Saturday, July 21, 2018

Census and Culture   the 1850s census showed a 20% increase in the population of the Northern and ‘free’ states. This region had more canals and railroad tracks and over 80% of the new immigrants settled in the North, due largely to greater economic opportunities there.

The South had only 18% of the nation’s manufacturing capacity. A bright spot in the 1850 snap shot of the nation was Southern agriculture, especially cotton. Southern leaders were aware of the imbalance in the economic development of the two regions. A popular political slogan of that decade in the South was ‘bring the spindles to the cotton’. It did not happen. By 1860, the value of Southern textile production was just 10% of the total for America.

The minimal industrial development in the Southern states may have been due to the lack of capital. Most of the wealth was tied up in land and slaves and the cultural climate was unfriendly toward industrialization. Many Southerns considered ‘trade…a lowly calling fit for the Yankees, not for gentleman!’

I grew up in a 'border state' ( West Virginia) and have always been happy to be in 'trade'!
 From my new line...A Soldier's Quilt...coming in October from Washington Street Studio.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

A Soldier's Quilt--1863-68

The Abolition Movement---Abolitionism in England, originally a radical idea embraced by only a few, began in the 1780s.  By 1807, the government had abolished slavery in Britain. The liberal ideals of the Enlightenment inspired revolution and reform in almost every country in Europe in the 1820s.  It reached Jamaica in 1831, where 60,000 slaves rebelled. The British Parliament took notice and abolished slavery throughout the Empire in 1833.

A long-standing Quaker tradition against slavery, the British example, and the Second Great Awaking (1790-1830) coalesced into an abolition movement in the United States in the early 19th century. William Lloyd Garrison founded The Liberator in Boston in 1831.  Boston became a hotbed of radical reform and the abolitionist movement in the United States.

The abolitionists were a vocal force against the morality of slavery, while the economics of the South were a strong financial force in favor.

Harriet Beecher Stowe, born in Litchfield, Connecticut in 1811, became involved in the abolition movement while living in Cincinnati, Oh, 1833-1850.She wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin originally as a serial in the antislavery paper, the Nation Era, Washington, D. C. (1851-1852).  Published in book form in 1852, it helped consolidate antislavery feelings in the North. The book is one of the all time best sellers in America. 

 Additional colors...A Soldier's Quilt by Washington Street Studio. Available 10/18

Monday, June 25, 2018

'Hershey bars'

'Hershey bar' motif...document color, madder     
American Civil War (1861-1865) 

Economics of slavery and tariffs       The Southern plantation system provided an excellent way to grow tobacco and cotton. In response to the needs of the European (especially English) and later American cotton mills, planters doubled the cotton yield each decade after 1800, producing 75% of the world’s supply of raw cotton. The plantation owners and the cotton crop were vital to American’s economic growth as an independent country. This economic powerhouse, however, depended on a cheap labor force.

Regional economic differences between the North, South and the Northwest Territories increased during the first half of the 19th century, especially in the area of industrialization. The economy of the North, based largely on manufacturing, wanted high tariffs to protect those goods from cheap foreign competition. The South was heavily agricultural and dependent on the imported manufacturing goods. Tariffs increased the cost of these goods. The Federal government’s main source of revenue, before personal and corporate income taxes, was tariffs. It paid for national services (postal and banking) and improvements (roads and canals). The expanding Northwest Territories (Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota) needed to move their grain and beef to the lucrative markets of the northeast.  Northern and Western farmers and merchants wanted a strong central government to protect trading and financial interests and to build and maintain the infrastructure of roads and, by mid century, railroads. The South was willing to do without these improvements and did not want interference in their institution of slavery.

 Soldier's Quilt from Washington Street Studio will be available at your quilt shop in October. I am scanning my strike offs. 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Fashion fabric of the CW Era

In 1852 Prince Albert, consort to Queen Victoria, purchased the Balmoral estate and original castle. The Royal family visited frequently and embraced the local Scottish style......Tartans. Plaids of all scales quickly became a fashion statement on both sides of the Atlantic. 

Document color...printed plaid from A Soldier's Quilt

The plaids could be printed or yarn dyed. The scale varied from the above which would have been the height of Parisian stripe to gold stripe is 1 3/4 " something as small as an apron check that was more affordable. This document coloration is gold adjacent to dull lavender with a soft gray green.  See below....for the other 2 colorations in the Washington Street Studio line...A Soldier's Quilt.

Madder Style

Greeny blue with gold

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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Soldier's Quilt

This Double Violet fabric design is the header for Cottonopia and from an 1863-68 sample book of mine.

My newest line, A Soldier's Quilt, by Washington Street Studio was introduced at Spring Quilt Market in Portland, OR.  Delivery is scheduled for October, 2018.

This design above is my favorite in the book.  The double violet version is the document color....there are 2 others. 
This image is from 8" X 8" piece of artwork. The sprigs are approximately 1 1/4" square.

Two additional colorations....double pinks and a grayed green.

The pencil stripe background is 2 shades of taupe.

I will be posting a series of short essays about the lead up to The War, the creation of the Sanitary Commission and their call for quilts or comforts.  

I grew up in a state that was formed during the American Civil War—West Virginia. Non-slaveholding western Virginia opposed secession. In June of 1861, a delegation in Wheeling (my home town) organized a government with allegiance to the Union. West Virginia became a state in 1863. As children, we played ‘North and South’!

The differences between the two regions of the country were not only political but also social and economic. Townspeople and small farmers populated New England where the soil and the topography were not suitable for large-scale plantations. Northern waterpower was the fuel for the American Industrial Revolution. The wealth and political power of the North came from industry and commerce. The South, however, was an agrarian society based on ‘old money’ and dominated politically by the planter class. The price of cotton at mid century was high and the market in both New England and Europe was strong. Southern plantation owners wanted more and more land plus cheap labor to sustain this boom.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018


A small to medium motif printed diagonally. This is an old weaving term that also applies to printed goods. Chintz had fallen out of favor by the 1840-50s. Red and Green applique quilts of that period feature a variety of foulards in strong reds and greens. The price of green dye had dropped and a wide variety of small neat intense green prints were available.

Foulards became increasingly popular as dressgoods during the 1860s.

This is an early ( Dargate Book c. 1830) trailing vine style background with a small/medium foulard print set on the diagonal.

My 1863-5 book....Dressgoods foulard style design. Printed stripe background with motifs set on the diagonal in a popular Civil War Era coloring....dull lavender.

Friday, May 6, 2016


Numbers can sometimes help me think about textile history from a slightly different angle. The 1840s were a time of rapid advances in textile printing. (New printing machinery as well as dyes)  Designs were often 'over the top'....because technically it was now possible.

Merchant's Wife by Terry Clothier Thompson for RJR Fabrics beautifully illustrates this phenomena.
Merchants Wife
 Let's do a floral between add a scroll.....then put both on top of a diagonal ombre. WOW!

Here is the statistic....." estimate of hand versus machine printing of fabrics in Great Britain per day was 168 yards ( hand) as against 5,600 to 14,000 yards by machine". Quote from "A Pieced Quilt" by Holstein.