QUILTS & FABRIC: PAST & PRESENT By Quilt Historian Barbara Brackman Above: Moda's Baltimore Blues

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Turkey Red Tour

I recently attended Deb Roberts's Turkey Red Tour at the the International Quilt Study Center & Museum. I enjoyed myself and learned a lot, not only from the lecturers and tour leaders but from other attendees. Getting to discuss the color at length was informative.

We all "ooh-la-la"ed over this butterfly print
that Madame Jacqué showed us.

Our first lecturer was Jacqueline Jacqué, retired curator at the Musée de l'impression des étoffes à Mulhouse, which translates as Museum of Printed Fabrics in Mulhouse, France.

Reverse-appliqued feather border with a multi-colored Turkey red print.

Turkey red was quite popular with American quilters from
about 1840 to 1940.

Let me tell you what I learned (a good excuse to show a lot of details of the fabulous IQSCM collection at Quilt House in Lincoln, Nebraska.)

First I'll tell you what I already knew.

Turkey red on the left\madder red on the right

The dyestuff is madder root, which rather easily produces a brownish-red. Vivid reds were hard to obtain in cotton. A complex process for madder dyes was first developed in Middle East. Early European efforts focused on plain reds obtained by dyeing the cotton in the yarn, then weaving it into solids.

Thus, the background for Turkey red prints was always red. The sophisticated printer could discharge (bleach out) white and add yellow, blue, green and dark brownish-black figures.

This early-19th-century print shows a rather primitive discharge technique.
The yellow blob was bleached out and at the same time the
mordants for chrome yellow were added. The black
could be applied atop the Turkey red so required no discharging.
Those blacks could be Prussian blue or madder brown that read as black.

The simplest Turkey red prints were discharged white figures or overprinted blacks. Daniel Koechlin-Schouch of Mulhouse developed techniques to add yellow figures in the discharge process (Madame said that happened in 1821).

Thereafter printers developed increasingly complicated processes to add blue, green and black figures to the Turkey red background. Mills specialized in Turkey reds. Towns in England, Scotland, France and the German and Swiss states were home to Turkey red workshops and factories, but the process apparently was not done in the United States until after the Civil War.

Turkey red solids are hard to date---
We see them in American quilts from 1840-1940.
This detail is a pieced bloom in a border.

See a post on the early Turkey red prints at my Civil War blog.

Madame Jacqué reinforced some of our American ideas. American mills did not dye or print Turkey red until after 1869 and the invention of a synthetic alizarin---the coloring agent from madder.

A charm quilt from about 1900 has
several simple Turkey red prints like the polka dot,
 probably American produced,
(end of the 19th century and into the 20th).

She also said that she knew of no Turkey red industry still active anywhere in the world. Synthetic reds (not ALWAYS colorfast) have replaced the old and expensive process.

Koechlin figured out how to dye cotton Turkey red
in the cloth in 1809. I had always assumed they continued to dye it in the yarn
and then weave it.

Madame showed many slides of complicated, lush prints like the butterfly print, which you can buy as a scarf from the Museum shop. But we don't see these in American quilts. Was it a matter of taste?Did quilters in the U.S. prefer simpler calicoes? Or were these more luxurious prints that Alsace did as a specialty too expensive?

One of the more complex prints we saw was in
the sashing of this sampler.

Did we import few actual French prints from Mulhouse,
the French center of Turkey red production?

It may be that Americans imported their red prints from Scotland, which began extensive Turkey red printing about 1830. We do not see Turkey red in American quilts till about 1840 and then there is an explosion of interest. I'm beginning to think our reds were Scottish imports and not French, although the style is certainly French.

Reverse of a Uzbekistani bedcover

Madame also talked about Russian printing of Turkey red, which may be the source for fabric in the 20th-century Turkey red bedcoverings we saw from Asia, places like Uzbekistan and Turkistan. IQSCM has quite a collection of these textiles. 

Xenia Cord gave a lecture on What Is It if It's Not Turkey Red?, a discussion of the synthesizing of the coloring agent in madder, called alizarin, and the unreliable copies that plagued quiltmakers from about 1870 into the 20th century.

Xenia and the ELI quilt

Congo red, a direct dye, was developed in 1884 and we learned quite a bit about the complicated trade and innovation in the German chemical industry. 

Detail of the ELI quilt from Ohio's Miami Valley,
dated 1894. The pinkish album block at top right
may have been dyed with Congo red, once as bright
as the Turkey reds in the other blocks.

Once alizarin was developed all the other processes in creating the Turkey red color were also synthesized and speeded up. A process that might have take a month in Mulhouse in 1820 and involve chemicals derived from sheep dung and human urine could be accomplished in hours with test-tube copies. In discussion our consensus was that even though this was an industrial process it was still essentially the same chemistry and the later red prints are technically Turkey red.

