• 22Aug

    About a year and a half ago I bought a signature quilt on Ebay.


    I bought it because I was intrigued by the design–and I love signature quilts.


    When I was trying to determine the block pattern I first saw the blue pinwheel in the design, but then the rest of the pattern didn’t really make sense


    Finally I realized that it’s a variation of a Rail Fence with three rails sewn around a red center.


    The seller knew nothing about the quilt.  She had purchased it at an estate sale in California.  I surmised it was a World War II raffle quilt—members of a group like a Ladies Air or Auxiliary solicited people to pay a dime or a quarter to have their name embroidered on the quilt, then the quilt was raffled off.  You could tell by the different writing that many women had participated in creating the embroidered blocks.


    I felt so sad that I didn’t know where this quilt had been made.  BUT, here’s the best part of the story.  My friend Jodi was visiting and I showed her the quilt.  Like me, she loves history and quilts, and she’s a geneologist!  She asked if she could take the quilt home for a bit and do some research, perhaps discover where this quilt was from.


    A few weeks later we met for lunch and so she could return the quilt.  Well, you’ll never believe this.  Not only did she find out where the quilt was from, she had found a book on the history of the area–Pulaski County, Illinois!  She presented me with the quilt and the book.  She had transcribed all the names–all 505 of them!  She had found references to several of the people from the quilt in the history book.  What a treasure.  My first thought was that I should see if there’s a historical museum in the county and send the quilt there, but I remember saying to Jodi, “I’d rather the quilt went to an individual who has a connection with this quilt.”  And that was the end of the story—for awhile.

    ph1                             Photo from Pleasant Home

    Jodi blogged about the quilt and eventually that blog came to the attention of a someone in Pulaski County!  When he read the post, he saw the names of his maternal grandmother and grandfather, his mother, an uncle, a great aunt and uncle, a cousin of his mother’s and his great-grandmother in one of the photos!  What were the chances!?!  Oh, and are you ready for this?  He’s a quilt collector!  I knew this quilt had found it’s home.


    Last week I sent it off and this quilt is now back where it belongs.

  • 08Nov
    Categories: quilting Comments Off on Fort Walla Walla Quilt Show

    My friend, Melinda, was just over in Walla Walla and went to the quilt show at the museum there.  Today she shared slides from the show, and I just had to post them.

    This Whig Rose was definitely the star of the show.  Amazingly, they have the provenance of the quilt.  It was made in 1854 by Mary K. Clark.


    The quilting is incredible.  There are over 350,000 stitches in it!


    This Enhanced Four Patch is a sweet quilt.  It’s not a design you see very often.  From the 1930′s.


    This is a really fine example of a Victorian era Crazy Quilt.  It has an amazing variety of stitches!


    Here’s a Churn Dash.  I see the label also refers to this pattern as Sherman’s March To The Sea.  I hadn’t heard that reference before, but I love it!  Quilt names say a lot about the what was happening in people’s lives.


    Doves at the Window is a very difficult pattern to piece.  Do you see the four doves in each block?  Isn’t it interesting that quilters were doing “abstract” designs over 150 years ago?


    I’m not at all familiar with this pattern, called Wisconsin Star.  It’s quite interesting the way it is pieced.


    Here’s a very traditional Dresden Plate.  Melinda thinks it may be from a Ruby McKim pattern entitled Friendship Ring–and I agree.  It has 20 petals in the plates and the ice cream cone border.


    The Double Wedding Ring pattern is probably one of the most recognizable quilt patterns—even among non-quilters.  The quilting on this one is lovely.


    Now this is incredible!  Small silk bands were wrapped around cigars to identify the manufacturer.  Never ones to waste bits of fabric (and undoubtedly attracted by their bright colors), women began to collect and save cigar silks.  They were most often yellow.  The maker of this jacket certainly had a huge collection of silks, and the purple ones are the perfect choice for the collar and cuffs.


    Her chevron design is perfectly pieced.  And once the piecing was done, she did a feather stitch—by hand, of course—along the edge of each band!


