31 December 2011

Utility Clothing - Style in War-era Britain

 Left Rayon dress, 1945.
Center Wool, design by Norman Hartnell, 1943.
Right  Linen, design by Moygashel, 1945

For my last post of the year, my husband and I visited the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, to experience an exhibit: Beauty as Duty, Textiles and the Home Front in WWII Britain. This small display, on view through May 28, 2012, fills one room with apparel and accessories - particularly scarves - manufactured to serve the goals of utility, propaganda and fashion.  Food rationing is widely depicted in period books and cinema, and the smuggling of black market foodstuffs is a popular plot device - one of my favorite movies is A Private Affair, with Maggie Smith as a British housewife who goads her husband, played by Michael Palin, into kidnapping a plump contraband pig. 

Less well known, though, is that many types of clothing were also rationed, as well as regulated, beginning in 1941; the name of this restricted apparel is Utility Fashion. The German blockade meant that imported fibers, such as cotton, were in short supply; in addition, silk was needed for parachutes. Hence the rising popularity of synthetics such as rayon and acetate.

While manufacturers switched to new fibers, fashion designers, such as Norman Hartnell, confronted limits on the amount of fabric that could be used in a garment, as well as rules about apparel components such as buttons and trims. The dresses on the left and right in the first image above, however, show that cheery and colorful prints were popular, sending a message that the women of Britain maintained a positive outlook no matter the hardships.  Some of the prints are quite literal in their patriotism, as shown in the dress below, with its print of flags of the Allies.

Rayon dress, 1945. 
Victory fabric designed by Arnold Lever.

The dress in the image above was worn by a 20-year-old woman, who worked at the Ministry of Food, to a V-E day party. She purchased the fabric using six coupons, of her annual allotment of thirty-six coupons, so this was clearly a special dress.  Featured in the print are the flags of the Allies, including Britain, France, the USA, and, this being before the Cold War, the USSR and China.

The designer of the Victory fabric, Arnold Lever, also designed most of the scarves on display. Some of these feature motifs that, even for propaganda purposes, seem to be a bit of a stretch for adaptation to textiles. Winston Churchill's image would not seem to lend itself to feminine headgear, yet here he is in all his cigar-chomping glory.  Did someone actually wear this on her head? More than once?

 Scarf, manufactured by Filmyra Fabrics about 1943, rayon.

Some of the scarves on display were so colorful as to be almost gaudy to modern eyes, and, in spite of the persuasive tone of the curators, it's clear that the multiple goals of propaganda, utility and fashion did not always mesh so comfortably.  The exhibit states that many of the scarves were marketed to GI's as souvenirs, so these objects may have been displayed in homes state-side, rather than actually worn. 

Detail, The American Forces in London
Jacqmar, 1943, design by Arnold Lever.

 Wall of scarves.

Most of the scarves were designed by Arnold Lever and manufactured by the luxury accessories company Jacqmar, founded by Joseph (Jack) and Mary Lyons in 1932.

Les Lauriers de la Victoire
Jacqmar, designed by Arnold Lever.

Some of the designs are delightful, such as the victory bouquet above, with floral shapes adapted from Allied flags.  The historical importance of the flag as symbol is underscored by the exhibit.

London Wall, wool scarf, 
Jacqmar designed by Arnold Lever about 1942.

Do click on the above image, London Wall, to enlarge the image and read all the "posted bills". This design was also available by the yard, and was featured in British Vogue, April 1942, with Vivien Leigh modeling clothing in propaganda prints.

More scarves.

Details, Time Gentlemen, Please, Jacqmar, about 1943, 
Arnold Lever design.

The scarf above features vignettes of pub activity, with US and British servicemen hobnobbing genially with local regulars. Names of London pubs border the scarf.

Battle of Britain, commemorative lace panel, and details.
Dobsons & M. Brown & Co., Ltd. 1942 - 1946

During the war Britain's fabled lace industry was limited to making mosquito and camouflage netting.  Rather than let the skills of their craftsmen and designers become rusty, one Nottingham manufacturer designed and made thirty-eight of the 15' by 5' 6" lace panels pictured above. This masterpiece of machine-made lace was woven on a modified Jacquard-type loom, with thousands of sequenced, punched cards controlling the loom. The designer of the panel, Harry Cross, was seventy-three when he began his work on this object.  Almost all the lace manufacturing has gone overseas, but there exists at least one British manufacturer, Cluny Lace, http://www.clunylace.com/index.htm

It's a bit difficult to see the images woven in the lace - a brighter colored background would have been better, perhaps -  but the center image is a fighter pilot, and the image on the right depicts the Old Bailey, with debris from bombing.

