Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Collecting Tomorrow's Quilt Treasures Today

1810s Eagle

Kathie Ratcliff


Miniature Commissioned for the Parks-Wildemuth Collection

Some time back it occurred to me, as I was having my morning coffee, that the 1876 ladies/gents who admire quilts right up through those of us who love them today did not think, "I need to add this quilt to my collection because I KNOW some day in the future it is going to be prized as a collectible."

I want you to channel the Florence Peto or Ruth Finley in you and look about you in the quilt world today and REALLY Look at the quilts that studio quilt artists, machine quilters, long-arm quilters, and traditional quilt artists are creating. These are the quilts that will become tomorrow's collectible. Find one or several quilt artists whose work appeals to you and start collecting them or have them create a piece for you with your "quilt interest" in mind.

Along with supporting a quilt artist's work, you are collecting modern pieces that "speak" to you and fits into your collection. There is really no negative to this.

How do you find such ladies and gentlemen?

Google Images Search using your pattern interest as the search engine word

Google Search Search using your pattern interest as the search engine word

Organizations such as:
Studio Art Quilters Associates
International Quilt Festival in Houston

Miniature Quilt Artists who specialize in historical quilt patterns such as:

Kate Adams Fine Miniatures
Kathie Ratcliff's Nine Patch Studio

The original antique quilt that this piece was inspired by can be found on page 12 of the hardback edition of the book All Flags Flying: American Patriotic Quilts As Expressions of Liberty by Robert Bishop and Carter Houck

Friday, September 23, 2011

I Can See Clearly Now - Jennifer Myers

I Can See Clearly Now
Jennifer Myers
Designer and Quilt Artist
September 2011
33" x 36"
Commissioned for the Parks-Wildemuth Collection

Sue here..... sometimes I take day trips with family, one of my friends, or sometimes by myself. This one was to Iowa City, Iowa which is about an 1 1/2 to 2 hours from where I live in Illinois. Like walking, I use these trips to do some thinkin' on things.

Really good insights come to me when I am on these long drives or taking a walk in nature so I always keep a journal handy as I don't want to lose these "whispers" of inspiration.

An idea came to me that day on the drive back home...about a vision quilt. A quilt, on first glance, that would go into a Eye Doctor's office, but also reflect a deeper meaning of those defining moments we have in our life, when our entire way of thinking or "seeing" things is changed and we see the world from a whole new perspective or one could say through a different pair of eyeglasses.

I knew I was not capable of making this quilt happen so I went to someone who was capable of bringing this idea to life. Her name is Jennifer Myers of Ohio and Art Quilts by Jen

I shared my idea with Jennifer and asked her if she was interested in the commission and she took it on. One or two e-mails is all we did and then I let her be to create. It is important when you commission a piece to have faith in your artist so let go of the need to control THEIR creative effort and just let them do their thing. I am a firm believer things always unfold as they are meant to be.

I Can See Clearly Now is the quilt Jennifer created. It is an original design which came directly from this creative young woman's imagination and what a creative soul she is.

In Jennifer's own words:

"At first glance, this quilt appears to be something that belongs in an eye doctor's office. But in fact, it goes much deeper than that. In reality, it is a quilt about the life changing experience of seeing things differently. About realization, understanding, and awakening.

The background of the quilt was hand painted by myself. Since purple is the color of spirituality, it is a subtle reminder of what this quilt is really about. Additionally the light source down the center of the quilt is meant to start guiding the viewer into the deeper meaning of this quilt. The light is on, look harder!! The light also represents the way we see things in a new light and gain new understanding.

The eyeballs throughout the quilt were drawn myself in an art class back in 1998. I discovered them while searching for the ideas for this quilt and realized that they would be perfect. They represent all of the different ways we can see things and come to new understanding. The eyeballs were laser printed on the fabric. The word puzzle contains 22 words that reflect seeing, discovery, and life changing events. Here is a listing of the words you will find in the puzzle: baby blues, peeper, ocular, see, view, enlighten, wiser, stronger, smarter, reform, awaken, find, discover, detect, observer, notice, realize, visualize, experience, crystal clear, reconsider, life changing.

As you inspect the central part of the quilt, hopefully your eye will catch the stars glowing on the outer corners of the quilt. Since this is a study in seeing things differently, there are actually 4 constellations set into these two clusters of stars. You should be able to locate the big dipper, the little dipper, Orion and Sagittarius. The constellation represents the way we need to put pieces of information together to get the whole picture.