    This cigar silk quilt was found in the same trunk as the jacket.


    Again, beautifully sewn and feather stitched.


    And don’t you love the “fringed” border?


    An Eight Pointed Star.  The label refers to “Japanese” quilting.  Perhaps it’s reminiscent of Sashiko.


    This wool quilt was probably made from suiting samples from a tailor’s sample book.  My husband’s grandfather and great-grandfather were both tailors and we have some quilts similar to this.


    This is a very old Courthouse Steps quilt.


    I suspect it’s foundation pieced.


    Even utilitarian quilts are pleasing to the eye.


    This last pattern is called Hearts and Gizzards!


    Thank you, Melinda, for sharing with us!


  • 21Dec
    Categories: quilting Comments Off on Wordless Wednesday – Improved Four-Patch


  • 21Sep
    Categories: quilting Comments Off on Palouse Signature Quilt

    I LOVE it when quilts come a-visitng!  Yesterday I had a phone call from a woman who had just come into possession of a signature quilt and she thought I might like to see it.  Me?  Look at a quilt?  Eespecially an old quilt?  Hmm.  I said, “Okay,” before she could finish her sentence.  So today, Lois and our mutual friend Cortne` came by to show me the quilt.  Here’s its story.

    Lois and her family are from the Palouse–an area that spans the Washington/Idaho border and is known for it’s fertile farm land.  Coincidentally it’s where my Grandma Ikey grew up!  Bill Taylor photo, snagged from the web.

    Recently, an aunt of Lois’ passed away.

    Lios was unable to visit her aunt’s home, but her brother was invited to come by and see if there was anything he would like as a memento.

    When he saw this quilt, he knew he’d better take it for Lois.

    What a good brother!

    Judging by the fabrics, this quilt was made in the late Thirties or early Forties.

    Lois recognized several of the names on the quilt, including another one of her aunts, Elva Calhoun.

    It’s beautifully made and quilted, and I loved looking at the fabrics (of course!).

    There was even someone with the last name Snyder, but, alas, not a relative of mine.

    Here’s Lois with her new treasure.  Big kudos to her brother for making sure this quilt stayed in the family and is now living with someone who loves it.

    If there are any more quilts that want to come visit me, I’m ready!

  • 19Jul

    The High Desert Museum in Bend had an exhibit called Quilts: Bedding to Bonnets, so we decided to check it out.  It was in a small gallery at the museum, but a very lovely exhibit.

    Like most people, I tend to forget that the art of quilting–stitching fabric together with tiny stitches, wasn’t always used just for bedding.  I took photos of the descriptions of the articles in the exhibit and will share them with you!

    “Petticoat.  Machine quilted white cotton with hand gathered waistband and cotton batting.  C. 1860.”

    “Petticoat.  Hand quilted cotton with diamond pattern.  c. 1875.”

    “Petticoat.  Calico prints.  c. 1880.”

    “Bonnet.  Quilted silk with wool batting.  Used as winter hood.  c. 1860.”

    Bed jacket.

    “Comfort on the Trail 1841-1868.  Quilts were a much-needed commodity on the Oregon Trail.  Referred to as bedding, quilts could warm bodies, cradle treasures and provide quick cover from the elements.  Guidebooks recommended two or three bedding articles per person to be sufficient.  Quilts were bartered for river passage, supplies, and other necessities.”

    “When tragedy hit the Trail, quilts were used in burials to wrap around the body, as no time could be spent to make coffins.”

    “‘The bodies were wrapped together in a bed comforter and wound, quite mummified with a few yards of string that we made by tying together torn strips of cotton dress skirt.’  Catherine Haun, 1849 diary of her travels on the Oregon Trail.”

    “Princess Feather with Star Pattern.  Quilts like this one were often used in political fundraisers for the Whig’s Party.”

    “To achieve green, the fabric was dyed yellow then blue.  c. 1850.”

