Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Stop for Christmas

While this blog purports to be about antique quilts, sometimes other things take precedence. Enjoy your holiday. Be with your family. Take a nap. Let the dog tear up the wrapping paper--what a gift for him!
And if you're on your own, that's cool too. Make a phone call or two to relations-even if they're a pain. Reward yourself and go buy that hardback book (the one you're waiting for to come out in paperback) and curl up someplace warm. Under a quilt.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Anonymous was a quilter

I first heard the phrase " Anonymous was a woman-" when I read Mirra Bank's book of the same name in the 1980s. But as I study and see yet more 'new' old quilts, I think that anonymous was truly a quilter.

Only rarely do I see a signed quilt but when I find a signature, it's a treasure. The name is sometimes quilted into the fabric's surface in same-color thread and is overlooked by the casual observer. Most often it's just the first name, revealing that the maker never thought this quilt might be viewed by someone who didn't know who she was and what her last name was. This Rob Peter to Pay Paul quilt I bought on ebay shows the quilter's hand outlined in stitches.

Although by any standards a huge piece of work, a handmade quilt large enough for the bed is removed from consideration as "art" since it is a practical domestic object. And it's not hung on the wall like a painting. And it was likely fabricated from common clothing scraps. And it was made by a female. Oh dear.

And then there's the 'say it loud, say it proud' group. In case you missed it, this woman's name began with an H.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Quilting and 'Gone With the Boomerang'

When times were tough in the 1930s Depression, movie theaters in the U.S. rarely closed their doors. People needed entertainment and it only cost a nickle to see a show. I was reminded of that when I saw the movie Australia recently. Starring Nichole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, Australia is a sprawling epic and you need to see it on the big screen. My friend Ernie calls it 'Gone With the Boomerang.'

Maybe the movie Australia is a metaphor for our times. The story starts in 1939 and takes the viewer up through the Japanese bombing of Australia in 1941. Not to give too much away, but the classic Wizard of Oz and its most famous song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" feature as underlying themes to the action onscreen. It got me thinking...

The Obama logo (the road over the hill) was a media tour-de-force and reminded me of the yellow brick road to Oz. And his campaign associated itself with the lyrics of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." If you want proof of that, go to YouTube and type in 'Quilters for Obama.' Or click http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HlZ75aDzDI . Once I watched that video and listened to the song, I knew who'd be elected.

Is it coincidental that the youngest cast member of Australia is a half-Aboriginal boy who seems to have magical powers and unites Kidman and Jackman? And the Japanese bombing the city of Darwin was totally unforeseen--maybe echoes of 9/11? Any symbolism here? I think so.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The A Word

Many quilters who work completely by machine have an applique phobia--they call applique the "A" word. But here's the catch: you might not do the technique (yet) but you admire it. Warning: if you're attracted to applique, one day you'll get sucked into doing it. Trust me. I wasn't ever going to do curved patchwork and ended up writing a book on it! So, a few pictures of favorite applique quilts are in order, starting with a British, late 19th-century medallion quilt. This quilt is in the collection of the Beamish Museum, a unique museum in northern England where you can view whole workshops and homes that look as if the occupants had just gotten up and left that morning. Put Beamish on your list of places to visit when you go to England. Here's their website http://www.beamish.org.uk/ .

One of my favorite applique quilt styles is the Four Block set. As in, four honking BIG blocks. This c.1880 quilt has zinnia-like flowers plus blooms that look rather like coxcombs. and then is complemented by single flowers at the North-South-East-West points of the square quilt. Nothing shy about this composition! The quilt's owner, Judy Roche, shared that this piece is from central Pennsylvania and has close cross-hatch quilting all over it. She says, "Great folk art!" and I concur.

There there's this recently found Baltimore-style applique quilt, likely made in the 1850s but only recently
displayed to the public.

Or this contemporary applique quilt made in Russia.

Isn't it wonderful that people are quilting all over the world?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

St. Xavier

An angel named Xavier at Google Blogspot has saved my sanity. Evidently I was locked out of posting photos because Internet Explorer and Firefox were fighting...or something along those lines. Now I think I know what to do and hopefully won't have the problem. Many thanks, Xavier! (I picture him with wings!)

Is there a never-ending supply of great old quilts? Sometimes I wonder. In these tight economic times, I'm seeing some super stuff on ebay and other online sites. As I examine these old quilts, I am always being educated. Here's an interesting detail shot that had lessons for me. It's the easiest feathered star ever. Even I could draft and sew this thing!

The quilting pattern is so typical of old Midwestern quilts and is called 'Hanging Diamond.' Marked first as a series of horizontal lines, the quilter came back and on a second pass, marked diagonal lines at a 45-degree angle across the horizontals.

The muddy brown-purple square at the star's center is a Perkins Purple, a mid-19th century shade that fades upon exposure to sunlight. Note: blog reader Dorothy Daybell has kindly sent me a link to more information about the Perkins Purple so go to http://www.colour-ed.org/activity/act_12/12_transc.htm if you love quilt trivia! Thank you Dorothy.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Wahoo-back on the blog again! Google's platform did hinky stuff and wouldn't let me post photos and then boom! Today I can-I feel like a kid in a candy shop.

What I really like about old quilts, especially those made by folks who lived in the country, is that their makers didn't know--or didn't care about--the "rules." What are some quiltmaking rules? Oh, stuff like seams have to match and you must use thread the same color as the appliques...details, details. The rule-breakers are my idols.

Look closely at this quilt and you discover that the 'trail' is not only serpentine, it is serpents, as in snakes. It sold on ebay and was supposed to have been from the Kentucky hills, home to speaking-in-tongues and snake-handling churches. A little creepy but then again, it ain't all hearts and flowers.

Julie Silber of The Quilt Complex http://www.thequiltcomplex.com/calls these rogue works 'outlaw quilts' and she's curated exhibitions of them. Most people know Julie from her work with the Esprit Collection of fine Amish quilts. Perhaps because of her long association with Amish quilts, you assumed she was quiet and well-behaved a la Amish. Sorry, this textile connoisseur has a wild side and she loves a strange and wonderful quilt.This quilt is from my collection and though similar in its curves to the snake quilt, reads as a much sunnier happier piece and the curves are abtract design elements. Oh boy, does it have some slinky fabric in it! Polyester, rayon, linen, and cotton...all present in this 1960s Flower Power quilt. My hat's off to those ladies who conitnued to quilt through the 1960s and 70s. They were our artistic bridge between eras until the quilt revival came into full flower in 1976.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Welsh Quilts

Old quilts have always served as inspiration to my own work and Welsh quilts, as in from Wales (the western-most region of Britain) are one of the oldest sources of America's quilting tradition. The photo is of a little sample quilt of Welsh-derived design that I show in my Quilt Marking class.

Most often Welsh quilts were made of wool and hand-quilted in whorls, spirals, and other Celtic-like designs. These primarily wholecloth quilts are enjoying a huge revival in the UK. Their patron is no less than Prince Charles whose most famous title is Prince of Wales.

Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, bought an estate in Wales and refurbished it to serve as a royal residence when visiting in the region. Eleven Welsh quilts were bought from a transplanted Yank, well known antique quilt dealer Jen Jones. This video, if you watch it through to the end, takes the viewer on a tour through the estate and you'll see quilts both on the walls and on the beds. Here's the link: news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/7470135.stm .

Occasionally a wonderful Welsh quilt comes up on ebay. Good luck finding one at a reasonable price now that His Majesty has joined the ranks of antique quilt buyers! Here's one that went way out of my price range very quickly. The front is bronze-y green and the backing bright orange. Why don't more of these Welsh quilts turn up? It could be that out of desperation, many Welsh quilts were rolled up, stuffed in the stove, and burned as fuel to keep warm. No kidding. An older Welsh lady told me she remembered her mother doing just that when times were tough.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Way We Learned

If you started quilting in the 1970s, you likely made a sampler quilt. The thought was that you wouldn't get bored making a quilt with different blocks, plus, you'd practice and perfect sewing skills doing various patterns. The problem with a sampler quilt, any sampler quilt, was that once the blocks were done, how did you choose the best fabric to put them together and what was the best block arrangement? Two huge considerations that stymied a lot of us...and accounts for many unfinished sampler quilts languishing in boxes and closets all over America.

I found this wonderful picture on the Net and frankly hope it's all right to use it. It embodies quiltmaking in those days for my generation. We were, and are, the Baby Boomers and that often meant a stint at 'back to the land' living and a re-discovery of pioneer skills. Here this group of young women and their offspring are proudly displaying a sampler quilt they made. I wouldn't be surprised if some of that blue fabric wasn't cut from jeans! If anyone sees this photo and can help further identify it or the people pictured, please contact me. Wouldn't it be lovely to know more about this group?

The photo identification said, " Mt. Warning, NSW (New South Wales), Australia, 1978."

Came on this old photo. That's me, also taken in 1978. I was very serious and very long-haired. It's a shock to think I've been quilting for 30 years. As a card-carrying hippie wild-child, I wasn't supposed to even live this long.

Here's the last verse from Dylan's Forever Young and a link to his website so you can hear the master himself. Read through all the song's lyrics and have a great day.


May your hands always be busy,
May your feet always be swift,
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift.
May your heart always be joyful,
May your song always be sung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Nothin' New

The buzz word of the the quiltmaking world is "stashbusters." This means a quilt that doesn't require you to purchase new fabrics. You use only what you have and thus "bust your stash."

For the four people left on the planet who might not understand the term: quilters have taken the word 'stash' (Dictionary of American Slang defines it thusly: "...a hoard of drugs.") and adopted it to mean their supply of fabric. My generation-Woodstock, tie dyed, smokin' Boomers-is responsible for equating drugs with the perfectly innocent concept of fabrics one might save for quiltmaking.

Quilts that use up scraps are nothing new. The photo here is a detail from a stashbuster quilt to be sure. A Spiderweb String Star from the state of Kentucky, this quilt was made between 1880 and 1900 and was one of the very first quilts I collected. It is frail and seldom travels to lectures unless I can pack it in my personal luggage. Some of the fragments are tee-tiny. This may be beyond stashbuster status-perhaps a "shnibble" quilt. Schnibble-Pennsylvania Dutch for itsy-bitsy.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Back to Schoolhouses

Although it's still summer sultry and sticky here on the Carolina coast, kids are going back to school already. And even if you've been out of school yourself for a million years, there's something about September. Maybe it's those ads for back-to-school supplies that lure me visit the nearest Staples store and purchase shiny new notebooks and crayons of every color.

I can resist the urge to splurge if I re-focus my September energies on another symbol of the season. I love Schoolhouse quilts! When I see a great one, I want to snap a picture and keep it in my mental 'schoolhouse quilts to do' file. This one from, I think, an ebay auction, is one of my favorites. Love the greys and pinks in the blocks and that double zig-zag border.

I wish I could be as free to mix-n-match materials as that unknown quiltmaker of old. Here are two of my modern Schoolhouse pieces-much more coordinated than the antique quilt. It's a control issue...

The blue one was done just for fun but the brown one was made specifically to showcase a line of fabrics I did for Michael Miller in 2004. The best thing about the blue piece is that the strips and background fades nicely and the best thing about the brown one is that the plaids anchor the strips between the blocks. Go figure-I think it's a quiltmaker's prerogative to change the way she does things even when making the same pattern. Studio artists call it "working in a series."
I call it messing around.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Amish Quilts-what a treat!