 Queen Elizabeth and King George VI, September, 1940. 
Getty Images.

Buckingham Palace was bombed and the photo above, an iconic image featured in a large blow-up at the exhibit, shows Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) and the King climbing over rubble.

The exhibit also included contemporary brochures, including "Make Do and Mend," a tipsheet of darning hints, and even one girdle,  but I wish that there had been more period photographs or drawings, showing actual civilians wearing their patriotic attire.  Even with a digital archive, such documentation can be time-consuming and costly to locate, but the absence of that material made the exhibit feel more like an uncritical episode in the history of  propaganda rather than an authentic record of ordinary Londoners at an extraordinary time.

Queen Elizabeth favors colorful scarves. Photo source;

If only we could find a historic photo, along the lines of the image above, of a plucky Londoner wearing that Churchill scarf! 

Further reading: The book Wearing Propaganda: Textiles on the Home Front in Japan, Britain and the United States 1931-1945, includes two chapters on British propaganda prints, both written by Pat Kirkham.  ISBN 9780300109252

18 November 2011

Quilts at Newark Museum

Sunburst, made about 1840-1860, maker unknown.

In November, Jay and I were in New York City, paying calls on offspring. While in the Tri-State area, we ventured to the Newark Museum, a short drive from Manhattan. I learned about this exhibit at the American Quilter's Society website, a good source for the latest happenings in the quilt world. The AQS calendar of events can be found here: http://www.americanquilter.com/quilt_world/

Patchwork From Folk Art to Fine Art
is an exhibit of 30 quilts drawn from the Newark Museum's collection of 150 quilts, an unusual number for a small municipal museum. The museum's founder was a socially progressive polymath named John Cotton Dana, a sort of anti-Babbitt. Many thanks to the Librarian at the Newark Museum, Dr. William Peniston, who made me aware of a new biography of Dana, A Matter of Class: John Cotton Dana, Progressive Reform, and the Newark Museum, by Carol G. Duncan, and published by Periscope Publishing, Ltd., in 2009.

The exhibit runs through December 31. Learn more about the Newark Museum at http://www.newarkmuseum.org/

Left: the buildings that comprise the Newark Museum.
Right: interior details.

Wedding album quilt made in 1864 for
Mary Nevius Potter, Pottersville, New Jersey.

Quilts are material objects reflective of the time and place in which they were made. In the Potter Album quilt, above, a pieced and applique flag fits proudly, if somewhat incongruously, with conventional album blocks made by a community of women related in some way to the bride. The flag indicates their solidarity with the Union cause; these women couldn't vote, but they made their views known nonetheless. The blocks are not as fine or fancy as Baltimore album quilts; this may reflect a certain wartime pragmatism.

Left: Delectable Mountain, made between
1840 and 1860, maker unknown.
Right: Princess Feather variation,
made between 1840-1850, Catherine Fitzgerald.

Dana purchased the quilt on the left above in 1919, as he build up the Newark collection with objects made by ordinary, but gifted, people who were outside the Western fine arts academy tradition.

Hurley Family Album, 1867, members of the
Hurley farming family of Monmouth, New Jersey.

The central wreath of the Hurley Family quilt features small ink cartouches with the names of the six Hurley children. I wonder if it was a gift to their mother for a special birthday, or some other occasion.

Detail, Crazy quilt, ca. 1920, Mrs. Barbeau, Louisiana.

The quilt above was purchased by the Museum in 1998, and was made by an African-American woman who embroidered the names of her three sons, Alex, George and Henry, on the quilt. The elephant image, with its three-dimensional ear, is just one of the imaginative motifs on this quilt.

Detail, Chanticleer, 1935, made by Anna Phelps, New Jersey.
Pattern by designer Margaret Hays.

According to the exhibit label, the quilt was made from a commercial pattern purchased for ten cents from The Newark Evening News. Mrs. Phelps made this quilt, and matching sham, for her daughter's childhood bed; the daughter donated the ensemble to the museum. It would be interesting to track down the original pattern for comparison and to see if Mrs. Phelps personalized the design - she did a great job with the colors of those animated roosters.

Star quilt, 1984, Nellie Two Bulls.