    “Sunflower Quilt. Sunflower patterns are appliqued on.  The densely quilted top has a shell pattern around the border.”

    “Red, white and double pink colorings with novelty prints in the Indigo blue.  c. 1850.”

    “Silk Fan Quilt. The Centennial International Exhibition of 1876 was held in Philadelphia to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  The Japanese exhibit influenced Americans to adopt Japanese styles and motifs throughout their homes. The Silk Fan Quilts was a popular motif for decades after the exhibition.  c. 1890.”

    “Whole Cloth Quilt. This white-on-white cotton quilt was made by Sarah Dibble Conley of Minnesota, 1856-1950.”

    “The variety of quilted designs showcase the quilter’s talent.  The quilt’s unique feature is that it was made of one large piece of cotton, which was expensive to buy in the day.  c. 1900.”

    A lovely little vignette.

    “Women’s Relief Corps Ribbon Quilt. This quilt consists of ribbons of the Womens Relief Corps from the Oregon Pioneer Association Meetings.”

    “These meetings were held around the state of Oregon and in other states.”

    Participants were given ribbons to wear, showing what year they had crossed the plains.  If you note below, there is also a ribbon that says “GAR.”  That stands for Grand Army of the Republic.  It was also popular to hold reunions for those who served in the Union Army during the Civil War.  This ribbon would have come from one of those gatherings.

    c. 1925.

    “During the Great Depression, women continued to quilt with renewed enthusiasm.”

    “American Legion Auxiliary Quilt. Community quilts like this one were made with bold, original designs and a strong sense of purpose.  The people whose names were embroidered on the quilt were involved with post 9 of the American Legion Auxiliary in Salem, Oregon.”

    “Past officers names are designated with titles.  Two of the names also have gold stars.”  I believe those two women lost sons during the war.  c. 1931.

    I don’t know why there weren’t individual signs on these quilts.  I know this pattern as Hummingbird or Snowball.

    Even a utility quilt like this Nine-Patch was made to look beautiful with its four block setting, green sashing and pink cornerstones.

    This darling Noah’s Ark Quilt was undoubtedly a kit quilt.

    This Ohio Rose in yellow is absolutely gorgeous.  Both the applique and quilting are exquisite.  I love the swagged border.

    If you look closely, you’ll see that this butterfly quilt has yellow sashing, but it has faded to almost whilte.

    In another section of the museum was this wagon with another vintage quilt.  I snapped this photo both for the quilt and the canvas that says 1852.  That’s the year my great-grandmother crossed from Missouri to Oregon Territory.

  • 05May
    Categories: brilliant ideas Comments Off on Kids Quilt for Japan

    I got this email this morning, and I think it speaks for itself!

    Hi, Karen,

    It’s been several days since I’ve read your blog, but I caught up this morning and saw some of the pics from the quilt show.  I went there with a couple of friends and their 9YO granddaughter.  She is a member of the Northwest Quilters Youth group, along with 4 other 9- and 10-YOs.  We saw an easy strippy quilt there, done in scraps plus solid blue, and were taken with how easy it would be to teach the girls.

    Just a few days later was the call for Quilts for Japan.  In one session, the five girls sewed all the strips and assembled the front, plus the long strip for the backing.  I thought you might like to see.  It turned out really beautiful, as almost all scrappy quilts do.

    The hardest part for the girls: Just Use The Next Strip You Pull From The Bag!  (and, oh yes, the continuing quest for a quarter-inch seam allowance!)

    Thanks for the inspiration,
    Maureen in Portland

    The only thing I can add is a big CONGRATULATIONS, GIRLS!!!

  • 03May
    Categories: Everything! Comments Off on Vintage Double Wedding Ring

    Someone just stopped by to show my a vintage Double Wedding Ring quilt she has and ask me for some advice and information.  You know what an effort it is for me to look at vintage quilts.  NOT!


    This is an extremely lovely example of a Double Wedding Ring.  White it is showing some wear, the workmanship on it is some of the best I’ve ever seen–and I’ve looked at a lot of vintage quilts in my day!  Her circles are perfectly round.

