referred to by the author as multitudinous quilts. You’ve probably seen one if you enjoy looking at vintage quilts, a quilt made of those meticulously small postage stamp sized squares, or triangles, or hexagons, HAND-sewn into a bed sized quilt. There are images throughout the book of these multidtuinous quilts, mostly from private collections (sorry, the photos I included here are from my collection, not from the book).My sweetie and I both enjoyed reading this book. The colorful language of the newspaper reporters and editors is delightful, sometimes rather unkind to the quilter, but always astute and thorough. I included some of my favorites here…

This one, obviosuly written by a man, will infuriate any quilter today… from the Zanesville (Ohio) Daily Courier…November 8, 1877:

“Another silly Ohio woman has just completed a quilt containing five thousand pieces. A woman who should spend her time over such worthless nonsense, when there is so much useful and beautiful work to be done in the world, ought top be ashamed of herself.”

Apparently in his eyes, the quilt that kept her and her husband or her children warm on a cold Ohio night wasn’t considered beautiful, nor was it useful.
Many of them are much more favorable than that and often tout the stitching prowess of the very young (8-9 years old) or the very old (80 years plus!) I love when they counted everything, like this one, because it reminds me of notes left behind by my grandparents noting details and counts of mundane daily facts.

“Miss Eliza Kidd, of Keene, KY, is only twenty years of age, but has immortalized herself by finishing a crazy quilt containing 58,841 pieces, 562,897 stitches, 21 spools of threads abd 30 yards of cloth.” –from the Defiance (Ohio) Democrat, January 1, 1885.

And this one just makes me laugh! From the Stevens Point (Wisconsin) Journal, August 9, 1884:

“The girl with soft gray eyes and rippling brown hair who walked all over your poor fluttering heart at the charity ball, has just finished a crazy quilt containing 1,064 pieces of neckties and hat-linings, put together with 21,390 stitches. And her poor old father fastens on his suspenders with a long nail, a piece of twine, a sharp stick, and one regularly ordained button.” HA!

and should you feel your modern day schedule is too busy or full to get any of your crafting done, to say nothing of your household duties, consider this grand old gal’s accomplishments from the winter of 1854/1855. From the Bangor (Maine) Daily Whig & Courier…June 23, 1855:

“ONE ‘OF THE OLDEN TIME’ A lady of Plainsfield, Mass., aged 80 years, has this past winter, made with her own hands, 17 quilts, consisting of 4300 pieces cut by pattern, worked 978 scallops, cut and made 8 dresses, knit 3 pairs of striped mittens, made butter from two cows, besides the general housework for a family. She has also written over nearly a quare of paper.”

Just reading her list of finishes makes me feel like I want a nap! This is a book I recommend any quilt admirer and history buff track down. It is a very quick read, extremely insightful and entertaining, and the photos of vintage quilts are truly inspiring!

So…have you ever counted the number of pieces in any of your quilts?