Saturday, July 29, 2017

Today in Textiles


A couple of interesting textile notes:

A piece of a skirt worn by Elizabeth I (bearing striking resemblance to the skirt she's wearing in this 1602 portrait) was found in St. Faith, Bacton, a 13th-century parish church in Herefordshire, England, where it had been cut up and used as an altar cloth for hundreds of years.

Two fascinating quotes from Eleri Lynn, curator of historic dress at Historic Royal Palaces in the January 7 article in the Guardian:

"In Tudor times, clothing was so expensive that it would be passed from one generation to the next, or taken apart and reused for something else, like cushion covers."

"On top of that, Oliver Cromwell sold off every item of clothing in the royal stores, so the only things we have, including a hat which might have been worn by Henry VIII, have come back to Hampton Court after they have survived elsewhere."

(I was drawn to this story, in part, because I lived in Hereford in the mid-1980s. Hope to get back there this fall.)

And an amazing quilt collection is on sale this weekend in Berkeley.
Eli Leon, quilt collector

http://www.berkeleyside.com/2017/07/27/vintage-quilt-collection-passionate-local-collector-eli-leon-sale/


Quilts for sale
Log cabin quilt from Eli Leon collection
Double wedding ring quilt from Eli Leon collection
I remember hearing about Leon when we lived in Berkeley—at the time (late 80s-early 90s) he was collecting quilts made by an African American woman in Richmond, CA, among others, and years later an exhibition of his quilts appeared at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, IA. Boy, do I wish I was in Berkeley (although it's probably a very good thing I'm not)!



Saturday, July 15, 2017

Today in Textiles: Things I've Enjoyed This Week

This art deco sewing machine cabinet (I've never seen one in this style). You can bid on it here.


This upcoming exhibition at the American Folk Art Museum (AMFA), War and Pieced: The Annette Gero Collection of Quilts from Military Fabrics. I saw a quilt of this genre at the International Quilt Study Center (IQSC) last August and it stopped me in my tracks. The first two quilts below are from the upcoming AMFA exhibition (to be held from September 6, 2017 to January 7, 2018) and the last photo is a detail shot I took of the quilt at the IQSC.



And finally, not this week, but on June 28, Art Quilts of the Midwest opened at the Texas Quilt Museum.
This is the exhibition's last scheduled stop, after shows at the International Quilt Study Center, the National Quilt Museum, and the Iowa Quilt Museum. If you haven't had a chance to see it in person and you're near LaGrange, stop in to check it out. Cheers!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Feed Sack Match Game

One of my favorite things about the kind of writing I do is meeting new people and hearing their stories. It happens during the interview process, but I also hear fabulous stories from folks who come up to me after I give a talk, or who contact me because of something I've written.
The latter happened recently, when I got an email from Pamela Shadle Flores, who works at the University of North Texas (UNT). She's from a family of ranchers and farmers who lived in the Texas panhandle during the dust bowl and she'd always wondered whether the quilt she inherited (above) was sewn from feed sacks. Pamela learned about the feed sacks book from an interview I'd done in the with the UNT Libraries about using their Portal to Texas History in my research.
To her delight (and mine), she was able to match two fabrics in the quilt to those in the book. I asked if she'd send me photos and whether I could share them, and she agreed to both. It appears that many, if not all of the bow-ties are feed sack—they stand out so nicely against the solid fabrics.
I especially loved that she told me her husband and two teenagers were as excited as she was by the discovery. Teenagers are hard to impress! Thanks so much, Pamela, for sharing your story and these images. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Turkey Red

Yup, I'm still here—so is Pearl. As a matter of fact, I've got some ideas for reviving Pearl the Squirrel. But as the business of life intercedes, these remain mostly ideas.

One thing I'd like to do with this blog is share some of the intriguing textile-related things that pop up in my view. Today is an interesting video about Turkey Red. If you're at all interested in textile history or quilt history, Turkey Red is a term that you've heard, but if you're like me you don't know much about it. Thanks to Karen Alexander's post on the American Quilt Study Group Facebook page, I know a little more. She shared a link from the University of Glasgow's Textile Conservation program, about PhD student Julie Wertz, who is applying her chemistry background to the study of Turkey Red.

The process to create Turkey Red fabrics was used in Glasgow (where Julie is studying) from the late 1700s to the 1930s. No one apparently knows how the process works chemically, just that it does. She's created a lovely, super-short video to explain it simply, for those of us who glaze over at the word "chemistry." Make sure to watch it til the end, where the magic happens.

(If you're into it, she's got two more videos, one about Prussian Blue and one about Chrome Yellow.)

And thanks for reading. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Feed Sacks for the Holidays

Christmas and Chanukah are less than a week away, and like everyone else, I'm in the throes of preparation for family and guests to arrive. Menu-planning is at the top of the list, along with holiday decorating, because to be honest, I haven't done much more than plop our Christmas tree in its holder in the living room—no lights, no ornaments, not yet.

But it'll all come together, it always does. And however it turns out is fine, because both my daughters will be back in the nest soon (along with Maggie's fiancé EJ and dog Lily) and that is what really matters. Such a treat!

Before the holidays take over, I wanted to share the video Janine made for the feed sack book—it provides a little peek into the book's contents for a quick browse.
Feed Sacks: The Colourful History of a Frugal Fabric from uppercasemag on Vimeo.

The book has also gotten two lovely reviews—one by Rita of Red Pepper Quilts (how does she do all the incredible sewing she does and find time to blog, too?) and another lovely one by Patricia of Okan Arts (Patricia has promised to unveil the wonders of yukata and share her expertise with me). Thank you!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

On the Horizon: A Feed Sack Book with UPPERCASE

Why yes, it HAS been four months since I posted...and while many things have happened in that span of time, probably the thing I've concentrated most of my energy on has been on a book about feed sacks. I'm working with Janine Vangool of UPPERCASE and as if you know her work, you won't be surprised to learn that this book is going to be an absolute stunner.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Oilcloth!

Over the past few years that I've been traveling to Oaxaca, Mexico, I've grown even fonder of oilcloth than I already was. Oilcloth in Mexico is very inexpensive and I'm always tempted to get tons, but I've learned it's quite heavy, so I restrain myself.
Oilcloth in the Benito Juarez market in Oaxaca

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Kalona Quilt Show: A Visual Tour


April 28 was the opening of the annual quilt show in Kalona. It's a mix of old and new quilts, and the old ones are definitely the thing that turns my head.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Rhubarb Dreams

I have lots of quilt-related photos to post...one of these days. But for today, I'm touting rhubarb.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Sewing Extremes

For quite some time now, I've been making hexagons. I even taught a hexagon class at Home Ec. But I haven't done much else. This weekend, however, I did get a little sewing in, and I chose to sew two challenging substrates—one super stiff (oilcloth) and one loosely woven, with little body (gauze).

Students' hexagons