    The fabric placement is the same in every arc, indicating she purchased fabric for this quilt.  No scrap bag for this treasure!  I have a feeling it really was made for someone as a wedding gift–or perhaps from someone’s hope chest.

    I love the different graphic aspects of Double Wedding Ring.  And I think you can see in this photo how beautiful her quilting is.

    The binding is impeccably done, and very narrow.

    I wish you could see her quilting stitches.  I’m not usually one to count stitches, but these were so, so tiny, I just had to.  They are consistently 13 stitches to the inch.  Can you imagine!

    But, it’s been well used and the fabric is starting to deteriorate in many places.

    Around some of the arcs it has split.  I never feel too bad when I see wear like this on a vintage quilt.  It was obviously made to be used, and it was used.  This quilt undoubtedly provided decades of service, keeping the lucky ones sleeping under it toasty warm.

    It has one tear where it was caught on something.

    Saddest of all, though, is this stain made from candle wax.

    Of course the question is, should it be restored.  That’s a hard one to answer.  I did give Donna several things to consider.  And in the meantime, I’m enjoying looking at it on my design wall!



  • 13Apr
    Categories: quilting Comments Off on A New Old Quilt

    I was in Bend, Oregon earlier this week.  There’s an antique mall in Redmond that I always try to visit when I’m in the area, because I usually find something quilt-y there that I can’t resist.  I wasn’t disappointed.

    The best find was this quilt.

    It has great 1930′s fabrics for the flowers and a true 1930′s dark green for the leaves.

    I love the delicate way they are connected with the embroidery.  There’s almost an Art Nouveau feel to it.

    I’ve not seen this pattern before.  Does anyone know the name or history of it?

    I also came home with a few other things, like this guy cut from an old quilt.  I just love his daisy britches!

    And I can never resist a batch of butterfly blocks.

    I’m not sure why I was tempted by this Double Wedding Ring piece, but it came home with me, too.

    Lastly, this embroidered splash was too cute to resist.

  • 15Oct
    Categories: Everything!, musings, quilting, travels here Comments Off on Quiltopia – Part 2

    Our next stop was a tour of the Bush House, featuring red and green quilts from 1840 – 1860.

    Again, considering it’s October, the grounds were lovely.

    Mr. Bush, I presume!

    This house had the most elegant wall papers.

    Many of them had fantastic, coordinating borders.

    And there was truly a treasure trove of oil paintings.

    Our guide was a hoot, tailoring the tour to our interests.  Here he demonstrates the player organ.

    Another beautiful painting.  I especially love the seascapes.

    And this old map of Salem is pretty cool.

    Check out this hot water bottle in it’s holder.  The “bottle” is made from copper.  I have a holder like this that’s embroidered ‘hot water’ but I never knew the insert would have been copper.

    Near the kitchen was a different style of painting.

    What a great stove.  I’m sure some grand meals were prepared on it.

    The punched tin pie safe is pretty neat, too.

    Kitchen weren’t “public” places in Victorian homes, so no reason to have doors on the cupboards.

    Even though this kitchen light fixture is plain, it still has an elegant grace.  I think it may have originally been a gas fixture.

    This mug is so similar to an ABC plate that my mom has.

    Of course every historic home had a hole where they buried trash….

    ….and today people love to dig through them to see what they can find.

    The good china was in the butler’s pantry.

    Very pretty.

    Another beautiful oil painting.

    Mr. Bush again.  I was in love with this frame.  It was made by someone locally.

    It was the pinecones that sucked me in.

    Ah, finally, the quilts!  This Arkansas Lily was hanging on the banister upstairs.  Often times in the old red and green quilts, the green will have faded to a soft tan.

    This light fixture was a combination of gas and electricity.  People just weren’t sure that new-fangled electricity was going to catch on!

    A gorgeous medallion quilt with eagles.

    Again, you can see that the green dye was fugitive.  But remember, these quilts are 150 – 170 years old!

