Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Revival of Old-Fashioned Quilting

Reviving patchwork traditions.
      Only a few years ago it was no uncommon sight to see a group of women seated about a large frame working with all their might, tying knots and sewing and chatting with each other. This was the quilting party of other days, and this sewing art is probably the only remaining one of our great-grandmothers. Quilting is now having a revival. Women are again taking it up, and the patch-work quilt will soon be as popular as it ever was. But the quilting revival is no fad. It will last longer than the present fad for the old-fashioned rag carpets. Of course, quilt making of the twentieth century lacks much of the old time pristine romance because of its setting. To the gentle woman of other days the quilting festivities were ranked among the real pleasures in the restful Colonial days of hospitality.
      The quilts of our great-grandmothers, after laying for years in the cedar chests, have been taken out and now rank with the other treasures of the household. In the days when these quilts were made Milady, whether a noblewoman or of lowly degree, was skilled in the art of using the needle. The bed coverings, made as they were indeed works of art, each stitch a masterpiece in itself. In many of the old time quilts no two stitches were ever alike in form or color, and they might well be termed "crazy quilts."
An old log cabin design.
      For some reason the women of now have paused in the rush to take up the bygone art of yesterday, and feminine fingers are again growing nimble at knotting, sewing and threading needles about the quilting frame. Scraps and patches are again being arranged into intricate patterns such as "The California Tree," "The Tulip," "The Log Cabin" and "The Sunrise." Patterns of 75 and 100 years ago are being closely followed, and the same arrangement of the vari-colored patches is being adopted.
      In the olden times, months and even years were taken up in the making of a quilt, especially when such a complicated design as the "Tulip" is followed. The leisure moments, though they be many, are hardly enough to allow such a work to be finished in a short time, and Milady of Today finds she hass too little time to work her quilt when it is once started and the work becomes interesting. Quilting is quite as intricate as the making of blocks and squares. There are few women of today who understand the method of quilting and the elaborate stitches used in the old days, unless she has inherited a liking for the work and has learned it from mother or grandmother. But, on the other hand, if one is energetic and searches hard and long she may find some quaint old colors or patterns.
      Probably the most popular design of quilting is the "Log Cabin." This pattern is quite simple, but not altogether easy to make. The patches are arranged in blocks, the smaller ones at the top, gradually dropping to the longer and larger ones at the bottom. Many of these sets of blocks are found in a single quilt. The origin of the "Log Cabin" quilt is a mystery, swallowed up in the past, but it has been shown that patterns of this variety came over in the Mayflower.
      "The Tree of Paradise" is another favorite pattern, outside of the applique class. It is made of triangle-shaped pieces of green chambray gingham alternating with white, cut uniformly with green. Next comes the "Sunrise" pattern of yellow calico, combined with white. "The Tulip" pattern is such a complicated one that a beginner in the work will hardly undertake it.
      Debutanies, as well as the girls in the colleges, have taken up the fad of quilting. "Fudge parties" have given way to "quilting bees," as they are sometimes called. The girl who has had several seasons in society has found time to copy one or more of these old quilts to add to the linen and lace lingerie in her "treasure chest." But probably the most amazing thing about the quilts is that they are used on the outside of the bed, and they have quite superseded the cover of ruffled Swiss or the counterpane. Where they harmonize with the decorations nothing could be prettier in the home. The snowy pillowcases, not shams, trimmed with heavy crocheted linen lace and showing a tiny raised letter or monogram are indeed a fitting accompaniment to the quilts of our great-grandmothers.
      Fancy stitches tend a great deal toward making the old-time quilt attractive. These stitches are in such numbers that there is no need for the quilter to originate her own. Then, with the different colors of embroidery cotton the effect of the blocks and their borders is unique. Many women prefer to use a different stitch around each block of the quilt. This of course, makes a great deal of extra work, but the result pays for the time taken up. All sorts of zig-zag lines, curves, blocks, triangles, flowers and odd designs form stitches, and the sewing on of these is a feature in itself. Often a stitch is made in two colors, one half in one and the remainder is another color. Then the thread can be blended with the other material.

