Saturday, March 28, 2015

Quilt Causing A Crisis of Community

A Crisis of Community: Trials and Transformation of a New England Town, 1815-1848,  is based on the extensive diaries of Mary White of Boylston, Massachusetts. Author Mary Babson Fuhrer does an impressive job of linking changes in New England's culture to events described by Mary Avery White and her neighbors.
"This account of Boylston, Massachusetts over three decades of wrenching change tells the dramatic story of how a social order that was founded by Puritans in the 17th century, and that managed to survive the upheaval of revolution and the creation of a republic in the 18th century, came apart unexpectedly in the course of a single generation during the 1820s and 1830s." Robert A. Gross, University of Connecticut.

The First Congregational Church in Boylston

White's diary and Fuhrer's book reveal how an antislavery quilt became the focus of  dissension in Boylston as conservative and liberal groups argued over religion, slavery and women's roles. Although older than many of the women in the more radical group, White was an enthusiastic agent for change.

Mary Avery White (1778-1860) 
Her diary is in the collection of Old Sturbridge Village

Parts of the diary have been published on line, particularly events dealing with White's antislavery activism.
Fri [Oct] 4 [1839] ...I attended the lecture in the evening Caroline & myself assisted in getting the bed quilt at the Hall for the Antislavery cause.

See that link here:

Mary Babson Fuhrer's book cover has the
image of this abolitionist cradle quilt with an antislavery poem.
It's attributed to Lydia Maria Child.
Collection of Historic New England.

White was one of the antislavery activists who expressed political opinion through needlework. She was a founder of the Boylston Female Antislavery Society whose members met to stitch needlework to donate to the Boston Antislavery Fair, including a crib quilt and a bedquilt in 1837. The larger quilt was described by one of the Boylston woman as a bedcovering that "none but an Abolitionist would buy." Their quilt, which has not been identified, may have been similar to the Everettville, Massachusetts quilt inked with abolitionist sentiments.

An antislavery quilt by the women of Everettville.
See a post here:

But there was a split in Boylston and Boston too, primarily over how active churches should be in the antislavery cause. Divergent views became dissension. As Deborah Chapman recalled in a letter to her sister Ann:
"about the time of our fair....[a] Bed quilt was made up there [in Boylston] and quite a dreadful fight they had about it."

The Town Hall

Two antislavery fairs were planned for Boston. To which would the quilt go? A member of  one group was heard to say that if the quilt was intended to raise money at the other group's fair, "Every stitch which they set (and they had set a good many) should come out."

A fundraising fair in the 1860s,
raising money for the Union.

The story continues that the quilt went to the more radical Boston fair where it was purchased by William Lloyd Garrison himself. The Bolyston Female Antislavery Society split into two different organizations just like the Boston society.

Fuhrer's book is a great read for anyone interested in early 19th-century women's lives and New England society and religion.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Stars in a Time Warp 11: Purple

Reproduction block by Bettina Havig

Vintage block from the last half of the 19th-century. 
Mary Barton collection.
Picture from the Quilt Index.

Reproduction block by Becky Brown

Vintage quilt, 1870-1890

We've been making some vivid blocks in the first ten
weeks of the QuiltAlong, so purple reproductions will
be a change.

Some of Bettina's blocks

Much of the purple we see in quilts from the 19th century is muted. 

It may have left the mill quite bright but light seems to have a strong effect on the color, fading it to brown.

Vintage block from a quilt in the collection of the Benton County (Oregon) Museum

Here's a brownish swatch removed from an old top.
Notice the tiny strip of brighter purple in the seam at the bottom.

Sometimes you find a swatch that hasn't really seen the light of day because it's tipped into a book (glued into a book).

Swatches tipped into Persoz's 1845 dye book

How purple were all these purples at one time?

Vintage quilt about 1880-1900

Vintage quilt, perhaps 1870-1890

You can see the purple setting squares fading on the fold lines.

Mid-century quilt from Judy's Antique Quilts.
This one's held up well.

Vintage block from the early 19th century. 
Collection of Old Sturbridge Village.
Again this early block may be vivid because it was kept in the dark.

Faded or not, lilac makes a nice contrast to the brighter colors of the time.

One often finds the purples mixed with madder reds, browns and oranges.

My guess is that the purple is from logwood dye, which worked well with the madder mordant-dyeing method, or it may be that madder itself could produce the color.

Here's a bolt label or cloth label from the collection of
the American Textile History Museum:
Madder and Lilac together.
Read more about labels at their site:


Reproduction North Star block by Heidi/Cranberry Chronicles

Purple grounds in chintzes go back to the 18th century. For the mid-19th-century you'll probably want to stick with monochromatic prints.

Judie Rothermel reproduction
And you have to decide how purple you want to go.
Should it be purple as it came off the bolt?

Paula Barnes, Companions

Or purple as it appears today?

From Betsy Chutchian's Wrappers

Judie's Authentic Minis

Terry Thompson's Merchants Wife

Some purples suitable for mourning prints from my 
Civil War Jubilee collection for Moda.
I found this color in a swatch book---not exposed to light.

Reproduction block by Becky Brown with purples from that line.

You see redder violets too as in this Collection
for a Cause Mill Book 1892 coming soon.

And look for purples mixed with madder shades.

