Monday, December 23, 2013

Did Author Washington Irving Invent our Christmas Traditions in 1819?

The pilgrims, English separatists that came to America in 1620, were extremely orthodox in their Puritan beliefs. As a result, Christmas was not a holiday in early America. After the American Revolution, all English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. In fact, Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the first Christmas under America’s new constitution.  

It wasn’t until the 19th century that Americans began to embrace Christmas. Americans re-invented Christmas, and changed it from the raucous carnival holiday into a family-centered day of peace and nostalgia. But what happened in the 1800s that piqued American interest in the holiday?  

In 1819, best-selling author Washington Irving wrote "The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon" a series of stories about the celebration of Christmas in English.  In Irving’s mind, Christmas should be a peaceful, warm-hearted holiday bringing groups together across lines of wealth or social status.    

Irving’s book, however, was not based on any holiday celebration that he had ever attended!  In fact, many historians say that Irving’s account actually “invented” our Christmas traditions by implying that it described the true customs of the season.   

Regardless of the truth in his stories - the Sketch Book and it's stories of Christmas traditions cemented Irving’s reputation, and propelled him to a level of celebrity previously unseen for an American writer.


Happy Holidays! Fashions for December 1812

Ackermann's Repository was the Vogue magazine of the 1812 / Regency era.

Not only are the fashions lovely but the faces are so sweet and so beautifully drawn; making the Ackermann' fashion plates some of the best from this time period.

These plates were the fashions for December 1812!   Happy Holidays! 

Friday, October 11, 2013

A Rare Patchwork Banyan

Many 18th century men wore an at-home garment called a banyan, which was influenced by East Asian and Persian robes. 

 In the humid climate of the Southern Colonies, gentlemen wore lightweight banyans as informal street wear in summer. 

It was fashionable for men of an intellectual or philosophical bent to have their portraits painted while wearing banyans. 

Tailored to mimic Persian robes, the cut and construction of this patchwork banyan, particularly its button closure, is characteristically European. It is fully interlined for warmth.

Despite the similarity to a "bathrobe" or a "nightgown", the banyan was not worn for sleeping.

Canandaigua, NY Quilt Show to Feature War of 1812 Traveling Quilts Exhibit

The October 18-19 Fall in Love with Quilts 2013 event presented by the Heart in Hand Quilt Guild of the Finger Lakes at The Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 320 South Pearl Street, Canandaigua, NY, will include the Great Lakes Seaway Trail War of 1812 Traveling Quilts Exhibit.

The Great Lakes Seaway Trail War of 1812 Traveling Quilts Exhibit includes 26 newly-made cot-to-coffin-sized (70 inches long by 30 inches wide) works featuring 1812-authentic patterns, fabrics, colors, and symbols. The special exhibit joins 100-some quilts made by the Heart in Hand Quilt Guild membership.

Twenty of the quilts are American-made, representing 11 states, and six are Canadian-made quilts from three provinces. Story cards with each quilt in the traveling exhibit share the factual military or personal family history represented by the quilt or the imagined tale of a family sending a loved one off to the war.

The Great Lakes Seaway Trail War of 1812 heritage theme for traveling the 518-mile freshwater byway inspired quilters on both sides of the international border to interpret the War’s Bicentennial in many interesting and personal ways in their quilts. New Great Lakes Seaway Trail ‘Storyteller’ interpretive panels with information on ‘America’s second war for independence’ are also part of the traveling exhibit.

The exhibit has appeared at historic sites in the U.S. and Canada, and has been featured at several large venue quilts shows, including the Rocky Mountain Quilt Festival in Colorado and the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza in Philadelphia. The quilts exhibit will be traveling to shows, museums and historic venues in the U.S. and Canada into 2015. For details, visit

Much of the War of 1812 was fought along the route now known as the Great Lakes Seaway Trail National Scenic Byway that parallels the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, Niagara River and Lake Erie in New York and Pennsylvania.

The Fall in Love with Quilts 2013 show hours are Friday, October 18, 4-9pm, and Saturday, October 19, 9am-4pm. The show includes juried vendors and a lunch concession by The Good Shepherd Church. Quilt Consortium of New York State Passport holders and anyone bringing a canned food item for the local food pantry will receive 50 cents off the $4/adult, $2/student-under-16 admission show admission fee.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Hoffman Challenge Quilts at Byway Quilt Show

A collection of the 2012 Hoffman Challenge Quilts will be on display as part of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Beauty of the Byways Quilt Show March 16-17 and March 23-24 in Sackets Harbor, NY.

The 80-piece collection made with lavender, pink, and pearl Hoffman Fabrics will be on exhibit in four historic venues in the waterfront village.
Pictured above:  The Hoffman Challenge Third Place Appliqued Quilt was made by Judy Beskow from the Creole Nature Trail byway region of Louisiana. Photo courtesy of Hoffman Fabrics.

“This is the 24th anniversary of he Hoffman Challenge with categories for pieced, appliqué, mixed technique, wearable art, accessories and dolls made by quilters from around the world. We are pleased to send one of the traveling trunks to the Great Lakes Seaway Trail in March 2013 as it celebrates the beauty of the byways,” says Hoffman Challenge Curator Julie Breidt, Windsor, Colorado.  The collection coming to the Great Lakes Seaway Trail show includes eight Hoffman Challenge award winners, several of which fit the show’s Beauty of the Byways theme. The Hoffman Challenge display will be joined at the March event by a Route 66 Traveling Exhibit of 49 quilts honoring the historic American highway and displays of favorite American and Canadian byway landscapes and landmarks made by North American quilters.

The Hoffman Challenge was started in 1988 by Hoffman Fabrics of Mission Viejo, CA. The wholesale converter works with textile artists, artists, and graphic designers to create more than 800 original screenprints and hand-dyed batiks and handpainted fabrics annually. Currently, 6 Hoffman Challenge traveling trunk exhibits of quilts are visiting sites in the U.S. and Canada.  Two of the trunks will be at the March 2013 Great Lakes Seaway Trail show in Sackets Harbor, NY.

More information and show entry guidelines for the Beauty of the Byways Quilt Show are online at

Email or call Lynette at 315-646-100 x203 with any questions.

Four Historic Buildings for Quilt Show Venue this Year!


The Great Lakes Seaway Trail 2013 Beauty of the Byways Quilt Show, scheduled for March 16 - 17,  plus March 23 - 24, promises to be our biggest show yet – a real quilting event!   Due to the number of quilt this year we’re expanding our show to include the Seaway Trail Discovery Center – built in 1817 - plus three additional historic buildings all on West Main and East Main Streets in Sackets Harbor, NY. 

Purchase your admission tickets and start your quilt tour at the Seaway Trail Discovery Center located at 401 West Main Street in Sackets Harbor.
The United Presbyterian Church of Sackets Harbor at the corner of Broad Street and East Main Street will display quilts. 

The 1808 Samuel Hooker house is now the galleries of the Sackets Harbor Arts Center and will display many quilts during the show. Watercolor by Anitol Mickle.

The Augustus Sacket Mansion was built by the founder of the village in 1802. Today it houses the Sackets Harbor Visitors' Center and during the show many quilts will be on display here.

The show will feature quilts, vendors and demonstrators all days. Admission tickets can be purchased at the Seaway Trail Discovery Center and will include admission to all four buildings.  All buildings are accessible and parking throughout the Village is free. 

Tickets are $8 adults, $7 senior citizens and free for accompanied children under 12. 

Tickets are good for return admission to the show (must show ticket to return)

Show Hours:   Saturdays - 10 to 5               Sundays - Noon to 4

Show Dates:      March 16 - 17,   plus March 23 - 24