Monday, December 31, 2007

Ardis& Robert James; International Quilt Study Center 2008

This couple has given so much to the world of antique quilts, for study and for pleasure. We owe them in large part for the development of the International Quilt Study Center. Many people associated with the University of Nebraska in Lincoln NE have helped bring this org. forth and to every one of them I say a big thank you. The International Quilt Study Center was founded in 1997 when native Nebraskans Ardis and Robert James donated their collection of nearly 950 quilts to the university. It has since become the largest public collection of its kind. It currently holds more than 2,300 quilts, with four major collections that include three other private collector's contributions.Once the James ball got rolling, it become greater and never stopped. What will 2008 bring?

On March 30, 2008 there will be a grand opening celebration of their new Museum, gallery, education and storage building. The glass and brick building, designed by the internationally renowned Robert A.M. Stern Architects of New York. The international study center is dedicated to the research, preservation and display of important quilts from cultures around the world. The $12 million facility is privately funded through contributions to the University of Nebraska Foundation, including a lead gift from the Robert and Ardis James Foundation of Chappaqua, N.Y. In addition to the Ardis and Robert James Collection of antique and contemporary studio art quilts, the collection also includes the Cargo Collection of African American Quilts, and the Jonathan Holstein Collection, which includes the seminal Whitney Collection and an unparalleled group of Pennsylvania Amish quilts. As part of the IQSC grand opening activities on March 30, famed quilter Nancy Crow will lecture on contemporary quilts at 4 p.m. in the Harding Center Auditorium located nearby.

"Uncovering the Quilt"is a newspaper article about how Ardis and Robert James became interested in collecting quilts and building their enormous and gorgeous collection which they have been donating to the International Quilt Study Center in Lincoln, Nebraska.

A current article tells us about their motivation and interest in collecting contemporary ART Quilts the James' have also donated to IQSC. The January 2008 issue of Arts and Antiques contains an article by Suzanne Smith Arney "Stitches Across Borders" with great photos and details about the James' and the art quilt movement.

I suggest you make a 2008 resolution to frequently visit IQSC's web pages A Virtual Quilt Gallery will be available at both the IQSC and online at It will provide multimedia, interactive experiences for visitors of all ages. Individuals may design a quilt, inspect details of quilts from the thousands of archived images and videotape their own quilt stories on topics including family memories, artistic inspiration, technical challenges and historical facts. These Web-based services will allow visitors to share their experiences via e-mail.


Needled Art Online

First and foremost, HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all! 2008 will be great is my motto for this upcoming year. I can feel it- can you?

Recently I came across some remarkable quilts made in the ART style, not contemporary, but ART. I see a big difference between the two types, and like them both. I can and have made contemporary quilts, but want to push my limits this year by making some art quilts. So in the search for ideas I found these quilts online and will share the links with you.

An online exhibit of about 15 art quilts by acclaimed artists including their thoughts, materials used and a mini-bio.

A patchwork quilt top made of 2"x 2" sampler-style sqs. made by many women. Each block is dedicated to the memory of their friend in beading, Barb Davis. This quilt is made 100% from beads. Barb's work

An exhibit of merkins which quilt artist Linda Gass curated gets my award for the most unique challenge topic, not only of the year, but the entire course of quilt history! Do you know what a merkin is? Linda puts it into the category of intimate apparel

Dee Clements embroiders old hankies with comic-style pictures and words that tell stories.

Arle Skylar-Weinstein used digital photos to make a layered effect on her quilts. Her quilt offers a great deal of variance in topics, colors, and themes.

Remember PBS will start their Art quilt TV program in January. See my Nov. 2007 post for link and more info about it. And see the Houston Quilt Festival post while there for the link to their art quilt exhibit online.

Cheers to a happy quilt filled, historical year for us all.

