Saturday, January 20, 2018

Sewing Machines circa 1860

Wheeler and Wilson ad with a young seamstress.
The framed poster on the left advertises the Paris
Exposition Universelle of 1867

In looking for illustrations for the post a few weeks ago on the quilted lining for Lincoln's coat I realized I'd collected several photos of people demonstrating sewing machines during the mid-19th century.

Most of them---I know nothing about the source
for the picture and certainly nothing about the machines.

I'm guessing the 1850-1870 dates by costume, hair
and photo format

One of the best, 1850s?
from the Library of Congresss

About 1870: Laura Bridgman showing
that a Wheeler & Wilson machine was so easy to use that a blind woman
could use it. From the files of the Perkins Institute.

Here is her sewing machine

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Denniele's Ribbon of Stars Border

Yankee Diary by Denniele Bohannon
58" x 70"

As soon as Denniele began thinking about last year's Civil War quilt she decided on this star border.

Her field of blocks measures 42" x 54"
Two plain borders finishing to 2-1/2"
One pieced border finishing to 3"
42" + 16 = 58" wide
54" + 16 = 70" long

It's a triple border, a pieced border between two unpieced strips. The inner and outer borders of blue strips finish to 2-1/2" (cut 3"). The ribbon of stars border finishes to 3"

Flag Quilt by Emma Jane Bullock Van Fleet, 1867
Yakima Valley Museum.

Her inspiration was a flag quilt with a ribbon of stars border made by 
Emma Van Fleet in Illinois right after the war. 

The Van Fleet quilt also inspired Gail Bakkom to make this 
Veteran's Flag reproduction quilt in 1996.

Denniele appliqued stars cut from the pattern for Yankee Diary Block 12. Her red backgrounds: 2-1/8" finished squares. Here's her pattern.

Cutting a 3" wide finished border

Squares: Cut red squares 2-5/8".
17 on each side + 15 at top & bottom x 2 = 64 background squares.
 (You might want to cut these a little larger and trim to 2-5/8" after applique.)

Stars: Cut 64 navy blue stars from pattern 12. Here's the link:

Triangles: Cut squares 3" and cut each in half diagonally to make 2 triangles.

You need 2 light or dark triangles for each starry square.So cut 64 squares (32 dark, 32 light). You need 128 triangles plus 16 extra dark triangles to square up the ends---so cut 8 more dark squares.


Piece triangles to either side of the squares to make these units.
Alternate blue units with white units.

The sides require a strip of 17, the top and bottom 15.
Add the two triangles to square up the end of each strip.

And then according to Denniele's instructions:
"Add a blue piece to extend the border to the size of the quilt."
I'd cut these 3-1/2" wide and maybe 18" long for the sides.

She plans to add some more words in those blue end strips at the bottom---the date and her initials.

If 64 appliqued stars seems daunting go through your stash of star prints.
Maybe you could fussy cut a circle or square.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Lucretia Mott's Quilt in Nantucket

Medallion quilt dated 1833 by antislavery activist 
Lucretia Coffin Mott (1793-1880)
Collection of the Nantucket Historical Association

Wendy Coffin sent me a link to this great photo of a quilt by one of her relatives.
" 'Sep. 11 1833' is embroidered in blue thread at the top of the quilt, and next to it is a sewn-on cotton twill tape label from a later date on which is written 'Made by Lucretia Mott' in red ink."
The Nantucket Historical Association has recently conducted a cataloging project for their quilt and coverlet collection.  Project specialist Jennifer Nieling examined about 75 pieces and their website now has photos and information about them.

"Quilt is made of various multicolored silks including plain, satin, and twill weaves, crepes, solids, brocades, woven checks and stripes, and ikat (warp printed) patterns.  The quilt was likely made from scraps of old garments, and many of the silks are modest silks and drab colors that were frequently used in Quaker dress."
I wrote a post in 2016 about this quilt with only this photo to go on. It's wonderful to see how complex the design is.

This sunflower hung over the bottom edge of the bed.
Lucretia was up on the latest quilt fashions in 1833. Check out
my Pinterest pages on quilts dated in the 1830s and note 
how popularity of these circular pieced designs.

See the record at the Nantucket Historical Association here:

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Yankee Diary Border & an Epilogue

Yankee Diary with a 6" finished 
Checkerboard Border
54" x 66"

My digital sketch that isn’t totally to scale but you get the idea.
This border uses the pattern from Month 8: Squares cut 3-1/2", finishing to 3".
The measurements in the quilt top are divisible by 3 so the checkerboard seams will line up with block seams. 
Cut squares 3-1/2”. Cut 136 squares in all. (68 light/68 dark)
For the side borders: Make strips 2 squares wide by 18 squares long (finishing to 6” x 54”).
For the top and bottom borders: Make strips 2 squares wide by 16 squares long (finishing to 6” x 54”)

I'll show you Dennielle's border next Wednesday.

Mr. & Mrs. E.C. Clarke

While the Civil War was ending Carrie's sweetheart Edmund Clarke was recovering from his wounds. According to his obituary:
"He was disabled for manual labor for several years. Having partially recovered his health, he again began teaching, but this lasted only a few months."
He and Carrie married in September, 1866 and they moved to his home town of Naples, New York in 1867.

Carrie's new home was south of
Canandaigua Lake. Naples was a village; 
Canandaigua on the lake's northern edge was a city.

Naples's agricultural specialty is grapes. According to Nancy T. Hayden in her Guide to Village Life in America,  Carrie and Edmund became grape growers.

Edmund also spent the decade after the war at various jobs, taking the census, clerking for the State Assembly in Albany, acting as a notary public and writing for local newspapers. In 1875 he opened an insurance office and later "took up a pension business [securing] nearly a thousand pensions for those who were legally entitled to receive them."

Naples in 1909

Carrie gave birth to four children between 1858 and 1878. All outlived her. Her obituary indicates that good-hearted Grandmother Beals had quite an influence on her: 
"When Mrs. Clarke came to Naples as a bride, she at once became identified with church work....  Her charming personality, unfailing tact and loving kindness won for her the devotion of her family and a host of loyal friends."

Carrie and her eldest Abigail about 1869

Carrie's brother John Morgan Richards, raised by their father, became a wealthy man. Soon after the Civil War he and his young family moved to England where he pioneered the art of display advertising in newspapers, promoting patent medicines like Carter's Little Liver Pills and American cigarettes. In 1872 Carrie, her Aunt Ann and brother James visited John in England. While they there abroad Carrie's grandmother Abigail Field Beals died at home at 98.

John Morgan Richards, seated, with
daughter Pearl Richards Craigie at top left.

Many family members were published authors. John's daughter Pearl was once the best known literary Richards/Clarke. She wrote successful Bohemian novels under the name John Oliver Hobbes between 1891 and her death in 1906.  

It may have been brother John who encouraged Carrie to self-publish her Civil War diary in 1908. Her book was re-published in 1912 as Village Life in America by a London publisher and then in the United States by H. Holt & Company in 1913. The 1913 publication tells us that Carrie died while the U.S. copy was being typeset.

She and Edmund had moved to Binghamton, New York in 1912 to live near daughter Abigail Clarke Mosher due to Carrie's failing health. She died at 70 at their Naples home on Monier Street.

Edmund wearing a Union Veteran badge,
probably about the time he was
Commander of the local G.A.R. post, 1904 to 1909

E.C. Clarke lived until 1920. From his obituary:
"For one who was not over strong, Mr. Clarke led a very active life, and was always interested in the welfare of the community."
It's always interesting to decode the euphemisms in newspapers in more polite times. Edmund "not over strong" seems to have been somewhat of an invalid, his health---physical or mental or both--- ruined by the war. 

Edmund, Carrie & Anna are buried in Rose Ridge Cemetery in Naples

Son Edward became a teacher like his father. Daughter Anna did not marry and lived with Carrie and Edmund. She died soon after her mother at the age of 42. Again the code indicates something deeper than is said. From Anna's obituary:
"She was a kind loving daughter and her devotion to the family circle had no limit. It is sad indeed to see one so well equipped for life taken from us. Her illness was of six week's duration, grieving deeply over the death of her mother."
Did Anna's grief lead her to take her own life?

The Fields/Beals/Richards/Clarkes were a complex family although Village Life in America presents them in simple fashion. The book talks of piety, patriotism, prosperity and talent but they dealt with harsher facts ranging from Carrie's father's alcoholism, her daughter's depression, the heritage of slavery and her husband's war-related disabilities. Village life had many layers.

From an obituary: "She will be mourned by many who never met her and yet feel that they know her, having read with delight her 'Diary.' "

Saturday, January 6, 2018

A Confederate Sewing Kit

The first Confederate flag indicates this small sewing kit
or "housewife" was stitched early in the Civil War.

The roll-up is in the collection of the Fort Morgan Historical Site
at the mouth of Mobile Bay in Alabama. It was made 
for Lieutenant Colonel James T. Gee, of Selma, Alabama.

At the top Dr. Gee's initials.

"Pro aris et focis" embroidered below is Latin: "For altars and hearths"

Gee was distantly related to the Gee family for whom Gee's Bend, Alabama was named. He and his mother Susan Binford Gee ran the St. James Hotel in Selma before the war. I couldn't find any mention of wife or children so Susan B. Gee may have made the gift.

UPDATE: Suzanne found out more about James Gee:

"James T Gee of Selma Alabama married Mary Lacy on 27 Oct 1863, during the War obviously. They had a number of children and he died in 1891 at about age 70. So wife, and before October 27, 1863, probably girlfriend Mary Lacy could have made the housewife, just as likely as James Gee's mother."
It seems to have pockets for thread and some of the sections may have been pincushions or needlecases.

The white silk foundation, quilted in diagonals by machine may have been a coat lining re-purposed as a sewing kit. We couldn't see the other side in the display case. With this patriotic roll-up Gee would be able to patch any holes and replace lost buttons---very small problems in a very big war.