Sunday, December 21, 2014

1860 Patchwork Patterns from Godey's Lady's Book

I have the 1860 Godey's Lady's Book magazine in a bound book which I found nearly 30 years ago in Maine. Today I am sharing the patchwork and quilting patterns presented to their subscribers that year.

Patchwork Border: Patchwork has especially established for itself the character of a winter industry, as it requires no additional light for its execution, the work which produces it being slight and easy. The only care which it exacts is a mathematical precision in the foundation shapes of which it is composed, and a knowledge of the laws of colors: that is, light and shade, and contrast. When these two points are remembered and practiced in the arrangement of patchwork, the most ornamental effects may be produced. We this month give a border which we think will prove very satisfactory to those ladies who may feel tempted to execute it. The introduction of the black velvet medallions gives a very novel appearance to this work. They are fastened down by long stitches in gold-colored netting silk. The long diamonds in the middle of this border are to be black; the two pointed pieces which come between are light. The parts at the two sides  on which the medallions rest are in the middle shade of color, neither too dark nor too light. This border, added to a square of cloth, would form a very handsome table-cover if the whole were considered too tedious a undertaking, and would enlarge it sufficiently to produce a cover suitable for any drawing-room table.
Macaroon Patchwork in Silk and Velvet: Amongst the most amusing of the labors of the needle, that of patchwork will, bu many ladies, be accepted as the first. It offers great variety in its progress, producing many striking effects by means of exercising taste in all its combinations. In fact, this parqueterie of the Work-Table requires more of the qualities of the artist than might once have been imagined. It demands a knowledge of the power of form and the value of color. Patchwork is not now what it was a few centuries ago. It has passed through many phases of improvement, and we have much pleasure in introducing another to the notice of our subscribers, which certainly enhances the value of these productions. That which will be seen in our illustration called the Macaroon Patchwork. It is made up of two shapes, independently of the round of velvet from which it receives its title. The arrangement of color must depend upon individual taste, but the depth of shade must be carefully remembered. The interior square must be of a neutral tint, half of the side pieces light, the other half dark, or black, which last has a very good effect. The round, or macaroon of velvet, must be laid upon the central square of silk before it is tacked on to its paper shape, which is done by passing the needle through the centre, and making a long overcast-stitch, which reaches to the outer rim, repeating this so as to form as many divisions as appear in our illustration. This is to be done in a deep maize-color, or scarlet silk. When completed this silk patchwork will be found to produce and excellent effect for cushions, table-covers, and various other articles.
This Medallion patchwork pattern of squares and triangles, made up as a fringed table cover, apparently was considered so easy as to not need instructions!

Another pattern without instructions.There is a block that could be an eight pointed star variation. A star appears on the right side of the pattern. The white, or background color, makes up the center vertical points. It is a mosaic, inter-fitting style of quilt block which I don't understand how to piece without adding seams and pieces, and wonder if it were an appliqué.
The magazine index lists several Patchwork patterns but no instructions are included. Above is a Greek Key border with floral shapes consisting of four circles.

Below is a Maltese Cross shape set with a dark square. It is No. 450 in Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.
Here are more familiar looking patchwork patterns! They are described as being "designed expressly for Godey's Lady's Book." The first is a cross with setting block in contrasting color. The second one an easy half-square triangle pattern in dark and light colors. 


 A quilting design for hand quilting is offered separate from any project. Perhaps it was meant for a whole cloth quilt.

Today few quilters work without instructions to a pattern. When I started out quilting in 1991 I was part of a small church group of experienced quilters. Claire Booth could look at a quilt on a magazine cover and figure out how to make it! She was a master appliqué artist who in her 90s had started another major project when I spoke to her a year ago.

Here is a quilt Claire made in 1991 based on a greeting card image. She made it for my husband when he was leaving for another church assignment.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas Is...

Christmas Handkerchief Quilt 
Christmas in the secular world begins the day after we give thanks for all our blessings. At least that is how it was; now many retailers start the Christmas sales ON Thanksgiving. It is as if we are grateful one day, and then immediately decide we need more to be thankful for.

As a girl I saw commercials for charities showing poor children across the world, dirty and thin, flies settling on their faces. I would be filled with guilt. There I was with my Barbie doll and paper dolls, crayons and coloring books, the Golden Books on my shelf, and enough food that I was a 'chubby' size. And some child was wishing for a bowl of rice or the miracle of a well with clean water with which to wash her face. I believed I had too much.

Christmas Eve 
We buy gifts to show our love. We buy gifts because it makes us feel good to give. We give things no one really needs, the latest cell phone or PC game, jewelry or a luxurious scarf. We buy because who can resist a great deal, a deep discount, the two-inch thick stack of circular ads in the local paper. We buy because it is expected of us. Because it is tradition.

