Monday, January 29, 2018

Southern Pineapple

A classic pattern from a late 19th-century quilt
auctioned in Virginia in the past few years.

Cindy at Cindy's antique quilts had a question about the pattern. She
had two in her booth.

The collectors and historians who chimed in agreed it was Southern.

I was surprised to see how many photos I had in the file.

Here's one by Betty Meeks McKenzie from
the Louisiana Project & the Quilt Index.
Several have one end trimmed to fit the bed.

Another from the Louisiana Project.
This actually could be the exact same quilt---
photographed before fading and after.
These end of the century Southern solids fade in
a New York minute (cross cultural reference.)

Good blue/bad blue.
I've seen this one on Jeffrey Evans auction site and Burley's.

The pattern has a number in my Encyclopedia of Applique.
#17.51, published on the cover of the South Carolina project

where it was called Pineapple.

Pineapple seems to be the most consistent name. Here's one
publiished as Pineapple in the book Stitchers in Time: Ozark Quilts
And it does look like the fruit.

Made by Saloma & Emma Cornett about 1900.

Most I have photos of seem to be from about 1880-1920.

But Tim at Tim Quilts showed a fabulous example in mid-20th-century solids.

I've never seen it published in the vintage literature as a commercial pattern....Probably passed around hand to hand as a paper pattern or a block, perhaps sold by an enterprising pattern drafter or traced off a quilt.

Some have a circle in the center like this one from Cindy's

Some a simple floral like the Cornetts

And some nothing at all where the pineapples meet.

How old is the pattern?

Here's one with blanket-stitched applique done in Turkey
red and green. It could be 1850s or 60s....

With it's fancy diamond border.

And that brown and blue one....

It has a chintz stripe border that looks like
a stripe printed "for the Portuguese."
See more at this post:

Could it be 1840s or '50s?

The design seems to have evolved from the common oakleaf and reel
block that goes back to about 1830, found all over the Eastern seaboard....

Signature block from Chester County, Pennsylvania.

Shelburne Museum collection

....combined with this more common pineapple block
dating back to the 1840s.

A pattern of sorts to print as a whole or a quarter. 

It has to have all those wiggly edges.

UPDATE: Here's a published pattern from Comfort magazine in 1922 sent in by Mrs. Williams from Texas who called it Chestnut Burr. She's got the arcs upside down. 

Monday, January 22, 2018

National Polka Dot Day

Today is National Polka Dot Day.
Now, if you are a stickler for definitions
the block above from Sue Garman's blog is not a polka dot.

Polka dots are circles set in a half drop repeat, a diagonal grid
like the dress the fashionable Princess Louise is wearing below.

Sculptors Joseph Boehm and Princess Louise,
(Victoria's daughter)

However, it is a good day to consider appliqueing dots.

Border by Minnie Crawford Umstead

 From the Indiana project & the
 Quilt Index

Nancy Clements Adams from the Kentucky project & the
 Quilt Index

For Better or for Worse

From the Pat Nickols Collection at the Mingei Museum

Elizabeth Scott Schockley from the Indiana project & the
 Quilt Index

This antique from Ken Burns's collection is very much
like the one at the top of the page. See the article in the New York Times
about his collection:

Monday, January 15, 2018

Clara Gillham's Mother's Floral

I am Honorary Curator of Quilts at the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas. We have in our collection this quilt which is catalogued as a unique rose. It was donated so long ago its
accession number is 0000.0038---which means in the teens or 1920s before accession numbers were assigned.

The donor was Clara Gillham, a University Librarian who said her mother'd made it. I'd never seen another like it and so it has remained "Unknown pattern by Clara Gillham's mother."

But I recently found this twin from an online auction. Almost the same. It's missing the yellow shape in the center and it's a little tighter in design.

Here's the Spencer's quilt, which I've dated 1840-1880 because
of the applique and quilting styles, the red and green fabrics and the fancy border.