I have read about the introduction of quilting by Anglo-American settlers to Native American women in mission schools, but hadn't seen a tribal quilt in person until this show. The women of the Sioux/Lakoda nation turned cultural imperialism on its head, and incorporated the pattern Star of Bethlehem into the Lakoda tradition of depicting stars in beadwork and paintings on animal hides. The star, an important symbol in Lakoda iconography, is a gift from the Great Spirit. Star quilts can be seen (and purchased) at websites such as http://shopping.aktalakota.org/browse.cfm/star-quilts/2,14.html

Child's quilt, Bibijan Ibrahimsahib,
India, 2004-2005.

The curator, a man with the wonderful name Ulysses Grant Dietz, has included two quilts from India made by members of the Siddi ethnic group, people descended from African immigrants to India. This underscores the international scope and pervasiveness of quilting. The quilts are made from sari and other scraps, and the actual quilting on these pieces suggests a less formal version of Japanese sashiko stitching, which also evolved from a tradition of fabric re-use. Find more information about the history of Siddi quilts at http://handeyemagazine.com/content/stitching-history

Phantoms in a Chinese Restaurant, Debbie Lee,
New Jersey, 1991-2.

The exhibit included contemporary quilts by Michael James and Teresa Barkley, and the quilt above, by Debbie Lee, a piece evocative of the Chinese restaurants in which so many immigrants worked upon their arrival in America. The back of the quilt, which is meant to be seen, utilizes a large rice grain sack as part of the composition. It was refreshing to see a quilt which depicted and celebrated the experience of working people, as do the murals of Mexican artist Diego Rivera.

Left: Kitchenette. Right, top: Kefi,
Right, bottom: Sated diners.

Of course, art wasn't the only item on the menu, so to speak, during our trip, and I can recommend two new (to me) restaurants: Kitchenette (we ate at the one in Battery Park City) whose diner-style comfort food everyone likes, and Kefi, a Greek restaurant on the Upper West side. Kefi's Greek cuisine is not the stick-to-your-ribs slab of moussaka style, but lighter and quite good.

Kitchenette, http://

Kefi, http://kefirestaurant.com/

10 November 2011

Streamlined Irons

Image from http://www.arthursclipart.org/
I call this image "The Indoctrination."

Unless the family wardrobe consists solely of knitwear, sooner or later someone has to break out the iron and companion board. Ironing is one of those tasks that does give immediate gratification, as shirts are transformed from rumply and wrinkled to smooth and crisp. Mostly I use my iron these days for patchwork, as the iron is an essential tool in quilt-making. I still iron a few shirts too.

After electricity arrived in American homes the electric iron wasn't far behind. In this day and age, when everything is Made in China, it's good to have a reminder that our shores used be home to hundreds of appliance manufacturers, from national behemoths like General Electric to now-defunct regional firms, including several in my hometown of Detroit.

On October 31, DH and I attended a fascinating lecture at the Newton Free Library. Presenter Jay Raymond gave an illustrated talk on streamlined irons, appliances manufactured from about 1934 to the mid 1950's. Many examples from his collection were on display in hallway cases for the month of October. (Most of the irons have lost their original electric cords.)

Ultramatic, made in France by Novex-Siebert.
The invention of bakelite, an early plastic,
made curvaceous styling easier.

Streamlined design was in part an effort to entice consumers to buy newer, more modern models, even when their old cars or irons were perfectly functional. It was also a response to the embrace of progress, and the idea that faster and sleeker meant better. No iron was going to race in a Grand Prix, but the aesthetic was almost universal and hence applied to objects like irons, which did at least move during use, as well as to completely stationary appliances such as toasters.

In this early attempt at a practical home steam iron
the water reservoir also functions as the stanchion for the handle.

As steam irons became more popular, the need for a larger water reservoir increased the bulk of the appliance, but designers were still able to create reasonably streamlined profiles.

The Feather Way #130 steam iron.
(From the book.)

Irons on display at the library.

The Knapp-Monarch company produced many intriguing designs,
with great appeal for iron collectors,
of whom there are more than you might guess.

Mr. Raymond, speaking at the library.

Mr. Raymond, an enthusiastic collector and meticulous researcher, has produced an excellent book, Streamlined Irons, ISBN 978-0-615-25656-6. The book features gorgeous photography, by James B. Abbott and Jay Texter, of almost 200 irons, an excellent essay on the streamlined aesthetic and even a section on early electric irons, for comparison. It's a must read for anyone interested in the history of American design and manufacturing, or in object-centered material culture, or just curious about those everyday items we use in our homes.

Streamlined Irons, by Jay Raymond.

Mr. Raymond also has an informative website at: http://www.streamlinedirons.com/

06 November 2011

A Quilter's Gathering 2011

Top left: Patrons examine quilts
Bottom left: detail,
Life in a Northern Town, Jeanne Aurelio.
Middle: quilter in patchwork jacket.

Top right: detail,
Irish Cream, Linda M. Roy.
Bottom right: Blue Hawaiian Hibiscus, Janet A. Elia.

On Sunday, November 6, DH and I went to the regional quilt show, A Quilter's Gathering, in Nashua, New Hampshire. This year's show showcased the theme "Sisterhood Swirls" , focusing on collaboration and collectivity in quilt-making. For example, the invitational exhibit featured works by textile artists who work together, sometimes literally fashioning one work of art through a collaborative process, or through providing mutual support and expertise as each member fashions individual works. These sustaining groups can be families, friends, communities and guilds.

Kesa for Wu-Men, Carol Anne Grotrian.

Carol Anne Grotrian, with whom I studied the shibori dyeing techniques featured in the quilt above, belongs to an ensemble of women called "The Crit Group," who have been meeting for over twenty-five years. More about "The Crit Group" at Carol Anne's website: www.carolannegrotrian.com/About/critgroup.htm

September Fabulous Imperial Gloriosa,
Barbara Persing and Mary Hoover.
Left: detail, machine-quilting on reverse of quilt.

The work of actual sisters was on display, too. Barbara Persing and Mary Hoover are the creative team of Fourth and Sixth Designs, named, aptly, for their birth order in their family of six children. Barbara and Mary lead several classes at the show this year.

Their engaging website is http://www.4and6designs.com/

Left: Paniers du Soleil, Maribeth Schmit.
Right: Feedsack Baskets, Ildiko Tary.

Sometimes the theme was expressed in sister quilts - two quilts gestated from the same pattern. I have no idea if the makers of these two quilts - one resident in Massachusetts and the other from Wisconsin - know each other. Although the one on the right won an award, I like the way the baskets "pop" from the background of the quilt on the left.

Cynthia's Quilt, Amy Fitzpatrick.

This quilt was made in memory of a deceased member of a group of quilting friends. The beehive motif, which is just charming, is especially poignant, as the beehive is a symbol of harmonious community endeavor, and is particularly appropriate given the quilt show theme.

Top left: Thyme to Water, Terry Burris.
Bottom left: Applique on Black I, Maggie Judd.
Center: Birds & Blossoms, B. Foote-Lacroix.
Right: Needs Full Sun, Mary Ginn.

For whatever reason, excellent quilts featuring imaginative applique motifs and techniques were plentiful and varied in this show. Even when using a commercial pattern - Needs Full Sun is from a pattern by designer Cynthia Tomaszeski - the implentations featured inventive borders and colorways.
Top left: Mom and Auntie Jean Play Gin, Rana O'Connor.
Bottom left: detail, Inside Out, Catherine Berry.

Top right: Finnagin, Jaci Lawson.
Bottom right: detail, Two Roads Diverged, Patricia Washburn.

The quilt show was packed, the parking lot full, and quilters had to watch their elbows in the crowded vending areas. Quilt shows are an interesting phenomenon - well-attended exhibits of non-commercial art, mostly created by people with self-taught artistic and technical skills. Women used to be enslaved by the burden of sewing and needlework, but affordable, mass-produced clothing has made stitching and sewing a leisure activity for self-expression.

This is the last time this show will be mounted at the Radisson hotel, as that facility is closing, and I hope the new venue, which rumor has it will be in Manchester, New Hampshire, will have better illumination. Kudos to my little Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 for capturing these quilts in tough lighting conditions.

Stone Cottage, Kathy Rich.

While many of the quilts on display are the work of experienced artisans, the basic log cabin design above, executed in a very pleasing color combination, is beginner-friendly. Ms. Rich credits Judy Martin's Log Cabin Quilt Book as her pattern source.

Pinwheels in Provence - my quilt gets its fifteen minutes of fame.

22 October 2011

Between the Wars textile symposium - Part 3

Swatch books, American Textile History Museum.

On October 15, 2011, I was privileged to attend a day-long symposium, formally titled Fabric, Fashions and Quilts: From the Armistice to Pearl Harbor. That is a rather unwieldy header, so I'm using a short title, Between the Wars, from one of the presentations, for my blog posts. The symposium was co-sponsored by the New England Quilt Museum and the American Textile History Museum. Our activities alternated between the NEQM and ATHM facilities. We made quite a sight - dozens of women shuttling between the buildings on a bright yellow school bus.

