Friday, June 9, 2023

The Galaxy Quilt


The Galaxy Quilt Tulsa Tribune Tulsa, Oklahoma, Sun, 20 Nov 1932
A New and Different Quilt for Trib Readers Next Week
“By a queer quirk of mathematics the originator of the Galaxy quilt has arrived at 48 blocks in which the four colors, used in the quilt, are arranged in a different design in each block.”

The Tulsa Tribune 22 Nov 1932, Tue, Page 2 – New Quilt Starts Sunday
“Directions will be given daily … It is to be a patch-work quilt … In the Galaxy quilt, each piece is a single solid color two inches square. … There will be 48 blocks in the quilt and the entire quilt will be approximately 78 by 98 inches in size.”

The Tulsa Tribune 23 Nov 1932, Wed, Page 4 – Colors in Galaxy Quilt
“It is suggested that the Galaxy Quilt design be worked out in flame red, ultramarine blue, apple green and golden yellow”

The Tulsa Tribune 25 Nov 1932, Fri, Page 10 – Unusual Design of the New Tribune Quilt
“Each day The Tribune will publish a small chart showing the color combination in one of the blocks. Each color used in the quilt will be known by a number and always 1 will stand for flame red, 2 for ultra marine blue, 3 for apple green and 4 for golden yellow. … Each color piece to be cut two and one-quarter of an inch. The quarter of an inch is to be used for the seam and the block will be two inches square when sewed to the other pieces. Each block will measure eight inches square when finished and be joined to the other blocks by a two inch strip. … It will require two yards of material 36 inches wide, of each color in the quilt.”  [Note if a standard one-quarter inch seam allowance is used, the squares need to be two-and-one-half inches square.]

The Tulsa Tribune 27 Nov 1932, Sun, Page 1 – Galaxy Quilt
“Hereafter there will be a block a day for 48 days, instead of a block a week as formerly in The Tribune.” [Note, some days were missed here and there, so took longer that 48 days.]

Block One appeared on Sunday, 27Nov1932 and indicated that the joining strip should be egg shell in color and joining square white. The next day, Blocks One and Two were given with the color mapping numbers. Copyright 1932 Forrest Rees appears with the illustration. Charts for previous blocks could be had by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope and one cent for each desired chart.

Block Chart for 24 is missing – does not have the 23Dec1932 edition, which I suspect the design is in.

The last chart for Block 48 was published on 22Jan1933. Several years later, in 1941, a reader was looking to buy the patterns for the Galaxy Quilt.

The Galaxy Series - Tulsa Tribune, Nov 1931 - Jan 1933
Published in the Peggy Lynn column, copyright by Forrest Rees
With such a simple, but complex design in terms of keeping track of the block orientation, I thought I would look to see it there were any quilts made using the pattern. Searching for Galaxy Quilt did not yield anything, but searching the Quilt Index for Oklahoma quilts yielded a match. And what a match it is. The quilt is upside down per the pattern, but the maker make it very truthfully to the design, even to the colors for the borders. I think mathematically there can be many more block designs, but 48 made a good sized quilt. I mapped the block charts to the quilt - they are an exact match, the maker even used the color recommendations for the sashing and borders.

The Galaxy Quilt Found in the Quilt Index
From the Quilt Index:

Finished quilt: 72 x 91 [Versus 78 by 98 given in the pattern]
Predominant Color(s): Red; Blue; Green; [and yellow]
Block pattern: 16 patch; Number of quilt blocks: 48
Size of quilt blocks: 8 inches; Sashing width: 2 inches
Quilt maker's name: Palmer, Louella Starr Stalker
Where the quilt was made, Collinsville, OK

The Peggy Lynn Column was written by Tribune Staff. The column started in the early 1920s. It is one of a couple of papers that adopted other syndicated columns and quilt patterns and replaced the names with their own – Peggy Lynn. The Nancy Page column (Laganke/Kerven) was adopted in February of 1928 with the familiar image used to introduce the column, but with Introducing Peggy Lynn in the Daily papers. Previously the Peggy Lynn column was on Sundays. The Nancy Page Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt was introduced by Peggy Lynn. No mention of Nancy Page, LaGanke or Kerven. They did have one slipup that I found that mentioning getting a Nancy Page leaflet, usually Peggy Lynn was substituted. So the Nancy Page Quilt Club became the Peggy Lynn Quilt Club with patterns published on Sundays and the daily column disappears.

After the completion of the Flower Garden quilt, Peggy Lynn ran the McKim State Flowers quilt, once again replacing Peggy Lynn where McKim would have been in the text. The patterns appeared on Sundays once again. Once that series ended, the Galaxy quilt started. The Peggy Lynn column continued on Sundays into the early 1940s.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Ye Crazy Fan and Kursheedt's Standard Silk Appliques

Ye Crazy Fan Started it All

Just recently while studying the patents for Kursheedt's embroidered silk appliques, I found an intriguing Design Patent by Fanny Gillette that was granted on July 1, 1884.  The stitch designs looked very familiar as I had seen them on MANY different ads, trade cards and in books and booklets.

The book Fancy Work Recreations by Eva Niles had a several pages of the stitches.  Singer offered 100 Crazy Stitches for Patchwork on a trade card with the Patented on July 1, 1884 date on it, using the same stitches.

T.E. Parker, Weldon's, Brainerd & Armstrong, Sapolio, Durkee Select Spices, plus others offered stitch guides using the exact same stitches.

Yale Silk Works, Weldon's, T.E Parker, Strawbridge & Clothier, Hanington, and others offered crazy block layout designs that used these stitches as a guide to embellish the seams. 

