I mentioned in my previous post that I had the privilege of assembling some lovely antique hand embroidered signature blocks into a finished quilt. And, as promised in that post, I’m going to show pictures of those blocks. You are in for a TREAT. These ladies didn’t just sign their names, they embellished the blocks with lovely embroidered flowers, vines, butterflies and baskets!
My childhood friend and classmate Toyja Parks found these blocks in her mother Polly Parks Smith’s things when her family was helping Polly move to assisted living. The blocks were probably made for Polly’s sister Pearl Lodwig. Toyja had me finish the quilt and then presented it to Polly a few weeks ago as an early 90th birthday gift. I had the awesome pleasure to be there when it was given to her! It was so interesting to hear Polly talk about all the women who made these blocks so long ago.
I know a lot of people from Washington County are going to read this so I’d first like to list the names:
Vera E. Crosier
Ima Jean Ogley
Elsie Ross (block is dated 1933)
Mother Wilson (block is dated Oct 19, 1932)
Mother (this would have been Polly and Pearl’s mother)
The 25th block simply has the date “1932”.
Here’s a picture of the quilt. (I will replace this picture with a better one when I have a chance to photograph it again in a couple of weeks.)
I’m pretty sure that the ladies intended it to be sewn together with the blocks “on point” somewhat like this. The “on point” arrangement allows the signatures to be viewed “straight on” (without having to lean your head to one side), and it also allows all 25 blocks to be used.
Now for the fun part! I’m going to present these blocks row by row as I arranged them. I tried to arrange them so that any relationships that I could determine would have the blocks in the same area of the quilt. For example, there are three with the last name “Batterson”, so those three blocks were placed in the upper right area (top 2 rows) of the quilt. There were a couple that had signatures that were very similar in style, so they got to be next to each other (and I didn’t realize at the time that the two ladies were sisters….)
IMPORTANT: YOU CAN CLICK ON ANY OF THE PICTURES TO SEE A BIGGER VERSION!
Row 1: The names are Verna Horning, Susie Hougland, Ethel Batterson, and Ida Batterson. The fabric that Susie used (2nd block) is fantastic and would fit in some of the modern quilts that are being made today!
I love the beautiful flowers that Ethel put in her block, and notice how she used a satin stitch on her name:
Row 2: Alice Durns, Mother, and Dorothy Batterson. Note that some of the blocks have “white space” around the edges and some don’t. In a quilt like this, everyone’s blocks turn out to be different sizes. Someone had added the additional white fabric to the edges of the smaller blocks. I still had to trim them down so they were all the same size however.
Row 3: Anna Hanson, Mae Parker, Hazel Wilson, and Neva Olson.
I love how Mae used her block fabric to inspire her embroidery design:
And Hazel’s embroidered flowers are beautiful! Also, notice the pink dots on her signature:
Row 4: Kathryn Funk, Mother Wilson, Minnie Jones. Note that the Mother Wilson block is dated October 19, 1932:
The Hazel Wilson signature in row 3 is very similar to the Mother Wilson signature:
Row 5: Irene Hanson, Vera E. Crosier, Gaurah Lodwig, and Hattie Davis:
Anna Hanson’s signature in row 4 is very similar to Irene Hanson’s in row 5:
I placed Vera’s and Gaurah’s blocks next to each other because the signatures were so exquisite and so similar…. and then found out that they were sisters. The flowers on both blocks are wonderful, and both ladies used variegated embroidery floss!
Row 6: Hazel Rhoades, 1932, and Kitty Younger. Of all these women, Hazel is the only one that I remember, as she wrote the North 62 social column in the local newspaper while I was growing up in Akron. Many of the people mentioned in her column were from the northern Washington County area.
Toyja remembers visiting “Aunt Kitty” and her husband “Uncle Dick” as a very small child. They were African American, which was very unusual in the tiny town of Akron. I love the fabric that Kitty chose for her block:
Row 7: Hazle Hotchkiss, Ima Jean Ogley, Annie Ogley, and Elsie Ross (who dated her block 1933):
Again, the signatures on Ima Jean’s and Annie’s blocks are very similar:
When I originally got the blocks from Toyja, a few of them had blue stains on them and it appeared that Hazle’s block had gotten wet and had bled onto a few of the blocks beneath it in the stack. I got most of the stains out but wasn’t able to remove them completely; you can see faint blue squares on both of these blocks:
There’s also a small spot on Hazle’s block that I wasn’t able to remove. However, notice that her block is hand pieced!
All in all, given that these blocks are over 80 years old, they are in remarkably good condition. They were a bit wonky and there were a few holes that I had to repair, and a few places where the patches were unraveling. However, I think it’s wonderful that they are now being enjoyed.
A few technical details:
The block pattern is called “Album Quilt Block”; it was published in the Chicago Tribune in the 1930’s. Here’s a link to a blog post that I found: http://nancycabotsewalong.blogspot.com/2013/01/album-quilt-block.html
The blocks are finished 12″ square, sashed with 1″ strips. The fabric used for the sashing and setting triangles are 1930’s reproduction fabrics (100% cotton). I used wide off-white 100% cotton muslin for the backing, and Quilter’s Dream cotton batting. Quilting was done on a Gammill Statler machine with Aurifil 50 weight off white cotton thread. The finished quilt is 72″ x 72″.
Okay, now that I’ve run on and on about this quilt, some of you probably want to know where you can see it in person, right?
Toyja and her mother have graciously consented to let me borrow the quilt for various quilt shows. The first one will be in Longmont CO on Oct. 17-18, 2014 with the Longmont Quilt Guild. For details including, schedule, map, and a coupon for a discount off the admission price, go to the quilt show website, http://lqgquiltshow.org/
For more information about the Longmont Quilt Guild, go to http://www.longmontquiltguild.org/.
Toyja and I are also going to try to get this quilt to Akron for the Washington County Fair in 2015.