Thursday, September 22, 2016

Handmade History: Quilting

by Kate McCreight, guest blogger
www.knitsinclass.com

Continuing my obsession with all things sewing, quilting seems like a natural follow-up from my last Handmade History post about fabric. The practice of quilting fabrics for warmth in clothing and bed coverings dates back thousands of years and is practiced the world over. However, for our purposes, I'll just be looking at history of American quilting, and specifically quilts that were made and used in Minnesota.

Blazing sun pattern (sunburst variation), detail of patchwork quilt, c. 1850, Winona, MN. From the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society, 65.194.4
Basically, a quilt is three layers: a quilt top, middle layer of batting, and a quilt bottom. There are three basic types of quilting styles, with numerous variations and combinations of the styles. Whole  cloth quilts are made from whole pieces of fabric (not pieced), with intricate patterns of stitching holding the layers together. A patchwork quilt is just as it sounds, with geometric pieces of fabric cut and sewn together into a variety of patterns, both simple and elaborate. Applique quilts are sometimes described as "best" or "show" quilts. Fabric appliqués are applied to the whole cloth, sometimes using elaborate stitching.
Wool felt appliqué pattern, River Bird

Quilts were (and are) made for a variety of uses, the most primary reason for the early settlers and pioneers were as objects for keeping warm. For early westward traveling settlers, quilts made in newly settled parts of the United States were largely utilitarian, made from usable scraps of older blankets and clothing. The quilts were typically patchwork in nature.

Quilting was not always a solitary affair, and quilting bees provided not only a chance to work on a large and sometimes complex design together, but also a chance for women to socialize. Quilting bees typically took place during daylight hours, and were often outdoors to get the best possible lighting for making small decorative stitches.
Women quilting together, 1895. From the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society, negative #46770.

By the 1840s, as technology and transportation of goods advanced, fabrics became more widely available, and decorative quilting grew in popularity. Victorian ladies were schooled in various needlework arts, including quilting, and the richness of the pieces they created were evidence of a skilled lady of leisure. Alongside other forms of needlework, quilts were placed into competitions at state and county fairs.
Crazy quilt; velvet, taffeta, and satin; c. 1885; made by Anna Teachout and Orena Teachout, dressmakers, and possibly Cordelia Teachout, in Owatonna, Farmington, and St Paul, MN. This quilt won a ribbon at the 1885 Minnesota State Fair. From the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society, 7410.1

Quilts were made not only for their basic purpose of a warm bed covering, but also as the intention of being family heirlooms and commemorating events.
Commemorative Quilt, Spirit of St. Louis, c 1927-1939. This quilt was made in the colors of the French flag to commemorate Charles Lindbergh's1927 solo Atlantic flight. From the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society, 2010.21.1

Quilt kits becomes available at the turn of the 20th century. All the fabric arrived cut, with stitching marks in place to guide the quilting and placement of appliqués.
Pineapple design quilt kit, c 1930-1936, Morningside, MN. Pre-cut pattern pieces, binding, and instructions. From the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society, 1999.60.1
The resulting kit quilts were derided by critics as making quilt making "as far removed from art as paint by numberings," and these same critics woefully lamented the "hurrying age" that made such "inferior" quilting popular. This was especially true if the kit quilt was placed in a competition alongside a scratch made quilt. (Interestingly, there seemed to be no distinction made by critics between quilts created by hand or on sewing machines.) However, quilting kits were very popular, and provided novice quilters the guidance to create more elaborate appliqués and stitch patterns. Early kit quilts can often be identified by the pattern markings still visible on the fabric, as early kits were not marked with water soluble materials.

Applique kit quilt, c 1920. Author's collection.
Detail of above appliqué kit quilt. The small blue dots mark the quilting lines. Author's collection.

As America fell deeper into the Great Depression, quilting was a practical way to use scraps to make a greater, useful whole. Fabric remnants from clothing, flour sacks, and chicken feed bags were incorporated into patchwork quilt blocks.

By the 1950s, interest in quilting died down. In an age of growth and prosperity, quilting was seen as a painful reminder of the leaner hard times of the Great Depression and sacrifices of World War II. Fortunately, quilting experienced a revival in the 1970s, alongside an increasing interest in handcraft in general.
Many colors crown quilt, Hartford Avenue Quilts

Quilts of the 21st century are not far removed from their 19th century siblings: both beautiful and utilitarian, created by hand or machine, unique expressions of the artist who created them.
Rainbow stripes quilt, Aimee's Homestead


For further reading:
International Quilt Study Center and Museum
Minnesota Historical Society
Textile Center

Monday, September 12, 2016

Selfie Challenge

by Cindy Lindgren

This month I asked HandmadeMN members to take a selfie with their products. I said you can wear it, hide behind it, however you wish to share yourself with your creations. It's a fun way to connect the makers and their goods. There's a link to their Etsy shop beneath the photo so you can see more of their work.