And it all started with Ye Old Fan.  The stitch designs ended up on crazy quilts.

FYI:  Fanny Gillette was the sister of King Camp Gillette of the Gillette razor fame; and daughter of Fanny Lemira (Camp) Gillette who in 1887, at nearly sixty years old, published the White House Cook Book: A Selection of Choice Recipes Original and Selected, During a Period of Forty Years' Practical Housekeeping.

Kursheedt's Standard Silk Appliques

Did you ever wonder how some magnificently stitched designs on crazy quilts did not seem to match the stitcher's ability to stitch the seams?  Were there multiple people involved?  Yes, and probably some machinery too. 

Back in the 1860's embroidery machines were developed and in the 1870s, Kursheedt imported several and started tinkering with them; and by the early 1880s started patenting some embroidery designs and machine modifications.

In the winter of 1883 and into 1884 Kursheedt started an advertising blitz across the country offering samples and trade sheets of their Fashionable Specialties.  Their designs were prominent in many of the ladies' fashion magazines of the day - Delineator, Demorest, Godey's, Ladies Home Journal, etc.  They even offered a quarterly magazine of their specialties.  By the end of 1884 and into 1885 - the height of the Crazy Quilt Era - ads and articles showing images of the Standard Silk Appliques were in many periodicals.  Godey's even offered one in color.   

In several articles involving fancywork, the Kursheedt appliques were mentioned as being "exceedingly handy for ladies neither the time nor taste for embroidery" with "hundreds of beautiful designs" to "finish tides, scarfs, mats, and toilet sets."

No mention of using them on crazy quilts, but we all know they were, as I have numerous examples on crazy quilts in my collection. 


Monday, March 6, 2023

All the Techniques, Patterns and Materials used in Making the Quilted Book

Presenting the Completed Book to the Elmira Piecemakers Guild Meeting in Feb 2023

Here I am presenting the book to my guild.  I wanted to reflect on all the patterns, series quilts techniques and materials used in making the book - there was a LOT!

Louise’s “Scrap” Book of Quilts

Series Quilts Represented:
Quaddy Quiltie / Bear Paw – Ruby Short, 1916
Roly Poly Circus / Churn Dash – Ruby McKim, 1923
Memory Bouquet – Eveline Foland
Old English – Margaret Techy, Cleveland Plain Dealer
Golden West – Mary Erckenbrack
Flower Garden – Ruby Short McKim
Grandmother’s Flower Garden – Nancy Page (Florence LaGanke, Ann Kerven)
Modernistic Flower – Cecil B. Mullen, 1933
Flowers of Fort Worth / Log Cabin – Lois Clayton DeRaine
Nursery Rhyme Quilt – Philadelphia Inquirer, 1920-21 (Helen Baxter, Jeannette McDowell)
Quilt of Birds – 1938 Nancy Page (Florence LaGanke, Ann Kerven)

Other Patterns Used:
Bear Paw
Churn Dash
Log Cabin
Wagon Wheel with Rooster and Cat from Hide and Seek – Feeding Bib Design by Grace. B. Cross, 1908
Cluster of Lillies – Kansas City Star, 1934
1862 A Comic Patchwork – Arthur’s Home Magazine and The Family Friend
Sunbonnet Sue – Eveline Foland
Ladies Art Co – Letter “C” for Cat
Crazy Quilt Block:
  Horn Blowing Rooster – John L. Salter Trademark, 1883
  Grasshopper – Mrs. Farnham’s Home Beautiful, 1884
  Owl and Moon Man – J.F. Ingalls Stamping Patterns Catalogue, 1886
  Initial “L” – Peterson’s 1880
  Spotted Fish – Godey’s Lady’s Book and Magazine, 1861
The Calico Tree – Nancy Page (Florence LaGanke, Ann Kerven)
Tittens the Curious Kitten (Cat Fishing in a Fish Bowl) – John S. Piper Stamping Patterns Catalogue, 1892
Flower Initials – Ruby Short McKim
Rainbow Quilt Block Company – William Bray Pinch
Patchy Gus – The Patchy Zoo by G. Selma Sauer, 1931
Mouse – Louise D. Tessin, The Beatsie Party (illustrated poem), 1922
1948 Graduation Quilt – designed by my Grandmother, Yvonne Charlebois Welburn
Random Faces – designed by my son Walter
Plus my own designs

I was nearing the end (page 34+) and still had a lot of things I wanted to include. One thing they had in common was elephants, hence, a Basket of Elephants:
  A Jolly – Circus Ruby Short McKim, 1921
  Slumberland – Lockport Batting Co
  Patchwork Zoo – Prudence Penny (Seattle Post-Intelligencer), Bernice Redington and Maxine Buren
  Circus Quilt – Detroit Press (big elephant in center)
  Big Top Circus – Omaha World Herald, Harry Rasmussen
  Patchwork Circus – Spring 1928 McCall’s
  May Day Baskets – Hurbert Ver Mehren

Techniques Used (in addition to standard machine piecing):
Hand and Machine Applique
Hand and Machine Quilting
Mud Cloth Painting
Hand Embroidery
Fiber Couching
Seminole Piecing
Needle Felting
Random Piecing
Shaving Cream Dyed Fabric
Bobbin Embroidery
Paper Piecing
English Paper Piecing
Fabric Markers
Crazy Quilting
Water Color Effect with Sharpie Markers
Wool Applique
Ribbon Embroidery
Tatting (vintage piece)
Crochet (vintage piece done by my mom)