    I don’t think ladies of the day carried as much stuff in their purses as we do!

    This quilt is in pristine condition.

    I hope you can see the beautiful quilting on it.

    Of course a lady always had hand work at the ready.  Idles hands are the devils workshop, after all!

    Another beautiful Lilly quilt.

    I love the scalloped border.

    Here’s an interesting piece.

    This Palm quilt was stunning.

    I love how the border anchored everything.

    One of the bedrooms had this gorgeous wallpaper border.

    I believe this is a variation of the Whig Rose pattern.

    The fan quilting is amazing.

    And I love the pitcher, or urn, appliques.

    One last oil painting to share with you.

    This Pomegranate quilt also uses a popular color from the 1840′s—cheddar.

    Again, this quilt looked like it was brand new.

    This Mariner’s Star is quite spectacular.

    The floral border is unusual on a quilt like this.

    Oops!  Someone left out their underwear box!

    Part 3 still to come–photos from the quilt show!

  • 13Oct
    Categories: Everything!, travels here Comments Off on Quiltopia – Part 1

    Connie, Robin and I were on the road again recently, this time to Salem, Oregon for Quiltopia, a weekend quilting event there.

    This was a perfect day for me because it combined all my favorite things—good friends, vintage quilts, old houses and high tea!  We started at Deepwood Estate.

    The grounds were gorgeous.

    I couldn’t believe there was so much blooming so late in the year.

    We were ushered into the Carriage House for a lecture before tea.

    Our speaker, Vickie Simpson, was even dressed in period clothing for her presentation.

    She gave a good talk about the history of quilting and had some lovely Dresden Plate quilts displayed.  This one had an ice cream cone border on three sides.

    I’m familiar with this pattern as Fancy Dresden Plate since it has ellipses in the center and pointed pieces at the four compass points.

    The Dresden Plate below is button hole stitched in place and has a bubble gum pink sashing.  It’s a simpler block and has a simpler variation of the ice cream cone border.

    Here’s a pretty variation where every other blade (almost) is consistent.

    I like the different pinks here.  And notice that since she had an odd number of blades, two solids ended up side by side.

    Here’s an orphan block.

    She also brought this satin crib quilt that her grandmother had made for her.

    Then, we were take to the big house.

    It’s a gorgeous old Victorian.

    The tables were beautifully set.

    I loved the pink sugar cubes!

    Connie and me, waiting for our first course!

    Connie and Robin.

    Between courses we were treated to more vintage quilts, like this Snow White one.

    Our first course was heirloom tomato soup and a cheese scone.  Delicious.

    I always love seeing Sunbonnet Sue in her many forms.

    And I was delighted to see this fabric with the four suits of cards on it!

    Oh, our main course!  We had puff pastry filled with mushrooms, quiche and a deviled ham sandwich.  Once again, delicious!

    This quilt had Sunbonnet Sue and several different butterfly patterns…

    …and a terrific looking “tablecloth” print on the back.

    Dessert was a spiced cake roll.  Did I mention, the food was delicious!?!

    A traditional butterfly quilt.

    Then it was time to tour the house.  The mantle was lovely.

    I’ve seen lots of delicate hot chocolate sets, but never one with a matching china tray.

    There were quilts displayed around the house, like this one on the bannister.

    Oh, my.  Imagine having a waist that size?

    A pretty Trip Around the World.

    The yellow china on this table was so pretty, and looked so great displayed against the yellow fan quilt.

    The ivy wallpaper was very nice.

    And I loved this green light fixture.

    This light makes a really cool pattern on the ceiling!

    Ah, I could happily sleep under this Irish Chain quilt and let someone bring me some scones in bed in the morning.

    I have this very same pillow!

    Doll quilts are always charming.

    This cactus basket is very pretty.

    As is this Grandmother’s Flower Garden.  I love how the hexagons have been fussy cut.

    I covet this doll bed!

    Now that’s a vintage sewing machine!

    There’s more Quiltopia to come!