Saturday, February 23, 2013

26. Ladies' Wreath: Mourning for Mother

Ladies' Wreath by
Becky Brown
Ladies' Wreath recalls the mourning wreath on
 the door, a symbol of a death in the family.

Jane Austen never married. She may have viewed marriage as a dangerous business. Three of her brothers' wives died after childbirth. Charles' wife Fanny died with her fourth baby. Both Francis and Edward lost their wives after the birth of their eleventh children.

In the Austen family and many others, women had babies until they died. The pattern was the same in America. Mary Todd Lincoln's mother died in 1826 after the birth of her seventh child. She was 32.  Methods of birth control were available, but "nice" women like the extended Austen family knew little beyond Jane's comment to her sister. "I would recommend to her and Mr. D[eedes], the simple regimen of separate rooms." Mrs. Deedes remained in the marital bed, eventually giving birth to 19 children but (amazingly enough) living long past menopause.

Queen Victoria survived nine pregnancies, luckier than her cousin
Crown Princess Charlotte who died in childbirth in
1818, making Victoria heir to the throne.
A century after the Austen wives died, women were still ignorant. Moral legislation insured they would remain ignorant.  America's Comstock Laws not only banned contraceptives, they also made it illegal to inform anyone as to their use. A physician warning a woman who had barely survived childbirth that a seventh or tenth child would kill her was legally forbidden to advise her about condoms, diaphragms or the rhythm cycle.
Margaret Sanger, using civil disobedience
 similar to the suffrage movement, broke
laws against disseminating obscene material
and in this publicity photo wore a gag.

Activists opened clinics, wrote advice books and went to jail for obscenity, gradually winning the rights to information and equipment.


Connecticut had some of the strongest and most enduring laws. Using any instrument or drug to prevent conception was illegal until 1965 (five years after the birth control pill became available.) In 1965 the United States Supreme Court ruled in Griswold vs. Connecticut that interfering with a married woman's right to practice contraception was an invasion of privacy. It wasn't until 1972 that the court extended that right to an unmarried woman.
Mourning for Mother

Ladies' Wreath by
Becky Brown

BlockBase #1131

Ladies Wreath was given the name about 1890 by the Ladies Art Company.

Cutting an 8" Finished Block
 A - Cut 12 squares 2-7/8".
     Cut each in half diagonally to make 2 triangles. You need 24 triangles.
B - Cut 4 squares 2-1/2".
Nancy caught an error:
The B squares should be cut 2-1/2" NOT 1-1/2". Your HST should then measure 2-1/2". I verified the cutting instructions on BlockBase. Have fun! Nancy in MO

12" Instructions

Ladies' Wreath by
Georgann Eglinski
Ladies' Wreath by
Dustin Cecil

Saturday, February 16, 2013

25. The Carrie Nation Quilt

The Carrie Nation Quilt by
Becky Brown

This double four-patch was given the name "The Carrie Nation Quilt" in the Kansas City Star's quilt column in 1940. Carrie Nation died in 1911 but she was still famous three decades later.

Carry or Carrie Nation with hatchet and Bible

Born in Kentucky in 1846, she moved with her family to western Missouri. After the Civil War she married an alcoholic war veteran who died in 1869. Carrie believed that the personal was the political. Rather than blaming an irresponsible, ill husband, she blamed society for permitting him to drink. The solution to alcohol abuse was the prohibition of sales and possession of spirits.

The WCTU, the Women's Christian Temperance Union
was the leading anti-liquor organization.

With her second husband she moved to Kansas in 1890. The state had recently passed a constitutional amendment prohibiting manufacture and sale of liquor, a law ignored more than enforced. Nation took enforcement into her own hands. As leader of the local Women's Christian Temperance Union she burst into "open saloons", destroying windows, fixtures and furniture with rocks and bricks. In 1901 she attacked a "joint" with a hatchet, finding a lasting image.

A trip to Wichita resulted in her arrest. The Topeka Capitol  reported on a jail house interview: " 'I came to Wichita expecting to get into trouble and here I am...I studied the law and asked competent lawyers if I can be prosecuted for destroying the property of the jointists and they say I cannot for the reason that the saloon men here have no rights under the state laws' ....She is considered eccentric at some times."