Sewing a modern 'Crazy Quilt."

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Free Sample Art Nouveau Border Designs

       Three Art Nouveau designs anyone may use to decorate the boarders of curtains, bed linens, pillows, table cloths etc... These would also make some intricate and authentic stencil designs for decorative painting in either a California Bungalow home or an Arts and Crafts home.

Water lily border drawn in the Art Nouveau style.
Art Nouveau clover border.
Continuous peacock feather border design; a very Art Nouveau design.

Learn more about the Art Nouveau Period.

Antique Alphabet Designs from Paris

       These lovely floral letters were originally designed for cross stitch I believe. They are from the 1800s and are French in origin. Wouldn't these look nice on a set of linens for a new bride?
A through M
N through Z

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Shadow Work Design for A Tea Apron

      Shadow embroidery is made on sheer fabric, the handkerchief linen being the best for the purpose. Study the simple arrangement of forming the cat-stitch shown in the diagram. The miniature stitches taken in forming the latticework effect at the back appear in an outline of tiny stitches on the right side, making a beading which must be evenly placed to outline the leaves on the right side, making the long and short stitch around the leaves. This is very pretty with shadow embroidery and most frequently used. However one does not use leaf green, but most always the same color of the flower.
      The plan for the apron herein shown is a development of rose pink on white. If you make the leaves in shadow effect, use the same identical pink that is used on your flower petals or use white floss and outline on the right side, but avoid the obvious choice of green. Finish the rose petals at the center with pink French knots. Do not attempt a color scheme to give the real rose coloring. It would appear cheap and tawdry. The tea apron should be as delicate and floral in effect as the stately pink or white cosmos. Sincerely yours, Winifred Worth.

Click directly on the image to download the largest possible size. Design by Winifred Worth.
 Shadow work embroidery with Wendy Schoen
Download and watch the entire video here.

Fancy Monograms for Embroidering Bed Linens

Are you thinking of embroidering monograms on bed linens for a wedding shower or gift? Here are some playful designs from 1914.
Click directly on the image to download the largest possible file. The "Y" and "Z" were not included in this set when it was published first.

Antique Persian Embroidery

Tiny Persian vase with striped blooms.
      Persian embroidery is one of the many forms of the multi-faceted Persian arts. The motifs used in the Persian embroidery are mostly floral, especial Persian figures, animals, and patterns related to hunting.
      We know that the Persian embroidery existed from the ancient times and at least from the time of the Sassanids. Numerous designs are visible on the dresses of the personages on the rock-sculptures and silverware of that period, and have been classified by Professor Ernst Herzfeld. Also the patterns on the coat of Chosroes II at Taq-e Bostan are in such high relief that they may represent embroidery. Roundels, confronted animals and other familiar motives of Sassanid art were doubtless employed. It is probable that the famous Garden Carpet of Chosroes II was a piece of embroidery.
      The Persian embroideries we possess of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are almost exclusively divan-coverings or ceremonial cloth for present-trays, while in the eighteenth century and later we have the addition of rugs for the bathing-rooms, prayer-mats, and women's embroidered trousers, known as 'naghshe'.
      The earlier embroideries of Iran are almost all of a type in which the entire ground is covered by the design, while the reverse is true, in the main, of the later pieces, in which the background of one plain color is made to play its part equally with the varied silks of the needlework illustrated below. The earlier pieces are almost all closely allied in design to one or other of the many types of carpets. They are worked chiefly in darning-stitch on cotton or loosely woven linen, while occasionally examples in cross- or tent-stitch are met with. It is perhaps reasonable to assume that the more important class of work, that of carpet-weaving, supplied the original design and that the embroiderer adopted it from a type familiar to her. Also it must be remembered that the carpet-weaving was mainly done by men, embroidery by women, so that members of the same family worked at both trades.
The Samples Posted Here are Over 100 Years Old
Persian sample include motifs like: flowers, plant-life, fruits,  and tea pots.
Very fine linens, wools and silks are embroidered into the fabrics and sometimes precious gold and silver thread is used.
      These embroidery samples were kept by a firm, Maison Sedille, among their archived book collections for more than one-hundred years! The sample trims are Persian in origin and some of them even have actual silver and gold threads sewn into the designs.

