Friday, February 13, 2015

The Story Book Quilts of Marion Cheever Whiteside Newton

At the January meeting of the Enchanted Quilters of Lopez Island, I presented a program on the quilts of Marion Cheever Whiteside Newton with accompanying quilts from my own collection.  

A few blocks from Newton's "Little Women" pattern series.

Newton was a trained artist who had one leg rooted in New England and the other in Portland, Oregon. About mid-career, she turned from her success in art to designing some very special Story Book Quilts in the late 1940s, making an international name for herself by the 1950s.  

I based my talk on the research presented by Naida Treadway Patterson at the 1995 annual seminar of the American Quilt Study Group*. You can read Newton's published research of that 1995 lecture by clicking here, which will take you to the website of the Quilt Index. However, you can't see any of the photos that appeared in the originally published article. But the text is well worth the read. 

You can see the full story of my presentation about Marion Cheever Whiteside Newton with many more photos by clicking here.

I wrote briefly once before about Newton when I was trying to track down the possible source of a quilt I added to my collection in 2013. That post I called Is She Dutch or Hungarian? (Click on the name to go to that post.)

Please feel free to leave a comment if you, too, love the Marion Cheever Whiteside Newton Story Book Quilts or have one or made one!  Also, please leave a comment if you know of others designing similar story book quilts today!

Where to go for accurate Quilt History?

As an aside, I can never resist sharing AQSG*. I have been a member of AQSG since 1981.  This group has provided me with some of the greatest friendships of my adult life as well as some of the most stimulating research seminars one could hope to attend in the field of textile/quilt history!

Many Regional Quilt Study Groups have been formed around the country in the last 20 years, most by members of AQSG, though the regional groups are NOT formerly associated with AQSG.  Yours truly helped form the Washington Quilt Study Group in 2005, along with Joy Neal and Susan Underwood, also AQSG members.  

You can read about the various regional groups by clicking here on Kris Dreissen's Quilt History website.  I highly recommend joining this discussion group so that you can access our past as well as present discussions. There is a wealth of in-depth quilt history discussions that have taken place since 1997 archived on this website. Kris charges a very nominal fee to help with overhead.

Sometimes it feels to me like Kris has been in the quilt business forever. That must say something about how old I am getting myself, not Kris's age! I do know she and her husband once had their quilt business on wheels -- yep, the original Quilt Bus!


I have two more exciting stories to share that have been brought to my attention in the past two weeks. One is about a Comfort Quilt made by young primary school students in Leeds, England, based on a quilt they found on the Quilt Index via the Internet. It just so happens that the quilt their teacher discovered on-line was the Hearts Signature Quilt made by the members of the Enchanted Quilters in 1999 for my mother-in-law, Wini Alexander, when she diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer! Can't wait to share the students' story with you!   Wini's quilt is on the right in this photo.

Just a few of the students who made blocks for this quilt!

Staff writerFebruary 6, 2015 

The other story is about a new Quilt Documentation Project led by A'donna Richardson that is beginning this weekend in the Seattle area. You can read the beginnings the story here by reading this news article whose link was sent me just three days ago.  Unfortunately, I won't be able to get to the first couple of meetings but I am very excited about keeping track of this project.

Read more here:

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Anne Orr or Ruby McKim pattern?

A shout out to all my quilt history friends.

Is this an Anne Orr or Ruby McKim pattern?
 I saw it on eBay.

Amazing! No sooner posted to the AQSG discussion list and the answer came through. 

It is Anne Orr's "Star Flower" pattern, according to AQSG member Joanie Howe. 

Click here for a link to one of Anne Orr's quilting booklets.

Click here for an interview of Merikay Waldvogel, an Honoree of The Quilters Hall of Fame, known for her research on Anne Orr

This 2nd link is to a paper Merikay sumbitted to AQSG about Anne Orr. Unfortuantely, there are no photos included in the Internet version.

Meanwhile, here is an example of this quilt at The Quilt Complex, a business run by my dear 

friend Julie Silber, also an AQSG member.


My first mentor in quilting - my MIL, Wini Alexander on left.

Updated Jan 1, 2015

Some great Quilt History blogs and websites. This list doesn't begin to dent the great quilt history "stuff" now available via the Internet.

1) Antique Quilt Dating (Kim Wulfert)

            To see a list of Brackman's books, click here.

            To see her Civil War Quilts blog, click here.

3) Eye of the Needle (Sue Wildemuth)

4) Hart Cottage Quilts (Leigh Fellner) - Leigh has done an incredible job on researching the story behind the so-called Underground Railroad quilt code myth.