Piece, Kim

Suffrage quilts

Chris posted this question after viewing the Lindbergh redwork quilt (See Nov. 2007 for photos)

Have you done any posts or articles about suffrage quilts? WCTU and drunkard's path suffrage quilt? Have you done any posts or articles about suffrage quilts? WCTU and drunkard's path suffrage quilt?

I have casually looked into the use of quilts in women's rights and Temperance movements. WTCU, Women's Christian Temperance Movement, began in the 1870s during the Reconstruction period, after the suffrage movement was well under way. And there was a suffrage movement for the equal rights of African Americans, which culminated in the 15th amendment ratified in 1870, which stated that a man could not be prevented from voting because of their race, color or previous condition of servitude. The feminists were disappointed their rights were not included in this amendment.

Quilts did not seem to play a role within the women's suffrage organization, as in fundraising or raising awareness, however Susan B. Anthony chose to make her first speech at a quilting bee! The suffrage movement began in the 1840's which is somewhat before women were quick to turn their quilt making into fundraisers. In the middle to end of the century more quilts were made to reflect political and social causes and to raise funds, especially for the CW. The women's right to vote came around 1920 and I am not aware of any historical quilt made public that reflects this. I hope someone will post of they know of such quilts!

It's an interesting state of affairs, that women would not turn more to their needle and thread for their own fight. Perhaps it was the very fact that sewing was considered a women's job or role in the 19th century anyway, that made her turn away from engaging in that role to stand on a new ground as a equal and viable citizen.

Signature quilts were made for the WTCU from the beginning to serve as endorsements for the cause. Patchwork quilts were made in the shape of T's, drinking goblets, and the curved drunkard's path block seen in a variety of formations. The White Ribbon was the logo for lack of a better word for WTCU, and so it too was made into a pieced block. Fundraising quilts and "Chapter" quilts were made and signed by regional chapters of the national WTCU starting in the 19th century. I have a very large, approx. 20"x 20" WTCU commemorative handkerchief depicting a map of the US (in orange ink on a white ground) marking all the places Frances E. Willard, the most important leader of the org., spoke for the cause. Around the edges are line drawings of her home and buildings where she spent time.

For more information about a Temperance quilt made near the end of prohibition, see AQSG's journals "Uncoverings 2003" for a paper by Sarah Rose Dangelas, The Cultural significance of the Block Island Woman's Christian Temperance Union Quilt of 1931.

Thank you for your question. Please feel free to post any information you have about this.

Piece, Kim

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Nancy Crow

I think quilt artist Nancy Crow would wholeheartedly agree with Julia Cameron's words "For many of us, our artists [within our self] have been waiting to speak with us for years....We are spiritual beings and when our spirit grows larger, so must we. There will be no comfortable resting in yesterday's definition of ourselves." WALKING IN THIS WORLD.

Nancy's new book is; CROSSROADS Constructions, Markings and Structures. It is a beautiful book showcasing her latest work showing 25 new quilts, never before seen outside Nancy's studio. This is actually a catalog for a 2008 exhibit which will continue to move about the country. Nancy works in series, and this book covers three series. All of the quilts were created over a two-year span and mark a new direction in Nancy's work, including her experimentation with screen- printing and direct-to-fabric blocking. The quilts are shown in incredible detail. Work-in-progress shots taken inside Nancy's studio, along with excerpts from her private sketchbooks provide unique insight into the life and work of this incredible artist. It was this that I most liked about her 2007 book, NANCY CROW. CROSSROADS cost less than half as much at $22.95, as that one but the photography is just as beautiful and the impact is too. This book shows quilts that are completely different from her earlier quilts, and the other book is a retrospective.


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Victorian Gala

Last weekend I was fortunate to be a volunteer at Heritage Square Museum's Victorian Christmas tour. This is an annual event, but my first. It won't be my last.