Materials used:
Used both vintage/antique fabric/blocks along with new ones.
Cotton - Fabric, DMC Floss, Thread
Blue Jeans
Silk - Fabric, Floss, Thread
Huck Towel
Wool - Fabric, Roving
Various Content – Home Dec Fabric Samples
Digitally Printed (Text and NYS Map)
Fabric and Ribbon from a box of Valentine’s Chocolate
Poly Batting, Fusible Interfacing, Thread (including poly/cotton blends)
Tractor Cab Packing Felt


Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Louise's "Scrap" Book of Quilts


Louise's Scrap Book of Quilts - Overview

The above is an overview of a quilted book I made for a quilt challenge. There are 40 quilted pages representing events in my life an my love of quilt history.  I designed the book without any real knowledge on how I was going to assemble it.  I had seen several "books" made by quilters, but they only had a few pages, and were small enough to fit into the throat of a standard domestic sewing machine.  I knew mine would not, as the Pages were going to be 10-inches square, and with the text and connector fabric, the Page Sets would be 24-inches long.

As I grappled with that, I continued making the Pages.  I thought about old books, and how their pages were thread bound together and glued in the back.  Gluing was not an option for me.  I watched youtube videos on how to bind books with blank papers - and the stitching involved in the process.

I had an eureka moment one morning when I woke up - I would thread bind the Page Sets to a Spine.  Originally I thought the pages would need to be about 3-eights of an inch apart, but then realized they would need to be 0.5-inch apart since each Page would be quilted.  Using the eyelet stitch on my sewing machine, I placed 7 eyelets equal distanced apart in the center Joining Fabric on each Page Set.

Eyelets were made in the Spine fabric to correspond with the ones on the Page Sets.  One of my Lamb to Loom guild members had some very heavy felt that was used to protect the cab of a tractor during shipping.  It was just the right material to use for the spine and book covers.  It is equivalent to about three layers of heavy weight interfacing.  It was a breeze to sew through. 

I started making pages on August 10, 2022, with the last one done on December 10, 2022 - just in time for our guild meeting.  I received a Ruby Crown for my efforts.  It took another month to get all the pages quilted, and then until February 7, 2023 to get it fully assembled.

There were a couple of date errors noted, so I "X'd" out the text and embroidered in the corrected dates.

Here are the page sets:

Page Sets 1, 2, and 3

Page Sets 4, 5, and 6

Page Sets 7, 8 and 9

Page Sets 10, 11 and 12

The journey is complete, and Walter, your mom finally has a book!

The Ruby Jubilee Challenge - A Quilted Book


Louise's "Scrap" Book of Quilts

Back in June 2022, the Elmira Piecemakers quilt guild issued a Ruby Jubilee Challenge to celebrate the guild's 40 year anniversary.  Members were given a 10-inch square of red fabric to make a quilt to be displayed at the December 2022 meeting.  That day, I decided to make a forty-page quilted book using designs from my favorite newspaper series quilt patterns.  The following day I started outlining what was to be included.  

I have an outline embroidery book in my collection designed by S. Agnes Putnam in 1895 and while doing research on that I found another cloth book by Louise Bourgeois called "Ode รข l'Oubli" or Ode to Forgetting.  I always thought that someday I would like to make a cloth book too.

Inspired by these cloth books I started on my journey.

It took a while to actually start stitching on the book as I had a speaking commitment at the National Quilter's Hall of fame at the end of July.  I presented on my research on Ann Kerven, the artist behind the Nancy Page columns written by Florence LaGanke Harris. Florence was the 2022 Legend Inductee to the Quilter's Hall of Fame.  While there I got to meet Eleanor Burns, who got me started quilting back in 1999 with her PBS quilt show.  Eleanor presented information on Florence and the Nancy Page Quilt Club columns.

The first page was started on August 10, 2022.

I went through my sewing room and pulled out anything that was an orphan - something done at a guild meeting or quilt class that never went anywhere.  I had a baggie of Hexies of various sizes, a Bobbin Embroidery sample, some embroidery I did back in the 1970s, things my mother had made, several baggies of scrap triangles, etc.  You get the drift.

I piled up selections of fabrics that might go together, found some vintage blocks and fabrics and started assembling them into pages.  One of the hardest blocks I made was in honor of my mother - I used some of her needlework pieces I saved from the flood of 2011, right before she passed.  A swan Huck Towel and a floral doily she had crocheted the edging on.  Cutting into them was very nerve racking. 

I also struggled with the memory block for our son Isaac who passed in 2009.  I had an old bib of his that I was able to darn a bit so it could be added to the book.  I tried to use everything from my stash, but did end up buying a little silver trumpet charm and trumpet fabric for his page.  

Walter, for whom this book is for, also provided inspiration.

For an art project in middle school, Walter made a drawing, then a painting based on the drawing. I scanned and printed it out on fabric, then used fabric markers to color it in.  I tried to use a similar color scheme as in his, with the markers I already had.

Years ago I made him an angler fish embroidered applique picture.  Armed with a baggie of snowball block triangle remnants, I made a sea of triangles to house a new angler fish.  I couched some fibers to make him some sea grass to hide in.

Too Many Quilt Patterns, Not Enough Pages

Along about page 34, I realized I had way more ideas than pages left.  I wanted to add May Day Baskets and several more quilt designs.  I studied all of them that I wanted to include and realized they all had one thing in common - elephants.  Trying to get all the elephants into one basket proved to be quite a challenge.  The May Day Basket pattern had 32 to choose from.  Once I chose one, I had to eliminate the handle to fit them all in.  After the elephants were completed and the backgrounds chosen, I embroidered the basket in coordinating colors.  The math fabric is a bonus (to me at least) since I was an engineer for close to 20 years prior to being a full time mom.