"Carrie Nation-Smasher," "A Dry Nation," "Carry A. Nation."
Nation changed her name-spelling to Carry for the
readymade slogan which she registered as a trademark.

Her "hatchetations" received international publicity, particularly after she partnered with James Furlong who managed her lecture tours. After her husband divorced her in 1901 she made a living selling small hatchets and photo portraits as she toured around the world, signing copies of her best-selling autobiography.

Eccentric, self-promoting or seriously unbalanced, Carrie Nation was the kind of reformer newspaper editors loved. She fit every stereotype of the unsexed harridan (one of her offenses was being nearly six feet tall.)

Her escapades were a not-so-subtle warning of what would happen if women got more political power. Women with a vote would vote for prohibition. One reason that the suffrage fight took decades to win was the well-financed opposition by those who manufactured and sold alcohol.

The Smasher's Mail was Nation's short-lived periodical.
Here's a complete run.

Her destruction of public property, willingness to be arrested over and over, and her marketing a movement with trinkets such as miniature hatchets predates similar behavior by militant suffragists. She was a trend setter in political publicity. Carrie Nation remains a household name thanks to her not-so-civil disobedience and skills in creating celebrity. 

"You refused me the vote and I had to use a rock." Carry A. Nation.

The Carrie Nation Quilt by
Becky Brown
She's fussy-cut some squares so they look like little bowties.

The double four-patch is one of the oldest quilt patterns.

As The Carrie Nation Quilt it's BlockBase #1105.

Cutting an 8" Finished Block
A - Cut 16 squares 1-1/2".
B - Cut 12 squares 2-1/2".

Cutting a 12" Finished Block
A - Cut 16 squares 2".

B - Cut 12 squares 3-1/2".

Piecing the Block

The Carrie Nation Quilt by
Georgann Eglinski

The Carrie Nation Quilt by
Dustin Cecil
Dustin rotated the small four-patches
so the block isn't quite so directional.

Woman with a hatchet pin

See an outline of Nation's life here at the Kansas Historical Society, which has a great collection of Nation items.
Read her autobiography The Use and Need of the Life of Carry A. Nation here:

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

We Are Half Done!

Connie B is using Morris prints
Half of 49 blocks is 24-1/2, and here it is mid week after Block 24. According to my math we are half way there.

Cynthia H.

I took some screenshots off our Flickr page so you can get an idea of how others are progressing.


I've grabbed these over the past few months so most of you are probably even further along now.
I did a little PhotoShopping on some of them, cropping them, squaring them up and brightening the light.


I took this photo myself and PhotoShop can't fix out of focus.


There are some great color ideas in play here.

Flobis31 has hers sewn together too.

Purples and gold...

purple and gold in different shades

Yet another take on the violet with the British green and white.

Setting it together with a counterchange frame---
alternating dark and light borders on the blocks.

Rosemary is recalling a cheery 1930s look.

Spiral is using the American gold theme

Becky's got her green blocks sewn together with a pop of pink.

Dustin's going to do a medallion, 
grouping all his different colorways in areas.

I have the last Saturday on my calendar as August 3.
Congratulations to all who are keeping up!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

24. True Blue: Too Smart

True Blue by
Becky Brown

Reading letters, diaries and fiction from the past occasionally presents problems with slang. Here's a short story in an 1863 issue of the Southern Literary Messenger titled "Evelyn Lochovel." A romantic crisis is upon the hero:
"Oh dear," cried Charles, with a groan of 'despair, "she is a blue, I must give her up. That would not suit me, cousin Mary."

 A blue? There's a clue in the previous paragraphs:
"What do you think I found her doing the last time I was there?""Can't say," answered Charles, looking as if he was prepared to hear the most astounding news."Why studying German by herself, and mastering it too."
Evelyn is a blue---an educated woman (if self-educated), a blue-stocking.

Honore Daumier did a series of satiric
Bluestocking illustrations in the 1840s.