Finally, after your eye discovers the constellations, maybe new understanding will come, as you notice the "handwriting on the wall" beneath the constellations. I found many quotes by famous people about seeing and vision, and decided that they would be perfect to secure ones understanding of the work...if you have gotten far enough to notice. The purpose of this quilt is to bring the viewer below the surface. Hopefully all who view this quilt will "see" the vision!!"


Meaning of the Eagle Motif

Jennifer put in the eagle motif (eagle with the tear) in this piece for me because she knows I collect eagle quilts. To me, it also represents the idea of the "eagle eye" which is defined in the dictionary as 1. Keen eyesight, 2. The ability or tendency to observe closely or pay attention to detail, and 3. One that observes with close attention. The eagle with the tear in his eye also reflects how we feel about "change" or "transformation" in our life. Here is a quote that says it better than I can, "When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not SEE the one which has opened for us.”

Well done Jennifer, really well done!!!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Newspaper Searches and The Needlecraft, Fancy Work, and Household Editors of National Magazines in 1929

Women Editors At Luncheon
Date: September 19, 1929
Paper: Springfield Republican (Masschusetts)

Every once in awhile I find a cool piece of information on my search for something else. I usually copy them off and put them in a file for use at a later date for me or for someone else. This is a 1929 newspaper clipping I found on a search for another piece of information. This newspaper clipping shares the names of the "movers and shakers" in the needlecraft, fancy work, and household editors departments of various national magazines geared towards women who love to "create" like us in the year 1929.

All of these ladies would make wonderful research projects. I know this piece is hard to read and I know that it looks like Ethel of Needlecraft is Bethel so check spellings on all of them.

All these ladies walked before us -- let's honor them and tell their stories!

Side Note:

There are other jewels like this hidden in newspaper archives waiting to be discovered.

Here are ways to do that:

Your local library's local newspaper access is usually free and sometimes they or a college in your area has access to pay services for historical databases for some of the largest newspapers in the United States such as the Historical Chicago Tribune Database which is free to patrons and people who stop into a library for a visit.

Try Google Newspaper and Google Newspaper Archives. This is a good resource for locating articles, but there are some restrictions as to what you can print off and what you can't and what you can access with a fee and without a fee. Try this out and you will see what I mean, but don't let me scare you off from this option - I use it all the time so try it.

The online databases that have a fee with them are:,, (which was associated with at one time, but I'm not sure if it still is),, and Proquest whch is usually only available through a public, private, or college/university library.

You can literally spend HOURS pouring through these newspapers - using names or keyword searches and yes there is buried treasure in all of them waiting just for you and your project.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Ladies of Farm Journal Magazine 1920s-1940s

There were random quilt articles in the early years of the magazine, but a winter quilt article, with and without a byline, began appearing on an annual basis in Farm Journal magazine in January 1921. Well received by the quiltmaking world, this once a year tradition continued until 1947. The byline Mabel Hoffecker Collins or Mabel H. Collins appeared in Farm Journal magazine in January 1934 and continued on when the publication absorbed The Farmer’s Wife and was renamed Farm Journal and Farmer’s Wife around 1939-40. The publication reverted back to its old name with Farm Journal with the August 1945 issue of the magazine.

With Mabel at the helm, quilt features appeared in the Farm Journal January issues from 1934-1938, changing to the February issue in 1939 and in the Farm Journal and Farmer’s Wife February issues from 1940-1947 when a regular annual quilt feature seems to end. It should be noted that an occasional unsigned rogue quilt article would be thrown into other issues for information or ad purposes, but not on a consistent basis like the Collins pieces. The name Mabel Hoffecker Collins or Mabel H. Collins only appeared in these very brief magazine articles, some might even call them ads, debuting quilt patterns and some of these same brief pieces were reprinted in various editions of Farm Journal and Farmer’s Wife Quilt Patterns Old and New quilt pattern service catalogs and help date the different editions of these booklets.

There are still lots of questions that need to be answered concerning Ms. Collins. Was Mabel Hoffecker Collins a real person who was brought in as a free-lancer for quilt articles or a regular part of the staff? Was she a “consumer friendly” name for a variety of people within the company who filled mail-order request for quilt patterns in the tradition of Virginia Snow of Elgin, Illinois or Grandmother Clark of St. Louis, Missouri?