The Last Block is Quilted January 9, 2022

I used many different methods in designing the book.  I did most of the page layouts in PowerPoint since I was space constrained to a 10-inch square.  Images were scanned in or drafted first, than altered to fit the page.  I used everything from an 1862 pattern (Comic Patchwork), to a technique offered in September 2022 by Catherine Redford, the Scenic Route, and everything in between. 

I sent pictures of the progress for each block to several of my quiltie friends - and friends I have known all my life, but do not quilt.  Even my sister-in-law got the texts.  It was a lot of fun going back through all of them and seeing the comments they sent back. 

I will post the Page Sets next.  It was a joy to make, now my husband asks if there will be a volume two?  Not right now, as I am gathering fabrics and ideas to make a quilted coat.  I will be taking Rachel Clark's quilted coat class this coming summer at Quilting by the Lake.  It's so much fun being retired!


Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Series Quilts – A New Look

Series Quilts – 15 years later
Back in 2007, when I first started this blog, I put together a listing of Newspaper Series Quilts that I was aware of.  Since then, many more sources have become available and have allowed me to make additions to the listing.  I have many of the original newspaper clippings, blocks, tops and quilts in my collection and continue to add when I come across new items.  The listing, by group, is sort of chronological.  The Italics text indicates new information

Ruby Short McKim/McKim Studios – Syndicated
Quaddy Quiltie or Bedtime Quiltie  (based on Thornton W. Burgess characters)
Mother Goose Quiltie
A Jolly Circus 
Nursery Rhyme
Alice in Wonderland Quiltie
Roly-Poly Circus
Child Life Quilt 
Peter Pan
Colonial History
Bible History
Bird Life or Audubon Quilt
Flower Garden
Farm Life
Patchwork Sampler
Patchwork Parade of States (A series of 48 individual quilt patterns representing the 48 states)
State Flowers
Fruit Basket
Toy Shop Window
Wildwood Flowers
Three Little Pigs
Flower Basket
Rhyme Land Quilt
American Ships

Nancy Page (Florence LaGanke - author / Ann Kerven - artist) – Syndicated (Publisher’s Syndicate)
Grandmother’s Flower Garden
Noah's Ark Wall Hanging
Kitchen Fruit Stencils (not a quilt design, but a series of stencils) 
ABC Quilt
Magic Vine
Leaf Quilt
Wreath Series
Garden Bouquet
Snowflake Quilt
Old Almanac / Zodiac Quilt
French Bouquet
Brother Sister Quilt
Festoon Quilt (pictured in Successful Farming 1935)
Many Stars
Crossed Arrows (pictured in Successful Farming 1935)
Star & Sprig 
Laurel Wreath
Garden Fruit Linens (pictured in Successful Farming 1935)
Georgian Rose Quilt (not really a series quilt, based on an antique quilt)
Peasant Embroidery Design (not a series quilt, pictured in Successful Farming 1935)
Summer Garlands
Ships at Sea (pictured in 1941 Capper’s Farmer)
Falling Leaves 
Buckle My Shoe 
Picnic Cloth (vegetables)
Quilt of Birds 
Tyrolean Table Cloth 
Hearts & Flowers
Mother Goose Quilt (small illustrations, need to send 3c for full size patterns)
The Calico Tree (not a series quilt, described in 1932 column, pictured in Country Gentleman 1939)
Our Blue Ribbon Quilt (not a series quilt, pictured in Country Gentleman 1940)
Margaret Techy (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
Fruit Quilt
Old English (copyrighted by Margaret Techy and the Plain Dealer Publishing Co)
Medieval Quilt
Ohio Flower 

Eveline Foland (Kansas City Star primarily, patterns copyrighted by KCS)
Santa’s Parade 
Memory Bouquet - offered in papers other than KCS
Horn of Plenty 

Cecil B. Mullen
Nursery Rhyme Quilt (Syndicated, copyrighted by Cecil Mullen and Fielding Lemmon)
Noah’s Ark (Syndicated) *assumed*
Modernistic Flower (copyrighted by Cecil B. Mullen)

Aileen Bullard - Cox Features
Happy Childhood 

Omaha World Herald Artists
State Birds and Flower Quilt (Nadine Bradley, Woman’s Dept Director; Merriam Lieb, artist)
Covered Wagon States (Unknown, not signed by artist)
Nursery Rhyme (Laverne Bartos)
Costumes of Nationalities (Laverne Bartos)
Big Top Circus (Harry Rasmussen) 

Mary Erckenbrack - Syndicated
Golden West 
Old Glory 
Vanity Table Runner (series of 5 motifs)
All American Quilt *assumed* 

Jane Alan - John F. Dille Co.
Flower Basket 

Lois Clayton DeRaine (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
Flowers of Ft. Worth Texas 

Helen Baxter (Philadelphia Inquirer) – illustrated by Jean McDowell 
Many quilt/bedspread/crib cover patterns, plus many other needle art designs were published.
Bonnet Girls, Sep-Oct 1920, 2 part pattern
Nursery Rhyme, Nov 1920 - Sep 1921, 15 motifs
Noah's Ark, Oct 1922 - Jan 1923, 18 animals and ark motifs
Hexagon flowers, Aug 1923, 3 motifs
Floral designs, May 1924, 2 motifs
Bo Peep, Dec 1924 - Jan 125, 3 designs
Boy Blue, Mar 1925, 3 designs
The Nursery Bedspread, Jan 1926, 4 motifs
The Circus Parade, Apr-May 1927, 3 designs
Patchwork Quilt, Jan-Feb 1930, 6 pieced blocks
Owl and Rose Tree & Butterflies, June 1930, 2 blocks
Boy and Girl with Balloons, Oct 1930, 2 motifs

