Monday, March 31, 2014

From My Quilt Files: Sturbridge Strippy 2000-2003

I used to document everything when making a quilt and as a result many of my earlier projects have detailed info in the file. Here is the story of Sturbridge Strippy.

May 14, 2004. I saw the most beautiful c. 1830 quilt at the Northern Comfort Symposium at Old Sturbridge Village in June 1998. Not only was it a strip quilt with cut-out corners but the borders had the most magnificent blue fabric that I have ever seen. I was smitten!

But after a futile and unsuccessful first attempt to reproduce the quilt I ultimately had to settle for a different version.


During the course of the 2-day symposium, Rachel, Rita and I spent a great deal of time studying the original quilt and planning a smaller version to reproduce. It was the topic of conversation nearly every spare minute and at every meal but the big question was where would we ever find a suitable blue fabric? We were working from a color xerox of the quilt which was published in Lynne Bassett's book, Northern Comfort: New England's Early Quilts 1780-1850 (1998). Thus began a 2-year quest to find the right fabrics.

Here are some of the fabrics I used in the center strips. Many of the blues and browns I purchased in Lancaster during our annual fabric-shopping trips. In fact, it was on one of those trips that I found a blue print that I thought might work for the borders.

Well, that blue fabric didn't work at all. It was too "squiggly" and gave the wrong appearance from a distance. In addition, the width of the borders was off and even though I wanted to have cut-out corners like the original, the whole top was out of proportion. I was really disappointed with the outcome.

Then sometime in Fall 2001 or Spring 2002 I decided to enlarge the quilt so I could use it on our bed. This meant increasing both the length and width by about 18" each. It also meant replacing the borders with a different fabric and making them much wider. There is a defining row of triangles that marks the beginning of the section where I added on. The fabric I used for the borders was Moda's Ruffled Iris by Barbara Brackman and Terry Clothier Thompson.

I used Quilters Dream Request batting and quilted a "a little every morning" for 9 months. I chose a knife-edge treatment for the outer edges as opposed to an applied binding. The finished quilt is 89" x 97" and is probably the largest reproduction I will ever make. I was pleased with the final result and it looks so nice at the bottom of our bed.


In June 2004 I entered the quilt in the Bed Quilt Pieced 280" or Larger category at the New Jersey Quilt Convention in Edison, NJ, and took 3rd place :)

Copyright 2014, Barbara Schaffer

Monday, March 17, 2014

Lincoln's Woes

My new little quilt, Lincoln's Woes, quickly became "Barbara's Woes" when some of the red fabric ran as I was removing my blue quilting lines. But perseverance paid off in the end even though I didn't want that laundered look.   

I've long been a Lincoln fan following in the footsteps of my grandfather, Stan Bower, whose Lincoln postcards were sold at Gettysburg in the 1930s.

And just for fun I looked up Abraham Lincoln on Ancestry . . . 


Last August I began making 6" red stars with Civil War motifs cut from Marcus Brothers Civil War Companions by Judy Rothermel. The alternate blocks are 4-Patch Posies made from Gettysburg Toile by Quilting Treasures. When all was said and done 2 sides of the red and white borders ran even though all the fabric was cut from the same bolt of Kona cotton. I know, I know. Pre-wash!

Multiple washings and 8 dye catchers later all the red was finally gone.   


This is the back. Note the four motifs from Gettysburg Toile that I fussy cut and sewed back together to make the Posie blocks: soldiers on horseback, flags, center medallion, and Abe. 


I've never made a quilt using the 4-Patch Posie technique so had to adapt and experiment a little. 

My maternal grandfather, Stan Bower (1888-1965), was a commercial artist in the early 20s and 30s and an insurance salesman later in life.

He did this pen and ink drawing of Abraham Lincoln in the 20s.

And in 1930 designed this layout with Lincoln's portrait and The Gettysburg Address. It was printed in two formats: 9" x 12" and postcard-size.    

This postcard was sold as a "Souvenir of the Battle Field at Gettysburg, PA" in the 30s.


One of my all-time favorite books is The Lincoln Family Album by Mark E. Neely, Jr. and Harold Holzer (1990). I remember paying $3 for it years ago but I see it's on Amazon for 1-cent plus shipping so it's still a bargain! 

Always the curious genealogist :), I searched for Abe on and  

1850 Federal Census, Springfield, Sangamon, IL. Abe 40, Mary 28 and son Robert 7.

1860 Federal Census, Springfield, Sangamon, IL. Abe 51, Mary 35, Robert 16, Willie 9 and Thomas 7.

Headlines of an article in the NY Tribune, April 5th 1865:

of the
of Abraham Lincoln 
Sixteenth President of the United States,
In the City of New-York
April 24, 1865
Solemnity of the Occasion.
The Cortege.
The Streets Thronged.
The Body in State at the City Hall.
A Requiem from 1,000 German Voices.
The Struggle to See the Corpse. 
Scenes in the Streets.
The Progress from Philadelphia. 
New-Jersey in Mourning.
Further Details of the Pageant in Philadelphia

Abe and his immediate family are all linked together on Find A Grave :-)

Copyright 2014, Barbara Schaffer

Friday, March 7, 2014

Quilt Fest NJ and Baltimore Beauties

Yesterday I met my friends at the Quilt Fest of NJ where we spent the day chatting, shopping and catching up with other quilters we haven't seen in a while. I was in awe of the "A is for Applique" exhibit featuring quilts made by the Baltimore Applique Society. Their workmanship is truly outstanding and the quilts . . . what can I say?

Here are some beauties in the exhibit: 

D.A.R. Comes to Rhode Island by Brenda Devine, 81" x 81", hand quilted.

Love those blues!

Pride of Baltimore by Barbara Burnham, quilted by Marty Vint of Dogwood Quilting. This quilt was featured in American Quilter Magazine, September 2011.

The center medallion was inspired by a clipper ship used during the War of 1812.

Swag borders with Black-eyed Susans.

A Legacy of Love for My Daughter, Heather Jeannette Wilson Barnstead by Judy Shapiro, 98" x 98", hand quilted.

Isn't this crab terrific?

Halloween Quilt by Nancy Doyle Williams, 53" x 52", machine quilted by Charlotte Martinez.

Detail of the center block with candy corn and other goodies. 

 A cute owl perched on a branch.  

Deep Within My Heart Lies A Melody: A Memory of Texas by Polly Mello, 97" x 97", machine quilted by Lona Gayle Hull.

Creatures large and small. . .

. . . including snakes, bees, and butterflies.

It's always fun to get away for a day :)

Copyright 2014, Barbara Schaffer