From a Shelburne Museum collection

What To Do with Your Stack of Stars?
Build a square around your block.

Grandma Laurel's blocks-
Fabrics: Dancing in the Rain 
from Edyta at Laundry Basket Quilts with
some bronzey-browns

Turn your stars on point and add triangles to the edges.
Cut squares 9-3/4" and cut each into 4 triangles for a 6" block.

Top by CottonCharmQuilts-
Fabrics: Wicasset from Minick & Simpson

Both tops above were made from the Schnibbles pattern Madeline from Carrie Nelson of Miss Rosie's Quilt Company (Carrie now blogs for Moda, YAY!) See her at her new job here:

This set is particularly good for sampler blocks that are not the same size. Make the corner triangles extra-large and then trim all the blocks to the same size later.

Another way to get the same look is to alternate x blocks with the stars.

Battlefields from Country Threads

One More Thing About Purple
British Plate-Print, about 1780
Winterthur Museum #1960.85
"printed in purple but now brown." 
See page 214.

Linda Eaton's new edition of  Printed Textiles: British and American Cottons & Linens 1700-1850 from the Winterthur Museum emphasizes the fugitive nature of purple colors. The catalog focuses on furnishing fabric and shows numerous examples of furnishings "printed in purple but now brown." Drapes and bedspreads are usually exposed to more light so more apt to fade, but I am having a hard time imagining all these lovely browns being an even lovelier purple when new from the mill. I'm going to have to change my thinking.

You need to own Eaton's new Winterthur catalog. It's the current last word on Printed Furnishings.

Read other posts I've done on purple:

Saturday, March 21, 2015

A New Jersey "Union" Quilt

Applique Union quilt, attributed to 1858-1860

I recently bid on this unusual patriotic quilt in an online auction (and lost.) I was intrigued by the pattern, a repeat of five appliqued star blocks.

And particularly by the inscription repeated four times
in the center block.

Presented to Rev C.K. Fleming
By the
Youth of Pemberton"

Was it a Civil War quilt, made during the war years?

I analyzed the fabrics, style and quilting visible in the photos. 

There were photos of three fabrics, plain white cotton (no clue at all), a multicolored Turkey red print---a good clue to about 1840-1870, and a blue on blue print (not as much help but quite popular in the 1840-1880 era).

 The style---applique blocks on point---also quite popular in the 1840-1870 period.

The quilting---it's hard to see in the photo but I was a little concerned about the minimalism in the quilting and particularly that single cable in the sashing. The single cable is a rather weak clue to the 20th-century but I really would have to see this quilt in the cloth to determine when it was quilted.

The condition---The Turkey red was fracturing as it often did, particularly near the edges. The ink had bled making the words difficult to read and it need a careful cleaning.

I bid on it, and while I was waiting to be out-bid I did a little work on the social context to see if that would help in dating it. It was easy to find the Rev. C.K. Fleming.

Caleb K. Fleming (1824-1896) was a Methodist minister in New Jersey. In the days when Methodist preachers spent two years at each post he spent 1858-1860 in Pemberton. New Jersey.

"The Sunday schools... had, in 1860, three hundred and seventy-five children."

The 1860 census found him in Burlington, New Jersey, as a 31-year-old Methodist minister, married to Emma with two children Hannah (6 years-old) and baby John.

Pemberton, New Jersey about 1910

The quilt top, probably made by his Sunday school scholars in Pemberton, most likely dates to 1860, a gift for a departing friend. It may have been quilted later. Technically it wasn't made during the Civil War, but it certainly reflects pre-Civil-War partisanship.

I was quickly outbid. The quilt sold for a little over $400.

More about the man:

Rev. Caleb K. Fleming, late of this city and county. father of John R.Fleming, was born near Bridgeport, N. J., August 30, 1824. He was the son of John and Abigail Fleming and of Quaker descent. He was a farmer’s son, and his school days were limited. having only one winter at the Seminary. He was converted at a Methodist altar, baptized by Rev.J. K. Shaw and united with the church at Paulsboro, where his parents then lived, January 31, 1840. While a student at Pennington he was licensed as an exhorter by Rev. Joseph Atwood, and as a local preacher by the Swedesboro Circuit. He was received on trial in the New Jersey Conference at Salem, April 21, 1847, and was ordained by Bishop Janes in 1849. He married Emma H. Stanger, of Glassboro. April 30, of the same year. During the fifty years of his ministry he served the following charges: Glassboro; Kingswood; Moorestown; Medford; Broadway, Camden; Pemberton, Burlington, Sharpstown; Broadway, Salem; Millville, Bordentown; Tabernacle, Camden; Bridgeton, New Brunswick; Port Republic; Ocean City; Mays Landing; St. Paul's, Atlantic City; and Pleasantville. He was a much loved and successful minister. Many souls were saved and churches built up by his efforts. He never spoke from notes, and his sermons were of the plain. sympathetic, Gospel order. He filled some of the best appointments in the State. and was a devoted husband, father and friend.
For his second wife he married Ann C. Collins, of Port Republic, April 28, 1892, and became a supernumerary in 1895. He died suddenly of heart failure while attending the Pitman Grove Camp Meeting. August 3. 1896.

Read more about C.K.Fleming here at Google Books: