Needlework, Finishing, Designing, Quilting, Some Discoveries and Adventures in Stitching from Windy Ridge Designs

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Other Crazy Quilt

This is the other crazy quilt that was shown at our Quilts of Berkeley County display on May 8. 

The detail below shows a ribbon that has been sewn into the quilt "Zouaves" were French troops serving in French North Africa and known for their uniforms.  We actually had troops here in America during the Civil War era that emulated these uniforms.

See Wikipedia for more information on Zouaves.

While W.V.A.N.G. now stands for the West Virginia Air National Guard who are posted at the Martinsburg Airport near me, W. VA. N.G. in 1885 would have stood for "West Virginia National Guard".

This next one features a campaign ribbon for James Gillespie Blaine
who was one of the most powerful men in the Republican party during the 1870s and 1880s.  He was a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1862-1876, he served as speaker from 1868 until he resigned to seek the Republican nomination for president.  He failed to receive the nomination in both 1876 and 1880 but was the Republican candidate in 1886, only narrowly defeated by Grover Cleveland.  See a picture of him HERE.

The next photo features what was probably a Republican convention committee ribbon

Marshall University is located in Huntington, West Virginia.  You may recall the movie "We Are Marshall" that told the tragic story of the Marshall football team.

The purple flowers embroidered in this section are beautiful as well.

I just love the Black Eyed Susans in this next section!

This next one features some initials - S.E.B. and M.M.S.  I think that the pansy was done using the broderie perse method. 

This section features the date.

A little above this is the last section I

The last section features a very interesting looking sunburst pattern and a pieced fan.  Note the whole quilt is bordered by blue velvet.

I have really enjoyed sharing the pictures of these quilts with you and look forward to doing something like it again in the future. 

Thursday, May 20, 2010


I opened my Inbox this morning and had received an email from the National Vice Chairman for Fiber Arts in the NSDAR American Heritage Committee competition. She began . . . "First off, congratulations on winning first place in American Heritage Fiber Arts - Cross Stitch".

YAY YAY YAY YAY YAY!!!!!!   I can't believe it! I am so proud of myself it's not even funny! My husband says that it'll take days for me to come back down to earth. But, I'm sitting here with a smile on my face and I don't even care. Can't wait to post pictures of the TO DO in Washington this July!

I have redesigned the piece to make it into a sampler. The same elements - plus a few more are being used. I've added a map that depicts the approximate path of the Bee Line March as well as a Grand Union Flag and an inner leaf border that shows the leaves of the forest the men went through. This one I will stitch with Gentle Art overdyed cotton floss. Guess I have my work cut out for the summer!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Bachelor Quilt

This is one of two really fabulous crazy quilts that were recently on display at the Berkeley County Historical Society "Quilts of Berkeley County" held on Heritage Day.  I picked this frame to go first because it has my last name initial on it - and the heron is pretty cool.  But wait, there's more.

This quilt is owned by the General Adam Stephen Memorial Foundation.  Adam Stephen was the founder of Martinsburg, West Virginia and built his house near the banks of the Opequon Creek there.  The Foundation is one of the four organizations that work together each year to celebrate Heritage Day.  

This quilt was donated to the foundation by members of the Wiltshire Family of Martinsburg and Berkeley County.  The Wiltshire Building, a very prominent and beautiful building used to stand in downtown Martinsburg, but was bulldozed down to make way for the Martinsburg Public Library many years ago.  There is no information on this quilt other than it was a "Bachelor Quilt" and that the ladies (whether they were old or young is unknown) of Martinsburg made it for a member of the Wiltshire family.  Obviously from the photo above, it was made in 1886.

Because I had little direct information to post on the information sheet for this quilt, I did a little research on crazy quilts themselves.  Historically speaking, interest in “Crazy Quilts” first began after the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition.  There, Japanese ceramics that had a crazed glaze were noticed by the public and became very popular. 

The first use of the word crazy, to describe a random, asymmetrical pattern in needlework was in the "Cultivator and Country Gentleman" magazine in 1878. It referred to an embroidered canvas cushion, to be passed among friends. Each would invent and embroider her own design, and when finished it was returned to its owner. As the article suggested, "You will think it a 'crazy" cushion indeed!".

Crazy patchwork reached its peak in the late 1880's, and continued to be made until as late as 1920. The most elaborate work, so ornamented with intricate embroidery, that the fabric itself was hardly visible, was much less common, however, in later decades.

The most elaborate work, so ornamented with intricate embroidery, that the fabric itself was hardly visible, was much less common, in later decades.

It would appear that this quilt was made during the Crazy Quilt’s heyday for the embroidery is so elaborate and well preserved that you almost don’t see the background.

It was an extremely fortunate gentleman that received this quilt – to have the admiration of so many ladies and to be able to keep this quilting treasure!  Still, the question remains . . .

Was this a popular young man about town - the equivalent of today's high school quarterback - who all the girls admired and were hopeful he'd ask them for their hand?  Did they do their most amazing handwork on this quilt in an effort to impress upon him of that they were quite a catch?  Note that they all initialed their work.

Or, was this like the groom's cake at bachelor parties and weddings; a gift to a groom on the occasion of his wedding?  Or, was it a case of a personable young man, good to all, who had been engaged to the town beauty until an actor of equal good looks had performed at the Apollo and then swept her off her feet and out of town?  

