Sunday, August 31, 2014

Exhibit: Civil War quilts from Illinois

Civil War Quilters: Loyal Hearts of Illinois opened in May at the Illinois State Museum's gallery in the historic town of Lockport. It's an hour-and-a-half drive from here (or 79 miles -- Chicagoans tend to give directions in terms of time first, then distance) so going to see it takes a little more intention than just hopping in the car.  On Friday the library system board met at the headquarters in Burr Ridge, just 17 miles from Lockport.  The meeting ended at noon. A half hour later I was at the gallery. (It would have been just "22 minutes" per Google maps had I not taken the wrong exit off I-55.)

As the exhibit website explains, "The twenty Civil War-era quilts in the exhibition provide a passage through which to explore the lives and wartime support activities of the women who made them. Each quilt on exhibit has its own unique story and individual attributes, even though they were collectively created in the same time period. One is a particularly rare quilt that has recently received national attention: a Log Cabin quilt from Anna, Illinois, that was pieced together with fabrics including scraps from both Union and Confederate uniforms. The uniform scraps reportedly belonged to the maker's sons who fought on both sides of the war. An album quilt on display was made by Martha Jane Gourley (Gehlman), a close neighbor of Abraham Lincoln in Springfield. Miss Gourley's friends and family, whose names adorn this quilt, are from northern as well as southern states, representing the range of families who settled the "West," as Illinois was then considered."

Other than the museum employee at the front desk, I was the only person in the gallery. The only thing better than this private viewing would have been to be in the company of fellow quilters who would be equally appreciative. 

Rose of Sharon, circa 1862, by Sarah Ann Massie Bateman, Morgan County.

Checkerboard, ca. 1865, by Hester Malone Wright,
 Marshall County. The yellow-green blocks were probably much greener originally.  (Green dye was notoriously unstable.)

This floral wreath, by Elizabeth Sutherland Jones of Long Creek and Mount Zion, Macon County, is beautifully appliqued and exquisitely quilted. Note that the green fabric has not faded.

Sarah Ohmart Traylor, Montgomery County, made this log cabin quilt. "Log cabin quilts emerged as a new piecing method around the time of the Civil War," reads the accompanying text.

Oak Leaf by Sarah Ann Dunn, Effingham County. Another example of exquisite quilting.

This quilt is quite small -- about 48 x 48. Made by Jane Gaunt Russell of Hawkins Co., Tennessee,  and later of Jerseyville, Illinois. Fabrics are pre-war.
 This scrappy star variation looks contemporary.  "According to family tradition, Lucinda [Taylor Conkling] sent [this and another quilt] to comfort four-year-old Frances as she departed Illinois in a covered wagon for western New York."

star block detail 
The Seven Sisters is my favorite quilt of all in the exhibit. I tried to take a picture of one hand up against a block to show the size, but the picture didn't work.  I swear I did not touch the quilt!  The blocks are about 4.5".  Made by Mary Ellen McLain James and her husband George W. James in Cass County, circa 1870.

 Made to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the war as a fundraiser for veterans in Harrisburg, Saline County.

This large log cabin quilt was most likely made by Sarah Reed of Anna, Illinois. It has pieces from both Union and Confederate uniforms.  It was not uncommon for families in southern Illinois to have soldiers fighting on both sides. 

It, too, looks comporary.  I also recognized it.  It's on the cover of Homefront and Battlefield: Quilts and Context in the Civil War . It tops my list of Best Quilt Books. I would love to see the major exhibition that it accompanies. 

 I want to return to Lockport with my husband to see the other historic sites in this canal town.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Giveaway winners!

What fun it's been to read all the responses to Monday's post about quilty confessions!  It appears that the rule that most of us cheerfully ignore is "never sew over pins."  We all have SABLE syndrome (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy).

Well, my stash will go down infinitesimally when I send two books-and-bundles to the winners of the drawing.  DRUMROLL!

#29 -- Jean, one of my Magpie buddies, who Runs With Scissors and a Sword when she's not traveling.

#76 -- Melissa, aka SewGreen, who blogs at  Sewcute's Creations .

Congratulations to you both.  And thanks to everyone who took time to post a comment.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Baptist Fans

#LC-RF-906 is the Good Shepherd religious hand fan.On Monday I went to a memorial service for a neighbor . He passed away suddenly last week. (He was just 72, which these days seems young (since my husband is older than that)). The weather was hot and so humid it could be cut with a knife. The church was not air conditioned. The funeral home provided old-fashioned fans stapled to sticks.
I thought about bringing one home and using it as a quilting pattern, but I didn't since the fan was shaped like this one.   In fact, the funeral home may have ordered the fans from this company.
I have never used the Baptist Fan quilting pattern.  It's one of those that I'd like to master get good at sewing by machine. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

DWM: Quilty confessions and a giveaway!

Melanie at  Catbird Quilts listed "ten quilty little secrets" and suggested that her readers do the same.

Of course, if we do that they are no longer secrets. Perhaps quilty confessions is a better description.

Here are mine.  You may consider me heretical.  I consider myself practical. :)

1.  I don't pin unless I need an absolute match.
2.  When I do pin, I sew over them.
3.  I iron more often than I press.  With steam.
4.  I use Gutermann poly thread for piecing and quilting. It comes in a huge array of colors and it is often on sale at Joann's.  It works just fine.  (I also use Aurifil. And Gutermann cotton. But mostly Gutermann poly.)
5.  I rarely buy fabric with a specific project in mind. I buy fabric because I like it.
6.  I rarely pay full price for fabric. (Actually, I avoid paying full price for anything. That is a practice that goes back decades. Purists may argue that buying stuff on sale and not using it is ultimately more expensive than buying stuff at full price and using it until it is consumed or worn out.  I combine on sale + extensive use and get good value.)
7.  If a design on a commercial pattern appeals to me I try to chart it out.  If I can't, and if it still appeals to me, I will buy it.
8.  I buy fabric at Joann's.  I avoid the truly flimsy stuff (and there is a lot of it).
9.  I don't always pin borders from the middle.
10.  Life is too short to spend hours hand-sewing bindings. I attach them by machine. I sew the binding to the back of the quilt, then pull it over to the front and top-stitch. I usually use a zigzag stitch as a "signature." I sew the side bindings. Then I sew the top and bottom bindings. I don't miter the corners.  No one who has received or bought a quilt I've made has complained.

Now it's your turn!  For your chance to win a book-and-a-bundle combination, reply to this post. In your reply list at least four of your own quilty confessions.  If you have more, that's great!  Be sure your reply links to your email address so I can notify you if you're the winner.  The drawing will be Saturday, August 30. The drawing will be Friday, August 29. (That way I can mail the prizes on Saturday.)  (I will ship to U.S. or Canadian addresses only.)
Autumn colors bundle

Cool colors bundle

I am linking up with other quiltmakers for Design Wall Monday at Judy's Patchwork Times.

Friday field trip: SC Johnson

On Friday we toured the S. C. Johnson complex in Racine (about 15 miles north of where we live).  H. F. "Hib" Johnson, Jr., commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design the Research Tower and the Administration Building. The tower was opened to the public for the first time this summer.  It is a museum (frozen in time: early 1950's). The administration building is still used for administration, but with only 80 employees rather than the 200 60 years ago.
Interior photography is forbidden and there were two tour guides with our group who kept a close watch on us. No sneak snapshots!
Golden Rondelle

The visitor center is built around the Golden Rondelle, the S. C. Johnson building at the 1964 New York World's Fair. 
The pioneering airplane 
The newest building, Fortaleza Hall, is a tribute to Johnson research:  a pioneering airplane trip to Brazil.  The company created plantations to grow carnauba palms, the source of carnauba wax which was the basis of natural waxes. 

Reflecting pools between the Research Tower and the Administration Building.

Wright-designed Native American figures, to honor the first inhabitants of the Racine area. 