Christmas music predominates the air waves, and the TV networks show round the clock holiday shows. Hopefully they remind us of what is important.

My favorite Christmas moments include messages of hope and a reminder to love one another. They tear down the profit-driven life and challenge us to reconsider our ultimate concern.
12 Days of Christmas, Betty Alderman pattern

In "It's a Wonderful Life" we are taught that we all matter and that communities that band together thrive both individually and communally.
"Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you're talking about... they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath? Anyway, my father didn't think so. People were human beings to him, but to you, a warped, frustrated old man, they're cattle. Well, in my book he died a much richer man than you'll ever be."

Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol" tore away the facade of profit-driven business to reveal the twin enemies of humanity, ignorance and want.
"They were a boy and a girl. Yellow, meager, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shriveled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread. Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to him in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude. 'Spirit, are they yours?' Scrooge could say no more. 'They are Man's,' said the Spirit, looking down upon them. 'And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless thewriting be erased. ..."

Christmas Tree kit quilt
Charlie Brown finds Christmas depressing. When Charlie sees beauty in a sad little tree that only needs a bit of love the children reject him as "hopeless". Lucy proclaims, "We all know that Christmas is a big commercial racket. Its run by a big Eastern Syndicate you know." She loves the sound of money. It is Linus who quotes the Bible in "A Charlie Brown Christmas" to remind that the reason for the season is remembering how Jesus came into the world to save us from ourselves.
The Bob Cratchett family in "Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol" exemplifies thankfulness for what we have now, and forgiveness for those who sin against you. Bob teaches by example and offers, "Enjoy with me the miracle of now."
Advent Light
Every year my high school held a Christmas concert that ended with all choirs joining in for "O, Holy Night." It was a moment I anticipated with great eagerness every year.
"O holy night! The stars are brightly shining/It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth.Long lay the world in sin and error pining,/'Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth. 
...A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices/For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Truly He taught us to love one another;/His law is love and His gospel is peace.Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;/And in His name all oppression shall cease."
Blazing Star
I wish you a holiday season that brings hope, peace, and contentment. As Tiny Tim says, "God bless us, everyone."
Bright Christmas

Friday, December 19, 2014

Forget Me Knot: A Quilting Mystery

Sometimes I need a 'light' read. I had a quilting mystery on my Kindle and thought, why not?*

Forget Me Knot is the first in Mary Mark's quilting mystery series. 

Mary Rose is the youngest member of a quilting group, along with theme sweater collector Lucy and Birkenstock wearing Birdie. They belong to a quilt guild where competition, and sometimes emotions, run high. Award winning quilter Claire Terry has asked to join their group. But when they get to Claire's home they find her dead. Homicide Detective Beavers arrives at the scene to investigate, causing Mary Rose's heart to race. 

Claire Terry's quilts have just won Best of Show and First Place Appliqué at the guild's show. Someone steals the quilts, which are worth thousands of dollars. Detective Beavers shows up again.

Martha Rose contacts Clarie's mother with the news of the stolen quilts and learns that the quilts contain 'hidden messages'. Martha Rose is asked to see if she can discern the messages in Claire's quilts stored at her home. But someone does not want the messages to be found, and Martha's life is soon in danger. So is her heart as Detective Beavers tries to rein in the headstrong and intrepid Martha.

The book has delightful characters, witty and well drawn. Non-quilters will learn about quilting as everything is explained as needed. Mary Rose is a California girl, Jewish, mid-50s, size 16, divorced a-- gal many will relate to. The way Claire incorporated messages in the quilts was quite an ingenious plot devise. Warning: there are a few pokes at Republican politics that may offend, and the back story behind Clarie's murder is pretty disturbing. Mark sometimes slows the story with descriptions or back stories.

I am not a big mystery reader, but for a night's entertainment Forget Me Knot was relaxing and fun.

*pun intended

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Happy Birthday, Jane Austen

Jane Austen from 1919 edition
Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775.

In the memoir written by J. E. Austen Leigh fifty-two years after his aunt's death, and from the perspective of the Victorian age, Jane's novels were said to "represent the opinions and manners of the class of society in which the author lived", making "no attempt to raise the standard of human life, but merely represent it as it was. They certainly were not written to support any theory or inculcate any particular moral, except indeed the great moral which is to be equally gathered from the observation of the course of actual life,-- namely, the superiority of high over low principles, and of greatness of littleness of mind."

"...but I think that in her last three works are to be found a greater refinement of taste, a more nice sense of propriety, and a deeper insight into the delicate anatomy of the human heart."

"She did not copy individuals but invested her own creations with individuality of character...She herself, when questioned on the subject by a friend, expressed a dread of what she called such an "invasion of social proprieties." She said that she thought it quite fair to note peculiarities and weaknesses, but that it was her desire to create, not to reproduce; "besides," she added, "I am too proud of my gentlemen to admit that they were only Mr. A or Colonel B."