The Hale House, ca. 1886

Heritage Square is essentially a museum of old and architecturally important structures, mostly houses, moved to a park-like property north of Los Angeles to restore and preserve them. Guided tours are offered, and period furnishings and decorative arts fill many of the rooms. Everything has a story and the docents are very knowledgeable. They love to dress up in costume, hair and all, to partake in period events like this one. They converse frequently about historical events and such, with ease and flair- conversations there are so different then the usual ones going on in southern California!

Being there Saturday evening was like a step back in time, for me, heaven. My clothes were not old, but authentic reproductions. Natalie,(far left) is the creator of my outfit and runs the costuming at the museum with her extensive knowledge and deep felt passion for historical sewing and dressing with authenticity.

Natalie chose a 19th century woman's wool suit and a high neck lace blouse for me to wear.(far right) Denise and Rene are in the center.

Boy did I need it on that cold night. I worked reception and greeted people outside, so when the temp got in the low 50s they gave me a black velvet hooded cape with pink satin lining to wear. Suddenly images of Little Red Riding Hood overtook Victorian lady!

We got to dress upstairs in the Hale house, a high style Victorian. This area is off-limits to tours, but is sometimes used for TV or movie sets. I couldn't wait to see it up there. We were surrounded by gorgeous tester beds, chests, and dressers with big mirrors in three rooms, with movable racks of clothes everywhere you looked. This happenstance scene reminded me of "Little Women."

Used for covers on one of the beds or should I say unnoticed on the bed under all the girl-stuff were quilts from the Civil War era. Had there been time and not so much to move I would have taken full photos of them, but that day will come, I promise you that.

I will tease you with these photos for now-

LeMoyne Star pattern with sashing and cornerstones, ca. 1865 (left)

A srappy Irish Chain pattern, ca. 1840 (above & below)

Here are some more beautiful costumes and the outside of the mid-19th Perry House.

A big thanks to Ken Johnson for use of his photos (the two above and the Hale House at top) and to Heritage Square Museum for their permission to use them here. HSM is open all year long and worth a visit when you are near LA or Pasadena CA.

Monday, December 3, 2007

John Hewson Textile

I have some wonderful news to share with those of you interested in the 18th century printer, John Hewson.

In my research article "The Man of Many Vases: John Hewson Calico Printer," FOLK ART magazine of the American Folk Art Museum, (Fall 2007), I describe the 2005 acquisition of a Hewson printed panel by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC. This textile brings the total number of documented individual panels to 4. (their measurements vary but average around 30" X 30") Previous to the auction, it was in a private collection in NJ. A very exciting find and now you all can see it.

A photo of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Hewson printed panel is now on their website!

I describe 28 textiles that contain printing by Hewson. They are the only ones known to exist at this time. The article includes several large photos and details of his work, including one quilt never seen publicly and one panel seldom seen before. The first half of the 11 page article is biographical, including new information.

To order the magazine call the museum: 212-265-1040, ext.124. You can view the magazine's article list here FOLK ART. When you join the museum, the magazine is included, so consider that option too.

After viewing the photos, if you realize you have one of these in your closet or if ever see one not listed in the article, let me know!!


Sunday, December 2, 2007


Think of what art quilters could do with this image.

Beginning Jan. 2008 "Quilting Arts TV" will be a show on PBS. Patricia Bolton is the host to a long list of big names in the fiber art community. Should be excellent! Check your local listings for times and dates or quiltingarts


Friday, November 30, 2007

Lindbergh Kidnapping in a Redwork Quilt

A rare quilt is viewable online right now, but it's for sale so take a peek while you can. It is a quilt of redwork blocks depicting the kidnapping of the Lindbergh's baby in 1932. There are 20 blocks beginning with an outline stitch of lucky Lindy and the next of his wife Ann. Another block is a depictions of men going up a ladder on the outside of their house, and other original designs telling the story of this famous kidnapping.

This quilt is an example of folk art in the truest sense of the word, no pattern is known, and it was made by an interested anonymous embroiderer and quilter who lived in the county where the trial was held, Hunterdon County NJ. What a piece of Americana this is!