After the tour we had lunch at a Thai restaurant in downtown Racine. We picked up a "tour Racine" guidebook at the visitor's center, and read about the Eco-Justice Center.  It took a while to find it, but we did. Lush vegetable gardens -- how wonderful to have enough space for the plants to sprawl -- free-range turkeys and guinea fowl, and alpacas!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Throwback Thursday: sixty years ago

A couple of days ago my husband pulled a book out of the bookcase. He had not opened it, let alone read it, for a very, very long time.  He said it was actually quite good, despite the warning he wrote on the flyleaf sixty years ago this fall.

[I googled Henry I. Christ  and Andrew Jackson High School. Christ wrote more than 100 books:  English and literature textbooks and adaptations of classics. AJHS no longer exists.]

 Third Form is the prep school equivalent of freshman.

And here is the student himself from the 1955 yearbook, published the spring of his Third Form.

Mug rug swap, part 2, and the arrival of the BUP

 A couple of weeks ago I posted pictures of the summertime mug rugs I sent to my swap buddy, Antoinette in California.  Here's what she sent me in return.  Aren't they great?  (The Zion-Benton Township High School  mascot is the ZeeBee so bees show up a lot around here.)

Not only did Antoinette send the mug rugs -- she also sent an apron, a tote bag, and other delightful goodies.  What a treat!

I "rescued" this at the Salvation Army yesterday. I did a burn test and it's all cotton. I think the label says "polyester cotton" as a disclaimer. This was likely one of a load of flatfolds that dime/variety stories still stock. (At least those variety stores that have fabric departments.) I bet it was never used because it was as ugly then as it is now. ("Puce" is a purply-brown that is French for "flea color." This is puce.)  [It's 2-1/8 yds. I also got 1 yard of a current polka-dot print, a bright striped fitted twin sheet (made in Portugal, sold at Pottery Barn), and a screen-print table cloth, total $9.53.]

My winnings

Nice batiks among the assortment
The Baseball Swap BUP arrived today. That's "big ungainly package." Mine is not very big this year because the teams I back -- Cubs and Red Sox -- are having terrible seasons. [Participants swap 6.5" squares based on MLB baseball games -- your team wins, you get a square from everyone backing the losing team; your team loses,you owe a square to everyone who backs the winning team.]

Here is my BBS stash -- an accumulation from many seasons.  I have used a lot of the squares over the years. They are handy when I need a little of this, or a little of that, or some variety of something.  One year I made a jacket out of the baseball-themed squares. (Photo in this post .)

One year the BBSwappers exchanged signature blocks. I have not assembled them but I did remember where I put them. When I got them out today I found out that the exchange was way back in 2004. Not all of the people who made squares are still active swappers (two of them are deceased).  Some name changes, some location changes. Lots of memories!  And now the blocks can go back into storage.  

(The names: Lynne Cohen, Cleo Miller, Cindy Schmidt, Bethe Harrison, Vickie Young, Sarah Curry, Rusty Stubblefield, Diane Stucki, Sherry Marshall, Alice Cruz, Shona Lamoreaux, Nancy Voogd, Jen Clodius, Helen Smith, Theresa Govete, Sandy Ellison, Nancy Speicher, Connie Einarson, Janet Franco, Doris Weil, Julie Elswick (Suchomel), Debi Irwin, Mary Kay Mullen, Sheila G, Rachel Govette, Nancie Roach, Kathleen Snow, Donna Dean, Vivien Caughley, Dodie Morrison, Sandra Radcliffe, Sue Burton, Carolyn in NJ, Marilyn Goodwin, Royce Hettler, Cathy Lowney, Katie Wilson, Ellen Amstutz, Linda Campbell and the Gang, Cary Smith, Babs Schmidt, Alice Martin, Billie Bennington, and me.) 

Monday, August 18, 2014

DWM: sleeves and labels

Another week flew by with little time in my studio.  I had four evening meetings last week -- guild board on Wednesday and interviews of applicants for the 2014 Zion-Benton Leadership Academy on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday.

However, I did get hanging sleeves and labels put on all the quilts I am entering in the NLCQG quilt show in October. (I am 2-1/2 months ahead of time!)  I am entering nearly everything I have on hand that isn't otherwise obligated.