Material culture expert Madelyn Shaw began the day with an illustrated gallop through the cultural history of the period 1918 to the outbreak of World War II, driven by her tongue-in-cheek "unified-field theory of textiles." It's a humorous spoof of quantum physics, but is grounded in the serious reality that almost every political and cultural movement is in some way tied to the production and consumption of textiles.

For example, before the invention of synthetic fibers, silk was a major Asian export, with Japan controlling about 80% of the world's silk production. Silk was widely used in apparel, particularly stockings, but also in parachutes, and had many other applications. With the development of rayon, silk exports fell precipitously. Japan's trade shortfall made it more difficult to buy imported iron, coal and oil, desperately needed for industry. The economic problems caused by the trade imbalance gave the militarists, the pro-expansion faction of the power elite, an opportunity to influence the civilian government, setting the stage for the invasion of resource-rich neighbor states.

After Ms. Shaw's presentation the seventy or so participants split into three groups, and rotated through three concurrent sessions. One of the sessions took us, on our big yellow school bus, to the American Textile History Museum, for a behind the scenes look at a very special collection, introduced by Diane Fagan Affleck, retired Director of Interpretation for the museum. What the Rosetta Stone is to linguists, fabric swatch books are to textile historians, I imagine. A swatch book is a ledger, usually dated, with fabric samples tipped in (glued down.) Swatch books which fortuitously escaped the landfill provide definitive dating for fabrics, and, when properly stored - dark and dry - a record of the original colorways.

Swatchbook page.

The museum laid out many swatchbooks for us, as well as manufacturing marketing materials featuring fabrics samples and contemporary fashions. As this material is normally not on display, it was exciting to see so many authentic fabrics from the 1920's and 1930's.

Left, swatchbook page.
Right, participant leafs through a swatchbook.
Right, below, apparel marketing materials.

Like many quilters, I've read about period fabrics, and absorbed the conventional wisdom regarding the design and color palette of fabrics printed during the economic downturn. Supposedly, inks and dyes were diluted to stretch the supply, resulting in a pastel palette. In addition, fabrics featured a lot of white, unprinted space, to further reduce usage of pigments. Fabrics printed in one color were popular, as this eliminated the need for registration, or the correct alignment of multiple colors in a pattern. Poorly printed fabric could not have been sold as first-quality goods, so the manufacturers would lose money if a complicated print was imperfect.

Swatchbook, conversational print.

A quick look at these swatchbooks revealed, however, that the situation was a bit more complicated, and only a granular study closely comparing dated swatches from the period would allow truly accurate characterization of the fabrics. I did see plenty of pastels, as expected, but also bright, intense colors, as well as fabrics with very little ground, or white space.


A few of the swatchbooks still show the
effects of
water damage from a
museum fire a while back.

I want this print in every colorway. Someone reproduce it, please.

Apparel manufacturer's marketing materials -
with swatches.

Another session at the museum was a lecture on modernist textiles given by Giles Kotcher, an independent dealer and author. He also brought some textiles for show and tell, including silks by Mallinson and Cheney and a piece of "The Gossips" fabric by Virginia Lee Burton of the Folly Cove art group. His lecture, which included material outside of the symposium's focus, covered a lot of ground in a limited time, so I'm glad Mr. Kotcher distributed lecture notes.

For me, the more hand-outs the better, and participants also received an extensive bibliography of era-specific titles, as well as surveys of fashion and costume which include discussion of the 1918-1941 era.

I enjoyed this jam-packed symposium and hope both museums will collaborate again on a day of learning and fun.

Detail, a 1930's quilt, from the collection of
NEQM Director
Connie Collum Barlow.

21 October 2011

Between the Wars textile symposium - Part 2

Butterflies, c. 1935. Nina Schrock.

On October 15, 2011, I was privileged to attend a day-long symposium, formally titled
Fabric, Fashions and Quilts: From the Armistice to Pearl Harbor. That is a rather unwieldy header, so I'm using a short title, Between the Wars, from one of the presentations, for my blog posts. The symposium was co-sponsored by the New England Quilt Museum and the American Textile History Museum. Our activities alternated between the NEQM and ATHM facilities. We made quite a sight - dozens of women shuttling between the buildings on a bright yellow school bus.