Was Collins a pen name for the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania magazine’s Household Editor Mary Ross Reynolds whose personal papers can be found in the Michigan State Library Special Collections Department and with the Florence Hollis and Bethany Ross Reynolds Papers at the Five College Archive and Manuscript Collections? Along with Florence LaGanke Harris and Mrs. Ellen E. Webster, Reynolds was asked to be a judge in the Second National Patchwork Quilt Contest conducted by the Eastern States Exposition home department in September 1933. Mrs. Reynolds retired from Farm Journal Magazine in 1947, which was the last year for the annual quilt feature in the magazine. Rogue quilt articles appeared after that date, but never with the byline Mabel Hoffecker Collins.

The name Jane Moreland was also featured with fashion articles and patterns during this time period in myriad issues of this same farm magazine and at least one quilt article (January 1932 – page 11) prior to Mabel’s appearance on the scene in 1934. Could Jane have done double duty in the fashion and quilt departments?

Real person or pen name, Mabel Hoffecker Collins remains a bit of a mystery. Mabel’s story is a project-in-the-making for a researcher who specializes in Pennsylvania (Farm Journal and Farm Journal and Farmer’s Wife) quilt history or has an interest in quilt designers who appeared in farm related publications.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

T. Buettner and Company Quilt Kit Garden of Flowers No. 3323

The nice thing about having a blog and a web site is hearing from people especially when they share stories and photos about “their treasures” and then agree to allow me to share them with you.

An e-mail came to me from Barbara Hofrichter about a completed T. Buettner and Company of Chicago, Illinois quilt kit.

Barbara shares, “I have a quilt that says copyrighted 1933 TBandCo Chicago on the label. It is named Garden of Flowers and it asked for NUNs thread. My grandmother was German and English and she might have ordered the kit from a magazine or paper. I am trying to find out more. The quilt kit number is 3323.”

The original quilter’s name was Harriet Borman Luth and Barbara is in the beginning stages of her research on this project. Barbara welcomes e-mails with any additional information about Harriet Borman Luth or T. Buettner and Company of Chicago, Illinois. Her e-mail contact information is Barbara Hofrichter

About T. Buettner and Co., Inc.
Chicago, Illinois, New York, New York, and Hamburg, Germany

My two articles on this company can be found at my Illinois Quilt History Web Site:

“T. Buettner and Co., Inc.”

“T. Buettner and Co., Inc. Catalogs and Instruction Books”

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Eleanor Roosevelt 1935 Thank You Letter for a Quilt

Eleanor Roosevelt
Circa 1950
Author's Collection

Thought you all might like to see my latest vintage quilt ephemera find - it is a thank you note signed by Eleanor Roosevelt and written on official White House Stationary, dated February 9, 1935 while FDR was president.

It's a thank you note to a Mrs. Jules Joseph Fischer, Mrs. McGrath, and "the rest of the ladies" for a quilt they made and sent to her.
February 9, 1935
Author's Collection




February 9, 1935

My dear Mrs. Fischer:

I was very much delighted to receive from Mrs. McGrath the quilt which you and all the other women so generously made for me. It is very lovely, and I greatly appreciate the work and thought which you have all put into it.

With many thanks and all good wishes, I am

Very sincerely yours, Eleanor Roosevelt"

Now if a person could only find the quilt this note was intended for.... it's not at the FDR Presidential Library and Museum - already checked.

The most helpful lead is the envelope that came with this letter, it was addressed to Mrs. Jules Joseph Fischer, who lived in Mountain View, California in 1935. I have and I am running down leads that way, but if anyone recognizes Mrs. Fischer as one of their ancestors, please contact me at

This just goes to show those of us who love quilt paper items there is still neat antique and vintage quilt ephemera out there waiting to find their way to us.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Quilt Research -- Uncovering Buried Treasure

Eagle Motif Embroidered on 1931 Quilt
(No Affliation to Either of the Ladies Mentioned Below)

I was iced in for a spell and once I finished my chores I got on the computer and did some "looking around" on the topics that interest me in quilt history. I found a couple of interesting people I want to know more about, both are 1930s quiltmakers from opposite sides of the United States.

Mrs. Mary J. Lockard
New Port Richey, Florida
West Pasco County
Wife of Warren Lockard

**She earned her living as a professional quilter in the 1930s -- all hand work - no machine.


Mary Ellen Herbert
Burley, Washington (state of)
Kitsap County
Wife of Otto Herbert
Mother of Frank Herbert
Grandma of Frank Herbert (author of Dune)
Great Grandma of Brian Herbert

**She entered her quilts in many many county fairs and eventually they (must be the fair board) had to tell her she could not enter her quilts anymore to compete (only to show) because her quilts always won.

I have and I have "done that thing."