Were these the old maids and mothers about town making him this quilt to console his broken heart with the beauty of their work?  Indeed, I do not think we shall ever know.  

However, if a passer by comes along and reads the story of this wonderful quilt, please don't hesitate to contact me with the truth behind the incredibly embroidery laid out on velvet here.

Don't you just love the camel in this one?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Things I Do

Haven't posted recently, because I've been so busy with outside obligations.  The biggest was the Heritage Day display I put on for the Berkeley County Historical Society.  To read about what Heritage Day is, check out this article in the local paper, the Martinsburg Journal

My part was to put on a quilt display at our county museum, the Belle Boyd House.  The display was called Quilts of Berkeley County.

Left: 50 States embroidered quilt squares by Mrs. Folk in 1975

Back in January I put out a call to our membership, who called all their friends and we had a total of 32 quilts loaned to us for the one day show.
 Although we have several quilts in our collection I wanted the public to see quilts that had never been displayed before - the ones that folks keep in their closets at home.

Right: Daffodil Quilt by Mrs. Needy in the 1940's.

Several of the quilts were made prior to 1900.  The only caveat that we had for the display was that the quilts had to be made in Berkeley County.
Left: Nine Patch Plus by Mrs. Burkhart; 1950

The system I developed was that an owner brought their quilt in and completed a loan form that included information about the quilts and quiltmakers as well as the pertinent information, how to contact the owner, etc.  Then I took pictures of the documentation with the quilt and the quilt by itself.  Not the whole quilt, just part of it; for identification purposes.  And, it's a good thing I did that, because I was so busy on the day, I never did get around to take pictures of the quilts on display in our beautiful museum.
Right: Cancer Strikes All by Mrs. Johnson; 2000 to 2006.  Inspired by her work with cancer patients and a man with breast cancer that she met; therefore she used the Bow Tie block.

Another thing that I requested was that the owners bring a photograph of the person that made the quilt - if that was at all possible.  I am happy to say that most of the quilts were accompanied by pictures of their makers.  What resulted from all that information gathering, plus a little family research on my part, was an information sheet that was displayed with each quilt.  The sheet told as much about the maker as possible (birth, marriage, death and any anecdotal information); quilting technique used and the photo.

Left: Dogwood Bouquet by Mrs. Kirchner; 2006.  When she lived in Texas, her east coast daughter would call and say the "dogwoods are blooming" and it became such a ritual with them, she turned it into a quilt for her; finishing it after she'd moved here.

Our newsletter will go out in July and I'm going to request that anyone who got pictures of the quilts on display please send them to me, but for now, I will share the earlier photos I took to identify the quilts.

Right: Feathered Star by Mrs. Gwilliams; 1860                                                                               
 Not all 32 at once though.  That might be a bit overwhelming.  I will also leave out the ones that I put into the pile for two reasons.  One, I would like to spotlight the other peoples quilts and two, you've either already seen mine or will see them in the future.  Also, there were two Crazy Quilts in the display.  I took a lot of pictures of each of them and think that they each deserve a blog post of their own in future weeks.  So this post consists of the others that don't fall into either of those categories. 

Left:  Quilted white space from Feathered Star quilt. 

At the end of the day, all the quilts came down.  Most are so treasured by their owners that they were picked up that afternoon!

It was a lot of work putting this together; especially in the last week leading up to Heritage Day.  The results, however, were totally worth it.  Hope you've enjoyed seeing these little glimpses.

Left:  Patchwork in Satin and Seersucker by Mrs. Hovermale; 1959.

Left: Grandma Janet's Backyard by Mrs. Kirchner; 2009.  When her mother passed away, she found a box of embroidered quilt squares - all kinds of birds.  She designed a rendition of her mother's backyard, including a tree (not shown).  Then she appliqued the scene and placed the birds about the yard and in the tree.  It is a beautiful piece of artistry.

Left: Dresden Plate by Mrs. Chapman; 1930's.  The owner's grandmother was a tailor (or was that seamstress for a woman?)  At any rate, her ability with a needle is showcased in this quilt.

Left: Raffle Quilt by the Piecemaker's Quilt Guild of Berkeley County; 1994

Left: Patchwork dated to approximately 1950.

Left: Nine Patch with Banding and Wholecloth Border made by M. Seibert; 1828 - 1854.  This quilt has an interesting history.  It is signed M. Seibert.  Only problem is there were two of those in the family.  The date is the time period the lives of the two women overlap.  Makes this the oldest quilt that was on display.

Left:  Tree of Life by Mrs. Mummert; 1996.  Hand appliqued and quilted.  This was my favorite quilt because I just loved the colors.  The story is even sweeter.  The husband's mother bought the kit to make it for him.  Then she was diagnosed with breast cancer and treated with radiation.  But, she was over-radiated and lost the use of her left arm (she was left handed).  The wife stepped in and made the quilt for her husband.  She said she was so tired of the little pieces near the end that she was ready to give up.  So, the husband organized all the little pieces and all she had to do was tell him what piece she needed and he'd supply it.  She made the quilt in four months.

Left:  Violets; same quiltmaker as above; made over a ten year period 1980 - 1990.  Each square was cross stitched then put together to form the quilt top and hand quilted.  We had two of these in the display, but I only photographed this one.  The other was birds.

Hope I haven't bored you.  I think that all these women were/are absolutely incredible!