Clara Tillotson / Aunt Martha’s – Syndicated (NEA Service, Inc)
Parade of Nations – also appeared in Aunt Martha’s Workbasket, Vol 1, No 1-12, 10-1935 to 9-1936

Bernice Orpha Redington - Head of the Prudence Penny Dept, Maxine Buren - Artist
Prudence Penny's Patchwork Zoo (Seattle Post-Intelligencer) 

Designer/Artist Unknown
Mother Goose (Detroit News) – Banner underneath each motif
Circus Quilt (Detroit Free Press) – 20 patterns, large central elephant plus 14 animals

These are series quilt designs that appeared in the newspapers and a few magazines.  Several magazines offered series quilts to their readers, with an early one being the Mother Goose quilt from 1908 with 20 motifs, offered by Farm and Home magazine in 4-block installments, either as pre-printed blocks or perforated patterns.  

Monday, August 24, 2020

The Bird Trap Quilt - May be New to Me, But Has Been Around Since the 1870s


The Bird Trap Quilt – May be new to me, but has been around since the 1870s

While doing my browsing of quilt articles on Chronicling America, I found a full page article from 1906 that showed a woman with a quilt on her lap with many different block patterns listed.

“Many Old Patterns - Among the designs in which the patchwork pieces were placed in the quilt were rising sun, goose chase, three-pieced rhomboid, honeycombed hexagons, Star of Bethlehem, diamond and cube, winding blade, trap and nine patch, Philadelphia pavement; oakleaf and orange, flower vase, willow chair, cravat, basket of fruit, plain basket, swallow at the window, nine patch, ocean wave, whig rose, king's diamond, six-pointed star, double swallow, evening star, daisy bird-trap (usually with log cabin alternate patches), sunlight and shadow, friendship center, devil's wall, star and circle, star and compass and Roman stripe.”

I was familiar with most of them, but had never heard of a “bird trap” design and that piqued my interest, especially since it was mentioned with log cabins – one of my favorites in quilt research.

I have done quite a bit of gathering of log cabin mentions, pattern mentions and fair premium awards given for quilts using the log cabin design. One of these days I will post about it.

In the meantime, while researching the quilt pattern called “Bird Trap” I found several references to the quilt pattern in folklore sources. In the 1933 article Quilt Names in the Ozarks by Vance Randolph and Isabel Spradley, the pattern is mentioned along with some 250 quilt patterns described to them.

“Some quilts have geometrical names, or other names ... , Blue Bird, Bird Trap, Bird's Nest, Bird in a Tree ... Rider, Square Log Cabin, Spool Bed, Pickle…”

In 1978, Sally E. Weatherford wrote about a quiltmaker Nellie Virge (aka Verge) from Murfreesboro, Tennessee in the Tennessee Folklore Society Bulletin, where she gives this description, along with an illustration of the “Bird Trap” design. (More on Nellie later.)

“The “Bird Trap” (illustration #1) is an individual block or square. Of the quilts viewed, several were in this pattern. Each block is different both in makeup and colors, but the general pattern is the same. The entire quilt s pieced of this same block design. A small inside square is banded with strips pf alternating colors which forms the “Bird Trap.” The pattern itself is quite similar to one found in several quilt books and referred to as “log Cabin,” in which a small square is banded in strips. With the “Log Cabin,” however, light and dark strips are arranged in a manner so that the completed block has an overall pattern as well as the individual patterns of the blocks. These overall designs may appear has horizontal zigzags, diagonal stripes or concentric diamonds, among others. The “Bird Trap” does not use this arrangement of light and dark. The block illustrated is executed in blue, red, white, and brown and white checked strips surrounding a green center square.”

On the web site Folklife in Louisiana (, an interview by Susan Garrett Davis in the Quilting section, of two quilters Turlie Richardson and Lillie Payton, the Felicianas – “Lilly Payton only recalled the name of one of the patterns she used, a "Bird's Trap," which resembled the traditional log cabin pattern.”

Pecolia Warner, 1983 WCA (Woman’s Caucus for Art) honor award recipient, bio indicates “The artist’s designs spring from many levels of her experience. Some of her quilts have been inspired by memories of her mother’s quilts, by dreams, by introspection, by patterns seen in books, by household objects or by things remembered from her life in farming. Designs she calls “Pigpen” and “Bird Trap” reflect her memories of objects she watched her brother build as a child. … Two of her better known quilts she pieced from blocks containing the letter “P” – as in Pecolia.”

Most recently, in 2013 blogger Sophie showed her version of a “Bird Trap” quilt. She was inspired by a “Bird Trap” quilt she saw in the Belger Arts Center collection.

These are the more recent, i.e. after 1900 mentions of the “Bird Trap” quilt patterns, but what about the 1800s? I was on a quest and found several mentions in the 1870s along with several interesting images of bird traps made with twigs.

What About the 1800s?
At the October 1871 Giles County Fair in Tennessee, in the Floral Hall “A satin and velvet quilt made by an old lady in Gallatin in 1868, compelled the praises of all. It was an elegant hexagonal, put together with hexagons and diamonds, lined with silk, bound with satin and edged with cords, which cords terminated at each end into two rich tassels. There was also a bird-trap quilt, made of silk that was greatly admired.”

Later, at the West Tennessee Agricultural and Mechanical Association Fair in Jackson, Tennessee, the Floral Hall had quilts. “The quilts and counterpanes on exhibition showed considerable ingenuity and skill. One of the latter made of silk of the bird trap pattern, had 10,200 pieces in it, a monument to the patience and industry of the maker.

