Saturday, January 28, 2012

Swag Borders

Cut-out chintz quilt by Elizabeth Severson Emich
Photo copyright by the Maryland Historical Society.
I found this little-seen quilt in a Japanese catalog from the historical society.

The Baltimore Album Quilt Tradition: Maryland Historical Society
Used copies are still available at a fairly reasonable price.

We've been discussing borders of simple shapes like the triangles along the edge in the above quilt but there was also a fashion for more complex swag borders as in the inner border.

Here's a sampler of a few from about 1810.
The swag borders are among the earliest applique designs that are not cut from chintz images---conventional applique.
This chintz quilt from the Smithsonian's collection includes everything: swags with bowknot ties of conventional applique and a few cut-out chintz flowers.

Our critical eyes prefer more perfection in the swag shapes.
 It seems that many of these quilters hadn't much of a template to go by.
The sources for the design idea are obvious.

Sheraton's suggestions for cornices

Swags and bowknots were everywhere in
classical imagery and federal architecture.

1781 Fashion Plate.

See the Martha Washington/Eliza Custis quilt in the last post for a swag fabric.

Border in an American quilt thought to be from the 1770s
 in the American Museum in Bath, England, signed R. Porter

Vintage Rose
Judy Severson's updated interpretation of a swag border, 
graceful arcs tacked down by roses.

Here's a sketch of a basic swag I did for a quilt a few years ago.
Print it so the dotted line is 6" long.

Ann's Legacy: A Tribute to Ann Daggs by Di Ford
If you'd like a "real" pattern for a period swag here's Di Ford's interpretation of the Ann Daggs (Dagge) quilt in the Smithsonian. Buy the pattern here:

See some antique quilts with swag borders:

Margaret Nichols's Tree of Life in the Winterthur Museum collection:

A faded example with an inner swag border in Michigan State University's museum from the Quilt Index:

And one dated 1809 by Eliza Thompson from the International Quilt Study Center & Museum (#1997.007.0257)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Two-Generation Quilt

"This Quilt was entirely the work of my grandmother
 as far as the plain borders. I finished it in 1815
 and leave it to my Rosebud. E. P. Custis." 

This note is attached to the Washington/Custis quilt in the Smithsonian's collection. Rosebud was Eliza Parke Custis's daughter, also Eliza.

Quilt top begun by Martha Dandridge Custis Washington
and finished by her granddaughter Eliza Parke Custis,
about 1780 to 1815.
Collection of the Smithsonian Institution.

Martha started it, perhaps in the 1780s, and she left it unfinished at her death in 1802. Her granddaughter Eliza finished the top in 1815, so it spans our time period.

Plan for a 104" x 104" square quilt

Center = 24" x 24"
Seven Borders
A = 5" Plain striped fabric with brown cornerstones
B = 3" Plain pinkish fabric with brown cornerstones
C = 6" Appliqued with circles and ovals
D = 6" Pieced of striped fabrics
E = 7" Plain foulard print with circles in cornerstones
F = 6" Mitered swag print
G = 7" Mitered foulard print
The Center Square Finishes to 24" x 24"

Begin with  a central field of circles finishing to 12" square. (Martha loved circles!)
She appliqued hers, so you need four dark circles finishing to 3" and 1 full medium brown circle plus 4 half circles and 4 quarter circles. Applique these to a background cut 12-1/2" x 12-1/2"
You could also piece these circles, which is how I drew the central focus in EQ7.

Here's the block which has to finish to 3 inches.
Click on this picture; print it at 3" square.

Framing the Central Field (This isn't the same proportions as Martha's but the math is easier)
The first dark frame 1 finishes to 1" wide and 14" square.
Cut 2 dark strips 1-1/2" x 12-1/2" and 2 dark strips 1-1/2" x14-1/2".
And 4 medium corner squares 1-1/2" x 1-1/2".

