Sunday, August 23, 2015

Career of a Crazy Quilt Revisited

Crazy Quilt Sampler
This CQ sampler block was made by Rachel Louise Chipp Everett (1861 - 1949). It was purchased in 2015 from her great-grand-daughter Stephanie Walsh, owner of Swamp Angel Antiques in the Catskills, NY.  This piece embodies many of the motifs and suggestions described Godey’s 1884 story by Dulcie Weir, The Career of a Crazy Quilt. 
In the upper left hand corner there is a spray of leaves painted on silk.  Unfortunately this section has succumbed to shattering, commonly found on the silk used in crazy quilts of that era – heavy metals used in processing the silk to make it weigh more, increased the price paid per pound and gave “rustle to the bustle” but in the long run destroys the silk. 
The top center has a lovely Kate Greenaway motif, the “cute little dog” mentioned in the story. [In the highlighted box is another example of the ‘cute little dog’  found on a CQ dated 1883, maker unknown.]
In the center of the block is a spray of silk flowers that has been appliquéd to the piece and embellished with embroidery stems and leaf veins. 
Just below that and to the left is the iconic Kate Greenaway “little girl sitting on a fence” done in black outline stitch. 
In the lower left hand section there are some daisies done in ribbon embroidery and finished with yellow and green embroidery. 
The bottom center of the block contains purchased Kate Greenaway motifs fastened with tiny stitches around the border of the motifs.  In the 1884 story it mentions “lovely little figures for appliqué were available to purchase” and these figures represent the types of motifs available to the patchwork quilters. 
And lastly we have in the lower right hand corner a fan motif.  These are commonly found in crazy quilts, though not mentioned in the 1884 story, adding fans to crazy quilts was suggested as a design motif in the January and February 1885 issues of Peterson’s magazine.  Fan designs were also used in making wall pockets and pin cushions.  

Rachel Louise Chipp Everett was the third wife of Egbert G Everett and the daughter of Deys and Josephine Chipp; the Everetts had one daughter Mae Adelia Everett. Mae was the wife of Stanley J Matthews Sr.  They had several children, one being Barbara Louise Matthews who married Avery Newcombe  in 1941.  Stephanie Newcombe Walsh is one of the children from that union, and the great-grand-daughter of the maker of this beautiful piece of work that is now in my collection.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

An Actual Letter from 1885 Asking for Silk and Satin Pieces for a Crazy Cushion

An Actual Letter from 1885

I came across the letter recently of a young woman named Emma V. Gordon  writing to her  dear cousins about her life in Trenton, NJ.  In it she mentions working in a mill, getting ready to start ‘keeping company’ and some of her latest apparel purchases.  At the end she states she is working on a crazy cushion and requests pieces of silk and satin for her project – something to have as a remembrance while looking at her cushion.

I have typed out the contents of the letters – not much in the way of punctuation or sentence structure.  It was a challenge since spell check kept trying to correct everything.  I was not able to find out much on the writer, Emma.  I did find an Emma V. Gordon who was 2 years old in the 1870 census, making her about 17 when this letter was written – but I have no proof that  she is THE Emma that wrote the letter.
Here is the letter:
Trenton March 11th 1885
Dear Cousins
I now take my pen in hand to write you a few lines letting you know how we are getting along I havent been very well myself I have had a very bad cough and it is a hard matter to get rid of it before one cold gets well i get another one somehow and I am very carefull of my self I don’t go out in the night air very much once in a while I go to Church of an evening the Doctors says it nothing but a bad cold i have caught I told them I thought I was getting the Consumption they told me no they said my lungh was all right I fell well enough only the cough Grandpa is about middling, I supose you heard that

grandma was dead it was very suddent to us all and we fell her loss very much she was taking ill on the day that Aunt Amanda was married it was on a sunday  and on a tusday at 5 oclock she died she had been complaing for quite a while she had the Catareah so very bad she died on the 30 of September 1884. I havent been working now for three months on account of the mill getting burned down but we will have work again in a week or so i heard  If I had achance I wouldent like to have come on account of getting more cold but if it had been in the summer time i would like to come there but I havent any chance now but if I do in the summer I will try to get down I hope you all are well

I supose Howard is married by this time and you thinking of getting married  I and just thinging of getting a mash I dont keep company yet I supose Mary Parent is a splendid player on her Organ by this time I dress a great deal better now than I did when i was down to your house I got a splendid newmarket coat this winter it was a seal brown nice an fine an I have a pair of bracelets I had a bonnet this winter they was worn a good deal I am making a crazy cushion but i havent enough pieces of silk an satin to finish it I supose you have some pieces you would give me if I could only get them i would like to have some to remember you by when I would look at the pieces I would always think of you I guess you have

seen the crazy cushions they are very stylish and there is crazy tidies some has both on a chair they look very nice I must bring my letter to a close it is getting late you must excuse me for not writing sooner but i had kept putting it off an i thought i wouldent put it off any longer I send my love to all and a large share for yourself write as soon as you get this letter so I will know that you got it good bye

