March 27, 2011

A Fabric Kind of Day

I carefully queried Captain Poolie about the mend. I could have done it invisibly. Just a seam that faded into three tucks. I could have stabilized it, sewn it to the fusible, and done a satin stitch on top. She said yes to everything….a bit disconcerting. So I just sewed it as strongly as I could. These are her geocaching pants, and they are the biggest, baggiest, most comfortable pair she owns.

After she left, I answered a call and stopped back in to the Discovery Shop to check out two more quilts that had just come in. One wasn’t bad, and both were made in China. How do you tell? They are quilted with giant stitches, and they have labels that say “Made in China.”

Home. I spent hours researching the three quilts I brought home from the shop. I had taken them to the quilt museum after work on Friday, now here I was with them all over the computer room, achoo, and data hard to find on the web. Grrrrrrr.

The kind ladies at the quilt museum told me that this is a Red Thread Quilt. America’s Quilting History writes that, “Although the popularity of redwork embroidery peaked around the turn of the century it wasn't new. Beginning in the 1880s women had been willing to pay extra for Turkey Red thread because unlike most colors it was colorfast. Outlined pictures were stitched with a simple stem stitch; a linear stitch that children can easily learn.”

I worried that all the blocks had the name of the state listed as “Ia” tho the USPS didn’t authorize the abreviation until 1963. Oh, it’s amazing what you learn when you are looking up stuff about quilts. This quilt has a slip case sewn on so the quilt could be hung, and the dirtiest part of the quilt was along the top.

Running the block information through Google got me some information. One doctor, for instance, was born 1860, died 1944, and graduated Rush Medical School. Those details with a change in spelling and quilt wear pretty well dates the quilt to 1915.

Furniture and Undertaking….does this mean they also made the caskets?

One of our backroom ladies commented that this was made to go in a county fair. All the Tipton Businesses are listed. The stitching was done by an expert. The last owner is named on the back of the sleeve, but the quilt is badly worn. Patches have been placed over the two ends to hold them together. I’ve never seen this before, and this suggests the quilt was highly valued. The turkey red binding is so frayed that none of it is salvagable. The whole is simply wonderful.

Most of my search was for the name of the pattern of the blue and white Summer Quilt. There’s no batting. It’s so light you can see through it now.

And too, this quilt has some of the most exquisite quilting that I have ever seen.

The quilting itself uses the interlocked rings in the white portion. It’s a listed as a Mountain Mist quilt pattern named Shoo Fly. It is a four patch, and it was made by GJ. I found the letters on the back, in tiny little India ink letters on one corner.

Unlike the red of my grandmother’s last quilt, this blue hasn’t faded much. The white is paper thin, and you can see the seam edges through the fabric itself. Late 1800’s, or perhaps even older.

The last quilt is a heavy winter suiting quilt with wool batting. Stitched by hand, it is embroidered by a child on or over the edges of the blocks as if it were a sampler. I don’t know enough about men’s suits to date the quilt, but I would think that this too is about 1900 to 1915.

It’s tied not quilted, and despite its age and ugliness has held together remarkably well.

It’s backed by a still thick and warm flannel.

What a trip. What excitement for me who loves fabrics so much. If any of you would know more about these quilts, please leave me a note. Thank you so much.


  1. I love the quilts, they have such an interesting history about them. I'm glad that you saw them and rescued them so others can enjoy them as well. I recall some quilts that my great aunt had....wish I knew what had happened to them....they disappeared when she became a widow and some of her family came in and took everything of value that she had....Sad to say.

  2. I don't know about your quilts, but I remember seeing a men's suit fabric quilt in a show of Amish and Mennonite quilts. It was not beautiful, but somehow it spoke to me more than any of the 'pretty' ones.

  3. Very cool finds. Those quilts have some amazing stories to tell.

  4. What history!! Are these cleanable -- or are they too fragile?

  5. You give each of the quilts a story, which are fascinating. Thanks.

  6. Thanks for fixing my pants! And finding the Tipton Historical Society was really fun. You are a treasure, Mage.

  7. What interesting stories. One of my sisters has a menswear quilt of unknown origin from a Salvation Army store many years ago. I have a doll quilt of many tiny pieces made by my great grandmother Nancy for my Mom, which would date it around 1920. I think I will get it framed. It's still in good shape amazingly after being played with by four generations of us.

  8. I'm afraid I know very little about quilts. I just admire the beauty of them and the work that goes into making one. I don't think that last one is ugly at all. I love seeing all the hand sewn stitches on it.

  9. I love textiles and I wish I knew more about it! I had one of my gandmother's quilts but it finally fell to pieces (dry rot) too much sun over the years--I still have a few of her blocks that are kept in a trunk away from sunlight--
    the quilt had been hand tied like that one of yours--only with white cotton thread-her quilts were made from flour sacs--and I suppose those dish towels that used to be in Quaker oats and such...she also had a collection of bowls and saucers she got from boxes of soap powder and oats--I have some of those too.
    Love the pants repair---

  10. They are stories in themselves and you have a good eye to check out what is important and what is not and to identify quality. Fascinating stuff.

  11. Don't have anything to add about the quilts (in spite of all my quilt books downstairs), but just wanted to say you were a dear to volunteer to fix the captain's pants. Though it's hard to tell if the stitching that fixed the rip is a satin stitch (?) I thought it would be interesting to make a mirror image of it on the other leg, maybe do some dark city skyline shapes all around beneath...just teasing! I stand by my my original thought. You are a dear to take on those tasks!

  12. I should think the Captain would wear those pants with pride. Not many people these days have someone who cares enough to sew for them.


What a delight to get a note from you. Thanks for leaving one.


George coming down Peter’s hall that’s lined with wood and artifacts from wonderful ocean liners of the past .             We ...