Shelly Daood wearing a reversible cloche hat from her shop, Bound to be Creative

Mary Ellen Kutz is wearing a poncho made of cotton and sari silk ribbon and art yarns from her shop, Mimi's Fun Stuff
Aimee McAdams has a cat tea cozy photobombing her selfie. It's from her shop, Aimee's Homestead.

Regan K. Saunders with a Regan's Brain Swiss Cross Pillow.

Mary Megan modeled her most recent tote from Pog Totes.

Feelin' the love. Marnie Karger with one of her Layered Love cards from Crafterall.

Karrie Norenberg Blees is in the garden with her leather cross body bag made from up cycled coats. Her shop is Sewing for the Harvest.

Hmm, wonders Susie Scherrer Crouse, is my turquoise necklace a good color for me? Find it at her Etsy shop, Metaling Susie.

Brenda Peterson and her daughter are wearing their cunning hats from Mellow Fury.

Brian Western of Western Art Glass explains,
iinto primal stare Aphis nerii with nary
a care in the world

Kelly Ringer wearing  Custom Copper and Leather bracelet Cuffs and Rings from her shop, Chatter by Hammer.



Mary Pow holding a bunch of handmade whale bags from MinneBITES.
Christine Burnes wearing her necklace from Kaleidoscope Kitty

Christine Burnes also took a selfie with a scarf made from her handspun yarn, also available at Kaleidoscope Kitty.

Carma La posed with a big batch of Alice soap from her shop, Kiyi Kiyi Cosmetics.


Thank you HandmadeMN members for sharing yourselves and your work with our readers. Let's do this again sometime!

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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Fall Art and Craft Shows in Minnesota

By Sharon Parker
Sharon's Compendium

Here's an overview of arts and crafts fairs and markets coming up this fall that we've heard about because creative little birds in the HandmadeMN team have told us about them. Know of others not mentioned here? Please share the info in the comments!

Mama's Artisan Market is an occasional sale by the shop Mama's Happy, featuring locally handmade items. The next one is this weekend starting today, September 8–10, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, at their occasional shop at 7888 County Rd. 6, Independence, Minn. 55359. See other locations and sale dates here. This weekend's event includes live music, food, and festivities.


Mama's Artisan Market
The Little Falls Arts & Crafts Fair takes place throughout historic downtown Little Falls on this weekend,  September 10–11; Saturday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Little Falls Arts & Crafts Fair

LoLa Art Crawl, September 17–18, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days, is a self-guided tour of sites in the Longfellow neighborhood of South Minneapolis where local artists live, work, and sell their goods. Many of the stops on the crawl are independent small businesses selling unique goods or food and libations, which are also hosting one or more artists for the crawl. It's a pretty fun way to explore a sweet neighborhood bordered by the Mississippi River and Minnehaha Falls known for its classic bungalows. (I know this 'cuz, yeah, it's my neighborhood and I'm in the crawl.) Brochures with maps are available around the neighborhood and as a PDF from the art crawl website.


Painting by LoLa artist Brendan Farley

Celebrate Art! Celebrate Coffee!, Saturday, September 17 (time not given, just "all day"), in downtown Willmar, features a juried art show and sale, artists' demonstrations, free hands-on make-and-take activities for all ages, a food court, and free coffee. If it rains, it all moves indoors to Kennedy School.

Flicker watercolor by Tanya Beyer, who will be at Celebrate Art! Celebrate Coffee!

Junk Bonanza, September 22–24, is an indoor, juried market of antiques, architectural salvage, and artisan-repurposed and upcycled goods, at Canterbury Park, 1100 Canterbury Road S., Shakopee, Minn. 55379. Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission $10.


Lampshades by Brenda Irwin of LightReading, who will be at the Junk Bonanza.

The Twin Cities 20th Century Design Show & Sale is a very large show of antique and new furniture and decor from the American Arts & Crafts design tradition, which now includes Mid-Century Modern furniture and decor also. Plus original art in these styles, from ceramics (tile and pottery) to paper goods (cards, prints, etc.). At the Progress Center, Minn. State Fairgrounds, St. Paul. September 24–25; Sat. 9–5, Sun. 11–4


Winter Cabin art print by Cindy Lindgren, who will be participating in the 20th Century Design Show


Saint Paul Art Crawl
Various sites around Saint Paul, Minn. (get a map here)
Oct. 14–16; Fri. 6–10 p.m., Sat. noon–8, Sun. noon–5


"Steak Sandwiches," painting by Chris LaFontaine, poster art winner for the St. Paul Art Crawl

Craft'za is once again at the Grain Belt Bottling House, 79 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis 55413, on Saturday, November 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will also be food trucks, and lots of free parking nearby. 


The historic Grain Belt Bottling House in NE Minneapolis, site of Craft'za