Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Stars in a Time Warp 16: Paisleys

Reproduction block with a paisley star by Becky Brown

Tintype of a woman in a cashmere shawl, about 1860

What we call paisleys derive from woven cashmere shawls, which originated in India’s Kashmir region, home to soft wools and deft weavers.

Vintage British quilt about 1820-1840

Traditional patterns included stylized botanicals focusing on a cone or seedpod shape, seen in the lilac border on the right. This oval with a curled tail was known as the botha or boteh (from the Hindi buta for flower). 

Textile manual in German from the 
New York Public Library

The botanical source for the boteh design is in some dispute. Some textile historians see it as a pinecone, others as a gourd or the shoot of a date palm, possibly associated with fertility.

Portait of a woman by William Powell Frith.
Is she wearing an expensive Kashmir shawl or
a European knock-off?

European factories from Lyons and Rheims to Norwich and Manchester produced machine-woven shawls, but Scotland specialized in them. Pieces made in the west coast town of Paisley earned a reputation as the best. Soon the Kashmir shawl became known as the Paisley shawl and the characteristic boteh shape was called a paisley.

The fashion for wool shawls also inspired imitation cotton prints, first known as shawl prints.
Mid-19th-century quilters developed a passion for cotton prints that imitated the colors as well as the designs of the shawls.
Reproduction with the document swatch from my 
Civil War Homefront collection.

Madder dyes used in wool shawls also worked well with cotton printing processes.

The prints were popular for dressing gowns (wrappers) and furnishings for the boudoir so there were many sewing scraps, but the style was so important for quilts that much yardage must have been sold just for patchwork. 

Vintage block about 1870-1890

One sees these madder-style paisleys in quilts from the 1860s into the 1890s. The high point of the style seems to be the 1870s and ‘80s.

Vintage print from the last half of the 19th century

Paisley figures were often set in striped sets, which quilters
liked for borders and strips

and everything else....

Block dated 1875

Vintage print from the 20th century
Cone shapes were also set in what textile designers
call a tossed set.

Paisley dresses from 1968
A serious paisley revival took place in the 1960s; the cones here
 in a tossed set.

Vintage quilt about 1870-1900
Sashing strips include a tossed paisley on the sides
and a stripe paisley on the bottom.

Paisley from the early 19th century
set foulard style, or in a staggered half-drop repeat.


Shawn used a paisley center as a contrast to a lighter foulard background.
Terrific reproduction of mid-century madder style taste.

Flying Geese from Nancy's Quilts webpage, 1998.

You need tossed sets, stripe sets and foulard sets
in your paisley collection

Detail of a paisley reproduction by Roseanne Smith

Rue Indienne by French General for Moda

Three of mine: Striped set, tossed set and grid set

Another of my repros in a stripe set.

Reproduction star by Becky Brown
The dark paisley foulard in the background is from 
Alice's Scrapbag, my fall Moda collection.

The repro is the redder print in the corner. The other is the original.
Sales reps are showing this collection to shop owners right now.
It's both a paisley and a foulard. And a madder-style print too.

Two of Nancy Gere's many paisley repros.

Paula Barnes does
border stripes and neat stripes.

Pam Weeks

Moda Collections for a Cause: Charity

Jo Morton's Caswell County:
Foulards and Paisleys

Voila by Jo Morton
Border is the Leesburg indienne print below
in a different colorway

Jo Morton Leesburg

Atelier by 3 Sisters
A tossed set in colors popular in the 1880s and '90s,
a different brown with more green in it than red.
More on bronze colors later.

Paisleys Gone Wild by Becky Brown

What to Do with Your Stack of Stars?
Alternate with a Nine Patch.

The star is based on a Nine Patch with a proportion of 1:2:1 so a block based on the same geometry goes well.

My sewing group alternated stars and nine-patches
in our Summer Birthdays William Morris quilt.

Summer Birthdays by the Sew Whatevers

I found the same idea in Quilts by Katlin,

A few years ago Moda's Three Sisters did a Hollywood and Vines quilt
alternating the star with a four patch in the middle of the nine patch

One More Thing About Paisley Prints

Sandra Dallas’s 1995 novel about a quilting club in Kansas during the Great Depression established the name Persian Pickle for the boteh design. I could find no 19th-century references to “Persian Pickle” or anything that didn’t have to do with Dallas’s book. That’s the thing about good fiction—it can make you believe it’s all very real.

See a discussion of that name in my post and in the comments. In Russian they called the boteh a Gherkin.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

1862 Crib Quilt: Could it actually be 1862?

Last week I posted on my skepticism about the date inscribed on this crib quilt.

Could it be that a flag dated 1862 was used in a quilt made in the 1870s? Or that the date 1862 commemorated an event that happened a decade before the quilt was made? 

Wendy suggested the possibility that the date might have been 1882 with some stitching missing. I doubt that in this case. That 2 is pretty clear above, but I have seen a crazy quilt dated 1693 where someone removed some of the stitching to make it look older.

Anthony Iasso shows this hand-made 35 star flag:

The flags may indeed have been made in 1862. See a hand-made calico flag attributed to the Civil War years in this post:

Do note that the date on the flag in the charm quilt is upside down. Or the flag is upside down---a traditional signal of distress.

The comments last week were helpful. Barbara Schaffer noted that the crib quilt was once part of textile historian Florence Peto's collection:
"Peto had originally purchased this quilt from a local [NJ] dealer and wrote about it in a letter to Elizabeth Richardson on June 12, 1949: '. . . woe is me, I fell for it. Cute. Entire center of tiny one-inch squares, diagonalled - half light, half dark; makes sparkling tile pattern. The border - red and white stripes which form an American Flag at two of the corners. The quiltmaker was able to squeeze in 6 white stars on the blue field - but - ? homespun backing but the date is 1862. The calicoes are same as those of the swatches that came in a carton I purchased recently from The Patchwork House (antiques) in Hightstown, NJ.' "
This week the defense gets an argument too. Or....

Why I may be wrong in being such a skeptic.

Clues to an actual 1860s date:

4) Red, white and blue solid fabrics in the border.
5) Prints show nothing really typical of the 1870s or '80s. 

4) Red, white and blue solids
Quilt sold by James Julia auctions
The idea of using solid-color cottons to make a patriotic quilt
was popular during the Civil War.

Inspired by this July 1861 pattern in Peterson's Magazine

Maryland quilt dated 1861 from the Maryland project's book,
Maryland Album: Quiltmaking Traditions, 1644-1934

The striped border on the crib quilt dated 1862 is consistent with that style. 

5) Prints show nothing typical of post-Civil-War years.

Detail of the triangles in the crib quilt dated 1862.

This may be the strongest argument for an actual 1862 date. I haven't seen the quilt in the cloth but one can see a lot of detail in the online photos. I was looking for particular prints that were quite popular in the 1870s and '80s but not typical of the 1860s. I found only negative evidence.

Crib quilt dated 1883 from the Pat Nickols Collection at the Mingei Museum

I was looking for date-specific styles like this lace print pictured above. Lace prints were a fad in the 1870s and '80s. But nothing specifically "1870s" jumped out at me in the flag quilt.

Charm quilt inscribed "Centennial 1876"

Even better evidence of a later date would have been one of these prints commemorating the nation's 1876 Centennial ( the two darker grid-set patches on either side of the date above.)

The crib quilt, which has a different brown cast
 to it than the quilts made after 1870. It's a subtle clue.

Those triangles could very well be prints from the 1860s, making the case that this crib quilt was not only made during the Civil War, but it is the earliest date-inscribed charm quilt in my files.

It's a hung jury.