"...when speaking of her two great favorites, Edmund Bertram and Mr. Knightly: "They are very far from being what I know English gentlemen often are."

So much for Darcy, girls, Jane preferred Edmund and Mr. Knightly! But as James Austen Leigh comments in his memoir, her later works show a more mature mind. The memoir makes Jane out to be a sweet and loving aunt. We don't see her sharp wit in his delineation of Jane.

The illustrations are from a 12 volume set of Jane Austen printed in the early 1900s by Little Brown.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

"Doge" is Alive and Living In Our Home

I don't often blog about our doggies but today I thought I would share some photos of our Suki and Kamikaze. They both spent the first seven or so years of their lives in a puppy mill as breeders.
Kamikaze is our white Shiba Inu. She is stubborn, vocal, loves attention, and loves sniffing every inch along her walks. Kaze (when she is crazy; Kami when she is sweet) was brought home to be Suki's friend after we lost our Kara, a puppy mill rescue with late stage kidney failure.
Suki is our red Shiba Inu. She is larger than most Shibas, quiet and docile, shy and lazy. Suki was unsocialized when we got her, and she had to learn out-of-cage skills like realizing where the world ends, how to go up and down stairs, and that she did not have to hide in small spaces and corners.
Kaze can be very alert and playful. Here she is watching to see what we are doing. She will bark just because she is feeling frisky, and will shake a toy and bounce around the house.

Here is Kamikaze looking out the window when the children are being let out of the school across the street.

 Kamikaze likes her soft toys.
And can be very beautiful.
 But Kamikaze thinks everything is "hers," a typical Shiba personality trait. Poor Suki.
 But "Ain't I sweet" she asks.

Suki is a happy dog. She may spend most of her time sleeping in a corner bed, but every night she comes out to snap at her tail, roll on her back, ask to be pet, and beg for a few treats. Her tail is always up now. Her foster family never saw her tail up for most of the year they had her.
At my brother's cabin Suki was very excited 
Cookies please?

Most of the morning and afternoon the doggies sleep.

We wanted to adopt rescue Shiba Inus as a thank you to the breed. Our first Shiba was Kili, who lived nearly 17 years and was our son's companion as he grew up. She was AKC  registered, home bred, sired by a champion. An alert, playful, happy, and friendly girl. But like most Shibas she would run away when ever she got a chance!
Puppy mill dogs live a sad life in horrible conditions, with no medical care, often no socialization with humans or dogs. They are treated like "live stock" in a factory farm. It is amazing that with love and care they can overcome their earlier trauma and become such loving and secure companions.
Shibas are now found everywhere, including in the meme Doge. I see them in commercials even.

But Shiba owners warn that as beautiful and cute as Shibas Inus can be, they are not for everyone. They are more cat than dog: as my husband says, "they come when called...when they feel like it."

To read more about Shiba Inus:

Friday, December 12, 2014

From Ensign's Bars to Colonel's Stars: Making Quilts to Honor Those Who Serve

From Ensign's Bars to Colonel's Stars  is the first in a series called Making Quilts to Honor Those Who Serve. The first volume presents original patterns commemorating commissioned officer ranks: Ensign's Bars (O-1); Lieutenant's Platoon (O-2); Captain's Company (O-3); Major's Gold (O-4); Commander's Flags (O-5); and Colonel's Stars (O-6). Quilt designer and retired service person Renelda Peldunas Harter comes from a family with multi-generational military service.

Strip piecing and easy piecing techniques are utilized. The majority of the quilts are geometric-- made up of squares, rectangles, and triangles. Several incorporate appliqué, and some inspiration gallery quilters used appliqué to personalize their quilt interpretation.

Each pattern is shown in several color ways; the author chose colors to represented different branches of the armed services (red, white, blue, khaki, gray, green, gold, brown), while other quilt makers interpreted the patterns in colors such as pinks, gray and black, brights, and green and aquas.

The military rank insignia which inspired the patterns are explained and their history given.

Clear and detailed instructions for cutting, preparing, squaring, and sewing is offered in a general section as well as for individual projects. The author emphasizes squaring as central to quilt making success. I appreciated her illustrated section on squaring.

I have not tried making a pattern. The instructions include lots of illustrations. The process is explained step-by-step.

Although created for honoring active service persons and veterans, the patterns can be adapted for many uses and the gallery of quilts included in each chapter provides inspiration for other applications, like baby or graduation quilts.
Colonel's Stars by Renelda Peldunas Harter
Colonel's Stars (below) is Renelda's Quilt Design Star™ 2012 Professional Category entry quilt.
The author served over 25 years in active duty and the reserve and she tells her story in each chapter's introduction. She has been quilt making her entire adult life. Visit her blog Quilted Cora. She was a McCalls Design Star finalist in 2012. See her free pattern Scribble Me A Quilt at Windham Fabrics. Read her guest blog post for Purrfect Spots here.

