Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Sign of the Times

teaching sewing cover 5.1976 It seems to me that nearly every week I hear about a quilt or fabric shop closing. Not just here, but all over the country. Yet, I also keep hearing that fabric purchases for clothing are on the rise. More and more women and girls are making their own clothes. In fact, I received a phone call today from a woman asking where her 19 year old granddaughter could get sewing lessons, as she wanted to start her own business.

photo of my quilt, ca. 1900-1920 scrappy
The other common theme being discussed in quilting blogs, articles, and among quilters, is the Great Depression. No, not the one we are in, but the first one. With the GD comes history and the people's stories. Reading them I forget that we are in one ourselves. Nothing like the distraction being, well, the same thing as the problem you want to be distracted from!

So it wasn't a surprise when I came across two wonderful women's articles today on these topics. If you enjoy reading history of women's lives, read these and see if you feel yummy or ? If you don't like history, skip them because you won't feel yummy or distracted at all.

Great Depression Survivor:I worked for Shoes, by Kimberly Palmer "Everyone knows about patchwork3.1980 quilts which we used for bed covers. The tops of our quilts were made of scrap material left from my mother’s sewing projects. The patterns varied with the colors and sizes of the pieces. Patterns were obtained from relatives and neighbors-often copied from quilts or magazines. The tops were quilted by hand to muslin linings through cotton batting.

My mother made our night clothes from flannel for the winter, but we generally slept in old dresses or slips in warmer weather. We usually had about two or three dresses each for everyday and one for Sunday. I remember one time, I had gotten all my everyday dresses dirty and my mother allowed me to wear my Sunday to school on Monday which was wash day... As I was crossing the creek, I fell in and got my dress wet and muddy and I had to go back home. I missed school that day because I had nothing presentable to wear to school." U.S. News and World Report, Jan. 7, 2009

July 1979Life Before Shopping by Patricia McLaughlin "It's only in retrospect — now that it's over — that you begin to notice how odd it was that shopping, a task that played such a minor role in the lives of most Americans before World War II, should over the last half-century have so thoroughly captivated, saturated and finally remade American society, culture, values, habits and folkways in its own image....

I can't remember which sociologist pointed out that a big part of the modernizing of American households universally ballyhooed as progress in the late 1940s and 1950s — the washers and dryers and vacuum cleaners and ready-made clothes and store-bought cake mixes and canned goods and cellophane-wrapped cakes and cookies and loaves of airy sliced bread — boiled down to the de-skilling of housework. ...

Women whose mothers had been highly skilled producers of cakes and jams and quilts and clothing instead developed skills as competitive shoppers.

In retrospect, it seems like a bad bargain. Notice how much of the work women were "rescued" from in the 1950s — quilting, baking, knitting, cooking from scratch, growing vegetables — has found its way back into their lives relabeled as recreation." Read on to find out why she thinks.

McLaughlin's entire article is a yummy read. She supports her thesis well. I just couldn't get the Maytag repair man, sitting on his chair, out of my mind :)

I have a dozen or more "Olde Time Needlework Patterns and Designs" magazines for sale. Not necessarily those shown above. Email me for info and list of dates.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Historians Quilt Challenge for 2009

Have you heard about the quilt challenge that honors the women in the Quilters Hall of Fame? The challenge is a fundraiser for their Marion museum/home, which is another great reason to enter this challenge, but the topic is what drew me in "They made Their Mark." There are so many wonderful women to chose from! Photographs and a brief biography of each honoree are here. 

This challenge certainly does not leave out art or contemporary quilters; Yvonne Porcella, Nancy Crow, Jinny Beyer, Karey Bresenhan, Michael James, Jean Ray Laury, and Donna Wilder are among the inductees.

To participate, select one of the Honorees of The Quilters Hall of Fame who has influenced you in some special way and interpret this influence in a new work. The quilts will hang in Marion, Indiana, July 16 thru July 19, 2009.

The one quilt that best exemplifies the theme of this Challenge will receive the $500 Founder's Purchase Award and will become a part of the permanent TQHF education collection. This ­a very rare opportunity for someone other than an Honoree to get a quilt in the collection.

CRFrenchBaskets1914Marie Webster's granddaughter, Rosalind Webster Perry, authored two books with patterns about Marie's quilts ,and she reprinted Marie's 1915 book "Quilts and the Women Who Made Them", which was the first book published about quilts. Photos of her and and quilts from her collection and that time period are here. Rosalind and I are in the same quilt guild here in CA, as is the woman who made the patterns for the books, quilt teacher Marti Frolli. Our Guild, Coastal Quilters,  supports TQHF and Rosalind presented a brief but informative power point about it's history to us at the Christmas 2008 meeting.

The two patterns books in which Rosalind wrote about the history of Marie Webster and her Practical Patchwork company are Webster's Garden of Quilts (with a forward by Cuesta Benberry) and A Joy Forever: Marie Webster's Quilt Patterns.

Conditions of Entry in brief: must be made by the person entering the challenge; must be no larger than 160" total of all four sides; shall consist of three layers of textiles stitched together; photo and narrative must accompany the entry; Intent to Enter Form and fee is to be received by June 1, 2009.

Visit their website at to download the PDF file that contains the complete form. To receive the 2009 Challenge Entry Form by mail or the 2009 Celebration Registration form, write to TQHF, P.O. Box 681, Marion, IN, 46952, or CALL 765-664-9333  or E-MAIL them at

The minute I heard about this challenge 2 quilt ideas with their corresponding woman jumped into my mind. I drew each one long hand and made notes. I added to them since then and now know which one I will make. If I get to two, cool, but one would be an accomplishment for me. It's just hard to find time to sew. You can enter two quilts for their $25 entrance fee.

So, will you join me in this entering this challenge? If you get your quilt finished, send a photo to me in July and I will post them on my blog or website for an online show of my reader's quilts, after the opening of the exhibit in Marion.

Hazel Carter founded TQHF in 1979. Read more about her and this adventure in our interview. Did you know that Merikay Waldvogal is the inductee this year? I am thrilled. She is very deserving.