I know the owner of this piece and she has had it in her private collection for a long time. She is a reliable reporter and honest dealer. I am not involved in this sale, just sharing the news of the views with you.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Houston Quilt Festival 2007 & Project Runway

Hurry- only on line until the end of November are 3 videocasts (aka vidcasts) of special quilt exhibits at Houston Quilt Festival;Amish and "English" Quilts, The Quilt of Belonging, and A Sense of Place from SAQA

They are all wonderful. A really nice opportunity for those of us not able to make it in person. Thank you Karey and Bonnie Lyn McCaffery.

There will be more vidcasts on Bonnie's website, after Dec. 1. In fact Bonnie offers other vidcasts on a regular basis, interviews, how-tos, and events. She is a very good teacher on the vidcast and in person! I enjoyed a lovely dinner with her in Ashville, NC while teaching there last Spring. Esterita Austin was with us too. Her work is recognized by the gorgeous quilts on black grounds with colored stones going up or down stairs and through arched doors. Terry, as she likes to be called, is a trained painter and she uses these principles in her fabric art. Be sure to watch her vidcast with Bonnie that is on Bonnie's website now.

This evening is the 3rd night of Project Runway and from the ads it looks like it will be unique to say the least. Enjoy! I would love to receive your comments afterward.

I think they made the best choice last week, but had that outfit actually worked out as drawn, it would have been a very cool addition to Sara Jessica Parker's line I think.


Monday, November 19, 2007

Creative lives

"For many of us, our artists [within our self] have been waiting to speak with us for years...We are spiritual beings and when our spirit grows larger; so must we. There will be no comfortable resting in yesterday's definition of ourselves."
Julia Cameron
Walking in this World: The Practical Art of Creativity

How often do you push the limits of your quilt making? When was the last time you read a quilt history book? Do you prefer to use a pattern or make up your own design? Do you prefer to buy a collection of fabric, or pick and chose each piece individually? Are you a traditional quilter who has never taken an art quilt class? Have you ever read a pioneer quilter's biography about her years on the plains and tried, really spent time, imagining living that life yourself? When was the last time you went to an antique quilt exhibit that wasn't part of a quilt show?

When your world seems small, stretch yourself; call out your inner artist or curious historian. Who knows where that will take you.
Here you will meet a fearless artist, who will go far in her art, and might even win this competition. Her voice isn't perfect, but her heart and soul are in her art. The quilts we make, just like those made by pioneers, will not be perfect, but they can be a voice for our heart and soul.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Project Runway's Debut

The first night of season 4 on Project Runway did not disappoint. The cast of 15 seem well suited to a show about designing clothing in cramped quarters with 14 other creative competitors. The dynamics are ripe for some good dialogue and interesting designs.

Even though I liked Simone because of her interest in vintage clothes and antique inspired textiles, I think booting her was the right choice in this first challenge, darn it. Her runner-up, who made the dress that dragged another few dresses behind it, at least could sew well and had good color sense. That dress looked fab from the front.

I am wondering if there have been others changes in the show due to the fact that Tim is no longer employed by the school of Parsons. If you noticed, they have changed their living quarters and design and sewing room, and the first competition was different. appears to be a new sponsor, while Tres Somme and L'Oreal continue their sponsorship. Tim looks and acts the same. Heidi is beautiful and perky as always, and not pregnant, currently.

The main judges returned and are well matched to their job now more than before. They are entiwined with it now, they have found their spot in the system and they seem to enjoy it more, in my humble opinion. Throughout the seasons they have made some good points and offered useful criticism, but at times they can be hard and/or blind. There are times when what they think is hip is too far out, and what I think is stunning makes them yawn. Know what I mean? Inviting a new judge for each round is smart; it balances out the group and makes this part of the show less predicatble! Plus I like seeing and hearing from famous designers in the raw, outside of their usual environment, giving their personal opinion. I imagine it means quite a lot to the contestants too, assuming they agree with the opin offered.

