A Piece of Her Mind: DAR Exhibit 2019

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When my husband and I traveled to Washington, D.C. recently, we took in an exhibit at the DAR Museum titled, A Piece of Her Mind.  It had a focus on how technology — in an historical sense — affected quilters at an earlier time, just as much as it affects us today.  I thought you’d like to see some of the quilts, so here we go.

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I actually have to give a lecture in 2020 about the impact of technology, and all that was swirling around in my mind were topics such as social media, rotary cutters, our fancy high-speed sewing machines.  But this showed me that technology’s impact is not just a recent phenomena.

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An example of a table-top sewing machine with foot pedals was in front of a beautiful quilt of basket blocks.

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The blocks were appliqued (interesting to note her use of black thread, no matter what color the fruit), and from the appearance of it, stuffed (trapunto?).  It also looks like she quilted the “plain” blocks first, then sewed the basket blocks in between the quilted blocks — a really unusual way to construct a quilt.

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The Red and Green Bethlehem Star Quilt (1840-1860) benefitted from the relatively new ‘Turkey red’ dyes.  According the title card, previous to this invention, “dying cloth this color of red was a complicated dye process. [In addition] [g]reen had to be dyed in two steps (yellow, then blue) until late in the 1800s, but a more reliable option called ‘chrome green’ provided the leafy and emeral hues seen in mid-century quilts.”  This cotton quilt was made by Sarah Hall Gwyer (1819-1882) in North Carolina, or Omaha, Nebraska.

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I loved this broderie perse (or appliquéd chintz panel) quilt from the 1820s not only because of the design, but because of those stitches!  Seeing evidence of another woman’s handwork always makes a quilt more personal for me.

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This Baltimore Album Quilt is from about 1850, and is made by a member of the Hayden family from Baltimore, Marlyand.  It’s cotton, with wool embroidery.

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This appliqué quilt was made by Mary Swearingen King (1811-1902) in Findlay, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.  I loved the applique birds:

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They look almost pre-historic, here, feeding berries to their young.

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Beyond the technology-oriented quilts, there was a section on quilts that were affected by the culture of the day.  I was drawn to the red, white and blue quilts.  That center block is the flag from Cuba, explained below:

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I zoomed way in (the ropes around the quilts didn’t permit close inspection) so the picture is a bit globby, but you can see the Clay ribbon in the outside border.

The exhibit also had a series of crazy quilts, some quilts made with toile prints, and quilts inspired by popular fictional characters.

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Afterwards we went to the library–quite stunning in a panoramic view.

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There was also a quilt of another kind in the Renwick Gallery, just up the street, made out of snippets of movie film.  The title of this is “Fibers and Civilization (1959)” and was made in 2009, using 16 mm film and polyamide thread.  This piece of art is from Sabrina Gshwandtner, and I’d seen some of her work before at LACMA.

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Then we hopped on the Metro and went over to the National Museum of American History.  Can you tell I looked up on the internet where all the quilt exhibits were?

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Unfortunately, this spectacular quilt was behind a piece of highly reflective glass, so the only way I could get a photo was to gently lean my photo lens on the glass to cut the glare.  This means that I couldn’t get a photo of the complete quilt, but here are some segments.

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In another small exhibit, they had a lot of crazy quilts.

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I was quite interested in what this title card (above) said about the advent of patterns for crazy patchwork.

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In between all this, we stopped for some lobster rolls at Luke’s Lobster shop, meandered around the Mall, and hung out together.  We really like DC, as you probably know.  More photos can be found on Instagram.

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Later that week we had a gathering at the The National Press Club in D.C., where they host the White House Correspondent Dinners, and we had a spread of yummy desserts to choose from.  I chose one of these (it’s the color, naturally!) after I’d had the requisite chocolate treat.

So, here’s your spot of fall color–happy quilting!

 

Halloween Banner

My niece-by-marriage, Stephanie, has decked out her house with spiders everywhere, along with Halloween decor.  She is a young mother with small children.  I, however, drape one thing around the house and call it done.  I am an old mother whose children have grown and gone, and there are no grandchildren around to witness my pathetic Halloween decorationing.

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I started this in August, hoping to have it finished by October 1st.  I finished it last Monday, so just barely by the beginning of Halloween Month.

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In the other post, you can read about how I put the striped fabric on the edges.  To finish it off, I cut five  1-1/2″ WOF strips of spooky fabric, and used a bias seam to join them all together.  Then I arranged my pennants how I liked the order, and sewed the binding right-sides-together, overlapping the corners of the pennants slightly, and sewed it on.

