March 13, 2013

January 11, 2009 Sunbonnet Sue

Filed under: ◦Antique quilts,◦Country Living,◦Fabrics,◦Vintage — sharon @ 12:45 pm

For all you Sunbonnet Sue fans out there, here’s an interesting quilt top we’re currently offering in our eBay store:
Sunbonnet Sue top

We thought it was an interesting layout, and the sunny yellow goes with the sunbonnet theme. Seems like today she should be wearing a Snowbonnet! I’m not sure what she’s holding in her hand, but perhaps it will help her through this chilly, snowy weather.
Sunbonnet Sue top

January 10, 2009 Snowy Saturday

Filed under: ◦Country Living,◦Family,◦Food — sharon @ 12:43 pm

A good day to stay indoors. So of course we were up and out early to the local Saturday antique market, but not because we expected a lot of activity. And indeed, scarcely an eighth of the vendors braved the elements to open for business. No fabulous finds for us today, but we did need groceries anyway, and hadn’t wanted to buck the crowds shopping yesterday afternoon in anticipation of the storm.
snow in the woods
So we picked up potatoes, bananas, a lemon and an avocado at the farmer’s market, then headed to the supermarket for milk, bread, eggs (not just because it was snowing- we really needed all those) and of course, cat food. The roads were getting a bit worse by 9:30, but we were almost home already when we stopped at our great local butcher shop for the rest of tonight’s dinner.
A day like today demands comfort food, so we’d decided last night that it would be meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Now we’re ready for whatever Mama Nature tosses at us!
front yard

January 9, 2009 Feedsack Friday – Gone With the Wind

Feedsacks in their seemingly infinite variety have reflected popular culture in many ways. Some of the most collectible today owe their popularity to the fact that they represent some favorite time, event or memory. So it is with these three that have been given the name Gone With the Wind, for perhaps obvious reasons. Four different vignettes are shown on each: The plantation, a carriage, a sidewheeler steamboat, and the locomotive General, from the train chase scene.
yellow gwtw
I remember first finding a few of these, on the yellow background, at a farm auction almost 10 years ago. By the time we’d finished bidding on the stack of feedsacks that contained several of them, most of the auctiongoers were aghast at the price. While these sacks are not popular among quilters in particular because of the larger scale imagery, there are nevertheless many feedsack collectors who feel the need to own at least one of each of the three colors. And of course there are also those collectors who love anything having to do with Gone With the Wind, either the book or the movie.
Here’s Tara on a red background:
red gwtw
And the General, puffing along on blue:
blue gwtw
We were amused to find the GWTW feedsacks being used as examples to publicize an exhibit at Empire State College in Utica, NY.

January 8, 2009 Favorite quilt blocks

Filed under: ◦Antique quilts,◦Fabrics,◦Vintage — sharon @ 12:33 pm

Are they still blocks if they are round? We bought a few of these, not enough for a whole quilt (if I could imagine how to make a whole quilt with these). One the seller had made into a round pillow, but I think it can be saved.
Round quilt block
The blocks appear to be from the 1880’s or 90’s, and share a few of the fabrics, including the red center and half round pieces. They measure about 23 inches in diameter.
Round quilt block
These must be a tour de force of piecing, but they seem to be precisely made and lie flat. There are 143 pieces in each, some great fabrics, too. One has a conversation print, what appears to be a town crier, in red on white in the outermost row.
Round quilt block
A proper mariner’s compass block should have eight points, not 6, so I’m not sure what to call these, but I think you’ll agree that they’re interesting.
Round quilt block
Hopefully someone with a better creative imagination than I can give me a good idea of how to use these….

January 7, 2009 Reading between the fabric

Filed under: ◦Books,◦Country Living,◦Vintage — sharon @ 12:30 pm

When I was a kid, we always covered our school books with paper covers to help keep them clean. I remember going to the Campus Shop, (so called because it was adjacent to the campus of a local college) and buying covers with our school’s colors and name, mascot, etc. I wasn’t very good at getting them folded properly to fit my books, but managed to do an adequate job.

In the 19th century, schoolbooks were a scarcer and more treasured commodity, and so it was expected that they would be well cared for. Back then your sister or your Mom would actually sew a custom fabric cover onto the book. Shown below are two second readers and two fourth readers dating from 1871 to 1890. The oldest is at right, the newest at left.
Cloth covered textbooks

As fabric junkies, we’re liable to accumulate anything and everything having to do with cloth, especially antique or vintage cloth. So at local auctions, yard sales, etc., we always have our eyes open for these, and have managed to accumulate a small assortment. However, like anything antique or vintage, as time passes they become increasingly difficult to find.

Now you can find dealers in primitive and grungy decor who cover old books themselves, even using antique fabric, but it’s hard to duplicate the original. For one thing, the style of attaching the cover was different, and left its own mark.
Cloth covered textbook

You can see that the thread used to fasten the cover to this early 2nd reader has oxidized the paper facing it over time, leaving no doubt that the cover has accompanied the book for 100 years or more.

You have to wonder if school kids compared covers on their books, whose was prettiest or most colorful. Or if anyone actually carried a book that matched her dress.