From your loving Cousin
Emma V Gordon
No 64 Clark Street
New Jersey

Excuse the poor writing and mistakes


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Another Set of Trade Cards with Crazy Stitches

Another Set of Trade Cards with Crazy Stitches
This set was produced for Brainerd & Armstrong Silk Works by the Donaldson Brothers of Five Points, NY.  The cards feature anthropomorphic spools frolicking around a manufacturing plant with an advertising verse for their product.  The reverse sides have the same image of Brainerd & Armstrong’s Crazy Stitches.
Card 1: Spools playing in the ocean by the factory near a boardwalk
A Seaside Frolic
We cut quite a dash, and make quite a splash
In the seas, as we frolic around,
But never you laugh, for this is not half
The sensation we’re making in town.
Card 2:  Spools under the moonlight, running outside the factory, dancing, conducting, playing instruments: fiddle, banjo, flute, trumpet
A Moonlight Frolic
A jolly good company we,
With us quiet life don’t agree;
We’re so smooth and so long, so elastic and strong
We cannot lie still, don’t you see?
Other text on card fronts:
Brainerd & Armstrong Silk Works
Use Brainerd & Armstrong’s Spool Silk
Donaldson Brothers, Five Points, N.Y.
Donaldson Brothers, Five Points, N.Y.
Brothers George, Frank, John, and Robert founded the firm Donaldson Brothers Steam Lithographic Printers in 1872.   

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Design Sources for Motifs Used Godey's 1884 Crazy Quilt

The yellow highlighted areas are the various motifs used in Dulcie Wier's "Career of a Crazy Quilt" published in Godey's Lady's Book in July 1884.

The Career of a Crazy Quilt - The Motifs

Sources of the Motifs used in Godey's 1884 Crazy Quilt Design

The motifs used in Heloise and Marie’s Crazy Quilt can be found in both the 1883 and 1886 versions of “The Ladies Manual of Fancy Work.”  The 1883 version has 400 Illustrations and cost fifty cents.  The 1886 version boasts 700 Illustrations and is available on google books.  Both were published by A.L. Bert, New York publisher with a preface by Jenny June.  The page information below has the 1883, followed by the 1886 pages in parenthesis.  Other sources for the same designs are also listed.

1) A Blossom in Kensington Embroidery Primrose (Pg 7/Pg 55)

2) Little Chocolate Girl (Pg 87/Pg 79) – this motif is probably a nod to Walter’s Baker’s Chocolate trademark (see trade card image).  It is part of a set entitled “When George the Third was King” published in the February 1881 issue of “The Art Amateur,” Plate LXXXV. – Designs for outline embroidery.  Suitable, also for Etching on linen and China Painting. 

3) Conventional Design which may be used for the center of cushions, chair covers, worked with crewels, also for handkerchief corners in linen, floss of colored floss or cotton. (Pg 9/Pg 57)

4) Cute Little Dog (Pg 24/Pg 72) – Kate Greenaway design, published in Jan 1882 of Harper’s Bazar.

 5) Bugs/Bees this motif is not what is in the CQ image – but a bug found in the 1886 version (Pg 37) – used to represent types of bug motifs used in CQs but not the exact motif used – original source?

6) Little Girl Sitting in a Fence (Pg 24 and Front Cover/Pg 72), also in the Jan 1884 issue of Godey’s (Pg 28) – Identified as a “Figure for etching and doilies in colored silks or crewels” on Pg 86, but not attributed to Kate Greenaway.  However, it is from her 1879 book “Under the Window.”  Also published in Jan 1882 Harper’s Bazar as outline designs for doyleys by Kate Greenaway.

7) Designs for Outline Work … The floral designs, although simple, are very effective, worked on felt in crewels and filoselle.  (Pg13 and Front Cover/Pg 61) – Probably the Sunflower done in filoselle reference.

8) Moth/Butterfly (Pg 25/Pg 73) – Kate Greenaway (on pages with her other designs).

9) Little Boy (Pg 25/Pg 73) – Kate Greenaway’s 1879 book “Under the Window.”

The Design Used By Marie And Heloise In Their “Crazy Quilt.”

The Design Used By Marie And Heloise In Their “Crazy Quilt.” 
Most crazy quilter’s are familiar with Godey’s 1884 story called “The Career of a Crazy Quilt” by Dulcie Weir.  It’s a charming story about two society young ladies, Heloise Herbert (aka Lois) and friend Marie Antoinette Craig, on how they embark on making a crazy quilt.  A lot can be gleaned from the story as to who, when, where, how, what and why crazy quilts were being made. 