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I decided to slip in some really narrow cording (used for pulling up blinds; you can find it at your local all-purpose fabric store) in the black binding, in order to strengthen it and so it wouldn’t stretch out.

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I folded the binding up and over the pennants, and pinned the edge.  It gaped slightly, so I used a stiletto to help coax the folded edge over.

Really, it’s a clay MudTool, specifically a Mudshark.  I saw it last week when we were in DC at Michael Sherrill’s exhibit.  I like how the needle tool folds up into the Mudshark: no stiletto caps to lose. Who says museum gift shops don’t have items for quilters?  You just have to think creatively.

P.S. I decided to mail it home via USPS because I didn’t know if it would clear airport security.

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You can see the backing fabric here, also by J. Wecker Frisch.  I left a tail of about 14″ and also added a loop of fabric (cut 5″ long) so I could tie it up somewhere, and call our house decorated.

If I can find the box in the garage, I also have some spooky crows that will work with this scene (more importantly:  IF I feel like getting it all out). Maybe if I stocked in the Halloween Candy early, I’d get into the season?

Maybe.

Below is a link to a video clip of Michael Sherrill talking about his work.  I found all the videos in the exhibit fascinating, as he is an artist who is also articulate, and can talk about the creative process.

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Link to video.

 

Revisiting the Red and White Pinwheel

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Interestingly, I get a lot of mail about this quilt.  It must be on a boatload of Pinterest boards, but the pattern for this quilt has gone missing.  It was originally published in a national magazine, but in searching for it (my old link to the pattern is kaput), it seems to have disappeared.  The original was in a lot of different colors, but my friend Rhonda chose to make it in red and white for a class she was teaching seven years ago. I liked hers so well, I made one of my own.  The original pattern was an 8″ block, but I made the pattern to finish at 7 1/2″ (mostly so I could get it all on one page).

Since it’s not my pattern, and it’s disappeared and I get a lot of mail about it, I decided to draw it up in my QuiltPro software, rework it in Affinity Publisher software, and have it here for you for download:

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It’s not really a pattern, but more a loose set of instructions.  It’s meant to be a scrappy quilt, but I did include a yardage chart if you are using three reds, and a white.

You can read more about it here and here.

So you don’t go away empty-handed, if you’re not interested in a two-color quilt, here’s a chart that came to me in a Guild newsletter.  It shows how much yardage is in a particular precut, and what that costs per yard.

Precut Yardage Chart

Happy Quilting!

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Perhaps the UCR Science News was looking for something other than Nobel-prize generating stories or research about saving the world from cancer, but I’m happy that the editor liked my quilts, sent to him by my favorite guy (my husband).  The quilts were displayed around University of California’s campus near some of the science buildings (and in the Botannic Garden).  Thank you!

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In other news, we visited the (tiny) exhibit at the DAR museum this past week (their library, above) in Washington, DC.

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More on the exhibit in another post, but I met three quilters while I was there:

From the top left: Beth, a long-time friend (we always meet together at this particular science meeting of our husbands), Rhonda (who I met when I lived in D.C at the local quilt guild), and Bette (who I met online and since have become good friend with via correspondence and phone calls and occasional meetings). But that’s not all the news.

National Press Club

I spoke at the National Press Club, after I was proclaimed Queen of England.
Full story, below.

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Kidding, of course.  I merely posed, and the other photo is a leather-embossed rendition of a famous headline, one in a row of famous headlines.

Climate Change Protest

We’d done most of the museums in December when we last visited, and I was wondering what to do one day when the Climate Change Activists staged one of their protests right outside my hotel.  I threw on my clothes and went down to watch.  I remember how the police used to break up other protests long ago, with tear gas and heavy-handedness.  This experience was more like a garden party, as slowly, they encircled the boat parked in the middle of 16th and K. While the activists moved on to march around D.C. the police cut the handcuffs and tethers of those who remained, then towed away the boat.  I was quite impressed with the whole experience, both of those who felt strongly about making a statement, and the police officers taking good care of those who they serve.  Another reason why I love D.C.

Okay, I promise more serious quilty stuff soon.  I’m coming home tonight from my niece’s wedding in the Bay Area, hoping to dive into what I’ve left undone while traveling.  Before I left, I did get one quilt to the quilter’s, after auditioning, digitally, many different designs for quilting.