FYI for those of you who do quilt research - is one of the most helpful tools out there, but it is a paid service. Start with first (it is free) and then decide (with a free trial) if is for you.

Why am I looking for these two talented ladies? It has something to do with locating the whereabouts of two eagle quilts.

Anyone surfing the net that finds this site through Google -- if you have any information and/or photos of either of these ladies I would appreciate it if you would contact me.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Linda Carlson's Baby Geniuses Eaglet 2000s

Baby Geniuses Eaglet
Linda Carlson Quiltmaker/Designer
Decade 2000s

I was familar with Linda Carlson's work long before I contacted her about this project. I love the antique, vintage, and new large four block quilts. I also have all the books (with patterns) that she has created on the subject. She is the authority - the go-to girl - for information about these traditional types of quilt.

Linda's four-block books published with the American Quilter's Society are: Roots, Feathers & Blooms: Four-Block Quilts, Their History & Patterns, Four-Blocks Continued ..., and The Best of Four-Blocks and More!.

Besides being a quilt lecturer, author, and designer, Linda is an educater, a schoolteacher, by profession in her non-quilting life. So it was a given that she would combine her quilting and teaching lives and design three lines of fabric with young people in mind. Working with Benartex, Inc. since 2006 - Linda's fabric line includes "Grammie & Mimi's Baby Geniuses!", "Grammie & Mimi's Baby Geniuses Grow Up!", and "Grammie & Mimi's Baby Geniuses Speak Up!"

Linda choose the 2000s decade and what a decade that was - so much change.

When I looked at Linda's piece she calls "Baby Geniuses Eaglet" with it's rich and spicy colors - I think of hope.

In Linda's own words, "Baby Genius Eaglet": approximately 15 1/2 inches square, 4-block background with hand applique', reverse applique', hand quilted with metallic thread, and hand embellished with sparkling stars and French Knots. All fabrics are from my fabric lines with Benartex, Inc. since 2006 including "Grammie & Mimi's Baby Geniuses!", "Grammie & Mimi's Baby Geniuses Grow Up!", and "Grammie & Mimi's Baby Geniuses Speak Up!" The eagle pattern is my re-interpretaion of "Liberty" by Dinah Jefferies."

If you want to learn more about Linda's work:

Linda Carlson
Author, Workshop Leader, Baby Geniuses Fabric Designer
Become a fan on Facebook

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Finishing Orphan Quilt Tops: A Virginia Snow Studios Pattern

New Years Day brought an email from Jan Jaqua who found my research on Virginia Snow Studios of Elgin, Illinois on my web site and contacted me. about a same pattern grouping of finished 1930s Virginia Snow Studios quilt squares.

Here is the original pattern as it appeared in a 1933 Virginia Snow Studios catalog:

242 Unnamed Flower - Virginia Snow Studios - Elgin,, Illinois

Here is Jan's story in her own words:

"This project came about after I told a good friend of mine that I like to find vintage quilts tops on Ebay and finish them. Handquilting is the part of the project I enjoy most. She replied that there was a metal container in her mother's attic that had been there for many years and came by way of HER mother's home - so this is third generation (Grandma to daughter to granddaughter). She said, "I'll have to go up there and see what's in the container-maybe something of interest.' The next day or two she brought these blocks, two other quilt tops, and some assorted bow-tie and dresden plate blocks.

I thought the blocks were so well done and offered to put them together for her into a quilt."

Jan Jaqua

Here is a picture of this new quilt being made from old blocks with modern Moda marble sashing called Chambray:
Beautiful isn't it - a new quilt is born from utilizing vintage quilt squares and modern fabric!

Side Note:

I admire people who do this - find an abandoned quilt top and finish it for the creator and a new quilt is born - I call this a two generation quilt.

There is a rule of thumb here that some who enjoy doing this share with me -- they finish quilt tops created 1930 and forward, they do a reproduction quilt of a top when the original was created before 1930s. The cut off date seems to be 1930 because of the fragile nature of some of the pre-1930s fabrics -- did you know thread can actually cut fabric and that beautiful 1880s quilt top you are finishing might actually be damaged by quilting it? I didn't until someone shared this with me and I'm passing it along to you.

In the end though -- as with all things in this world -- it is your decision whether you finish a quilt top or not, but you are usually safe to finish the ones that were created after 1930. So if this is your thing -- you like to save orphan tops -- then I say -- bravo!

Remember as you are scouring your favorite fabric store, antique malls, flea markets, or auctions in 2011 looking for things to add to your quilt stash that fills up the spare bedroom, "No guilt, but lots of quilts."