5) History of Quilts and Quilt Myths

6) The Quilters Hall of Fame

Signature Quilt made as fund raiser for TQHF in 2006, the year Virginia Avery was inducted into the Hall of Fame.   Owner - Karen Alexander

7) Quilter’s Muse (Patricia Cummings)

(8) Quilt History-Layer by Layer (Sue Reich)

(9) Womenfolk: The Art of Quilting - Judy Anne Breneman

(10) Why Quilts Matter - Shelly Zegart

Deletable Mountains - won at AQSG Auction

(11) Quilt Kit Indentification - Rose Marie Werner (a fee is required but you can then downlaod anything you want to research)

12) Collector with a Needle - Dawn Miller

13) Excellent article on Tim's blog about imported quilts

14) Taryn of Reproduction and Antique Quilt Lover always has something interesting up her sleeve.

15) African American Quilters and Cloth Artists -  Kyra Hicks has written several books about African American quilters and contributed to other books in the field as well. She is also a wonderful quilt artist in her ownn right.

16) Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi, artist, writer and curator of African American quilts. Click here to see her interview Quilting Collective History.

Several of the links above also list many other great blogs and websites down the right side of their page. Check them all out and you will have no time to cook or clean. Not a bad trade-off, right!

Quilt History Online Discussion Groups

1)    check out Quilts-Vintage & Antique and Doll & Crib Quilts-Vintage & Antique on Facebook

2)    Quilt History List

3)    H-Net Discussions - have fun exploring this site!

And we quilt historians do have fun!!!

Minneapolis - 2009 AQSG Auction Assistants 
with our chief auction guru in the center wearing no horns, Julie Sliber.

Quilt/Textile Collections


2-c) Quilt Index  -  
             Signature Quilt Project - 

The Quilt Index is an online research and reference tool designed to provide unprecedented access to contextual information and images of over 30,000 quilts held in private and public collections. The Quilt Index was conceived and developed by The Alliance for American Quilts in partnership with Michigan State University's MATRIX: The Center for Humane Arts and Letters Online and the Michigan State University Museum. The Index was supported in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

3) The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress 

The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress was created by Congress in 1976 "to preserve and present American Folklife." The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, which presents the online project Quilts and Quiltmaking in America, 1978 - 1996, has been a valuable consultant throughout the development of the Quilt Index (a subgroup of The Alliance for American Quilts above).  All Q-SOS Interviews are housed here.

5) Center for Great Lakes Quilts Michigan State University Museum 

6) International Quilt Study Center and Museum - (Lincoln, NE) for a quilt history timeline, podcasts, quilt of the month online, exhibitions. For their blog, click here.

8) Winedale Center for the Quilt University of Texas 

Washington Quilt Study Group members discuss an 1840s-1850s quilt.

Quilt Study Groups 

(each of these links will lead you to more)

1) American Quilt Study Group  - the oldest quilt history research organization. AQSG offers seminars, publications, and online discussions.


Pacific Northwest Regional Quilt Collections

 LaConner Quilt & Textile Museum  703 S. 2nd Street, La Conner, WA 

ÓKaren B. Alexander of Quilt History Reports - 
Jan 1 2015 update 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Baby Quilt - Three Generations

A Baby Quilt finally Gets Finished!

I found a darling machine "woven" baby blanket in a Goodwill Store in Pasadena, California when I was  expecting my 3rd child.

When my youngest was expecting her first child almsot three years ago, I dug this project out from my UFO pile and decided to finish it. I call this a 3-generational baby blanket but the first generation was not in our family. If someone ever opens up this blanket in the future, they will discover the original tag inside that I left on the blanket.

I have decided I will layer it and embroider around the woven images but also add a few words in an arch arcoss the top.

The layering and embroidery begins.

And finally, we added a baby!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Chinese Quilt - Chengdu 1996

Studying symbols on textiles is fascinating. Thanks to the Internet, it is easier to find the meaning behind symbols but one still must do due dilegence to make sure you have an accurate understranding of the symbols of another culture.

I bought the quilt below from a woman on the streets of Chengdu in May 1996, the provincial capital of Sichuan province in Southwest China. Chengdu is one of the 10 largest cites in China.

The quilt was laying on the sidewalk. I have no idea why, but I had not taken my camera with me on this particular walk after supper so I did not get a photo of the quilt in its "original (to me) location."  I was very upset with myself afterwards. The photos you see below were all taken in my home.

I was told the various creatures seen on the quilt are meant to ward off evil and/or bring good luck. I still have not found definitive answers for each symbol. You can see an example that Marin Hanson, Curator of Exhibitions at the International Quilt Study Center & Museum at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, bought for the IQSC collection in May 2013 here.