Who made Crazy Quilts?
The patch-workers are Heloise Herbert (Lois) and Marie Antoinette Craig.  They were young ladies of means who could perfectly well afford all the silks they wanted for their crazy quilts but wanted the excitement of collecting them by any means necessary.  Heloise was the daughter of a banker and lived in a mansion with a staff who, should knock please prior to entering a room and ring tea-bells announcing meals.  The girls sent fashionable-looking correspondences to each other, written on terra cotta paper illustrated with a little Greenaway girl, holding a peacock feather; ragged-edged paper; and copper embossed correspondence-cards.  Fashion trends were depicted in the outfits worn by the girls: A China silk morning gown; pretty pongee traveling suit, richly trimmed with brown velvet and the violet scented gloves and kerchief.  Fashionable lady Mrs. Beauchamp wore tan-colored mousquetaire gloves while calling on Heloise; she and several of her friends also made crazy quilts.

When were the Crazy Quilts made?
The story was published in the July 1884 issue of Godey’s Lady’s Book and refers to the wedding last fall, indicating 1883 when the crazy quilts were completed.  The girls got together on a fair, sweet day in the early spring of 1883 to work on their crazy quilts.  Several of the letters are dated in January and February of 1883, with the idea for making the crazy quilts coming out one day last winter, referring to 1882.  In February 1883, Mrs. Beauchamp exclaimed that she and several of her friends had each made a crazy quilt last fall.  It was she who told Heloise of the scheme to get free buyers samples to make the quilts.

The shop keepers complained to the loss of revenue and cost of making samples from the prior year, 1882, due to the thousands of requests they received, of which a large portion had no return, as in only one case out of ten led to a customers.  They didn’t want to buy anything at all, but wanted to use the silks for patchwork.

Where are the Crazy Quilts being made?
Where else, but up-state New York, where I live!  Marie lived in Albany and Heloise in Rochester.  According to the girls, the storekeepers in Rochester were not as generous as they were in Albany.  Marie’s Mamma and rich Aunt Annabel went to New York to get new patterns and stacks of samples for the girls.  Heloise’s father went to the Convention in Syracuse, leaving the girls to work on their quilts.

How are Crazy Quilts made?
First you needed supplies.  The girls collected silk samples from dry goods stores and sent begging letters to out-of-town friends for contributions of silk.  Relatives supplied bits of old-fashion brocade, scraps of silk, and old silk dresses.  They asked every lady that called on them for bits of their bonnet strings.  Young men provided gently used lovely silk handkerchiefs and old (plus newer) neckties.  Sometimes family members donated unwittingly to the patches as overcoat linings and sleeves were cut out and used in the quilts!

The patches were arranged on a piece of Canton flannel eighteen inches square, and the pieces of silk arranged upon it.  Pre-stamped muslin foundations were also sold in stores.  The edges of each piece were turned in, and afterwards covered over with fancy stitches in colored silks or gold thread (numerous stitches are shown in the design); the greater the variety that adorn a quilt, the handsomer it was considered.  The pieces were furthered ornamented with embroidered designs, or figures in etching, with colored silks.  Lovely little figures for appliqué were available to purchase.  After the squares were completed, they were joined together with fancy stitches, and the whole quilt would then have a border of plush nine inches deep put around it, with a lining throughout of satin.  It would then be trimmed all around with lace, and the two upper corners ornamented with ribbon bows.

What do Crazy Quilts look like?
Throughout the story descriptions of and means of getting supplies; along with alternative uses for crazy quilts are implied.  The look and motif designs are described in detail as the girls worked on their patches.  One of their friends, Janie Roberts made an oriental looking sofa cushion of tiny little bits worked up with spangles and gold thread.   Pretty splashers could be made by reproducing the design provided to the size required, tracing it on coarse white linen, and doing the work with colored silks. 

The design given for crazy patchwork showed the different forms the pieces could be made, although a great deal was left to the ingenuity and taste of the person designing it.  Different colored silks, satins, velvets, and plushes were used; harmony of color was aimed at in the arrangement.  It was advised not to have many large pieces in the quilt; as the small ones were so much more effective. 