In the Dalton of North Georgia Fair Association, Fourth Annual Fair held in October 1873, Mrs. Thomas A. Harris entered two quilts, a silk bird trap and a worsted log cabin.

“QUILTS, COVERLETS AND SPREADS. Mrs. ME Harkins’ quilt attracted universal attention; while it is showy it is not dashy. Miss Euphine Higgins has one that was made of 5,500 pieces. Mrs. C.C. Fulsome one of the Rock Mountain patterns. Mrs. Thomas A. Harris a silk quilt of the bird trap pattern; also, a worsted one of the log cabin pattern. While these were all beautiful, and attracted marked attention, the diamond figured quilt made by Miss Celeste Conner, aged twelve years, (a grand-daughter of Judge Towns,) was the one which all examined. The sprightly Miss received many honest compliments and she deserved them all.”

Theft of Bird Trap Quilt – More than one?
Yes, I found two references of “Bird Trap” Quilts being stolen. The first one was in Danville, Kentucky, in 1876 according to the Kentucky Advocate, May 5, 1876. There were a rash of robberies, and a quilt was stolen.

“The neighborhood between Perryville and Nevada seems to be infested by one or more thieves, who are becoming quite daring, and which will probably end in someone getting into business. The houses of Peter Hamilton and Mrs. Peach, were robbed some time back. A short time since, Wm. Moss’ was entered and a lot of things taken. Last Sunday seek, while Squire J.C. Barkley and family were away from home, entrance was obtained, his papers searched, it is supposed for money, and carried away a few things. On last Thursday, during the absence of the family, the residence of Chas. Gray was entered, a table drawer broken open and a pocket-book containing forty dollars were found, but in searching the pocket-book a ten-dollar bill was found that the thief had overlooked, making Mr. Gray’s loss in money about $30. There was also taken a worsted quilt, black and red, of the log-cabin or bird-trap design, with blue buttons sprinkled over it. We hope that everyone seeing this notice will be on the look-out for the quilt, -- as the finding of it may lead to the detection of the thief.”

The second mention of a stolen Bird Trap Quilt was reported in The Tennessean on February 19, 1897.

“INTERESTING CASE. Eva Smith Found Not Guilty of Stealing a Quilt. A very interesting case was heard yesterday afternoon by Justice Jake Levine, at his office on North Cherry street. It was that of Eva Smith, colored, alias Jane Smith, who was prosecuted by Albert White for the larceny of a quilt. Albert White was rooming in the house of the defendant, and claims that when he went to his new lodging house he carried eight quilts, among which was a "bird-trap" one. He said he folded and packed all eight of the quilts between the mattresses of his bed. He then went off for a few weeks, and upon his return, claims he found the "bird-trap" quilt missing. One of his witnesses, a woman, claimed that Eva Smith hid it in a straw mattress, but the house was searched in vain by a Constable. The case was dismissed on this evidence, and the prosecutor taxed with the costs.”

Log Cabin Blocks Have Light and Dark Sides – Except One
Most of the log pattern quilt designs dictate that there should be a dark side and a light side, save for one. In the 1884 booklet by the Patten Publishing Company called How to Make the Home Beautiful says that “Shading may be done in a variety of ways – diagonally or straight across, or there may be no shading attempted, but the colors placed hit or miss, which makes a really pretty patchwork when it is not convenient to have colors enough to handsomely shade a quilt.”

This design option was what quilters Nellie Verge, Pecolia Warner and Sophie from Block Lotto used to make their “Bird Trap” quilts.

Actual Bird Traps
In Pecolia Warner’s bio, she mentions she was inspired by her brother building a “Bird Trap” when she was younger. It got me thinking as to what a bird trap looked like. I found some good images in W. Hamilton Gibson book on Camp life in the Woods.

“The Coop Trap. …the first thing to be done is to cut four stout twigs about an inch in thickness and fifteen inches in length and tie them together at the corners,…This forms the base of the coop. Next collect from a number of twigs of about the same thickness, and from them select two more corresponding in length to the bottom pieces. … proceed to lay the two selected sticks across the ends of the uppermost two of the square, and directly above the lower two. Another pair of twigs exactly similar in size should then be cut and laid across the ends of the last two, and directly above the second set of the bottom portion, thus forming two squares of equal size, one directly over the other. The next pair of sticks should be a trifle shorter than the previous ones and should be placed a little inside the square. Let the next two be of the same size as the last and also rest a little inside of those beneath them, thus forming the commencement of the conical shape which our engraving presents. By thus continuing alternate layers of the two sticks cob-house fashion, each layer being closer than the one previous, the pyramid will be easily and quickly formed.… proceed to build up the sides until the opening at the top is reduced to only four or five inches across. The square board will now come into play.

This description pretty much describes the quilt pattern used by Mrs. Nellie Verge. You can see an actual bird trap made using this method done by Christopher Nyerges. He calls it the Arapuca bird trap, and ancient and primitive method for capturing birds.

I also found an etching done by German artist Konrad Grob, where an older gentleman is constructing a bird-trap while two youngsters watch intently. The steel engraving was printed in the August 1879 volume of the Art Journal of London.

Now back to Nellie Virge (Verge)
The Tennessee Folklore Society Bulletin was the only place I could find an illustration and description of what a “Bird Trap” quilt looked like. There were many descriptions and illustrations of log cabin quilts from the mid-1870s, and mentions as early as 1862. In the early 1870 references there was a distinction made between log cabins and bird trap designs, and that was evident in the 1906 article.

