Sunday, September 26, 2010

Quilts and Dolls

At the Study Day I was invited to join the Midwest Fabric Study Group, which is a group that studies fabric, quilts, and quilt history. My first meeting was last weekend in Worthington, Ohio. Worthington is a charming historic town founded in 1803, and many of the city's original commercial buildings and churches still stand today around the public square. Worthington is completely surrounded by Columbus, the state capital, but still remains a separate city. It was the perfect setting for our day of dolls and quilts.

The day was organized by Amy Korn, and we started by meeting at the Worthington Library for registration and refreshments. Amy had a nice display of doll quilts and books at the head of the room for us to check out while eating muffins and drinking coffee. She started the meeting at 10 by going over the day's schedule, and then gave her presentation on Doll and Crib Quilts. First she covered the history and uses of crib quilt. Quilts were used for padding on the floor, as a source of amusement and stimulation for children, and as a means of family bonding when older children learned sewing by making quilts for their younger siblings. While some quilts are badly worn from being used, some are in pristine condition, and Amy gave us some possible reasons for this. Some women made crib quilts, but then remained unmarried or childless, and infant mortality was high, resulting in some quilts not seeing much use.

In 1841 Catherine Beecher, sister of Harriet Beecher Stowe, advocated that children sleep in their own cradle instead of their parent's bed. This resulted in the need for more children's quilts. At first, patterns from large quilts such as nine patch and honey bee were used. By the 20's and 30's, childhood scenes and pastel colors were in vogue.

Amy next gave us some of Mary Ghormley's tips for collecting doll quilts. The Ghormley collection of doll quilts is currently on display through Dec. 12 at the International Quilt Study Center in Lincoln, NE. To tell if a quilt is a true doll quilt you should check to see if the binding is original, if the the pattern to scale, is the whole pattern represented on the quilt, and not cut down, and does the quilting go to the edge of the piece. We also received a handout listing books and other resources for doll and crib quilts, including Small Endearments, A Child's Comfort, and the book on the Ghormley collection, Childhood Treasures, by Merikay Waldvogel.

Next we had show and tell, with members bringing dolls and quilts from their own collection. Cindy Claycamp brought several of her antique dolls, including this intriguing metal headed doll.

This Queen Anne style doll was made by Dale Drake and her daughter Andrea for Cindy.

And more of Cindy's dolls ~

We saw quilts that were appliqued,


and pieced.

There were many, many more quilts, and I will get lots more pictures up on my Flickr site in the next couple of days.

Our next presentation was Sheila Holland and her amazing miniature quilts. She had a wonderful display set up at the front of the room as a backdrop for her talk.

Her husband Vern handed out packets to us during the talk, and what treasures they held! All hand made by Sheila, she even pours her own beeswax, which is in the little box that I couldn't bear to open. She gave us samples of the needles and pins she uses, sample templates, and a booklet with her tips for making miniatures.

Sheila explained that a true miniature is a 1" to 12" ratio, meaning a 12" square of a large quilt is reduced to a 1" square. She said that she tries to make hers so that when you look at it you don't know it's a miniature, and she definitely succeeds at it.

She gave us tips on the right way to cut patterns, how to pick a batting, printing templates, and what needles and thread she uses. Then she showed us her portfolio, and it was amazing to see.

She also told us about a new light bulb that Ott-lite put out that works in a regular lamp.

Her presentation was so awesome and inspiring, I can't wait to try out her tips and see what I can do.

At this point we broke for lunch. I've spent a lot of time in Worthington, but never eaten at the La Chatelaine restaurant. It was my loss, as I highly recommend it if you are in the area. The seafood sausage baguette was wonderful, and I snagged the last flan, which was the envy of all at the table, and even a couple of people walking by!

After lunch we assembled at the Doll Museum at the Old Rectory to take a tour with docent Sue Whitaker. The Old Rectory was built in 1845 for St. John's Episcopal Church, and has been moved twice, the last to it's present location. They had the most unbelievable doll collection! Although we couldn't take pictures, I'm including pictures of dolls to represent the ones in their collection.

The most stunning was an Izannah Walker, which was in pristine condition. It looked like it was just painted, and in all original clothing, including red leather shoes. For all the information you could ever want on Izannah Walker and her dolls, visit Dixie Redmond's site, Izannah Walker Chronicles, devoted to all things Izannah. She has an online class on making your own Izannah currently going on, too.
The museum does have a picture of their Izannah on their website, so be sure to take a peek.

They had a Joel Ellis Springfield Wooden, which had some paint loss on the head, as do almost all examples of this doll. It's wooden head swells and contracts over time, making the paint flake off, but these are spectacular dolls, wooden with jointed limbs and cast metal hands and feet.

Next, a Greiner, a personal favorite. She was wearing an open cage hoop skirt.

