Monday, September 26, 2016

Magic Squares and Henrietta Whitney

Henrietta Edwards Whitney, chintz quilt, about 1850
Connecticut Project & the Quilt Index
New Haven Colony Historical Society

This quilt, in excellent condition, is pieced from one chintz print on which the glaze is still apparent. Henrietta Whitney seems to have had money for fabric. But then she had married inventor Eli Whitney.

Henrietta Frances Edwards Whitney
(1786-1870), photographed in 1862 in her mid-80s.

Where do quilt patterns come from?
In this case, Godey's Ladys Book

Unnamed "Patchwork" design Godey's, February, 1857,
article by Ellen Lindsay.

The pattern is #411.3 in my Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns. It was republished with the name Magic Squares in a L.K. Meeker's 1979 index. Quilt Patterns for the Collector. She found that name in a 1930s Aunt Martha pattern booklet. 
Magic Squares from Aunt Martha
When I printed this out the square B finished to 2-3/4" - Cut 3-1/4"

I looked up the name Magic Square in the Quilt Index and found a few examples:

Tennessee Project
Mary E. Currey, late 19th century

Massachusetts project
Late 19th century

Lula Blanche Parker, mid-20th century
North Carolina

Wyoming Project
 mid-20th century

Pat Yamin's contemporary version.  
I bet she sells acrylic templates.

I was struck by the instructions in Lindsay's 1857 feature:
"The two patterns given in this article are to be made of white pieces and chintz. The small squares are white, and the others chintz...."
Whitney followed the instructions to the letter.
UPDATE: I re-reading this I see Whitney's quilt reverses Lindsay's instructions. Her  squares are chintz not white.
But occasionally it's the chicken and the egg. Did Henrietta Whitney use Ellen Lindsay's pattern or did Lindsay pattern out Whitney's quilt for her readers?

Could writer Ellen Lindsay have come across this exceptional quilt about 1857?

Eli Whitney is reported to have died in this house on Orange Street,
while a grander house was being built.

In 1857 Henrietta Edwards Whitney was about 70 years old, living in her lifelong home of New Haven, Connecticut. She had married Eli Whitney, inventor of the famed cotton gin, in 1817 when he was in his early fifties and she about 30 years old. Whitney died in 1825 leaving her with two girls and a boy, all under 8. 

Whitney during his marriage, 
painted by fellow inventor Samuel F.B. Morse in 1822.

Whitney's most profitable enterprise was a factory that directed waterpower to machinery and an  Armory. By the 1850s son Eli was running the gun factory, making arms with the Colts and the Winchesters.

Henrietta Frances was New England aristocracy in her own right, granddaughter of famous minister Jonathan Edwards, cousin to politician Aaron Burr, and niece of Connecticut Governor 
Henry Waggaman Edwards, among other notable relatives.

Whitney Gun Factory in Whitneyville, north of New Haven by
William Giles Munson, 1826-8 (detail). The painting is in the collection 
of the Yale University Art Gallery.
 Henrietta Frances's other grandfather founded Yale.

It's easy to discover information about Mrs. Eli Whitney. I couldn't find a thing about Ellen Lindsay other than that she authored several articles for Godey's Lady's Book, edited by Sarah Josepha Hale and published in Philadelphia.

Which came first? The quilt or the pattern? Can't say.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Not Square Blocks: Diamond Shaped Blocks 2

Top from the mid-10th century in a diamond-shaped block.

I have a few more diamond-shaped blocks in my files.
But these don't seem to have names and I haven't found them
published any where.

See the first post on diamond-shaped blocks here:

Top from about 1875-1900

You could look at these two as variations on the triangular block Sugar Loaf

See more about triangular blocks here.

 Most triangular blocks could be doubled to make a diamond.

From the 1940s-1960s

From the 1930s in an online auction.

Sandi Klop at American Jane with a repro in her
 Bread & Butter fabric collection.

Dreaming of Diamonds
Lissa Alexander's recent take on the diamond-shaped
block filled with diamonds.

This old pattern seems one of a kind.

Late 19th century (?) top

Until you find two of a kind.
The vintage quilt above is labeled Quilt Index.

Did it start out to be one of these?
Or just an odd relation.

Diamond-shaped blocks enjoyed a short and minor popularity for what we call
contained crazy quilts.

From the Nebraska History site

From the Tennessee Project and the Quilt Index

Collection: Metropolitan Museum of Art

This sampler with square patchwork cut into diamond shapes
may actually be one of a kind.

On the topic of one of a kind---the Connecticut
Project found this very strange diamond quilt,
alternating pieced and appliqued blocks (I think.)
Or maybe it's a fussy cut paisley print.
A unique personal vision.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Chain of Diamonds BlockBase #1046

Scrap quilt from perhaps the 1950 or '60s.
A hard pattern to figure out...
Where is the block?

It's actually three different square blocks---
BlockBase #1046, in a very small category of published patterns
that require three different blocks to make the repeat.

It was published maybe about 1940 by the Aunt Martha Studios.
(UPDATE) Wilene (who knows all) says:
"Chain of Diamonds was published in Aunt Martha's WorkBasket No. 996, September 1943."

Here's another antique quilt from the Vintage Blessings shop on eBay.

The two shades of blue would be perfect for
my new Baltimore Blues collection from Moda.

Block 1 is a nine patch. 

 Block 2 a Kaleidoscope

And Block 3 (repeated twice) is rather odd but makes the Chain of Diamonds.
I put a generic light tan on white print in there for contrast.

Arrange the three blocks as a four patch like this

And then repeat. The sketch I drew in EQ7 features
6" nine-patch blocks, etc. With a 6" finished border
the quilt is 60" square.

Chain of Diamonds from Aunt Martha Studios

Aunt Martha had you put it on the diagonal.

That's good too.
Do note that Aunt Martha didn't give you a template for
the edges.

The pattern was in the booklet Aunt Martha's Favorite Quilts.

Here's a variation I found on line,

which Layla at the Lettered Cottage bought on Etsy.

I hadn't seen this variation before and I was going to draw it out in EQ7 but I see that Sassafras Lane already has a pattern for sale. They call it Bourbon Street.