The second light frame finishes to 1-1/2" wide and 17" square.
Cut 2 light strips 2" x 14" and and 2 light strips 2" x 17-1/2"

For the corner triangles cut squares 6-7/8" x 6-7/8"
Cut 2 brown and 6 pink squares and cut in half diagonally to make 4 brown and 12 pink triangles

Border A---5"
For Border A framing the central patchwork Martha used a stripe left over from one of her dresses. Martha loved stripes.

It seems to be a brown serpentine stripe with another stripe of dots printed across it.
Find a stripe and cut
4 strips 5-1/2" x 24-1/2"
4 medium brown print cornerstones 5-1/2" x 5-1/2"
With this border the top should finish to 34".

Border B---3"
This plain border is pieced of a pink and white stripe with a little floral trail across it.
Cut 4 strips 3-1/2" x 34-1/2".
Cut 4 medium brown cornerstones 3-1/2" x 3-1/2".
With this border the top should finish to 40".

Border C---6"
Border C is plain white cotton with appliqued circles and ovals. This border finishes to 6" so cut 12 circles finishing to 4". Then cut 4 oval shapes from a toile to feature an image. These ovals should be about 4" tall by 5" wide.
Applique these to 4 white strips and cornerstones.
Cut 4 strips 6-1/2" x 40-1/2".
And 4 cornerstones 6-1/2" x 6-1/2".
With this border the top should finish to 52".

Border D---6"
Border D is pieced of rectangles cut from stripes and each border has a pieced block in the center. At 6" I've made this border narrower than Martha's.

This block is also the basic structure of the center of the quilt. I haven't seen a published name for the block so I think we should call it "Lady Washington's Favorite" (I'm drawing it in as number 2403.5 in my copy of the Encylcopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.) 
Martha pieced the blocks out of two different stripes and one small print. You might want to use a little more contrast and a little less stripe.

For each of the 6" finished blocks (Do this 4 times) 

Center square: cut a striped fabric 4-3/4"
Corners: Cut 2 dark and 6 medium dark squares 2-3/8". Cut each in half with a single diagonal cut. You need 4 dark and 12 medium dark triangles.

You then need to piece these blocks into a border. Each border strip should finish to 52". You have 23" on either side of the squares so you'll need two rectangles to fill this area. Note how Martha used stripes.
Cut 8 rectangles for the ends 6-1/2" x 10-1/2".
Cut 8 rectangles 6-1/2" x 13-1/2"
 For the cornerstones cut 4 squares 6-1/2" x 6-1/2".
With this border the top should finish to 64".

Border E---7"

This is a plain border of a dark foulard print (diagonally set figure) with appliqued striped circles in the cornerstones.
Cut 4 strips 7-1/2" x 64-1/2".
Cut 4 white squares 7-1/2" x 7-1/2" for the cornerstones.
Cut 4 circles finishing to 5" to applique.
With this border the top should finish to 78".

Border F---6"

This Quilt was entirely the work of my grandmother
 as far as the plain borders. I finished it...

I am guessing Eliza added Borders F and G. This one is mitered rather than finished with square cornerstones. 
For F find a gorgeous swag printed chintz or toile. You need 2-2/3 yards.
Cut 4 strips 6-1/2" x 90-1/2" 
With this border the top should finish to 90".

Border G---7"
The final border is another dark foulard print (3 yards).
Cut 2 strips 7-1/2" x 90-1/2" for the sides.
Cut 2 strips 7-1/2" x 104-1/2" for the top and bottom.
With this border the top should finish to 104".

I hope the math is right. If you think I have miscalculated let me know.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Border of Circles

We've looked at basic borders of chained squares and zig-zag lines, both simple, both popular with early medallion makers.

Detail of a medallion by Sophia Coltrane.
North Carolina quilt project

Here's another basic design---dots or appliqued circles.

Not very popular. And in fact kind of quirky.
I've only kept track of  them because I noticed them on two Washington family quilts.

Quilt top begun by Martha Dandridge Custis Washington
and finished by her granddaughter Eliza Parke Custis,
about 1780 to 1815.
Collection of the Smithsonian Institution

I don't think the dots are going to start a craze but just in case I'll post an outline for a medallion like Martha's and Eliza's above in the next post.

Quilt top attributed to Martha Washington
 in the collection of the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association

For more dots:
See Sophia Coltrane's quilt, attributed to Randolph County, North Carolina on the Quilt Index by clicking here:

And see the quilt in the collection of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (#53.1070) by clicking here:

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Chain of Squares Borders

Medallion dated 1804 by Mary Stites in Pennsylvania,
pictured in Nancy and Donald Roan's Lest I Shall Be Forgotten.

Mary's full-size quilt is elegant in its simplicty and proportions. The chain of squares in the final pieced border is a pattern often seen in early medallions. It's simple and bold without the detail seen in later medallions.

Cynthia Collier made a wall-size reproduction using a pattern in my book
America's Printed Fabrics 1770-1890

This medallion by Mary Eby dated 1803 is the earliest quilt documented by the Maryland project. See it in their book A Maryland Album by Gloria Seaman Allen and Nancy Gibson Tuckhorn.

Here's a vintage top from Penny McMorris's collection with the same kind of final pieced border pulling the compositon together. See Diane's interpretation of this quilt at Persnickety Quilts

A reproduction by Georgann Eglinski framing an antique Japanese textile with the final border of chained squares dark on one side, light on the other- a little more sophisticated variation.

Bobbi Finley & Carol Gilham Jones, a collaborative reproduction, 2006.
 Bobbi framed the panel with stars and did the zigzag. Carol did the border of squares and the outer stars. Notice that some of Carol's squares are plain squares and others are four-patches in that random way quilters used to compose.

Sylvia Jennings Galbraith
Medallion Doll Quilt, 2001

Click here to see more about this border in Martha Washington's Penn's Treaty Quilt:

Here are some links to antique quilts with chained square borders.

From the collection of Michigan State University:

A stuffed-work quilt from the DAR Museum

A chintz quilt from the International Quilt Study Center and Museum # 2008.040.0182

From the D.A.R. Museum a Hewson quilt with a border that is actually a strip

Of course, the border makes a great strip quilt too
Reproduction by Georgann Eglinski

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Zig-Zag Borders

Medallion dated 1804 from an online auction

In January the topic is various patchwork borders, beginning with what we'd call a zig-zag or streak-of-lightning border

Crib quilt from an online auction

Medallion by Jane Gatewood from the Quilt Index
This quilt dated 1796 has two zig-zag variations framing the center applique.

"Maryland, Math and a Magnifying Glass"
Reproduction wall-size quilt by Sylvia Jennings Galbraith made for an American Quilt Study Group challenge a few years ago---Bedcovers Before 1840.

Sylvia writes that she interpreted a quilt from Stella Rubin's book : (Miller's)Treasure or Not? How to Compare & Value American Quilts, pg. 41, listed as "Stipple Quilt, Maryland c.1820". The original was from the collection of Eve Wilson/photographs Stella Rubin.

"Since it is a small photo, I had to use a magnifying glass to see the fabrics. Coincidentally, the day I was basting it, my copy of The Quilted Planet by Celia Eddy arrived, with a full page photo of the same quilt ....
My quilt is a version of the center section-there are several more irregular borders or frames outward from this."
Below are some ways to get the effect of that zig-zag border...

I found four free patterns online with zig-zag variations. Here's one using the stacked flying geese idea.
From the Blooming Workshop
A while ago Anita posted an online "quilt along" patterning an English quilt belonging to Cindy Vermillion Hamilton. Click here:
And see a Flickr group with more pictures

The Virginia Quilt Museum Medallion by Mariann Simmons

Mariann Simmons, in cooperation with the Virginia Quilt Museum, has drafted a free pattern for their medallion. Download the PDF for the pattern here

And see more pictures of the model here

They do the border with strips and triangles.

Hartfield Medallion by me and Moda

Moda still has the pattern for this quilt up there although this Jane-Austen-era fabric is long gone.
Click here for the PDF.
We used the stacked flying geese method.

Faith by Howard Marcus for Moda
And the pattern for the medallion Faith for Collections for a Cause uses strips and triangles.