They also had milliner's models, French Fashion dolls, wax dolls, and more. If you are a doll aficionado, this is definitely worth a visit.

The also currently have a Parade of Doll Homes exhibit, with doll house from Bliss, Gottschalk, and others. Here is another link to Moritz Gottschalk house. Be sure to click the link for more pictures.

Our next stop was the Orange-Johnson House, an historic house partly built in 1811, and is one of the oldest houses in it's original location in Central Ohio. This is another "must see" if you are in the area. A truly amazing selection of quilts awaited us, laid out on beds in three rooms. On the top of the first bed was a breathtaking signature quilt in red and white, with a red zig-zag design around the border. I quickly whipped up this block to show you the pattern, so be kind on my stitches. :)

There are several examples of this block used on quilts in the book Quilts of Virginia. The makers of one quilt called the pattern "Apple Pie Ridge Star," and it is found in several Quaker quilts. Quaker's migrated to the area around Winchester, Virginia from Hopewell, Pennsylvania, attracted to it's fertile land. They established Hopewill Meeting in 1734. The road running through the area along a ridge was call The Ridge Road. During the Revolutionary War, captured Hessian soldiers would walk along the road to the quaker settlement to eat the apple pies they baked, and the road's name was changed to Apple Pie Ridge Road by 1801.

This was a signature quilt, with the signatures written in the center of the Apple Pie blocks. In the center of the quilt is this block.

I did a little research, and the Wright's were a very prominent family in the Wilminton area in the mid-1700 to mid 1800's, and the Matriarch's name was Susan. The time frame is not right, but it would be interesting to do the genealogy and see if this was possibly made for a descendant, and to see if the signatures could be matched to the area as well.

In the next room were some heavily quilted and red and green quilts with elaborate stuffed work. Words cannot describe them, so I won't even try. In the third room was a red and green Prince's Feather quilt with an elaborate crest, with "M.T.B., Prince's Feather, Cambridge, Ohio" quilted and stuffed in the center. It was breathtaking. I couldn't help but think how much easier it would be on quilt historians if all quilt maker's had quilted the name of their pattern on their quilt!

That ended our fascinating and educational day, with so many rarely seen dolls, and so many spectacular quilts. Thanks to Amy Korn and Sheila Holland, for their presentations, and Amy for arranging the day. Special thanks to Sharon Pinka, who put me up for the weekend, and chauferred me around! We made a stop at Jo-Ann's on the way home, and I picked up one of Sheila's tips, a Xyron sticker maker, which she used to make her small templates adhere to the fabric. I'm still not sure how it works, but I can't wait to put it to use!

Sunday, September 12, 2010


I've been busy sewing while I was blogging about the Study Day, but first I wanted to show you the new Sue Spargo tote bags I got. They are printed with her Magnolia Quilt, and were available for the Quiltmania show in France. They were so popular that she bought every one they had left, and my fingers flew to order a couple after I got the email about them. Aren't they cute?

Speaking of Sue Spargo, I have been reading about her Australian teaching tour with envy, but my chance is coming. She is teaching at a local shop next month, and I'm taking two of her classes. The class kits were in last weekend, so I picked them up and got right to work. I'm taking the berry sampler and the bird sampler classes.

Here they are, all ready for embellishment with threads, ribbons, and beads.

I've also been working on my Stawberry Quilt. I had to get a new ruler, Perfect Fans and Shells. I'm using it to make the rows of the strawberry. You just trace around it however many times you need for that row. No making a template!

Here is the strawberry, ready to applique.

I didn't get a chance to do much sewing this weekend, because I took a couple of classes. Yesterday I took an Oral History Workshop at our local museum. My Quilt History Study Group has been listening to oral history tapes of well known local quilters, such as Betty Boyink, who started the Hoffman Challenge, among other things, and Karen O'Dowd, who was an Editor at both Lady's Circle Patchwork Quilt and Quilter's Newsletter Magazines. A few of us took this workshop so we will be able to record more of these histories. The workshop was taught by Dr. James Smither of Grand Valley State University, who records oral histories of Veterans, and he shared a lot of information on everything from equipment and setup, to how to conduct the interview, and we did a sample interview and critiqued it. I learned a lot and signed up to be available to take them in the future. People took the class for various reasons, including genealogy and other projects they were working on. I plan on doing some for my own genealogy research, too.

After that class, I dashed across town to Cascade Hospital for Animals to take a Red Cross Pet First-aid class. I am now certified in pet first aid! This was a class dear to my heart, as I love my boys dearly, and also wanted to be able to help other injured animals. It was pretty intense training. Here is my table mate practicing CPR on a dog manikin. Of course, I practiced on a cat! We each got a pet first aid kit and a manual with DVD as part of the class. Hopefully I'll never have to use what I've learned, but I'll be ready just in case.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Study Day, Part II

After lunch in the church basement, and a check of the silent auction items, we met at the Richland County Museum. The museum was originally built in 1850 as a school. We were given a tour of the museum, which included antique wedding gowns, quilts, and 1830-1860 coverlets.

