Thursday, July 21, 2011

Early 1800 Quilts from the Winterthur Collections

Get inspired with these great quilts from the first couple decades of the 1800's from the Winterthur Museum:

Silk, Wool and Cotton Quilt from the Winterthur collections
Provenance Pennsylvania made between 1817 and 1830

Wool Stripe Quilt from the Winterthur collections
Provenance Maine or Mass. between 1800 and 1830

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Broderie Perse applique quilts from the 1812 era

French for Persian embroidery "broderie perse" came to refer to the applique of motifs cut from printed chintz onto a solid fabric. Popular in the late 1700s and into the 1800's broderie perse was generally for show with only the rich having the leisure time and access to the expensive English chintz prints needed to make them.

Quilt historian, Barbra Brackman, tells us: "Many were appliquéd with a tiny blanket stitch over raw edges. Rather than carefully cutting around each flower, most seamstresses cut a general shape. The secret is matching the background of the chintz to the appliqué background. From a distance the two blend and give the illusion of more detailed cutting." 

Photo by Susan Laird

This beautiful “Broderie Perse” quilt created in 1820 from  English chintz that was carefully cut out and appliquéd to the quilt surface.  This quilt is unusual because of its excellent condition and was obviously well cared for the past two centuries.  It is on display in Northern California at the Folsom History Museum's annual Antique Quilt and Vintage Fashion Exhibit through Sept. 5. 

The 30" by 70" question!

Determining the quilt size for the Great Lakes Seaway Trail War of 1812 Quilt Challenge was a long thought out decision for us to make.  This exhibit will be our 12th annual quilt show and we had the input and opinions of many quilters (including published quilters, quilt historians and historic re-enactors) as we planned this challenge.  So with that being said, here are the reasons we decided the Cot to Coffin size (30” by 70”) would be the best choice for our quilt challenge:

  • Documentation verifies the making of Cot to Coffin size quilts for soldiers during the Civil War (1861 to 1865) and we are assuming that making quilts for soldiers during the War of 1812 may have happened also.  However, in that earlier time period there is no documentation or standard size for us to replicate and 70 inches is about the size of a man (from cot to coffin.)  This size would have been small enough to roll into a backpack while on the march (armies moved on foot) and may well have served as a burial shroud also. 

  • This smaller size quilt is much less of a commitment for makers (and particularly new quilters) than a large piece.  There are few opportunities for folks to participate in activities commemorating the War of 1812 and we thought this small size would encourage more people to participate.  We hope to get at least 200 entries for the 200th bicentennial of the War of 1812.

  • More quilts will be able to be hung in our available space.  Our headquarters are in an historic 1817 limestone building listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has usage limitations.  Therefore, with this smaller quilt size, we will be able to accommodate all entries in our building and two additional historic buildings from the 1812 period here in the village of Sackets Harbor (which was a headquarters of the Northern Army of the United States during the War of 1812.)  

  • In our travels we have noticed many decorative pieces about 30” x 70” draped across the foot of beds in hotels so our 1812 reproduction quilts might be a good size for over the foot of our beds.

In summary we think this size quilt will make a very dramatic display. We picture the exhibit as soldiers’ standing at attention to commemorate those who fought in the War of 1812 and also honoring 200 years of peace between the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

This quilt-in-progress, which will be entered in our 1812 quilt challenge upon completion, has been designed to honor an ancestor who fought in the War of 1812. 

The quilt measures 30" by 70" and was created using reproduction prints in indigos and browns.  

The quilt artist selected 23 different fabrics and each fabric has no more than three colors in any print. 

In discussing her design and choice of fabrics she said her regret is that she did not include more large-scale floral prints that would have been popular in 1812.  She is also considering tea dying the quilt as she feels it has much higher contrast than would have been seen in quilts of the era.  What say you?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Women's Fashion in the Era of the New Republic

Every era has its own individual sense of fashion style even when that style is clearly influenced by the past.  One of the most unique eras in women's fashion occurred during the early years of the American republic and continued through the War of 1812 (and Regency) period.  Elegant Grecian inspired gowns of gossamer silk, ethereal sheer cotton and linen, in white, creme and pastels were the height of sophisticated fashion. 

Please enjoy these fashion plates from "Incroyables et merveilleuses de 1814."   Truly the "Paris Vogue" of the day! 

Will you be so bold as to join with the staff of the Great Lake Seaway Trail Discovery Center and dress in period correct fashion for our 1812 Quilt Challenge? 

(Click on each fashion plate and then click again to see a super-high resolution image.)

What would your ideal 1812 / Regency era outfit look like

Rare 1812 era quilts

Quilts from the War of 1812 / Regency period are very rare finds indeed but we have located a few more quilts in various museum collections.    We hope these images will inspire you in the design of your quilt for our 1812 Quilt Challenge at the Seaway Trail Discovery Center in Sackets Harbor next March. 

The following quilts are from the collections of the Michigan State University Museum:

Photo by KEVA

Whitework Quilt
Circa 1810
86" x 88"
A whitework quilt with stuffed trapunto details, provenance unknown. The back is probably homespun.  Incredible quilting!

Chintz counterpane
Circa 1820   New York State provenance     
120" x 108"

This counterpane is made of five panels of fabric, each 24" wide. The four-poster flap is 32" long.  The fabric is printed in a repeating floral print, within the window pane checks.  Mostly brown with green and white. The fabric is still very shiny.  The counterpane has a narrow hem all the way around.

Closeup detail of the fabric

Photo by Fumio Ichikawa

Bars  circa 1800
Provenance unknown   
73" x 89"

This bar quilt made from English chintz is one of the earliest quilts in the Michigan State University Museum collection. These fabrics, manufactured for home furnishings, have all the indicators of early block-printing techniques; poor registration, overlapping dyes, and pin registration marks.  The large fabric pieces showcase floral, bird, and fruit designs.  The quilt is tacked, not quilted.