Wow-you never know what might be going on around here! Last Saturday August 23, Connie and Jim Thompson from Trinity, NC made their way to our patch of the coast. The Thompsons gave a PowerPoint plus show-n-tell presentation about their collection of antique Amish quilts to fascinated members of local quilt guilds. After the presentation, you could come up and view the quilts closely. Since I was one of the white-glovers who held up the quilts for viewing, I was in heaven!

Connie herself is a quilter (even Jim has tried his hand at it!) and thus they appreciate, from both a technical and artistic viewpoint, what goes into making a quilt. Understandably, the Thompsons' collection morphed from an earlier interest in modern art, particularly the color work of Josef Albers, to antique Amish quilts and has stayed on course with quilts for over 20 years.

Beyond the pow! impact of the color of the old quilts, the hand stitching took your breath away. Here members of the audience are examining an Indiana Amish quilt, c.1930, with great interest.
And in the close-up you can see what they're so excited about...it's the quilting!

Tiny little stitches, all done in contrasting black thread, make for quite a dramatic effect. The border, a maple leaf design, is especially nice.

The Thompson collection also included a worn comforter from Ohio. Made in a narrow size called a "hired man's quilt," this piece, with its comfy blues and browns, reminded me of old Japanese textiles where every remnant of cloth is treasured. This was the one that made me want to tuck it under my arm and bolt for the exit!

It was an excellent presentation and a great way to spend the afternoon-oh throw me into the brier patch! Let's root around in old quilts.....

If you'd like to contact the Thompsons for a program for your group. their email is jkthompson@northstate.net.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Blackjack Quilt and Its Baby

Sometimes an old quilt just fires your imagination and such was the case when I saw and fell in love with Anne Hope Marvin's vintage Basket quilt. Anne Hope had been given the Basket quilt top by a friend--who had gotten it from her mother--who had received it from a fellow Eastern Star member. Anne has a strong streak of bird dog in her so she searched out the Eastern Star lady and ascertained that the friend was the second wife of one Mr. William Smith of Blackjack, North Carolina. And it was Mr. Smith’s first wife, Verna Deal Smith, who had originally made the quilt top. Whew! If you're Southern you'll understand that we had to hunt down all the family connections....

Having ascertained the quilt’s maker, Anne proceeded to add the pink borders and to hand quilt the piece. Evidently the quilt top had its own loopy charm, as in, it wouldn’t lay flat and had been deemed un-quiltable by its former owners. But as Anne the eternal optimist explained, “The colors were wonderful and Verna’s passing familiarity with the concept of a right angle was not a deterrent to me.”

I drafted Anne Hope's Basket pattern and after studying the vintage quilt, made a wall hanging in its honor that I felt was scrappy and odd enough to be the old quilt's descendant. I call it 'Blackjack Baby.'
The set (arrangement) of this wall hanging used one of my favorite tricks for defining a border---split blocks around the outside of the patchwork into two opposing triangles light vs. dark and zig-zag 'em next to each other for an interesting final dark triangular border. By the way, this works only if the number of blocks is odd (3, 5, etc) as with an even number, the corners won't work out right.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

First Flap Report

I apologize for not posting about the Quilt Flap promptly. The very next morning after the Flap on June 21, I left for Missouri to do book research and today's the first day back at the computer.

Here's the short version of what happened at the Flap: lots more than we hoped for! Interesting and gorgeous quilts spilled out of bags and pillow cases, a lot of coffee and several dozen cookies were devoured, and we all made new friends. Forty three people registered at the door and they came from all over--both North and South Carolina, from Georgia, and even from Virginia.

We started at 10 AM with introductions and a little show-n-tell and then morphed into "the orange thing" which is generally me showing off my old cheddar and orange quilts. The old golden beauties couldn't have had a more appreciative audience! Lynn Gorges, game despite a bum knee, gave a presentation on Alamance plaids, those common workaday plaids woven right here in our state of North Carolina, and showed some of her extensive collection of plaid quilts. Lynn runs a textile preservation studio in New Bern. NC.