I was lucky enough to get a copy of the 1978 Profile of a Murfreesboro Quiltmaker and Her Craft article by Sally E. Weatherford. I was fascinated by the quilter Mrs. Nellie Virge, age 96 when her story was written and decided to do a bit of research on her. Her parents were Jim and Sophia Humes of Mooresville, Alabama. In 1989, Nellie Verge passed at the ripe old age of 107 (See Age Note). Right there, the story was similar, but the spelling of the name was a bit different. It turns out the spelling changed back and forth on several documents before finally resting on Verge.

At the time of Nellie’s death, February 14, 1989 she was survived by 4 sons and 3 daughters, 40 grandchildren, 75 great-grandchildren and 21 great-great grandchildren and is buried in Stones River Cemetery, Murfreesboro, Tennessee. She was born to freed slaves and was one of 10 children (her youngest sibling was actually a granddaughter to her parents per 1920 census). At age 19 she married a sharecropper named Athey Verge. Her husband passed in 1959 and Nellie, being retired, and having a good supply of fabric from her sons who worked at a factory in Murfreesboro, began quilting as a hobby.

On March 5, 1989 following her death, Kelly Anderson, News Journal Lifestyles Writer penned a tribute to Nellie with the help of two of her daughters, Mrs. McGowan and Irean Hughes. I want to share her story with you.

Sunday, March 5, 1989, Murfreesboro, Tenn; LIFESTYLE, Sunday News Journal
Nellie Verge: 107 years of good material
By KELLY ANDERSON, News Journal Lifestyles Writer

Jim and Sophia Humes greeted their squalling baby into a world of oppression in sweltering Mooresville, Ala., July 14, 1881. For the next 107 years of her life, Nellie Verge learned to use her God-given abilities to get she and her family through rough times. Mrs. Verge's last few years were spent with her daughter, Mrs. Lizzie McGowan. On Valentine's Day this year, Mrs. Verge died in bed of old age. Born to freed slaves and married to a sharecropper named Athey, Mrs. Verge had never known a time until her last few decades that hadn't been lean and hard. "We were poor," Mrs. McGowan, Mrs. Verge's daughter, explained. “But we never really knew it. We always had food, clothing and a roof over our heads. "Since daddy was a sharecropper, there were good years and bad ones. When there was a bad year, we didn't have nothing. I don't know how we all made it. As a child, you don't understand the poorness. Now I look back and wonder how we survived." Mrs. McGowan and her 11 brothers and sisters survived and grew up to be optimistic, a quality they attribute to their, mother's survival instincts, wisdom and old folk knowledge. Using the vegetables they grew on their plot of land, Mrs. Verge would always provide a meal for her children. I’m sure she worried about whether we were getting a well-balanced meal, Mrs. Irean Hughes, another of Mrs. Verge's daughters, commented. But she never let us know about these problems she faced." Sugar and flour sacks were utilized by Mrs. Verge for her children's clothes and shoes. "All our dresses and panties were made from sacks," Mrs. McGowan said. "Since we were too poor to buy elastic, all our clothes had drawstrings, including our panties. "To make the little houses we lived in look more homey, she'd paper the house with magazines ' and newspapers," Mrs. McGowan related. "It looked good. She'd always make it so the newspaper could be read. The Verge children were also treated to Bible readings by their father and ghost stories by their mother at night. I remember the women with, their burnt front legs from working in front of the fireplace all the time," Mrs. Hughes recalled. "Mom, with her burnt legs, would sit in front of the fireplace at night and tell us ghost stories right before we went to bed. “It's such a vivid memory for me. I remember those stories like they were told yesterday." To keep her children warm on frigid Tennessee nights, Mrs. Verge made quilts and quilt pieces. These weren't ordinary quilts. They were quite extraordinary. So extraordinary that Mrs. Verge's designs were featured by Sally E. Weatherford in the September 1978 "Tennessee Folklore Society Bulletin. “Mrs. Weatherford wrote: “With over 100 quilts to her credit during her lifetime, Mrs. Verge admits she started piecing quilts as a child of 7 or 8. Quilting back then, she is quick to remind, was for practicality rather than beauty. As one of 10 children, she soon learned to pitch in and help provide the large family with patch-quilted coverlets. "Of course, these were made out of whatever fabrics were available. Worn-out coats, pants, dress skirts (the skirts wore out quicker than the bodices) and anything else too ragged to wear, but too good to throw away were used for quilts. Mrs. Verge can show how an “old- britches” quilt (as she-calls it) was made from heavy wool overcoats and pants, and patched in almost a ‘crazy quilt’ manner." Quilting for Mrs. Verge changed from necessity to hobby after her husband died of cancer in 1959. Instead of material from old clothes, Mrs. Verge now had the luxury of fabric supplied by two of her sons, who got leftovers from a factory in Murfreesboro where they worked. Mrs. Verge possessed another skill which assured healthy children a knowledge of folk medicinal remedies. One such remedy suggested taking a wad of snuff and soot, kerosene, turpentine and sugar and mix it with spider webs and apply it to your child's heel when a nail has been stepped on. That's exactly the remedy Mrs. Verge put on her daughter's heel. "We didn't go to the doctors when we were little Mrs. McGowan said. "If we fell ill, she'd cure us. It always worked. "Sardine juice was also wrapped - up in a cloth and tied around the head for ailments. Other cures included sheep shap tea and chicken cap tea for measles, bruised gypsum leaves as an ointment, sagegrass and peachtree bark tea for fever and mare’s milk for whooping cough. "She didn't believe in doctors right up until she died," Mrs. McGowan related. "She believed in her home remedies." However, Mrs. Verge did resign herself to a fairly lengthy hospital stay when she threw a blood clot into her lungs in 1981. “The doctor told her that condition would kill most people in seconds," Mrs. Hughes recalled. "Momma lived more than seven years with it. "Even in the hospital she wanted a can of sardines," Mrs. Hughes related with a smile. "When she finally got a hold of a can, she gulped the sardines and juice down. I suspect she thought that would cure her." Mrs. Verge died fulfilling 107 years of life. She left behind her one sister, Sophia Lewis of Huntsville, Ala.; three daughters, Lizzie McGowan, Effie Verge and Irean Hughes of Murfreesboro; four sons, Floyd Verge and the Rev. R.C. Verge of Murfreesboro, Jimmy J. Verge of Nashville and Willie Verge of Detroit, Mich.; 40 grandchildren; 75 great-grandchildren and 21 great-greatgrandchildren. "I can't ever remember her being unhappy," Mrs. Hughes said of her mother. “The only time I can recall her crying was when our little brother, Joe Robert, died of spinal meningitis. If it were me and my children in her world, I would have been in the pits of depression." What do her daughters attribute as the reason for her long life? "She was a very religious woman," Mrs. Hughes reasoned. "Both she and daddy were very religious. She was a member of Stones River Primitive Baptist Church for 21 years." Before joining Stones River," Mrs. Verge professed her faith and joined Mt. Zion. Her family's religious convictions can be traced even further back, however "I remember her talking about how her parents would have to meet in a cabin in secret for religious services," Mrs. Hughes explained. "It had to be very secretive so the ol’ master wouldn't find out." But Mrs. McGowan has another answer to this puzzling question: "I guess she was made out of good material."