And here's the other example. Looks to be about the same time.
The pattern is still unknown but I was motivated to find out more about
Clara's mother.

Clarissa Scioto Gillham 1860-1938

Clarissa was a member of the class of 1884 at the University of Kansas. After graduation she became a librarian at the University Library in Spooner Hall. How she wound up in Lawrence, Kansas in 1880 I cannot say, but she was born near Alton, Illinois into a family of "old settlers." Her Gillham family had come from South Carolina and Virginia by way of Kentucky to Chouteau on the American Bottom directly east of St. Louis on the Mississippi River. 

Map of the east side of the Mississippi

See the arrow at the very top of the map across from St. Louis, which was a large French settlement when the Gillhams arrived. Nearby Cahokia was an older community of Indian settlers.

Father Samuel Parker Gillham was born in the American Bottom area in 1809. Mother Oletha (or Olathe) Wilson was born in 1818 in Pike County, Ohio, through which the Scioto River runs. In 1841 she married Thornton W. Ware who died young, leaving her perhaps with one son. Samuel's first wife had died leaving him with ten children. In 1856 they married. It appears Clara was the youngest of the 13 children from the combined family.

Oletha Wilson Ware (1818-1878) was Clarissa Scioto Gillham's mother and the quiltmaker. Both parents died when Clara was about 18, so this quilt must have been one of her treasured possessions.

Quilt by Oletha Wilson Ware Gillham (1818-1878), Ohio or Illinois,

The quiltmaker now has a name even if the pattern doesn't. It makes for a better caption.

Samuel Parker Gillham (1809-1878)
Clara's father

There is more to the story of the Gillham family. Samuel's family had come to Illinois for unusual reasons. One day in 1790 Kentucky farmer James Gillham returned home to find his wife and children captured by Indians. His five-year quest to find them led him to the Kickapoo country near what is now Springfield, Illinois. With the help of a Cahokia trader he ransomed his family. They decided to stay in the area and the government compensated wife Ann Barnett Gillham (1756-1819) with an Illinois land grant, which is where Samuel was born. Samuel recalled that he never could figure out the actual truth of the story; it must have been told and retold down to Clara's generation.

Print this out and double it for a pattern of sorts.

I forgot to put the Encyclopedia of Applique number in.
It's 14.78 Unnamed.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Improved Nine Patch

The Improved Nine Patch

A very popular 20th-century pattern

Particularly in scrappy pastels with white ovals between
the nine patches

There is no square block.

It's BlockBase #306.
Today we call it Improved Nine Patch or
Glorified Nine Patch.
The first name was published in the Rural New Yorker
in February 1930, pretty early in the 1930s quilt revival.

Most of the quilts were probably made from this 1933
Kansas City Star design.

It takes some piecing skill for the curves but quilters were crazy
about Double Wedding Rings at the time so this design of similar
construction fit right in.

Although someone at the Star thought this would be
a good beginner's quilt in 1935.

The Quilt Index has quite a few

Lulu Schock from the West Virginia Project & the Quilt Index.

Including some two color variations.

From the Indiana Project & the Quilt Index.
 Mary E. Garrett worked in a clothing factory and made hers
out of factory cutaways---shirt chambrays.

All these look to have been pieced after the pattern appeared in 1930.
I had BlockBase draw a pattern to fit on an 8-1/2" x 11" sheet of paper.
Print this out for a 6-/12" circle.

You might want to turn it into a block. Dolores Hinson
published it this way in her 1978 book A Quilter's Companion
and Quilters Newsletter sold templates for this block about
the same time.

UPDATE: I found a block-style pattern, probably the earliest published in Comfort magazine, maybe in the 1920s.

Hammock Quilt Block

Merikay Waldvogel let me photograph Mildred Dickerson's scrapbooks of patterns and this drawing by Mildred (?)  shows it with a different name than we'd use.

Templates might be the answer. Fons & Porter sell some here:

Or just go to eBay and buy a quilt.

Dated 1965

And by the way, any nine patch could be improved with polka dots.