Tuesday, December 31, 2013

history lesson

I have this quilt hanging in my kitchen. It is fascinating to look at. If you look close, you see that the squares are not all the same size, the fabrics do not match. But then you notice that all the center squares are the same {red} and the second set of strips are all the same, a red print. 

But how could anyone put those two pieces of fabric next to each other? I know I couldn't. You just have to stand back and see the whole picture, it all comes together so nicely.

What is that quilt pattern? I think it is in the log cabin family with the red center squares and the strips around.

I recently saw this on Pinterest and recognized it as the same pattern as mine:

The blocks look so simple but with endless combinations of colors it makes a great quilt.

Still wondering about the name of the pattern, I asked the only quilt expert I know {Linda} and of course she came back with a wealth of information:

You are correct, Susan.  It is a log cabin variation. Near as I can tell from BlockBase, the software version of Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Blocks, your block variation is called White House Steps and assigned a number of 2572.  It is attributed to the LAC #221.  Ladies Art Company.

Ladies Art Company. Founded in St. Louis by H.M. Brockstedt, it is credited as the first mail-order quilt pattern company. Exactly when they published their first catalog, Diagrams of Quilt, Sofa, and Pin Cushion Patterns, has not been determined, but an 1895 ad mentions 272 patterns. The 1906 edition included 450 designs. A second catalog, Quilt Patterns: Patchwork and Applique, was published in 1922 and revised again between 1928 and 1934 with patterns through 531. This last catalog was published until the company went out of business in the 1970s. Cuesta Benberry and Wilene Smith note that the number of the pattern can be used to date them. Applique designs from the 1920s were usually numbered in four digits. Following is an index of dates and numbers drawn from Wilene Smith's research, published as "Quilt History in Old Periodicals: A New Interpretation," Uncoverings 1990, Laurel Horton (ed.), The American Quilt Study Group, San Francisco, CA, 1991.

LAC Pattern No  Date Published
    1 - 272       in print 1895
273 - 400          1897
401 - 420          1901
421 - 450          1906
451 - 500          1922
501 - 509          1928
511 - 531          1928-1934

Hope that helps!  I attached an image of the block for you to compare with your quilt.  

Wow, Thanks Linda!

My interest was peaked by the Ladies Art Company, so I googled "Ladies Art Company 221" and came up with this web-site:

1895 White House Steps pattern


which has the original pattern with 5 pages of instructions including pieces use for pattern pieces, and this description:

A quilt pattern published by the Ladies Art Company. The Ladies Art Company placed small ads in ladies magazines for their catalog. From the catalog, the pattern was ordered and mailed to the customer. The LAC was the first business to offer hundreds of quilt patterns in a mail order catalog. This pattern was printed in the 1895 catalog. This is a quilt pattern in four pieces. A. An 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of paper with a black and white illustration of a full quilt. Color suggestions and cutting instructions with a diagram of the quilt block are included. B-C. Stapled to the first sheet is an 8 1/2" x 11" and an 8 1/2" x 14" page with full size pattern pieces (including 1/4" seam allowances). D. A small 3 1/2" X 3 1/2" square of cardstock with a drawing of the quilt block colored in green. Quilt size: 83x99" Block size: 13x13"

Suggestions for Cutting:
Trace piece of the pattern on light cardboard or sandpaper and cut out. Use these cardboard or sandpaper patterns as cutting guides. The most accurate method is to lay pattern on material (rough side down, if sandpaper is used); mark around pattern with pencil. Cut out on pencil lines. Whenever possible lay straight edges of the pattern parallel with the threads of the material.

So now I have learned that the quilt hanging on my wall was made from a pattern from 1895 called White House Steps, a variation of the log cabin pattern. The original pattern had strips or sashing between all blocks, setting them apart. The history of a quilt is interesting, where it has been, when it was made, who made it, I wish I knew more about this one. Another reason to label your quilts, you never know where they will end up!

I also learned a new word - ephemera:
1 : things that are important or useful for only a short time : items that were not meant to have lasting value
2:  paper items (as posters, broadsides, and tickets) that were originally meant to be discarded after use but have since become collectibles {the original magazine quilt pattern of 1895}

My kitchen wall quilt is kinda cattywampus in places, the corners of the blocks do not always line up, some blocks are bigger than others. Then I found this one version, maybe this is what the quilter was going for:

Bottom line, I think I am going to have to try this pattern :) !


Linda J said...

I wondered if you might post about this, LOL. I'm no expert but I am a student of quilting. Love BlockBase and before that the Encyclopedia of Pieced Blocks where others dealt with the ephemera. Great word!

Now days people would probably label the last one you found as "modern" or wonky, improvisational. Then I think it was probably more like someone didn't use sandpaper when they marked, cut with scissors and none too straight and only had a nodding acquaintance with the concept of consistent seam allowance. Charming in its own way, right?

Glad I could help out and love that you found the document on further searching.

Gypsy Quilter said...

I recently made this in plaids for a QOV top. There are even instructions if you care to pop on over to my blog.