After lunch, Janice Pope (aka 'the quilt doctor') showed us a wonderful find from the Durham area. A small German community church, now simply called Brick Church, seems to have been ground zero for an unusual applique pattern. Janice has located thirteen quilts made with this pattern. Her find is the left picture. The rick-rack like edging on the applique motif is quite unusual. Another one of the Brick Church quilts was brought to the Flap by Kathy Sullivan of Raleigh (picture right).

There will be more pictures from the Flap but these will kick off the first report nicely-enjoy the eye candy! PS-if you attended the Flap, please send me some pictures!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Flap, Flap!

A week from today we should be up to our ears in old quilts. Ah--go ahead, throw me into the brier patch.......nothing I'd rather do than root around in old textiles. The Quilt Flap is on at the History Place in downtown Morehead City NC on Saturday, June 21. See the sidebar for the short version of the invite. I've been getting emails and calls and yes, there's still room for you!

What can you expect to see at the Flap? Likely some wonderful contemporary quilts will walk in since quilters can't resist showing off their work. Like this gorgeous Hexagon Medallion by Becki Bucci that came to our local guild's Day of Sharing event a year ago. Isn't this a beauty? Hand made every bit! This should refute any nay-sayer who says the only great quilts are antique quilts.

Those quilts kept in chests and boxes that haven't seen daylight in a generation are what we're hoping to see next Saturday. Maybe even ephemera (paper stuff) like this Depression-era photo from the Library of Congress archives that shows a proud quilter (identified as Mrs. Bill Staggs) displaying her embroidered State Flower quilt. The design was by Ruby McKim, a well-known quilt designer in the 1930s whose work was syndicated in many newspapers.

Because the craft of quilting is known for people sharing their knowledge in groups, the Quilt Flap is right in that traditional style. Show it and they will come. Since quilters often work in solitary splendor at home, they thrive on encouragement from others. And people who have treasured their beloved family quilts might want information as to how to take care of them. Since this area of North Carolina has an abundance of quilts, we hope people will get those heirlooms out and bring them to the Flap.

Here's a picture from Quilt Appreciation Day at the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum on Harker's Island last year. Jan Willis, Lynn's sister-in-law Vickie, and Lynn Gorges are researching the pattern of this vintage quilt.

You're bound to hear someone say, "Wow, I wanted to learn to quilt but I didn't think anyone still did it!" Be assured: quilting is alive and well and oh boy, are you in for a treat!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

You're Invited!

All right friends-in three short weeks, the Great North Carolina Quilt Flap is on. Right here, in eastern coastal North Carolina, Morehead City NC to be exact. This is the event this blog was named for and hopefully, this Flap is the first of many. What's a Quilt Flap? It's a show-n-tell, an informal airing of the quilts, it's a "Let's talk all about that quilt and crazy Great-Aunt Minny who made it" day. In the tradition of Southern hospitality, coffee and light refreshments will be served in the morning and a good time will be had by all.

Your Invitation to the Great North Carolina Quilt Flap

When: Saturday, June 21, 2008. Registration and morning tea and coffee starts at 8:30 am. The Quilt Flap commences at 10 sharp. Lunch noon-1 pm. Afternoon session: 1-5 pm or until they kick us out.

Where: Auditorium of The History Place, 1008 Arendell Street, Morehead City, North Carolina 28557.

Directions: come into downtown Morehead on Route 70 and just as the speed limit drops to 20 mph (no kidding) the History Place is on your left. Turn left on 10th Street before the building, go past the Tea Clipper door, and come around into the parking lot behind the building from Bridges Street.

What do I bring? Yourself, your camera, an open mind, and show-n-tell…old quilts of course!

Who is going to be there? Folks just like you who are crazy about old quilts. Some museum people, quilt collectors, quiltmakers, historians, and the just plain curious.

What’s going to happen at the Flap? It’s sure to be a glorious display of old quilts. We plan three short informative presentations:

Lynn Gorges (Historic Textiles Studio in New Bern,NC

http://www.textilepreservation.com will speak on Alamance plaids and museum work with old textiles.

Pepper Cory, The Quilt Studio in Morehead City www.peppercory.com will show her strange cheddar quilts.

Janice Pope (aka The Quilt Doctor from Cary, NC) will talk about the challenges of repairing old quilts.

We hope there will be round tables on various topics and would love to hear from some volunteers who might lead discussions at these tables. Plenty of time for show-n-tell but we might have to limit that to four (4) quilts per person or we’ll be there all night.

What the Quilt Flap is not: This event is not an appraisal fair or a selling and buying show. We’re gathering to celebrate the art of the quilt but please leave the money thing for another day.

What about lunch? You’re on your own from noon till 1 pm. There are lots of restaurants in downtown Morehead. You can even bring a sack lunch if you’ll pick up after yourself.

And if I get lost? You can’t because there’s only one road in and out of downtown Morehead City. You can call the History Place (252) 247-7533 but the best thing to do is Google The History Place, Morehead City, NC and up pops their website www.thehistoryplace.org and a handy map.

Does the Quilt Flap cost anything? Depends on how many quilt shops you stop at along the way! This event is free. However, we do ask that

1)you call or register beforehand so we can plan the seating and the morning coffee time and, if you are able,

2) we’ll pass the basket for a donation toward the cost of the janitor’s pay, the printing of information, and the morning refreshments.

Any other questions? Email Pepper Cory (pepcory@gmail.com) to register. Lynn Gorges (palampore@aol.com) is also available for questions. We’ll try our best. Please understand that we both occasionally are on safari working but will get back to you as soon as we can.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

"There is no blue-" Color Influences

I admit it-one of my all-time favorite colors is that intense golden-orange that quilt collectors now call 'cheddar.' Perhaps, if you're quilt-savvy, those colors say "Southern, late 19th-century, early 20th-century quilt-" but I'd like the association expanded. Sure, I love the teal blue-cheddar of many of my region's older quilts. But then again, inspiration can come from many sources.

One of my artistic idols, Vincent Van Gogh, was so sure of the rightness of his favorite color triumvirate that he once wrote to his brother Theo, " There is no blue without yellow and without orange." I concur. This color scheme always turns my head. It's in my head-can't help it. My generation revels in it. Vince would have loved the chopped-down VW wagon and approved of the sentiment.

I have an old Rob Peter to Pay Paul quilt and it inspired me to make a zippy wall hanging in wild fabrics. The curved block, being quite large, is easy to sew. Wow, this pattern has so many design possibilities! After inspecting the old quilt, I was delighted to see that the quilter had personalized it. She quilted around her hand and had even signed it 'Leola.'

How many of you have actually signed your name into your quilt? Or traced around your hand?

This gives a personal and unique identity to this quilt when described as a "handmade quilt."

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Tisket, a tasket.....

This is the first posting in the month of May and that brings up Baskets (capital B) as a quiltmaking topic. The tradition of May baskets probably comes to us from rural England. May baskets were small baskets , or even paper cones, filled with flowers. On the first day of May, these were left on the doorknobs of your beloved's house, you rang the bell, and ran like crazy. A harmless kid's ritual to celebrate Spring.

But when the image of a basket comes to my mind, a fragment of an old children's song also floats to the conscious surface. When was the last time you heard, "A tisket, a tasket, a green-and-yellow basket..." ?
I thought that was simply a nursery rhyme, part of a sing-song playground game like Drop the Hankie. Maybe not.

Ella Fitzgerald, the famous jazz and scat singer, updated the childish lyrics in 1938 and A Tisket, a Tasket became a hit. Then again, looking even further back in time, some folklorists opine that the line 'green-and-yellow basket' refers to new willow baskets used to catch heads at guillotine executions of the French nobility during the Revolution-ugh!

