Thursday, November 29, 2018

More History Sewn Into Quilts

One of my favorite quilt designs is called Wild Geese, which is still popular today.  A handmade quilt by Mary Melissa Groves Ratcliffe (1854-1939) uses the Wild Geese pattern.  One of the special things about quilting is discovering that many of the patterns go back generations.

In addition to the repetition of quilt patterns, many quilters pass fabric down to younger generations.  My own mother was not a quilter, but she was a dressmaker, and I have some of her fabrics.  My mother-in-law, however, was a quilter, and I have many of her fabrics, among which are fabrics from her mother and from an older friend of hers who made dresses for other ladies in the community.  Consequently, I have quite a few treasured fabrics from several decades in the past.  

This log cabin quilt top was fun for me to study, because I thought I saw some fabrics from the same era as my inherited fabric collections.  This quilt top was made by Sarah Adeline McCandless Soice (1863-1936).  It was lined but never quilted, and because it was never completed for use on a bed, the colors remain fresh and bright.  The log cabin pattern remains a popular pattern, modified into many different designs.  It is especially useful for smaller scraps.

The next pair of quilts are interesting to compare because both were made by church ladies and both used the circle pattern to display names.  The quilt above was made by the Methodist Ladies and purchased at a fund raiser by Mrs. J.B.C. (Nancy) Cook, who died at the age of 93 in 1940.  

The Methodist Ladies used a white background with deep red rails and embroidery, but the ladies of the First Christian Church chose only the white background in 1954, omitting the bars, or rails, as they are also called.  However, they too chose a deep red for the embroidery.  Their group was called the Mizpah Class, which is Hebrew for "watchtower."

One of the especially striking quilts on display uses the fan pattern, bright colors on a black background.  Many years ago I made a pair of twin quilts using men's ties my husband no longer wore to create the wedge shapes required for the fan pattern.  I used old suits for the background behind the fans and navy blue solid rails between the fan blocks.  They are a very striking pair of quilts, but because of the wool in the background and rails, they are only suitable during winter months.  I realized while drafting this blog that I packed them away quite some time ago, and this winter I need to get them out and use them again.

There are more beautiful quilts to admire at the museum, and I recommend a visit.  If you missed last week's blog sharing more of the quilts from this collection, you may wish to scroll down to read that blog.  Next week's blog will feature the antique sewing machines that are also exhibited at the Stafford County Museum Quilt Exhibit.  Remember, you can click on the images to enlarge them.

P.S.  Thank you to Jim Clopton, who shared photographs of two lovely quilts at my face book post blog reminder, and to Mary Callaway Vandenberg who also shared a photograph of a beautiful family quilt dating back to 1865!  I have downloaded all three photographs and might do a future blog sharing those images if more of you post family quilts!


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