Hanging sleeves are easy.  Cut fabric into 9" strips.  (Hint: bedsheets are good sources of long strips.) Sew strips into tubes. Press the tube so the seam is in the center. Pin the tube with the seam toward the quilt -- then you don't have to turn the tube inside out.

The labels I use most often are those I print from the computer. I use the "business card" template in Word and print 10 labels at a time.  I use a Pigma pen to add quilt name, date, recipient, or other relevant details. I make more elaborate labels for some quilts.
I "frame" the printed label on a piece of fabric and sew the frame to the quilt.  That's the only hand-sewing I do on a quilt.

If I can't keep myself from buying fabric the least I can do is buy bargains.  These pieces came from two estate sales this weekend.  The blue sheet was used as a drop cloth.  I can cut out the paint splashes. I love the blue/green print.  The Ralph Lauren sheet is queen-sized, package unopened.  $2 for the two!  The red fabrics total 3-1/8 and were $2, total.

P.S. I have a secret project!  I'm one of the participants in Quiltmaker's Back to School Party. I have finished the quilt I made from the fabric selection they sent me.  I am sworn to secrecy -- tune into the  Quiltmaker blog on September 1!

I'm linking up with fellow quiltmakers at Judy's Patchwork Times

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Hawthorn Hollow

We don't always walk at Illinois Beach State Park! This afternoon we went to Hawthorn Hollow on the far west side of Kenosha.  It is a privately-operated arboretum and nature preserve.  As the website  explains,
 In 1935, Ruth Teuscher purchased 40 acres of land in the Town of Somers in northern Kenosha County. Inspired by a grove of native hawthorn trees growing along the Pike River, she and her sister, Margaret, both teachers  in Racine, named the property Hawthorn Hollow. They soon posted the land as a wildlife refuge, the first step toward developing what is now Hawthorn Hollow Nature Sanctuary and Arboretum.  
Reflecting the Teuscher sisters’ interests, Hawthorn Hollow today combines nature, history and horticulture. Two miles of nature trails wind through the woods of the Pike River Valley. In spring, the forest floor is covered with native wildflowers. During the spring and fall migrating seasons, many songbirds stop at Hawthorn Hollow. Others remain year ’round, making Hawthorn Hollow one of the finest bird watching spots in the area. Unique to Hawthorn Hollow is a small but valuable area of original prairie, reflecting the type of vegetation that once covered much of the Midwest. Hawthorn Hollow also boasts a restored prairie, perennial gardens, a butterfly garden and a dwarf conifer collection. 
To assure the preservation of Hawthorn Hollow, the Teuscher sisters deeded their property to the Hyslop Foundation in 1967. Since then, its Board of Trustees has made many significant contributions to Hawthorn Hollow.
As we were starting on the trail, a small group of people were finishing. We saw no one else until we, too, were ready to leave.  How wonderful to have the preserve to ourselves!

Pike River Schoolhouse-- used 1906-1962
 The three historic buildings are open to visitors.  These are the Somers Town Hall (1857-1962) and the First Pike River Schoolhouse (1857-1906, replaced by the larger building). They have been relocated to Hawthorn Hollow.

Part of the original prairie

Jewel Weed (touch-me-not)

White Baneberry or Doll's Eyes
 Here is more about the baneberries:
Red Baneberry 

The Alvah

This past Tuesday I had an AAUW committee meeting in Crystal Lake.  On the way home I stopped at the Volo Antique Mall . The last time I was there was in 2012, as chronicled in this post .

 I did not buy this treadle sewing machine.  The spoon-carved cabinet caught my eye.

I had never heard of the brand "Alvah."  ISMACS, the source for information about old sewing machines, has this article about Sears, Roebuck machines.  Though there is no "Alvah" in the list of Sears models at the end of the ISMACS article, Alvah was Roebuck's first name and the machine badge says Chicago. Surely this is an early Sears machine.

It is fun to read about people's vintage sewing machine collections, but I will maintain my role as an admirer rather than an acquirer.
 P.S. I spent $10.28 at the mall:  I bought a small glass bowl decorated with daisies that will be a nice nut or mint dish when I entertain P.E.O. and two hankies, one with daisies and the other a signed pictoral.