The Motifs:
Little girl sitting on a fence – crimson etching silk on a bit of cream-colored satin
Little chocolate girl – stitched on grey damassée
Sunflower block – done in filoselle
Painted Flower – Mabel has painted me some pansies, a bit of forget-me-not, and a spray of wild roses
Monograms – Janie Roberts is doing me a block with her monogram on it
Crimson heart pierced with a golden arrow – embroidered on white with gold dots
Little boy – on a bit of sulphur satin, worked him in black
Little dog

The Design:  
The girls worked on opposite sides of the pattern, from Godey’s, a pretty design with a queer little zigzag piece in the corner.  They also used gay-figured goods on their blocks.  They used old-fashioned brocade, silk samples, silk scraps/bits, neckties, handkerchiefs, silk dresses, bonnet strings, white Ottoman (with gold dots), a lovely rose-colored striped satin, crimson brocade silk and  light brocade (light colors were scarcer to find).  Both quilts were finished with a beautiful rose-colored border, on which were worked the following lines:  “All precious things, discovered late, To those that seek them, issue forth; For love in sequel works with fate, And draws the veil from hidden worth.”

Alternative Supplies and Crazy Quilt Uses:
Heloise’s brother Ned brought her a lot of those nasty little cigar ribbons all in a tangle, and offered them for her crazy quilt.  As we know now, cigar ribbons were indeed used to make quilted items several years later – this could have been the starting point of that trend.  Ned and his friends made a crazy quilt using coffee-bagging as the foundation and  blocks made of old flannel shirts, stockings, linen collars, striped petticoats, aprons, bandanna handkerchiefs, etc., all cut in their proper form, and stitched on with pink, yellow, and purple wrapping cord.  They made it to be raffled off for a horse blanket at the firemen’s fair.

Opinions regarding Crazy Quilts:
Not everyone was keen on the idea of crazy quilts.  They were referred to as “those abominable things” by several of the young men who claimed that the makers would become bores to their friends.  They didn’t want the girls plaguing men for their old neckties, and all that sort of thing.  Fellows made fun of girls who went around begging for old silk --‘rag-pickers’ they called them.  Family members who had their clothing attacked said Marie was being a nuisance to everybody, and threatened to put her quilt in the fire if it didn’t stop. 

The Shop Keepers Revenge:
As a result of making and giving away so many samples in 1882, the shop keepers resorted to providing wee little mites of samples, with button-holes cut in them, or pasting them cardboard so that they were of no earthly use.  The firms had been driven to this in self-defense.  In some cases, a deposit of five dollars was required to get samples as a measure of good faith, with the amount credited upon purchase.  Some companies sent representatives to inquire into the commercial standings of the buyer’s sample requesters since ladies were creating fictitious firms in order to get lovely shades of fine silk and damassée and brocade, some of them six or eight inches square, and all bound together in a beautiful little book for their patchwork. 

Why were Crazy Quilts made?
Why not?  In this case, the girls could well afford the patterns and supplies – they were making them for the sport of finding the materials and defying the young men who thought they were silly.

The better question is why the story was written?
Ads, lots of them!  The entire story is sprinkled liberally with advertisements!  Of course there were descriptions of all the latest fashions – what the girls wore, with mentions of household items – furniture and such.  The Little chocolate girl is a nod to Walter Baker’s chocolate, an American chocolate manufacturer, who packaged his breakfast cocoa using the silhouette of the Austrian girl from a portrait of "La Belle Chocolatiere” as his trademark in 1883.  The ever popular Kate Greenaway girls were mentioned as adorning the stationary used by the girls; not to mention the other types used in their correspondences.  There was even a plug for the publication Godey’s as the source of the pretty design.  It was indicated that other supplies could be purchased – stamped linen and completed appliqué figures; plus lots of cuttings that you get so many for a dollar.  The text they embroidered on the border is a line from popular poems.  Both Mrs. Frances S. Osgood and Alfred Lord Tennyson use the stanza.  During 1843-4 Osgood published a story “The Wife,” and around the same time Tennyson expanded his 1830 poem “The Sleeping Beauty” to include those lines in “The Arrival” section of “The Day Dream.”  Since the girls exchanged their crazy quilts at their double wedding, the text probably refers to “The Wife” story as they embarked on their married lives as wives.

The most probable reason the story was written was to be used as a guide on how to make crazy quilts.  The design given for both stitches and motifs; suggested material types, sources, colors and patch ideas (monograms, painted flowers); plus the directions on how to assemble are all provided in the guise of the story.    

Well there you have it, the, who, when, where, how, what and why crazy quilts were being made.  Why were more made?  The story was written to make more crazy quilts!  

Godey’s Lady’s Book, Volume 109, No. 649, July 1884
J.H. Haulenbeek and Co.  Proprietors and Publishers.  P.O. Box H.H. Philadelphia.

The Design Used By Marie And Heloise In Their “Crazy Quilt.”  For Description, See Work Department.  For Story, See “The Career of a Quilt.”  [Colored insert page in front of issue, not paginated.]

THE CAREER OF A CRAZY QUILT.  Dulcie Weir.  [Pages 77-82]

WORK DEPARTMENT.  CRAZY PATCHWORK. (See colored page in front of book.)  [Page 96]