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."