Quilt dated 1865

We saw a 1917 Red Cross quilt which Joan,
the volunteer who does genealogical research on the many Turkey red signature quilts,
said had Iowa names. It did not take me long to find my boyfriend's relatives.
The Mrs Kathryn Bringolf in this block is his grandmother's grandmother.
Another attendee found her uncle's name.

Thanks to Deb Roberts, the staff at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum, and the visiting lecturers Julie Silber, Madame Jacque and Xenia Cord for a wonderful tour.

We couldn't figure out what that pink and red
on the bottom was but now I'm guessing
it's a double pink---a strange double pink on a large scale.
It was definitely more pink than red.

Links to the museum in Mulhouse (pronounced Muh-looze with an accent on the last syllable----Don't you French readers laugh at us cause we thought it was Mull-House for years)


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Baltimore Blues: Patterson Park

Baltimore Blues is my latest Moda reproduction print collection.

The largest print in the line is a floral ---the sort
of splashy floral someone like Mary Todd Lincoln might
appreciate (although Mary's dress here is silk and this is cotton.)

I named the prints after Baltimore landmarks. The floral is Patterson Park,

named for the family who donated the land
200 years ago.

The document print (the original antique) was used as the setting squares
in a late-19th-century quilt top, now a kind of a faded pink/violet
We tightened up the repeat a little. That very airy background
with lots of space was a fashion about 1900 and I think
less background/more figure spans a wider range of taste.

We printed #8342 in five colorways.

Read the gossip about the Patterson family 200 years ago at this post:

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Morris Hexathon 25: Sussex Cottage

Morris Hexathon 25: Sussex Cottage by Becky Brown

I named this week's hexie Sussex Cottage for another building on Upper Mall in the west London
area of Hammersmith where the Morris family lived.

William Morris was a man of serial enthusiasms. In the last years of his life he set out on a "little typographical adventure" as he called it, developing a press to print beautiful books. Kelmscott Press,
named for the Manor he loved so much, began in 1891 in Sussex Cottage near his Hammersmith house on the Thames.

Sussex Cottage was reached through the door on the left (14 Upper Mall.)
The main building, Sussex House was home to another artisan printer, Emery Walker,
who had inspired Morris to take up hand printing.

Walker's last home at 7 Hammersmith Terrace
is open to the public, but closed in 2016 for renovation.
The Walker house is kept in Morris-firm style.
I believe it is closed this year but will re-open in 2017

The Kelmscott Press printed over fifty books during its short life from 1891 to 1898. The Story of the Glittering Plain, the first, is typical in style. Morris's old friend from Oxford days, Edward Burne-Jones, did the woodcut illustrations.

Morris made the most of his own skills at flat patterning
by designing the borders and the large initials.

Assistant Sidney Cockerell described the early days of the Press:
"The house a little old fashioned one and the single hand press at the top of a winding corner stair. ...Printed sheets, one on vellum, lying about---all most beautiful, especially the first page with its elaborately designed border."

Morris cut his own type faces,offering
three original fonts.

Kelmscott Press was Morris's last love. He died at the age of sixty-two in 1896 shortly after completing the Press masterpiece: The Kelmscott Chaucer.

Morris Hexathon 25: Sussex Cottage by Ilyse Moore

Sussex Cottage requires a hexagon and three different tumbler shapes.
Or string piece it.

The borders in BlockBase #247 can remind us of the graceful Kelmscott book borders.

The pattern was first published in 1896---one of the oldest published hexie blocks---by a magazine named the Orange Judd Farmer (Orange Judd was the publisher's name.) That agricultural newspaper called it A Cobweb Quilt. In 1930 the Kansas City Star called it Spider Web.

Pattern for an 8" Hexagon
(4" sides)
To Print:
  • Create a word file or a new empty JPG file that is 8-1/2" x 11". 
  • Click on the image above. 
  • Right click on it and save it to your file. 
  • Print that file out 8-1/2" x 11". The hexagon should measure 4" on the sides.
  • Adjust the printed page size if necessary.
  • Add seams when you cut the fabric.
Carrie Hall made a block and included it in
her 1935 book The Romance of the Patchwork Quilt in America.
She showed triangular setting pieces too.

In wools as a tied comforter

With three borders it was a popular design in the mid-20th-century,
usually as a scrap quilt

but here's a controlled color scheme (possibly inspired by Carrie Hall's.)

Four concentric borders for a central hexagon---blue triangles.

You don't need to measure---it can be a string quilt too. Just triangles,
no central hexagon.

One More Inspiration
Pattern from Quiltmaker in 2013.
Strip-piece triangles and rotate them

Mary Huey is making progress but she may have hit the wall with all the curved piecing.
One More Week. You can make it!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Antique Quilt Exhibits: Fall 2016 Through Winter 2017

Weather will be too cool to put the top down soon. Head out today!

Antique Quilt Exhibits: Through Fall 2016 &Winter 2017

Alabama, Montgomery
Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. Sewn Together: Two Centuries of Alabama Quilts.
January 28 through April 16, 2017.