BTW, if you haven't heard Seal's new CD, System, it is terrific! Heidi Klume sings their wedding song with him briefly in a duet. Her voice is pretty, different than her speaking voice, it is soft and probably electronically modified. I find Seal's first CD, Seal, to be so fantastic, it is unbeatable. His new one, "System," is excellent nonetheless. If you feel like moving, it's dance or exercise music from the first song to the end.

Piece to you and those you sew, design or quilt with!


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Project Runway

Are you as excited as I am for the new season of Project Runway? It begins tonight!

What I like about this show is that it is honoring sewing and creativity. As quilters, we do this automatically when we tell others about the joys and challenges of quilting, when we exhibit our quilts or give one as a gift. Unless we are a Katie Pasquini-Masopust, or Caryl Bryer Fallert, or Cindy Vermillion Hamilton, we do this in our personal world, our guild, and at our quilt shows. Project Runway, on the other hand, speaks to a national audience and it was the highest rated show ever on Bravo, during last season's series.

Watching the designers work within limitations of time, materials, and colors or themes , I am reminded of quilt challenges. Some of the designers prefer to draw out their idea on paper first, while others prefer to work more spontaneously. Some of them prefer to stay within a certain "look", while others prefer to try new things and challenge themselves to push their own limits. Still sounds like quilters to me. Some designers show Tim what they are made of when they take his opinion into no account whatsoever, while others value Tim's opinion and make the most out of his opinion near the end of their design time.

This season, four of the designers are from Los Angeles: Sweet P, Simone LeBlanc, Kit Pistol, and Rami Kashou, and their ages range from 26 to 46. They all have training and come with a background in designing clothing -- some professionally; others hoping this will be their stepping stone. Simone has caught my eye, as she states that her signature style includes "historical details such as 1920s drop waists or over sized collars, 'there's a timelessness about them and an undercurrent of romanticism, but they're never frilly.' " (LA TIMES, Nov. 11, 2007, P9)

Tim Gunn is so much fun to watch in action. He is like the quilt teacher you both loved and feared and will always remember as the one who brought about a turning point in your creative life. See Tim at a book signing and read a review of his book on style: Tim Gunn, A Guide to Taste, Quality, and Style

For more about Cindy V. Hamilton's quilt making book: "Medallion Quilts, Inspiration and Patterns" Cindy's quilt is also featured on the last page of this month's Quilter's Newsletter magazine.

Katie and Caryl were on the Quilt Channel blog: blog: April 1, 2007

Katie's quilt was featured on PBS' Century of Quilts


Welcome to my new blog about quilts, anything realted to their manufacture, sewing, fabrics, creativity, and women's lives in the 18-21th centuries that included quilts or sewing. I hope to hear from anyone who visits my Web sites: New Pathways Into Quilt History or
Antique Quilt Dating Guides

We can talk about things that are too brief for a website article but are meaningful and educational nonetheless. Anything goes here if it concerns quilts and quilting -- from antique to art fabric -- of all kinds, regions, time frames, dyes, prints styles, reproduction quilt patterns and styles, or regional differences; even books about such things as reasons women made and still make quilts, from the past to the present -- remember Quilters are always making history!

Your thoughts, opinions, and quilt experiences are welcome here. I also enjoy definitions of terms, quotes of all kinds, and info about people who were important in quilt history but are little known to most of us. They may be living in your hometown or have passed over already, but what they did with quilts mattered, and we will share it here. Furnishings and period details are of great interest to me, especially the fabrics used through the various eras and styles.

When this blog can post pictures, then we will. I understand that it's not working very well right now. I am just getting started, so join in and help it grow and fill the gaps, whatever they may be, in the world of quilt history.

Thank you for visiting. You can sign up to receive notices of postings or book mark it.