To see more textile photos taken during my 1996 trip to China, click here.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Remembering Cuesta Benberry

Each year the American Quilt Study Group salutes African American quilt historian  Cuesta Benberry of St. Louis, Missouri, one of its founding members, by auctioning off the SAME quilt among the members attending its annual research seminar!

Whoever wins the quilt gets to hang it in her/his home for one year and then has to return the quilt to be auctioned again to raise funds for the Cuesta Benberry Keynote Speaker Fund of the American Quilt Study Group.  Cuesta passed on August 23, 2007, a great loss to the quilt history world and to all her friends scattered around the world. She is sorely missed as we salute the 7th anniversary of her passing.

Cuesta's personal quilt collection and research archives now reside at Michigan State University Museum in Lansing, Michigan. Click here to see a video tracking some of the process of unpacking and documenting this collection. It is fascinating!

Photo taken by AQSG member Bettina Havig.

Label on the back of the quilt that is auctioned off each year, year after year.

The quilt AQSG re-auctions each year is a replica (not an exact duplicate) of the only quilt Cuesta ever made. The replica was made by another quilt historian, Xenia Cord of Indiana. Cuesta told me once that her church friends had a hard time believing she was known for her work in the field of quilt history because she never made quilts. However, Cuesta made her mark as a world re-knowned quilt historian, studying the wonderful quilts others made! Just google her name!
Cuesta was a great friend and I treasure her correspondence that I saved over the years. I have had the privilege of having this quilt hang in my office for almost one year.

When we return the quilt, we also send something else with the quilt that the winning bidder gets to keep permanently.

I am giving AQSG members a hint (below) of what I will send along with the returning quilt this year. Each was added to my teaching collection with this auction in mind.

Friday, August 8, 2014

History of Purple Dyes & Purple Snails

One thing leads to another when I start browsing Facebook and Blogs. You never know where it will lead you. Such fun!

I have spent the past hour trying to prove whether this first snail is real or not. Still not sure. Someone recently claimed to find one in Northern California. Click here to learn more about it if you are curious.

But the next two are for real and I have put the links below. 
Just click on the captions directly below each photo.

Click here to see more about this photo.

Click here to go to source of this photo.

Here is what Wiki has to say about purple snails.

So what does any of this have to do with quilt history?
Human beings love for colored cloth! 
Especially purple since it was discovered by the "purple people" -- the ancient Phoenicians.

Ohio Amish quilt quilt sold by antique quilt dealer Darwin Bearley. Click here to see his book.
To see more purple quilts, click here and here.

1950s Rolling Star block as seen on eBay - - Brackman#3795

Marie Webster's Poppy pattern as seen on eBay.

(Learn more about Marie Webster here and Marie Webster inspired fabrics here.) 

But at first only the rulers wore purple.


"Murex is the dye first famous as “Tyrian purple,” named for the city of Tyre, today in Lebanon but 3000 years ago the center from which that energetic trading nation, the Phoenicians, controlled a far-flung luxury trade in murex-dyed silks. Later, the dye was known as “royal purple” or “imperial purple,” from the Roman and Byzantine emperors who reserved the color for members of the imperial family."     Philippa Scott

To get the whole story, read this whole fascinating article on 
the discovery of a "royal" purple from sea shells 
by Philippa Scott by clicking here.

Click here to see a video of the Murex extracted purple color. 

Hope you're not squeamish. Be forewarned.

Here is a written explanation of the process.

~ Mauve ~

What happened when 18 year-old English chemist William Perkin accidentally discovered a way to produce mauve in mass quantities? This is such a (yes!) also fascinating read!  His lucky accident "revolutionized organic chemistry — and fashion" according to some.

Don't have time to read the books? Just click on the links (the highlighted words) throughout my posts.

A review by The Guardian:  "Mauve with the times.
Since its accidental creation in the 1850s, the colour has aroused strong emotions. Simon Garfield chronicles a vivid history.

The Red Dyes: Cochineal, Madder and Murex Purple: 
A World Tour of Textile Techniques 
by Gosta Sandberg

This book reveals the fascinating history of how the natural red dyes came to various people and cultures centuries ago. Click here to find a copy.

Here is an Anne Orr design styled after Marie Webster's earlier Poppy medallion.
Both are Honorees of The Quilters Hall of Fame. The Anne Orr Iris can be seen
at Mark French's eBay store here

Click here to read more interesting details about the meaning of the color purple 
among various cultures through-out history.

Another version of the same Iris pattern above.

More colors to come!