Looking through captured pictures from ebay auctions of long ago, I came across a great green-yellow-blue basket quilt and couldn't resist sharing these with you here.
This late 19th century quilt is so well-planned. The graphic effect of many baskets is complimented by the sashing (strips between the blocks) and the dinky side flowers stand straight at attention. There's even room for beautiful quilting. Please consider this my May basket to you!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

On the Path Again in Black and White

There are so many ways to put the pattern Drunkard's Path together! I found this old beauty on an online auction site. The way this pattern works is that the blocks seem to fall down the quilt in diagonal rows, thus the name "Falling Timbers."
The variety of black-n-white prints found in this piece is staggering. Tiny-scale prints like these were a mainstay of 1890-1920 everyday at-home women's clothing. The dull prints were sometimes called "mourning prints," referring to the subdued clothing one might wear after a death in the family. They were also marketed as "Shaker Grays" or "Quaker Grays." I guess the presumption was that these religious folks would naturally wear modest, as in dull, clothing.

What I love is the contrast here between the tiny black-n-white prints and the prominent diagonal lines of distinctly Deco brighter fabrics. Perhaps this quilt top was made from an inter-generational scrap bag? In any case, it's a happy mixture of grays from grandmaw and modern prints that make for an interesting overall pattern.

Speaking of black-n-white...check out this link for the listing (and pics) of the latest classes at the Quilt Studio http://www.peppercory.com/quilt_studio.html
A picture of a possible outcome of the Black and White class is on the upper right.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Make Mine Country

Old country quilts, as in, made in a rural rather than city environment, have a special charm to them. You can almost imagine the lady sitting there, working through her scrap basket, sorting and choosing bits and trying to make the best combinations in her patchwork. One sort of print tends to turn up in country quilts: geometric lined patterns like homespuns, ginghams, and plaids. Think men's work shirts and house dresses. These are real remnants of clothing from both men and women and are endearing for the reason that real folks wore them. To make the point: here's a piece of antique Mariner's Compass made in black and red plaid. Too bad some "crafter" (I use the term loosely-) cut the quilt up.

There's this beauty, fresh as the day it was made in the 1940s, that waltzed into the Quilt Appreciation Day at the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum last February. The star quilt was made on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina.

Or this collection of odd blocks, recently seen on ebay-what pattern is that anyway? The lesson for modern quiltmakers is clear: want to make your quilts look country? Better not forget the plaids!

Thursday, March 27, 2008


The North Carolina Lily has always been a favorite quilt pattern. In fact, it was the second block I ever made and braving the A word (applique) was worth it for the final effect.

I have a wonderful antique Lily quilt in my collection and it was saved from the decorator's scissors (being cut into pillows) none too soon. Although the huge quilt had holes in it and was not exactly clean, Janice Pope from Raleigh, NC (aka the quilt doctor) repaired and washed this c.1860 beauty and I am so proud to have it! She dealt with mouse holes, rotten earlier repairs, missing leaves and stems, lots of popped seams and did a super job. Note: the quilt is hanging from a pole at right but the photo has been revised to show the blocks in an upright position.

Mouse holes-ugh!

Inspired by the old Lily quilt, I wanted to make a wall hanging using its outrageous border. But one lone Lily block and that big border was too much, so rather than tone down the border pattern, I started to sketch over a lily block and came up with a much freer design. Meet Wild Lily, a wall hanging that I designed and pieced the background for but all the applique work was stitched by my friend Pinky (Dorothy) Porter from Morehead City, NC. Pinky's a better quilter than I'll ever be.

This is the quilt top of Wild Lily. It has since been finished but not photographed.

So while we may love antique quits, there's no reason to always make reproductions of them. I could never re-make that pre-Civil War quilt with grace but the wall hanging seems a fitting modern tribute.