California, Redlands.
San Bernardino County Museum. Stitches in Time. Pieced quilts and woven coverlets from the collection.
Through January 2017.

Mame and Kathryn Armstrong; Crazy Quilt, 1885 

Georgia, Savannah

Telfair Academy. Historic Cottons to Modern Polyesters: Quilts from Telfair’s Collection.
Through November 6, 2016

Poppy Quilt by Marie Webster, 1909
Indianapolis Museum of Art

Indiana, Indianapolis

Indianapolis Museum of Art. A Joy Forever: Marie Webster Quilts.
Through January 8, 2017.

Indiana, Marion
Quilters Hall of Fame. Ruby Short McKim.
Through December 3, 2016.

Illinois, Chicago
DuSable Museum of African American History. Unpacking Collections: The Legacy of Cuesta Benberry, An African American Quilt Scholar. 
November 15, 2016 - September 28, 2017.
In 2018 the show will be at the Mercer Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania.

Iowa, LaPorte
FFA & Ag Museum on Main Street. A small show of antique quilts from a local collection.
Through November.

Iowa, Winterset
Iowa Quilt Museum. Stargazing: American Star Quilts. Antique and contemporary pieces.
Through January, 2017.

Fundraising Quilt dated 1899, Newton, Kansas
Kansas, Newton
Harvey County Historical Society. Purposeful Stitches: Community Quilts. Fundraising and signature/memorial quilts.
Through December 2, 2017.

From the Western Kentucky University collection

Kentucky, Bowling Green
Elizabeth Richardson Quilt Gallery, Kentucky Museum. Backward & Forward: 20th Century Quilts.
Through March 5, 2017


Bird of Paradise
From the Christ Collection

Massachusetts, Lowell
New England Quilt Museum. America's Applique Quilts: The Christ Collection. October 20 - December 31, 2016.

Massachusetts, Pittsfield
Hancock Shaker Village. Highlights from Fitzpatrick Quilt Collection. Personal collection of the proprietor of the Red Lion Inn and Country Curtains. Through October 30, 2016.

Minnesota, Minneapolis
Minneapolis Institute of the Arts. Cut from the Same Cloth: American Quilts at Mia.14 American quilts from the collection, dating from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s.
Through March 19, 2017.

Nebraska, Lincoln
International Quilt Study Center & Museum/Quilt House.
Amish Quilts & The Crafting of Diverse Traditions, curated by Janneken Smucker. 

New Hampshire. Peterborough.
Monadnock Center for History and Culture. Pieced and Patterned: Connie Bastille’s Quilt Collection (22 quilts) plus Schoolgirl Samplers.
Through January 21, 2017

Ladies Ramble Quilt

New Jersey, River Edge
Bergen County Historical Society. Ladies' Ramble. Opens January 29th, 2017
Selections from BCHS quilt collection on exhibit.

New York, Auburn
Schweinfurth Art Center. American Quilts: History and Art. Quilts from the collection of the International Quilt Studies Center & Museum, curated by Jonathan Holstein.
October 29 through January 8, 2017.

New York, Canton
TAUNY (Traditional Arts in Upstate New York). Warmth, Remembrance, and Art: 200 Years of Quilts and Comforters in New York's North Country.Sixty quilts documented by the Northern New York Quilt Project. Through October, 2016.

New York, Long Island City
American Folk Art Museum's Collections and Education Center,  Painted, Pieced, and Padded: Masterwork Quilts from the American Folk Art Museum. Ten quilts by appointment only.
Through November 6, 2016.

Pennsylvania. Westchester
Chester County Historical Society. Quilts: The Next Layer. Over a dozen recently donated quilts
Through January 31, 2017.

Texas, LaGrange
Texas Quilt Museum. New York Beauties: Volckening Collection.
Through December 18, 2016.

Virginia, Harrisonburg
Virginia Quilt Museum. Presidential Connections: Quilts, Virginians and the Whig Party. Guest Curator, Wayne Harrison. Quilts plus items demonstrating connections between Presidents with Virginia family connections and the Whig Party. See the Gallery Guide here:

Midnight in the Garden of Quilts: Quilts from the Polly Mello Collection. Through December 17, 2016.
Treasures from the Vault: Crazy Quilts. Curated by Gloria Comstock. Through December 17, 2016.

Virginia, Lynchburg

Lynchburg Museum. A Feast for the Eyes: Quilts and Textiles from Central Virginia. Through December 31, 2016.

Virginia, Williamsburg
Colonial Williamsburg, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum. A Century of African-American Quilts features twelve quilts from the collection dating from 1875. Through January, 2018.

Washington, Walla Walla

Fort Walla Walla Museum. Sewn Into History: A Century of Quilts. Over 20 quilts from the Museum's collection will be on display, ranging in dates from the mid-19th century through the 1930s. Through the end of 2016.

Detail of Hampton family quilt

Australia, Melbourne
National Gallery of Victoria: Making the Australian Quilt: 1800–1950, Curators Annette Gero and Katie Somerville.
Through November 6, 2016.