Monday, February 24, 2020

Rocky Mountain Sashing: Rules & Rule Breakers

Pattern called Rocky Mountain, Crown of Thorns and New York Beauty, 
among other names, from Darwin Bearley's inventory of antique quilts

This classic Southern pattern is a complex design consisting of three or four main components. The block is a pieced fan, here with single rows of spiky points.

See a post on varieties of pieced fans:
These blocks rarely have seams in the center.

But the pattern is more than the block. 
Without patchwork sashing it's just a Setting Sun or an Indian Summer.

Virginia Catherine Sears, Texas project
Is it a Rocky Mountain with this strip sash?

Online auction from a Tennessee estate
Or is it the combination of pieced block and pieced sash that creates the pattern?

The most common sashing pattern is a triple strip.
Center unpieced, top and bottom pieced of spiky triangles.

Lined up (mostly) to create an interesting zig zag.

Shading varies but most typically is a single colored design on a white background.

An exception: Here's a dramatic late-19th-century example from Julie Silber's inventory
with variegated spiky triangles and triple strips between the triangles.

It isn't until you see an exception to the rules that you realize there are rules.
Hey! Those triangles should be all the same color!

Ella Miller Williams, made in Kentucky
Texas project.

Five plain strips!

Regulation pattern.

Elizabeth Crosby Wright,Hemblen County, Tennessee
from the Tennessee project & the Quilt Index

Elizabeth got the shading WRONG! She reversed it. Crazy woman!

She's not alone.

Now you might think you'd never make one of these because you
worry about your points being pointed. But apparently, pointy points
were not a necessity. There's a whole subclass of blunt-pointed versions,
mostly late in the 19th century and into the 20th.

Truncated triangles.

Bill Volckening's collection

Hedwig Fertsch Buske, Texas project, 1930s
So blunt they become rectangles.

Bingham family, Tennessee

Down to the basics.
I think Bill owns many of these.

The pattern wasn't commercially published until Mountain Mist started distributing their New York Beauty in 1930. Blunted points.

Capper's Weekly followed in March, 1931 for "Springtime in the Rockies,"
which also included blunt points (and an interesting edge treatment.)

Bill has found several made from that pattern after 1930.
These published patterns may have been a license for truncated triangles.

Cindy Rennels's Inventory

Another variation is sashing with the two rows of triangles forming a diamond,
no center strip. In this mid-19th c (?) example it's hard to see if the
diamonds are two separate strips.

Stella Rubin's Inventory

But in this mid-20th-c four block the close-ups show the green
shapes are actually pieced as diamonds.

As they seem to be in this mid-19th version from Sandra Starley's collection.

Kentucky quilt from the Minnesota Project
Sold on ebay later.

Occasionally one comes across diamonds set the long way.

It's a pleasure to see the variation within the basic structure, something often found in Southern quilts. Set up some rules and then break them.

Mountain Mist pattern
Short cut in the sash

Monday, February 17, 2020

Martha's Choice

Martha's Choice
A lot of curved piecing

North Carolina project & the Quilt Index

Here's the pattern in a wonderful surviving document---
A quilt made by Mary Barnes who was once a slave.
There's another quilt inside, which probably has distorted
the quilt in washing. I bet it's heavy.

One odd block down in the corner with less of a curve and more
of an angle. Perhaps she got that as a pattern block.

If I were piecing it I'd go for the angle.

The only published source I've found: Nancy Cabot column in the Chicago Tribune in 
1934. She gave it two names
Martha's Choice
Virginia's Choice
Two perfect Colonial Revival names....
Just like Nancy Cabot.

The pattern's older than 1934 though not as old as Martha Washington.
The two at the top of the page look at least 20 years older.

Maybe 1890-1925.
There some variety in drawing those curved shapes.

Friendship quilt dated 1938. Probably
from the Tribune pattern.

It probably derived from the far more popular Hearts & Gizzards
BlockBase #1500

But there is an extra seam.

Since there are three pieces:
Hearts, Gizzards, Chicken Livers.

#1501 has a lot of names.

BlockBase---4 patches with curved seams
the red & white one in the lower left corner is interesting.

Published often as Square & Compass, BlockBase #1493

And a lot of relatives

The Massachusetts project photographed this one, which is
filed as Martha's Choice in the Quilt Index. Made in Maine, Wendy.
It took me a while to figure it out.

It's just the #1501 on point, which gives a different look.

Nebraska project & the Quilt Index.

Online auction?
Once you start cutting those rectangles you might have a few left over for the border.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Crown & Feather

From New York auction house Copake Auction, a Prince's Feather variation with
six arms framed by a crown-like shape.
It's not in my Encyclopedia of Applique. Should be on page 116 with the other feathers based on six arms.

I have quite a few pictures of what looks at first glance to be a quirky design, one-of-a-kind. But it's certainly not.

Most of the photos are from online auctions

They are all four-block construction.

Collector Sherri Flynn owns this one with a bow knot and swag border.
Several echo the points in the crowns with borders of sawtooth triangles.

In this one the crowns are moved around to form an oval shape in the center.

Here it is again.

Round rather than oval.

Teddy Pruett posted this picture.
These last three look to be from after 1880 into the early 20th century.
The fading dyes are a good clue to date.

Betty Neff has a really worn example.
She couldn't save it so she copied it.

Betty Neff, 2014
She offers a pattern for the Crown & Feather at her Pennsylvania Quilter site ($8)
And that's as good a name as any.

I'd guess most of them with the overdyed green fading to a lime green
date probably to 1850-1880. The other greens and blues that have faded,

Shown at a quilt show at Goshen University in Indiana