Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Sanitary Commission

A replica of my Sanitary Commission Stamp

United States Sanitary Commission

 Shortly after the beginning of the War, the attack on Fort Sumter April, 12, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln signed the legislation for the United States Sanitary Commission. The purpose was to work for better field and hospital conditions for the soldiers. A call for quilts or comforts was issued in 1861. The size requested was “8 feet long, 4 feet wide”.

America’s ‘industrial war complex’ of the mid 19 the Century was primitive and unprepared for the rapid call up of fighting men. In especially short supply were articles of clothing and bedding.

Northern women staged Sanitary Fairs to raise funds for the cause. They also quickly formed numerous Soldiers’ Aid Societies to supply shirts, socks and bedding for the war effort. Most of these items were distributed through the Sanitary Commission. Frequently the back of these donated quilts was stamped....Sanitary Commission.

An estimated 250,00 quilts were turned in but there are only a few known survivors. 

This overall print is part of my A Solider's Quilt line from Washington Street Studio. Shipping early Nov '18

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The brown 'floral' in A Soldier's Quilt is the document color....but the scale has been shrunk and the 'floating' green leaf is an addition to eliminate blank space of a solid color.  See my Instagram (margo_krager) for comparison to the original in my antique fabric sample book.  Two other color variations will be available when goods arrive late October. See a red and a blue version at bottom of post. Margo


Browns were the most common coloration for quilts during the last half of the 19th century. It was an easy color to achieve with both natural and synthetic dyes and was fashionable for clothing. Sometimes the brown fabrics in the Civil War era quilts we see today were originally other fugitive shades that have turned brownish due to washing and light fading.

Various browns were popular home dyes and were often used for yarns that were woven into plaids.  Many of the Log Cabin quilts made in the years after the War have numerous browns prints and plaids.

It was not until the 1890s when a strong synthetic black textile dye was finally developed that you see a shift away from browns to the newly fashionable black prints

Historic background      Between 1820 and 1860, American society experienced major changes as it added industry and technology sectors to its traditional agriculture base. The economy was expanding but unstable. A period of business downturns (1837-1843) was followed by dramatic spurts of economic prosperity from the mid 1840s through the 1850s. In the early 1840s wood was still the main source of this country’s fuel. The discovery of vast coalfields in Pennsylvania
coupled with the high price of wood caused a shift to coal as a major source of power. Steam engines and heating stoves alike poured our fumes and soot that clouded the skies. Air pollution came from factories, refineries and private homes. 


Thursday, August 30, 2018

A Soldier's Quilt  from Washington Street Studio due in shops late Oct '18

Document color, authentic scale

King Cotton                   At the beginning of the 19th century, rice, tobacco and sugar were the most important US exports.  The dramatic growth of the British textile industry fueled the demand for cotton. Sea Island cotton, grown along the Eastern coast of the United States, had always been considered the highest quality. A long stapled cotton with seeds that separated easily from the fiber and a sensitivity to heat, it grew only with 40 miles of the ocean. Upland cotton could be grown inland but it was a short staple variety and required a field hand one full day of cleaning to produce one pound of seed free cotton. Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin in 1793 increased the output of seed free cotton dramatically.  A gin could clean 12 pounds of cotton/day. Grow more cotton!

In the 1820s the South became the world’s largest producer of cotton. From 1815 until the 1860 this agricultural product represented more than half of all American exports. There were 461,000 bales of cotton produced in 1817, 1.35 million by 1840. Production peaked at 408 million bales in 1860. This dramatic increase in production was spurred in part by increasing demand, especially from English textile mills. The generally strong economic conditions of the mid 1840s plus a booming textile trade at home and abroad meant more fabrics were available to many middle-class American women and at a better price.


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.