This is a plum silk brocade wedding dress worn by Margaret Dunshee in 1835. It features bishop sleeves, ruching, and pleating, as well as other decorative touches.

This is an 1860-62 plaid silk taffeta gown with double pagoda sleeves and a full cartridge pleated skirt.

The museum had quite a collection of coverlets and quilts displayed.

And then I turned to my right, and had to stop and do a double take when I saw this The Apotheosis of Benjamin Franklin and George Washington toile, which features George Washington in a chariot, and Ben Franklin in a fur cap!

Here is a picture of the same print, from the Collection of Robert Staples and Barbara Fahs Charles, which was included in the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary Exhibition 2005-2008. This is a copperplate print on cotton, and dates from 1785-1800. It was printed in sepia, red, and purple, that I've been able to find reference to, as well as a pink version printed in England in 1800 for the American Market.

After the museum tour, we all gathered in the church again for a talk by Virginia Gunn entitled "Nineteenth-Century Quilts and Woven Coverlets: Relationships of Style Shaped by Sharing a Visual Language." This talk explored the relationship between coverlets designs and pieced and appliqued quilt patterns. Here are Xenia Cord and Sharon Pinka displaying a red and green quilt illustrating the motifs common in early woven coverlets.

For further study of red and green quilts and their motifs, Xenia recommended The Quilted Garden, by Ricky Clark. I ordered it, since I am researching red and green quilts for my local Quilt History Study Group's Red and Green quilt exhibit at our upcoming quilt show, and it's a very informative and enjoyable book.

Virginia illustrated her talk with another amazing array of coverlets. Here she is showing a blue and white quilt with a grapevine border.

Notice leaves and berries alternating from side to side.

Here she shows a coverlet with the same pattern.

Laid side by side, you can see the influence of the coverlet's design on the quilt's border.

Virginia had charted the known coverlet weavers of Ohio on a map, and it just so happened that Mansfield, near where the Study Day was held, was the center of coverlet weaving in Ohio in the early 1800's. She then gave us a history of the weavers, with examples of their work. Prominent among them were the Meilly and Mellinger families. Meilly patterns were frequently purchased by weavers starting out. As their skills grew, they sometimes altered the patterns, or added totally new design elements of their own. It was fascinating to see how the designs were copied and altered from weaver to weaver.
Here she shows a coverlet woven by Charles Meilly.

Here is my favorite coverlet of the day, featuring peacocks. I just couldn't get enough of it, it was so stunning! Notice the double border.

Here is another "bird feeding it's young" example, with a floral border.

This is a photo I would ordinarily not include because it is such a terrible picture, but this was such an important coverlet for the presentation, that I'm showing it until I can, hopefully, locate a better picture from someone else who was there. The coverlet looked like the entire thing was made of half square triangles! It was amazing to see, and hard to believe it was woven, and not pieced. I hope you can get some idea from my picture.

It was a wonderful presentation, and very informative. I've only touched briefly on the weaver's and how the designs evolved because I was so absorbed I didn't take many notes. I'm interested in learning more about coverlets and weavers, and just received the book American Coverlets and Their Weavers, by Clarita Anderson, which was recommended to me, and I can't wait to read it.

Next we had show and tell, and saw more amazing quilts. I know I've used the words amazing and stunning way too much in my narrative, but let me tell you, I WAS amazed and stunned most of the time!
Diane Livezey brought this to show.

Kimmie Humrichouser brought two quilts to share. One was a silk log cabin variation.

And the other, this red and green Princess Feather.

Notice the alternating leaf and berry border.

Sandy Rice brought this Princess Feather.

And then there was a huge gasp as Donna Stickovich unfurled this. Notice I don't use the words amazing or stunning here, simply because no words can describe seeing this in person.

The center chintz motif is called "Hunt Cornucopia," or "Trophy at Arms," and is c. 1825.

A close-up of one of the broderie perse motifs.

The quilt I most wanted to take home, other than Donna's, but I'm trying to be realistic, is one Xenia brought. I took dozens of photos, but none does it justice. It shown like a jewel to me, the colors were so bright, and the fabrics so interesting. The close-up at the beginning of this post is from this quilt. The background is one solid piece, no seams!

My pictures aren't the best, as they were all taken while the quilt was folded over a pew, but they will give you an idea of the fabrics.

The Study Day was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I hope I was able to convey some of that feeling to you in my posts. I would like to thank Xenia Cord, Virginia Gunn, and Sharon Pinka for all the hard work they put into making this a truly memorable day!