Very detailed, select samples from the Maison Sedille collections.
A close-up view of tiny perfect stitches. Trees in a garden, Left. Top Right, clover leaf. Next Below,
pink tulips. Center, yellow tulips. Bottom Right, singular flower in a vase.

A Second Set of Animated Sewing Gifs

Why not include a few animated sewing gifs. in your textile posts to entertain folks? They're free!


An old granny works on her patchwork quilt.
A fan to keep the sewing room cool.

zip, unzip!

Keep your machine working smooth.

I heart blink cross stitch!

Simple Cross Stitch Patterns for Baby

      The historical Cross stitch patterns illustrated below are very suitable for decorating articles which belong to young children; for instance, the row of pigs could be embroidered on a bib, or, with the addition of some other animals, might form a border that could be applied to a nursery table cover or curtain.
      A rabbit sitting between two plants might be used just as they are for decorating some small article, or they could be repeated to form a border design, and in that case other animals might be introduced as well as the rabbit.
      The two borders and the flower sprigs could be embroidered on any article for which cross stitch is a suitable decoration. The sprigs could be adapted to a collar design, repeated to form a border, or used as an all-over spot pattern. Any plant with a definite outline can be translated into cross stitch, and if it were small enough, could be added to these designs to decorate a spring themed baby quilt, a small sampler to hang in a nursery or to hand stitch a few decorative pillows for a rocker located in the cozy corner of the baby's nursery.


Simple Cross Stitch for Baby:

Embroider Butterflies of Brilliant Hue

Mauve and yellow butterflies flutter on curtains
of sunshine yellow voile.
      Gaily colored butterflies bring a feeling of joy and sunshine to one's work, and these dainty little creatures are charming in flower pieces or as separate motifs on table mats, curtains, dressing-table runners, and other household articles.
      Butterflies are so easy to work that no one need fear to attempt them, especially with the help afforded by the varied selection on the color samples shown below, and the chart, herewith, giving the direction for the stitches. These butterflies, also the dragonfly and bees, are originally from Weldon's Transfers (1900), you may reproduced tracings from the photo below in order to stitch butterflies similar to those embroidered at the turn of the last century.
      The wings are all worked on the same principle; the markings first in long and short stitch (or for the more definite spots and bands, in satin-stitch), and stem-stitch for veinings. All stitches should be directed towards the body. Between the markings the wings must be filled in with long and short stitch directed from their edge towards the body.
      For the body, long and short stitch can be worked lengthways, or rows of satin-stitch fitted one into the other, as shown on several of the specimens. The long and short stitch can be continued on the head, or this can be worked in satin-stitch. One or two little stitches of red or yellow, or some fairly bright color, are all that are required for the eyes.
      Stem-stitch or split-stitch gives a fine line for the antennae, which are tipped with one or two satin-stitches in the same direction as the stem or split-stitches. 

Color enhance reproduction of sample silk butterflies, bees and dragonfly by Weldon's Transfers, 1900.
This embroidery is done with fine silk threads.

This embroidery artist from China demonstrates how to 
needlework with silk. Although she is working on the 
fur of a cat, this is the same exact technique used to 
work the butterfly wings above.

More Embroidery of Butterflies:

Fabric Swatches from 1905

      This card is a record of textiles sold in Canada, 1905, by the Dominion Textile Co. Very tiny, modern prints where in fashion at the time. Some of you may be fortunate enough to own a quilt designed using some of these prints. Quilts are not only records of an individual's taste or skill, they are also  about culture and textile history. If you take a new look at some of your old keepsakes, you will find a world of influence there!

Printed velours, flannelettes, swansdowns and kimonas. Over 5,000 patterns to choose from.
Discover Textile History: