Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sarah Morrell Quilt

I have been wanting to order the pattern for the Sarah Morrell Quilt, among other things, from Threadbear in Australia for over a year now. They have a great selection of Di Ford reproduction patterns. In researching the quilt, I found that it was pictured in the book Glorious American Quilts, which is a guide to quilts in the Museum of American Folk Art in New York. Here are pictures of the original from the book, and Threadbear's picture of Di Ford's quilt.

I ordered the book, and it came today, so I sat down and started reading. Halfway through the Foreword, written by Gerard Wirtkin, I got my laugh for the day. He quotes Jeremiah Hacker, writing for the Portland Pleasure Boat, a Quaker journal, in 1849, who railed against the practice of state and county fairs awarding prizes for ornamental quilts. "He was particularly incensed by a prize-winning quilt consisting of 9,800 pieces of silk, which he called a "splendid folly"; the practice of quiltmaking itself he dismissed as a "sinful waste of time." "If the State or County Fairs are to offer premiums to those who will thus trifle away whole months of a short life when the time might be so much more usefully and profitably spent, they will prove a great injury to the country instead of benefit." He also regretted that "any man could be found in the whole country willing to encourage such a waste of time." Unfortunately, the journal folded in 1862, so we were spared Hacker's further musings on the subject.

The Sarah Morrell Album Quilt is the oldest sampler album quilt in the Museum's collection. It contains blocks dated 1842 and 1843, and is signed by 58 people who lived in the Delaware River area, in Pennsylvania or Delaware. The signatures are in ink or embroidery, and some are embellished with a stamp. Sarah Morrell's name is in the center block, and she may have made the quilt. Several of the surnames on the quilt have ties to the Pennsylvania-New Jersey Quaker community, although at least two names are associated with other churchs.

I took Nancy Kirk's Quilt Restoration Workshops a couple of years ago, and purchased my own "splendid folly" to practice restoring. Although it falls short of 9,800 pieces, it is a Victorian Silk Quilt. You can see some of the fractured pieces in the close-ups, particularly the scarlet silk ones. I bought this from an antique quilt dealer who had it hanging over his bed, and he was happy to hear I would be restoring it. I love the plaid border.

On a more recent note, I am working on this "sinful waste of time." It is the Mistletoe and Holly quilt from Blackbird Design's When the Cold Wind Blows book. Although I have been buying strictly repro fabrics since I started making reproduction dolls, I call Blackbird Designs my guilty pleasure. I love everything they do, and have the material to make several quilts from this book. Here's the finished piece, and mine so far. It would be nice to have this completed in time for Christmas. I am doing it as a BOM from Homestead Hearth. I have done a few BOM's from them, including the Trick or Treat quilt from the same book, and find them to have great fabric choices, as well as being very generous with fabric. You can also catch a peek of my Civil War Tribute BOM in the top right corner, which I am doing through my local quilt shop, The Attic Window, in Comstock Park, MI. If you are in the area, check them out. They have lots of Spring classes starting.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Children's costuming

I have a large file of photos of c. 1880's children to use as costuming ideas for reproduction dolls, and I just purchased this one of a gorgeous dress with an amazing amount of soutache trim. Very labor intensive, but the result was so worth the effort.

Here are a couple I bought as inspiration for my Fosnot boy's clothing. Susan had a cute little playsuit, but I wanted something in an earlier style. I found lots of great ideas, but these appealed to me because of their playful look. I haven't designed clothing from scratch before, so this will be a learning experience.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Susan Fosnot class

I'm back from Susan Fosnot's Sami oil painted doll class in beautiful downtown Woodstock, IL. I had a good time catching up with old friends, meeting new ones, and learning new techniques. If you have never taken a class from Susan, you're really missing something. The classes are small, so there is a lot of personal attention, and she makes sure everyone is happy with their doll.

I got there late Friday night, but with gaining an hour, and the fact that Susan doesn't start her classes till 10, I was fine. We got there early to set up our space at the Old Courthouse where the classes are held. Saturday we worked on a flat face on a piece of canvas paper. We did some shading, then a wash over that, and then did the final painting. When we were happy with that, we did the shading and wash on our doll so we were ready for the final painting on it on Sunday. Sunday for lunch we all made a beeline for the antique mall in town, and I found a few vintage sewing notions for future projects. I'll be sure to bring more money next time! And thanks to Janice Lipsey for letting me buy that lace. I picked it up out of her basket, which was so full I thought it was a bin for sale!

Here is a picture of my doll without his hair. I was fussing with the face for so long I ran out of time. I'll post another picture later when I get him assembled and dressed. Susan always has something new to show us, and I'm so glad she is giving workshops again. Her next one is July 24th and 25th, and will be for a 13" French Fashion type doll named Daisy done in acrylics.

Here is the class photo of our dolls. We all start out with the same pattern and paint colors, but yet at every class, each doll takes on it's own personality.

Here is our class photo. Back row from left to right, Judy Jaques, me, and Susan Fosnot. The front row is Eloise Cashman, Janice Lipsey, Susan Corbett, and Barbara Meisner. Not pictured is Carol Gordhamer taking the photo.

Speaking of dolls, I found this great antique photo of a little girl with her doll. Does anyone know what type of doll this is? I've seen several of this type in photos.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

New reading material

I had a couple of new books waiting for me when I got home today. I've been interested in antique textiles ever since I started making reproduction dolls, and I have a nice little collection of fabrics, which come in useful for quilt restoration, too. I'm in my local Quilt History group, and really becoming more and more interested in fabric history, so I enrolled in Margo Krager's Cottonopia Textile History Program. At the end of each essay she has a list of recommended books. Most are OOP, but I have been able to track some down at a reasonable price. One that came today is Trade Goods, and is the study of India Chintz in the Smithsonian collection. I've been in a chintz and toile mood lately, and can't wait to read this. The other book is the highly coveted (by me) book, Old Quilts by William Rush Dunton. This is the Holy Grail of quilt books for me, and I can't wait to dive in. First for that Susan Fosnot workshop this weekend though. I'll have pictures when I get back.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Some Progress

Well, cleaning up the sewing room won, but it's not ready for pictures yet. I'm putting another cube unit together for my fabrics. If I take the shelf out of the closet, I think it will just fit on top of the other two.

I was inspired by Barbara Brackman's blog to look for antique photos of women wearing unusual prints, and I found this. Definitely unusual. Am I the only one that wants to cut it up for sashing?!

Well, off to make my Sami dolls for the Susan Fosnot workshop this weekend. I'm aiming for two doll bodies, but I may have to settle for one. I love Susan's workshops. They are small and cozy, and she always has new techniques to share.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


My vacation is almost over, and I promised myself if I did nothing else, I would finally start my blog. I hope to document my quilting, dollmaking, needlework, my endless quest for organization, and probably include some of my boys' cat antics, too, and maybe an occasional recipe. I hope to improve my photography skills along the way. I've finished cataloging my quilt history books on my Readerware book inventory program this week. Next are my doll books, and then to find shelf space for them all! It will be nice not to have to walk around piles of them on the floor. I'm trying to get my sewing room to the point where Where Women Create would at least use it as a "before" photo. But organizing my sewing room is competing with wanting to get started on my new Gail Wilson Designs Jane Austen doll kit. Which will I chose?? Stay tuned....