In the afternoon we enjoyed a "quilt-turning" of quilts from the collection of the NEQM, led by quilt historian Merikay Waldvogel. Merikay's assistants, who I believe were Stephanie Hatch and Cyndi Black (they were not introduced but are listed in the program) stacked quilt after quilt on a large table for our admiration. We received a wonderful hand-out with thumb-nails and description of each quilt, and the information in this blog is taken from the hand-out.

Pink Boudoir Whole Boudoir quilt, c. 1920.
Maker unknown.

The design for this quilt, whose true color is represented by the image on the right, above, was produced by the McCall Kaumagraph Company, which made iron-on transfers. The full-size pattern was printed on tissue-like paper and the consumer, presumable having pinned the paper to the fabric first, transferred the design to her fabric with the heat from her domestic iron.

Butterflies with Central Medallion, c. 1930.
Susie Alice Farnsworth Smith.

Ms. Smith, who lived in Massachusetts, arranged her butterflies around a central medallion made using the traditional broderie perse method, in which motifs are cut out from floral prints and then appliqued into a new arrangement. Broderie perse is an old technique, seen in 18th centuries quilts. Hence this quilt is an unusual combination of techniques.

Double Wedding Ring, c. 1930.
Ida Moore Gwin or Elizabeth Ann Landes Pierrel.

This quilt contains several fabrics print in New England Mills, and, yes, that is a swastika design in the detail on the right. The swastika is an ancient symbol which did not acquire negative connotations until the ascendency of the Third Reich in Germany. The presence of the motif is one way to establish definitively that the fabric, and the quilt, were produced before World War II. Since quilters often saved fabrics for years, making dating a quilt without documentation difficult, the presence of such markers as the swastika fabric is as important to the quilt historian as carbon dating is to the archaeologist.

Star of Bethlehem, c. 1925
Pearle Gwin Pierrel.

Like many quilt designs, this pattern has multiple names, including Star of Bethlehem, Lone Star and Blazing Star. Quilters could purchase complete kits or packages of die-cut, color co-cordinated diamonds.

On the wall behind the symposium participants are some of the other items on display in this room, including feedsacks, still with the purveyor's labels, and aprons. Not visible are many scrapbooks and swatch books set out around the room for our perusal. This type of documentation is essential to rigorous textile history research, but also just a treat to see.

Grandmother's Flower Garden, c. 1925
Susie Alice Farnsworth Smith.

Many versions of this popular pattern feature a center hexagon in light yellow, so the use of black centers makes this quilt a bit unusual, but I like the contrast between the dark center and the pastel tones of the petals. The quilter "fussy cut" many of the petals, as can be seen in the details on the right.

Postage Stamp Irish Chain, 1933.
Margaret Lottie Covey O'Brien.

Packages of tiny pre-cut cloth squares, or "postage stamp" pieces, were sold to quilters, so the maker of this bed covering may not have had to cut each and every tiny 3/4" piece. The hand-quilting is exquisite, and Ms. O'Brien embroidered her name, as well as the date of her quilt, in the border, a gift for quilt historians.

Butterflies, c. 1935
Nina Schrock.

According to our hand-out, "During the Depression, Eleanor Roosevelt encouraged women to participate in making traditional crafts as part of the Work Relief Program of the Works Progress Administration. Magazines like Good Housekeeping published patterns for scrap-bag quilts, allowing the quilter to use bits of left over materials."

Ms. Schrock sorted her scraps with a good eye for color, and the polka dot fabric of the insect abdomens sets off the plethora of prints beautifully.

Martha's Vineyard, 1937. Julia King.

The history of quilting is also the history of targeted marketing and advertising to women. In 1929, Fritz Hooker, the sales manager for Mountain Mist, maker of quilt battings since 1846, came up with the idea of printing quilt patterns on the inside of the batting wrappers. Martha's Vineyard was pattern number twenty-eight in a popular range that grew to one hundred and thirty patterns.

Merikay Walvogel displays an old quilt batting wrapper.

During the presentation, Ms. Waldvogel shared many additional items with us, including contemporaneous newspaper clippings, original patterns and other ephemera. Ms. Waldvogel has written several quilt history books and has ferreted out much primary documentation, including this quilt batting wrapper, on the inside of which is printed the pattern for the quilt.

Not so long ago much quilt history was a bit fuzzy, with more reliance on quilt lore, and an emphasis on the romance of quilts, than hard facts. Ms. Waldvogel's excellent research is a welcome corrective. Ms. Waldvogel was an excellent presenter, and I plan to track down her books, which include
Soft Covers for Hard Times: Quiltmaking and the Great Depression and Patchwork Souvenirs of the 1933 Chicago World's Fair.