January 6, 2009 Quilting bee

Filed under: General — sharon @ 12:29 pm

We only have one painting on our walls that has anything to do with quilts and quilting – but this one has everything to do with quilting. It’s a tongue-in-cheek look at a quilting bee of African American women, signed Sallielou P Eakins. The image speaks for itself.
quilting bee

This was purchased years ago at our local antique market from the artist herself; or rather himself. At the time he was a young man living in Reading, PA. Sallielou was his alter ego and as far as I know he still paints under that name, having dropped the surname some time ago. Apparently he now lives in Cottonwood, NM. Here’s a gallery of some of his more recent work.

Several times we’ve seen Sallielou’s work turn up in auctions on eBay and in various outsider art and folk art circles.

January 5, 2009 Up the flue

Filed under: ◦Country Living,◦Friends,◦Vintage — sharon @ 12:27 pm

Years ago I lived in an old stone farmhouse with two chimneys, but no fireplace. In the living room was a woodstove which we used to supplement the oil heat and to save on fuel. A stovepipe extended through the ceiling into the bedroom above, thence into a round hole in the wall that accessed the flue. That way the bedroom got to share some of the extra heat from the woodstove.

A second bedroom also had a similar hole in the wall for a stovepipe, but we had only one wood stove, so didn’t need the second chimney. This was not an uncommon situation in Victorian America, apparently; therefore you occasionally find decorative old flue covers such as this one. Round, to cover a stovepipe sized hole, and decorated with any number of different lovely ladies, or other pictures.

flue cover

I didn’t always realize that I needed a flue cover. At the time, the bedroom with the hole in the wall was an extra room that I used only for books and storage. In the winter I kept the door closed, and there was minimal heat loss. One night, however, something else made the need for a flue cover evident.

A friend was visiting, and coming down from using the upstairs facility, he said, “There’s something in the book room.”
“What is it?” I asked, naively.

“I don’t know, but it makes a sound like shhhwoop, sshhhhwooop.”

Of course this bore investigation, so I went upstairs and listened at the door. Not a sound. So I opened the door slightly, enough to switch on the light. I expected to be dive-bombed by a bat or something, but I was hardly prepared for what I did see: A beautiful, pale gray, full-grown barn owl. I suspected he was hardly likely to fly back up the chimney through the small hole in the flue.

Anxious lest the owl be harmed, or that he might find some of my library rather tasty, I concocted a plan to let him out by opening the window fully. Knowing I’d have to cross the bedroom to do it, I put on a heavy jacket, gloves and a hat, in case the owl should feel threatened. He didn’t seem to mind, though, as I went to the window and began to open it. He simply watched, timidly, curiously.

I opened the window as wide as possible, then circled to approach him from the opposite side of the room. He was no dummy. He found the open window right away, and with one flap of his big wings, flew out and glided all the way across the yard to the barn.

The next day, and thereafter, I made sure that a flue cover was always in place in the book room. Today our flue covers hang on the wall, with no hole behind them, serving only a decorative function.
flue cover

January 4, 2009 Raggedy Angel

Filed under: ◦Friends,◦,◦Vintage — sharon @ 12:20 pm

Back when we first started selling lots of feedsacks to Japan, one of our best Japanese customers was so pleased that she used to send us gifts. She sent a magazine with an Raggedy Angelarticle about her shop (in Japanese), a Japanese quilt show catalog, a Japanese-English business dictionary, even a kimono from her grandmother. But our favorite gift was one she made for us herself, that we named Raggedy Angel.

With her hair made from frayed twine, a straw bow at her neck, white quilted wings and patchwork vintage fabric dress we think she’s just the cutest thing. And look at that angelic exprssion!

January 3, 2009 Wild designs

Filed under: ◦Antique quilts,◦Friends,◦Vintage — sharon @ 12:17 pm

Last year we went to a meeting of the Mid Atlantic Quilt Study Group for which the theme was “Wild by Design”, after a quilt show which we visited as a group. For study, members brought quilt items that they felt fit the description. This is one of a pair of orphan blocks we bought years ago, about as wild as they come. We’ve never seen any others remotely like these.
wild orphan

It took a huge number of applique stitches to do all those serrated edges – whoever designed these was devoted to the task. Or maybe not, since we found only two.
wild orphan detail
wild orphan detail

I’m still trying to imagine what the whole quilt might have looked like.

January 2, 2009 Feedsack Friday – Polka dots!

We’re starting a new feature (at least for a little while) on our blog called Feedsack Friday. Feedsack Tuesday just didn’t sound right. We’ve done a general article on feedsacks, but there are so many variations that we could be doing this for years.

Today’s special topic is polka dots! An exuberant pattern, simple yet somehow exciting, and so many possibilities. Sometimes they’re dense, sometimes scattered, sometimes large, sometimes small. Some are white on a colored background, others are colored dots on white. Here are a few samples:
Muliticolor dotsWhite dots on blue pink dots

As you can see, there are variations in color, scale and arrangement. Our Japanese customers are especially fond of polka dot patterns; the Japanese word for polka dot translates as “drop of water”. Some more variations:
little dots on aqua1950's dotsdots with striped border
orderly rowsspattered dotstwo color dots

Using simple circles of color for so many different effects. Of course there are hundreds of polka dot feedsack patterns, hundreds more that combine dots with other elements – but that’s a topic for another Friday. A few more dot patterns to emphasize the point:
pink to red dotsvaried sizes and colorsrows of dots on red
white on lavendercircles of dots green dots

We hope you’ve enjoyed the first of our feedsack Fridays, more to come!