More description from the fiction of the time (1853).
 "I understand he has the misfortune to have a blue-stocking for a wife, and whenever I have thought of going there, a vision with inky fingers, frowzled hair, rumpled dress, and slip-shod heels has come between me and my old friend, — not to mention thoughts of a disorderly house, smoky puddings, and dirty-faced children. Defend me from a wife who spends her time dabbling in ink, and writing for the papers."
The term blue-stocking was an insult, although many women wrote they were proud to be blue. The word implied a woman who read, who wrote (for publication, horrors!), who discussed ideas, literature, philosophy and history, who valued conversation over card playing.

Dr. Syntax by Thomas Rowlandson, 1820
This popular character had many adventures.
Looking for a wife,
he encounters a Bluestocking Beauty.
The subtleties of the insult changed with the generations but the negatives were that a blue was unfeminine, unattractive, slovenly, pretentious and a freak of nature.

"Breaking Up the Bluestocking Club" by
 Rowlandson, 1815

The term is traced to the time of London's Doctor Johnson whose biographer Boswell described the source in a women's literary salon:
"About this time it was much the fashion for several ladies to have evening assemblies, where the fair sex might participate in conversation with literary and ingenious men, animated by a desire to please. These societies were denominated Bluestocking Clubs; the origin of which title being little known, it may be worthwhile to relate it. One of the most eminent members of those societies, when they first commenced, was Mr. Stillingfleet, whose dress was remarkably grave, and in particular it was observed that he wore blue stockings [cotton stockings rather than fancier black silk stockings]. Such was the excellence of his conversation, that his absence was felt as so great a loss, that it used to be said, 'We can do nothing without the blue stockings; and thus by degrees the title was established.' Miss Hannah More has admirably described a Blue-stocking Club in her "Bas Bleu" a poem in which many of the persons who were most conspicuous there are mentioned."
The original Bluestocking Club featured Catharine Macaulay, 
Elizabeth Montagu, Elizabeth Griffith, standing behind them 
Hannah More and Charlotte Lennox. 
See more about this painting by Richard Samuel 
& more of Britain's Muses here:
Remember the Blues with True Blue, a nine patch published with that name by Hearth & Home magazine about a hundred years ago.

True Blue by
Becky Brown

Shading the four-patches in different dark
and light patterns gives different effects.
 BlockBase #1656
True Blue by
Dustin Cecil

True Blue by
Georgann Eglinski

Cutting an 8'' Finished Block

The red measurements are the BlockBase/EQ defaults set to 1/16".
A - Cut 1 square 3-1/2" (3-3/16").
B - Cut 16 squares 1 7/8'' x 1 7/8'' (1-13/16").
C - Cut 4 squares 3-3/8" (3-1/2").
     Cut each in half diagonally to make 2 triangles. You need 8.

Cutting a 12'' Finished Block
A - Cut 1 square 4-1/2".
B - Cut 16 squares 2-1/2".
C - Cut 4 squares 4-7/8". 

     Cut each in half diagonally to make 2 triangles. You need 8.

Piecing the Block

Becky, like many of you, gets unsettled about 9 patches in an 8" block. Here's what she says:
You know I'm all about preciseness and well, I just decided to make it and trim it down, which is against my nature, but it worked just fine. 
I cut A (center block) 3-1/4"
The 4-patches (B) are cut 1-7/8"
She then cut wide strips for the corners and trimmed them down.

It all works better for a 12" blocks.

Maybe we should bring back the word blue as a synonym for smart, successful women. It's better than some of the words we hear.

More about the original Blue Stocking Club

Hannah More's (1745-1833) introduction to her 1787 poem "The Bas Bleu or Conversation:" 
Bas-Bleu is pronounced somewhat like bah-bluh.
"THE following trifle owes it birth and name to the mistake of a Foreigner of Distinction, who gave the literal appellation of the Bas-bleu to a small party of friends, who had been often called, by way of pleasantry, the Blue Stockings. These little Societies have been sometimes misrepresented. They were composed of persons distinguished, in general, for their rank, talents, or respectable character, who met frequently at Mrs. Vesey's and at a few other houses, for the sole purpose of conversation, and were different in no respect from other parties, but that the company did not play at cards. "Read More's "Bas Bleu" here.