North Country Sept 2019I also cut more pieces to keep going on my North Country Patchwork Quilt, eeking this one out, bit by bit (photo of what I have so far, above).

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I did get caught up with my temperature quilt, which is turning out to be very different colors than what I expected.  I find it’s easier to do a whole month at a time, than piece-mealing it, day by day.

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Lastly, this coming Saturday, October 5th, I’ll be presenting a (mostly) modern quilt program at the Inland Empire Modern Quilt Guild in Riverside, California.  They are a small modern guild, with a whole group of interested, dedicated quilters. Maybe you’ll be there?

Antelope Valley Quilt Association Visit • September 2019

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I drove up to Antelope Valley, nearly two hours away from my home, and joined the ladies at a local church for their monthly meeting (shown here during their break).

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It is in capable hands under their president Kathy (shown on the left), along with their two Program Chairs, Pat and Nette, as they showed off the results of their last workshop: Mondo Bags.

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They had many Show and Share quilts, but I only show a couple.  One exciting thing for their Guild is that a local art gallery will be hosing a show of their work, called 3 Layers.

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This a great opportunity for them to have a challenge and then a place to display those challenges.

The program chairs and guild departments were busy before the meeting and then during the break: the snacks line had both goodies and healthy treats for their members.

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Because the Guild is so far away, they allowed me to stay over a night, so I visited their local quilt shop: Bolts in the Bathtub, picking up a few treasures and chatting with the woman who helped me, allowing me to get a sense of what challenges their community of quilters face.

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Saturday, we all started early with the all-day Free Motion Quilting Workshop.  I didn’t grab everyone’s photo, but the missing ones are in the group photo in the lower right.  They were an enthusiastic group, ready to tackle their quilting sandwiches with stitches.  I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the quilters of the Antelope Valley!

Betsy’s Creation • Quilt Finish

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I found this 1920s vintage park with a grandstand in a small town just to the north of me and took my husband and my most recent finished quilt there, so we could do some photographing.  And some reminiscing.

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It’s a sweet little small-town-built-long-ago park that for some miracle has remained.  Named for an officer of the local cement company at the time, it’s known as the Thomas J. Fleming Memorial Park, built circa 1922-1925. Why is this important?

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I grew up in a small little town (not so little anymore), but it had that feeling of walking downtown on a hot summer’s evening, catching the fireworks on the 4th of July after seeing the parade that morning.  It had the feeling of being able to drop your school bag at the door, change in to your “play clothes,” and head over past the Muehlstein’s home to send this and that sailing down their irrigation canal until you knew it was time to go home for dinner.  (And did I mention that my childhood nickname was Betsy?)

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We’d walk up to Heber’s house and offer to find the eggs in his chicken coop for him.  He’d let us.  We would wind crepe paper in our bicycle spokes and all show up for a local parade.  This was also a place where I was smallminded at times, like when I teased Marlene in fourth grade over something dumb, and then used up all her Scotch tape.  It’s a place where others can also be mean, like when I got beat up by the Mitchell boy, and cried all the way home.  (Later my mother saw him on the road, rolled down her car window and gave him a talking-to like I’d never heard.)

This small town in America was my place, where I learned to behave myself so no neighborhood mother would ever have to lean out her car window and give me a scolding.  And how I wish I could go back in time and find Marlene and tell her how sorry I am.  It was a place to be small, to grow up, and to leave behind.

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But I catch glimpses of it when I think of it as a land of red, white and blue, where we love flags and fireworks and the Fourth of July.  It’s a land of learning to get along with your neighbor because you never know when that person with the different name would give you a lifetime memory.  Like when I needed to learn to ride a bike and Joan Muehlstein gripped the back of the seat, ran alongside me, and hollered, “Turn towards the wobble!”

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It’s mountains and vast plains, it’s small towns and big cities.  And America is where I like to be the most, even though now I’ve traveled and love Berlin and Bologna and other different places with wonderful people who’ve gone themselves through nice and mean, dark and light, thick and thin.  It’s when I return from far away and see that flag on the  wall at the airport with a sign that says “Welcome to the United States,” well, I get a misty-eyed, just like in those movies from the 1940s.

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It’s my home, this America.  And to me, it’s a pretty great place.

American Flag

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Betsy’s Creation • Quilt #225
Pieced by Elizabeth Eastmond • Quilted by Cathy Kreter
72″ wide x 86″ tall

Quilt began on Flag Day: June 14, 2019
Finished August 20, 2019
More info and a free worksheet for making this quilt can be found here.  I also made a companion smaller flag:

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