Monday, December 26, 2016

Princess Feathers: Plain and Fancy

Quilt by Martha Ann Taylor from the
 West Virginia project and the Quilt Index

A couple of weeks ago I posted some Princess Feather patterns on my Facebook page

I sorted through the many pictures I had. It was a very popular pattern from about 1840 to 1900. Julie Silber, Darwin Bearly and I showed some quirky versions.

From Darwin Bearly's files

But then there are the more conventional versions.

8-arms and 6-arms
from my Encyclopedia of Applique
  • Princess Feather
  • Feather Rose
  • California Plume
  • Star and Plumes
  • Washington Feather
The most common versions have 8 rotating arms---geometry that fits well inside a square block.

Marie Webster showed two versions in her 1915 book and named
them both Princess Feathers, which is probably why that name is still used so much.
Her book as the oldest index has probably been the most influential.

The Ladies's Art Company also called it Princess Feather in
their early 20th century catalogs.

Although there are dozens and dozens of surviving
examples there is always something unique about each one.

Some have a floral center

Above  a flower formed in the negative white space---or is it just a circle in the center?
IQSC Collection

Others have a star in the center.

From the DAR Museum's collection

From Cindy's Antiques
Six arms is another option

Unnamed woman with a quilt that won the Minnesota State Fair in 1926
From the collection of the Minnesota Historical Society.

Fat ones and thin ones....

The most important part is to get the rotation right.

Things can get awkward if the feathers are flying in different directions.

And if you get the feathers paired up like this
it's not a Princess Feather any more.

See Bearly's quilt above

Monday, December 19, 2016

French Star- A Curved Piecing Challenge

Quilt made in Pitt County, North Carolina, by
Ms. McLawhorn, last quarter 19th century.
From the West Virginia Project & the Quilt Index.

Vintage quilt, perhaps 1860-1890
Sandra Starley and I have been Facebooking about this design,
which we are all calling French Star.

It's not in BlockBase in this format,
which is an 8-point diamond star with a curved pieced in the center.

Here's the North Carolina quilt again. It's a perfect example of regional taste with the solid-color cottons seen in the South after the Civil War.---a warm brown substituting for what might once have been Turkey red.  The applique corners might have been cut from the same template as the Lemon Drops in the star points.

Some showing off in North Carolina made by 
Mary Louise Harris
The NC Project found this quilt in Pitt County.

Collection of the North Carolina Museum of History
Another North Carolina quilt from Wake County, about 1900.
Seems like it was a regional favorite.

Elizabeth Jospehine Blegen added a seam in the corners.
Late 19th-century, made in Iowa according to the Iowa Quilt Project.

The Connecticut project found one from about 1900.
See the whole quilt at the Quilt Index.

Lula Ransom Golson made this one in Louisiana in the early 20th century.
From the Louisiana project and the Quilt Index.

Another impressive late-19th century version from the Kentucky Project and the Quilt Index.
The vivid colors made me think it was wool and the records do confirm that---perhaps those printed delaines from the mid-19th century.

The International Quilt Study Center & Museum owns a classic from the 1890-1920 era in the grays, blues and dark reds so popular at the time.
Do a search for #2012.013.0013:
The one above looks like it's not constructed in blocks. The large white squares have no piecing in them. I believe this is the same quilt recorded by the Minnesota Project several years ago.
 This is Sandra's quilt
from 1840 -1870. It has the curved lozenge piece in
chrome yellow print, something Joe called a Lemon Drop.

The variation we most often see has a different center shape. It's BlockBase #3540 which Ruby McKim published as French Star in the Kansas City Star in 1928. Fewer seams meeting in the center.

Ruby Short McKim from the Kansas City Star

The name definitely stuck and many quilters were inspired by McKim's pattern to make a quilt

From the Wyoming Project

Or at least a block.

Many of these are online auctions or orphan Pinterest posts. 

A Nancy Cabot pattern from the Chicago Tribune in the 1930s.
Winding Walk

And a different version drafted for a four patch.
BlockBase #1516
Fox Chase
Winding Walk

UPDATE: I see Jen Kingwell has done plastic templates for this block.

Here's one from the 1930s that is more like the 19th-century version.
Eight pieces in the center of a star block so you can alternate colors

I imported McKim's French Star into EQ7 from BlockBase. Then I added quite a few more points to the drawing board. I puffed out the curved pieces and drew in some more lines and colored it lemony,
so it would look more like the 19th-century designs. 

12" Block
The free pattern below is for one of the puffier star points. 
Add Seams. Cut 8 lemon drops and 16 diamond points.
The side of the diamond should be 3-1/16" long.

You might check the outside points and the inside points to make sure they are the same. (They look like it.)

Cut the triangles as a 7-1/2" square and cut into 4 triangles with two diagonal cuts.

Cut the corner squares: 4 squares 4-1/2"

If you'd rather draw your own templates just take a compass and add the curved piece to any 8-point diamond star.
And you could always applique that Lemon Drop.

See Sandra's quilt at her blog post here:

See Ruby McKim's pattern here:

Nancy Moore's drawn the 1930s version:

More here: