Musings from the mind of a modern day Sue.

Posts tagged ‘Rose of Sharon’

Civil War Quilt Study and The UGRR

The American Quilt Study Group has self-published a book on their 2014 Civil War quilt study. Titled, In War Time: A Study of Civil War Era Quilts 1850 – 1865, the book features all 50 of the study quilts that were displayed at the 2014 AQSG Seminar along with photos of the inspiration quilts and the written statements. I am excited to get my copy of the book, since I participated in the quilt study and had my Rose of Sharon quilt on display at the 2014 Seminar.

In War Time

AQSG 2014 Quilt Study book

On display at Bay Heritage Quilter's Guild April 2015 quilt show.

Rose of Sharon quilt on display at Bay Heritage Quilter’s Guild April 2015 quilt show.

Studying quilts and quilt history brings to light our past, uniquely telling the stories of women. Facts and myths about American quilt history proliferate in the quilting world, and studying quilts aids historians in recognizing those stories that are merely fiction. The DAR Museum in Washington DC has an exhibit on display until September 5th, Eye on Elegance: Early Quilts of Maryland and Virginia that debunks some of those myths. Mary Fons put out a Fireside Chat on a recent Quilty episode busting five common myths related to American quilting. Check it out here.

One myth is the idea that quilts were used to direct slaves North on the Underground Railroad (UGRR). In fact, many of you reading this sentence may get angry, scoff at the comment, or even stop reading this post altogether just for me stating that line. But, anyone interested in finding the truth will seek out reliable sources of information. I wondered about the idea when I first read Jennifer Chiaverini‘s fictional story, The Runaway Quilt, published in April 2003. In 2005, I was in Atlanta, Georgia walking through Underground Atlanta in the Five Points district when a sign caught my attention that directed passer-bys to an UGRR quilt show. The steps lead into an antique shop that featured an historical display of quilts, pictures, and stories advocating a quilt code used on the Underground Railroad. None of what I read convinced me that the stories verified a quilt code. After returning home, I researched the topic and found much more information on both sides of the aisle. Hidden in Plain View, authored by historians Jacqueline Tobin and Raymond Dobard, brought to light the idea of an UGRR quilt code. However, as any historian will tell you, history is constantly being retold as information is studied that brings new facts to bear on topics.

I’m not trying to convince any of my readers to change their minds, but hope that anyone truly interested in quilt history would search out the facts by studying the topic. I see so much of the quilt code myth being used to market quilting, whether through a book, fabric sales, or a quilt shop club. Some good resources to encourage study include noted quilt historian Barbara Brackman’s many published books, and her historical blogs here and hereHart Cottage Quilts also has a reliable website with an extensive look at the topic of quilts and the UGRR.

Book by Barbara Brackman

I hope that some of you ameteur historians, like me, will check out the AQSG website and the book on the recent quilt study. And delve into the topic of quilts and the UGRR for yourself.



Putting Quilts into Judged Shows

I enjoy quilt shows and putting my own quilts into shows. The Bay Heritage Quilter’s Guild show was this past week-end. I entered my Rose of Sharon applique quilt made for the American Quilt Study Group 2014 Civil War quilt study. Quilters could choose to have their quilt judged.

Rose of Sharon by Pamela Koppleberger

Rose of Sharon by Pamela Koppleberger

Many quilters shy away from having quilts judged. Many quilters do not feel that their work is good enough to put into a show, let alone have it judged. However, judging is a great way to find out what part of the quilting process you are good at and what part you can improve upon. The judge’s comment sheet from this show stated at the bottom, “This critique is intended to help you improve your quilting skills. Please use it as a learning experience, remembering that the finished quilt was judged, not the quiltmaker. Thank you for entering your quilt!”

You may have noticed a red ribbon on my quilt. I was fortunate to receive a second place ribbon in the Mixed or Applique, Individual, Machine Quilted category. There were twelve categories and seven additional awards, including Best of Show. Having lots of categories gives entrants more of a chance to receive recognition.

Check out this overhead view of the quilt show, followed by a few pics of my favorite quilts.

Overhead View2 Overhead View4

Courthouse Steps by Carol Collins

Courthouse Steps by Carol Collins

100 Year Quilt by Nona Simnitch of Frankenmuth

100 Year Quilt by Nona Simnitch of Frankenmuth, a good quilt friend of mine

Butternut and Blue by Nancy L. House of Harrison

Butternut and Blue by Nancy L. House

Cathedral Window by Lois Reminder

Cathedral Window by Lois Reminder

Circle Dance by Eleanor Henning

Circle Dance by Eleanor Henning

Primitive Gatherings by Kay Vink

Primitive Gatherings by Kay Vink

We Find the Defendant Quilty by Laura Patterson

We Find the Defendant Quilty by Laura Patterson

This last quilt was my pick for Viewer’s Choice. It was totally stitched by hand. Here are a couple more up close pictures.

We Find the Defendant Quilty blocks We Find the Defendant Quilty quilting

I hope that you enjoyed my quilt show post. There are lots of quilt shows springing up and I hope that you’ll have the chance to attend a few.

Happy Stitching…

Rose of Sharon Block #1

The first of four Rose of Sharon blocks is complete. I thoroughly enjoyed doing the applique. The preparation of the blocks shapes made the stitching move along quickly.

Completed  Rose of Sharon block

Completed Rose of Sharon block

I took this photo outside this afternoon with such a sunny day. The sunshine was so glaring that this block in the shade was a much better shot. Still, the colors look dull.



Here is a closer look at the block. You can better view the layout of the design and the stitching of the shapes. I haven’t pressed the block yet, and also plan to trim the block down to a 15-inch square. There will be a lot of negative white space to use for free-motion quilting.

My SewBatik Challenge quilt is on to a new venue. Forty-six quilts were on display at the annual NQA quilt show over Memorial week-end. Following the show, 30 of the quilts were sent off to Reno, Nevada to display June 12-14th at an upcoming Sew Original Quilt and Creative Expos quilt show. They will also be displayed in Lincoln, NE – September 11-13th, and Louisville, KY – October 9-11th.

Back to the sewing table to put another Rose of Sharon block together for stitching. What are you stitching up today?


Rose of Sharon Study Quilt

I am working on a Rose of Sharon quilt for the 2014 American Quilt Study Group (AQSG) quilt study. If you are not familiar with a study quilt, check out the guild website to see the Colonial Revival quilt study from 2012. I had read about the quilt study and wanted to get involved with one when I finally joined the AQSG two years ago. I submitted a  participant release form that placed me on a waiting list. This particular study is very popular. Then, I had to find an inspiration quilt that represented the quilt study period of 1850-1865. This quilt can be recreated or inspire a design that must meet certain guidelines. Earlier this year, some of the participants dropped out of the study, so now I am among the fifty quilters that will have the opportunity to present my study quilt at Seminar in September.

I chose my inspiration quilt last Spring and received permission to use it for the study. The inspiration quilt is in the permanent collection of the DAR Museum in Washington D.C. You can view the quilt on The Quilt Index at the following link. The quilt was made in Missouri for Mary Ann Poindexter, who married Dr. John Marshall Staples on September 30, 1852. Her mother and sisters made the quilt. It is dated 1852, so it easily falls within the guidelines for the study. Unfortunately, Dr. Staples died during the Civil War and Mary Ann’s sister Elizabeth presented her sister with the quilt on the occasion of her marriage to Parks Gunn in 1872.

I have been preparing the applique shapes over the last couple of days so that I can finally applique the blocks. Here are the pieces laid out in the pattern design.

Rose of Sharon applique parts

Rose of Sharon applique parts

Rose of Sharon is a popular applique pattern that has many variations. It is one of many patterns with a biblical name, derived from a verse in Song of Songs, “I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.” Ruth Finley states in her book Old Patchwork Quilts and the Women Who Made Them, page 126, “The best known appliqué pattern of all was “The Rose of Sharon”. Many examples of the quilt still survive simply because they were made as special quilts that did not receive frequent use. Most often, the pattern was made as a wedding quilt, the last of a young woman’s dowry of thirteen quilts. My quilt uses an earlier version of the Rose of Sharon pattern that has a single stemmed rose with several rosebuds radiating out from the central flower. The inspiration quilt used red, pink and green fabrics, but I chose to use two shades of pink. The study quilt will be a four-block design with a swag border, more simplistic than the swag border in the inspiration quilt.

Center Rose Applique

Center Rose Applique

One of the first quilts that I made back in 1981 was a Rose of Sharon pattern. I used a newer pattern design with a center flower and mirror images of vines with rose buds and leaves coming out from the four sides of the center rose. This design is often seen in vintage quilts and is more often made with shades of pink fabric. My first Rose of Sharon quilt was poorly constructed using a raw edge satin applique stitch. Cotton solid fabrics were not readily available in the early 80’s and I did not know any better than to use the cotton/poly blends found in my local five and dime store that sold fabrics. The quilt did not hold up well with continued use by the recipient, my sister. For this reason, I chose to make the Rose of Sharon pattern for my study, so that I could utilize my improved applique skills to produce the quilt. This time around Kona cottons are my choice of fabric. I am also hand stitching the applique pieces, although I plan to machine quilt the finished top.

I have a lot to do before this quilt needs to be finished, but feel confident that it will go quickly. Hand applique is my favorite method of stitching and the portable quality of the project will allow me to take it wherever I go. The next step is to cut out the four white background blocks and position the pieces onto them for stitching. As well, I have to finish my Written Statement to submit within the next month.

I know that many of you enjoy challenges. This is actually my third type of quilt challenge this year. Having a deadline helps me stay focused on finishing a project. How about you? Do you prefer working with deadlines or working along at a leisurely pace?

I’ll keep everyone updated on the progress.

Happy Stitching!

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