I thank Schiffer Publications and NetGalley for access to the e-book for a fair and unbiased review.

From Ensign's Bars to Colonel's Stars: Making Quilts to Honor Those Who Serve
Renelda Peldunas-Harter
Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
ISBN: 9780764347191
$19.99 papberback
Publication Date: November 28, 2014

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

"Love One Another"; The Life of Fanny Seward

When historical fiction writer Trudy Krisher read Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin she became interested in Fanny Seward, the beloved daughter of William Seward who was Lincoln's rival for the Republican presidential candidate. He became his closest friend politically and personally. She also read James Swanson's book Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer. Learning that Fanny Seward had kept a diary and no biography existed, Krisher began her research that culminated in Fanny Seward: A Life.

I was thrilled to see this book title offered on NetGalley, because like Krisher I also was captivated by the assassination attempt on William Seward and by the role his daughter Fanny played in his life.

I was disappointed to learn that Krisher's original manuscript reached 600 pages but found no publisher. She had to halve her book. Early on I had wished to hear more of Fanny's voice through incorporation of her diary entries and writing. Happily these source materials do appear later in the book, especially as relating to the assassination attempt on her father's life.

The Seward family was privileged yet unpretentious, progressive and free-thinking. Frances Seward was an intellectual who preferred the introverted and quiet rural life. She was involved in the Underground Railroad. She knew Elizabeth Cady Stanton who described Frances as having "independence of character". Always in frail health Frances used her illnesses to avoid society.

"A cargo of 300 slaves, wild from Africa, has been landed in Georgia by the sloop “Wanderer”—and the nation is quite stirred up about it. I hope the “stealers of men” will be justly punished, and the poor Africans be restored to their native land."  Fanny Seward 1858 diary excerpt
William Seward was outgoing, sanguine, and personable...and "addicted" to politics. Goodwin in Team of Rivals tells how he was the most liberal Abolitionist Republican and assumed he would be nominated for their presidential candidate. He was too liberal, and Lincoln was elected. Seward was offered Secretary of State on Lincoln's Cabinet, and he assumed he would "lead" behind the scenes. Instead Lincoln won Seward's respect and loyalty.

WilliamSewardandDaughterFanny4Fanny was plain and conventional, a loving child, an adoring sister. Her family role was that of nurturer. Books were her first love, and writing her second. She wrote plays, poems, and a novel during her short life. Her power of observation and descriptive writing indicates that had she been born in another time perhaps she would have been a journalist.

Her father was publicly conservative about marital happiness, and her mother felt a woman could accomplish more of importance in the world when unmarried. Consequently, Fanny seriously considered writing as a career.

Her parents were often separated, Frances staying in Auburn NY while William lived in Washington D.C. with visits home as he could. Fanny spent a good deal of time with her father and was knowledgeable about all aspects of the Civil War. She visited the camps, the battlefields, and the hospitals. Fanny met national figures, becoming close to Dorothea Dix, superintended of women nurses, and to the renowned actress Charlotte Cushman, an emancipated woman who was also a closeted lesbian.

The biography's climax revolves around the events of April 14, 1865. While John Wilkes Booth and President Lincoln played out their roles in the Ford Theater, embittered Confederate Lewis Powell was lurking outside the Seward home, armed with a gun and a knife. William Seward had suffered massive injuries in a carriage accident, his jaw broken and his arm useless. Fanny had been reading to her father, and had just turned down the light. Seward's nurse Sergeant Robinson was in attendance. Powell was determined to fulfill his role and assassinate the Secretary of State, while a third member of the plot was to murder Vice President Andrew Johnson.

Read the book! I won't give away the story! Except to say that Fanny showed great spirit and selflessness in defending her father, and her actions likely saved his life.
'Blood, blood, my thoughts seemed drenched in it—I seemed to breathe its sickening odor. My dress was stained with it—Mother’s was drabbled with it—it was oneverything. The bed had been covered with blood, the blankets & sheet chopped with several blows of the knife.'
Fanny was never in fine health, and tuberculosis brought an early death at age 21. She was not alive when her father died in 1872. His final words were "Love one another."

To read more see:

Civil War Women Blog on Fanny, including photographs:

This promo for the book includes photographs and the horrendous story o the assassination attempt:

Read excerpts from Fanny's diary from the University of Rochester:

Fanny Seward: A Life
Trudy Krisher
Syracuse University Press
ISBN: 9780815610410
$29.95 hardbound
Publication Date: January 15, 2015

I thank Syracuse University Press and NetGalley for providing the e-book in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.