Age Note: Nellies’ age varies from record to record. Her obituary and follow-up story indicate a birth in 1881 or July 14, 1881, respectively. The Social Security gives December 14, 1888 as her date of birth. The census records also vary – along with the spelling of her last name, using Virge or Verge depending on the year. The earliest census record for her is in 1900, and listed her as 2 year old daughter of James and Sophy Humes. By the 1910 census, she was listed as the 14 year old daughter of Jim and Sophia Humes, with a birth year of 1896. By the 1920 census, she was married to Athey, with an age of 23, a birth year of 1897. The 1930 census indicates 35 year old Nellie was born in 1895, and finally the 1940 census has her at age 50 with a birth year of 1890. Her most likely date of birth was 1896, making her 93 at the time of death and 82 when the Folklore article was written.

Image 1 Sources:
FASHION ADOPTS THE GAY PATCH WORK QUILT by Sarah Williamson; The San Francisco Call, December 30, 1906

Quilt Names in the Ozarks by Vance Randolph and Isabel Spradley; American Speech, Vol. 8, No. 1 (Feb., 1933), pp. 33-36, Published by: Duke University Press

The Tennessee Folklore Society, June 1978; Profile of a Murfreesboro Quiltmaker and Her Craft by Sally E. Weatherford, Cover and pages 108-114

The Daily News-Journal (Murfreesboro, Tennessee), 13 Apr 1979, Page 2; Library Report

Nashville Banner (Nashville, Tennessee), 01 Oct 1959, Page 53; Athey Verge

The Tennessean (Nashville, Tennessee), 16 Feb 1989, Page 31; Nellie Verge

Image 2 Sources:
Women's Caucus for Art, 1983 WCA Honor Awards; National Woman’s Caucus for Art Conference, Philadelphia, February 15-18, 1983

Pecolia Warner 1982, Photo by Maude Wahlman

P Quilts: Pecolia Warner of Yazoo City

Pig Pen Quilt (Log Cabin Variation) by Pecolia Warner

Pecolia Warner (1901-1983) in 1975 with one of her "P Quilts"

Signs and Symbols: African Images in African-American Quilts by Maude Wahlman, 1993
Bird Trap quilt by Pecolia Warner, Yazoo City, Mississippi, 1982; 83"x68"
“Made of twelve different squares, each composed from her own combination of a Log Cabin pattern and triangles”

Bird Trap w/Block Lotto Birds

The Box Trap: An Ancient, Simple Method for Capturing Birds, Christopher Nyerges, March 27, 2017

Camp life in the woods and the tricks of trapping by W. Hamilton Gibson; 1881

Image 3 Sources:
The Art Journal: New series - Volume 5, 1879, Page 386. THE BIRD-TRAP. Original Etching by Konrad Grob

Nashville Union and American, October 14, 1871, Image 3
Nashville Union and American, November 03, 1871, Image 1
The Weekly Constitution, Atlanta, Ga., October 07, 1873, Image 8
Kentucky Advocate (Danville, Kentucky), May 5, 1876, Fri, Page 2

The Ladies Treasury for 1876
American Agriculturist, 1978, Volume 37, Page 146
The Peterson Magazine, December 1880, Volume 78, Page 465
The Home Needle by Ella Rodman Church, 1882, Page 117
How to Make the Home Beautiful, Patten Publishing Co, 1884
The Prairie Farmer, January 3, 1885
The Prairie Farmer, November 1887
The Billings Gazette, September 9, 1904
The evening Star, Washington, DC, May 16, 1927

Other Sources:
Folklife in the Florida Parishes: People and Their Crafts (
Turlie Richardson and Lillie Payton, the Felicianas by Susan Garrett Davis

by GEOFF GEHMAN, The Morning Call

The Tennessean (Nashville, Tennessee), 01 Oct 1959, Page 51; Athey Verge
The Daily News-Journal (Murfreesboro, Tennessee), 05 Mar 1989, Page 21, 23; Nellie Verge
The Tennessean, Nashville, Tennessee, February 19, 1897, Page 5
Census data from 1910, 1920, 1930 and 1940
Various newspaper articles/obituaries on the Verge and Humes families