Saturday, August 24, 2013

Block 52 - Sister's Choice

I was surprised that Sister's Choice was not one of the blocks Ms. Brackman chose for the Grandmother's Choice quilt, and almost from the beginning, had an idea for a family story to tell to go with the block.  I made the block in the greens and golds I think of when I think of Faye's house.

I'll let my sister Joyce tell her Sister's Choice story.

Sometime after Grandpa's disabling stroke, Mom moved him to the Glen Ellyn house so she could take care of him in his last years. Grandma still lived in the Elburn house but eventually, when she was in her nineties, taking care of the old house by herself was too much. As she prepared to move to an apartment in Kaneville, her daughters all helped to go through her possessions, including the boxes in the attic. Among them, everyone was surprised to find a silk dress and the shoes I photographed for Cheryl's Week 19 - Old Maids Ramble post. Grandma was surprised too - it was her wedding dress and she kept saying it was not possible because, she repeated, "I burned that dress!" (In those days, people in the country burned their household refuse.) Obviously, she had not burned it - perhaps Grandpa was designated to do the job and couldn't bring himself to? In any case, the dress came down from the attic, where it was examined in detail. I tried it on so Grandma could see it.

Joyce in Faye's 1913 Silk Wedding Dress
Grandma's mother, our great grandmother Carrie, made the dress, and we all marveled at the techniques she used. This dress was an extremely up-to-date style for its day, as evidenced by the Butterick pattern illustration Cheryl used in the Week 19 post, and in this photograph from the New York Public Library collection. They say this is Margaret Wilson, but from reading the Wilson family history, this must be Jessie Woodrow Wilson, who was married in the White House in November 1913 (Margaret Wilson never married.)

Image courtesy of the New York Public Library. Their record at this link.
Notice the touches of lace, the detail of the gather in the hem of the skirt and the blouson style of the bodice of both dresses.

Silk is very strong, but unfortunately, it used to be treated in a way that destroyed the fibers. Hiding in the attic for decades undisturbed, the dress held together but by October 1988, when I was going to get married, it had shattered and was not wearable. Mom copied the design, making a pattern by tracing off the seam lines of the original dress, so that I could wear it more than 75 years after Grandma and Grandpa's wedding.

Joyce and Don

Unlike the silk, the original lace was in good condition. Mom was able to use it to trim my dress. The sleeve detail is shown in this photo of Dad walking us down the aisle.

Cheryl made her dress and chose a pattern that repeated the gathered hem detail of the original dress in her lace over-blouse. She also copied the decorative buckle on Grandma's dress best shown in these photos.

Although Grandma did not live to see me get married, Mom finished the remake about a month before the wedding, and Grandma got to see me in it when it was done. It was wonderful to be able to wear the dress for my wedding as a tribute to my grandmother and her long lasting marriage to my grandfather.


Faye and Fielding at the front door of the Glen Ellyn house, probably in the mid to late 1970's.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Not-a-shower gift

My niece Tanya is getting married in less than two months!  Her sister Niki is Maid of Honor and hosted a luncheon for her last weekend.  When Joyce was here, she shopped my stash for a couple of fabrics that I could make a gift from. I managed to whip these up and sent them to Joyce to bring to the occasion for Tanya.  There are six placemats, with napkins that match the backing/binding.

Joyce picked the green and magenta stylized floral of the wide stripe in the center.  Dorry will recognize the two most outstanding leaf prints I used next to the magenta bits nearer the edges.  She sent the light one peaking out from under the napkins to use in Dana's quilt (which I did to good effect!) and the one on the right is from the cutoffs of the backing she gave us with the  Welcome to Chestnut Ridge, quilt top she designed and made for us as a housewarming present in 2007.  (The quilt, though not the backing, is visible at the link.) I also got to include two of Vicki Welsh's shibori hand-dyes that I also used in Dana's quilt.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Block 51 - Indiana Farmer

I may have some kind of masochistic streak to pick the Indiana Farmer block to represent Faye. This was an exceptionally difficult block to piece in an 8 inch size.

I made it with machine piecing with some hand applique of the ends of the little yellow tab shapes.  I think when I quilt it, I can straighten it out a bit.  The green and yellow print fabrics in the star shape (perhaps it is a cogged wheel?) reminded me of Faye's Elburn living room. 

Difficult as this block was to put together, it seemed like the right block to represent Faye who was born and raised in Indiana.  She and Fielding left for Illinois only when their farm failed in 1928, when my mother was a baby.  They remained farmers all their working lives, raising dairy cows, pigs and chickens as well as feed crops. Before Fielding's heart attack, they had a farm near Waterman, Illinois which sat on a bed of gravel. The proceeds from the gravel operating lease allowed them to retire and move back to Elburn where my mother had grown up.  Fielding continued to work into his 80's, gardening for hire, selling Watkins products, and as a watchman at the Kaneville High School.  Faye was the quintessential farmer's wife, as evidenced by the letters she wrote to my mother when she was a freshman in college.  Happily, my mother saved these letters and I have transcribed them for future generations to read of Faye's  work on the farm and love for her children in her own words.

One more reason to choose the Indiana Farmer block was this photograph from Aunt Alice's collection of Faye on a Farmall tractor.  I believe most of the time, Faye worked in the house and in the chicken yard. Someone probably thought it was worth taking a photo of her in her house dress at the wheel.  This tractor would be bright red.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Block 50 - Crown of Thorns

My setting for Dana's Grandmother's Choice requires 52 blocks. I decided to make one for each grandmother, and one more.

Today's block is for my grandmother Mary.  Mary was a devoted Catholic from a strong Catholic family -- two of her sisters were nuns.  The strength of her faith is an important part of my memory of her. With my good friend Dorry's help, I chose the Crown of Thorns block to represent that memory.

This Crown of Thorns is made with ornate and metallic fabrics that evoke for me the interiors of Catholic churches here and in Europe.

One childhood memory that includes my Grandmother Mary is the 1965 family trip to New York City and Washington DC.  That year, the Vatican Pavilion at the World's Fair displayed Michelangelo's Pieta, the only time the statue ever traveled outside of the Vatican City.  The Pieta was set on a special platform in a theater with a deep blue background, while viewers moved slowly across the theater on mobile walks at various heights. I was only a child, but looking at the statue with my grandmother made a lasting impression on me.  I know Mary made a trip to the Vatican later (she traveled extensively in retirement) - I wonder if she saw it again?

During that era, most of our family memories were captured on movie film. But we have one very special photo from the trip. We had tickets to the Senate. Richard Anderson, our minister's son, was living in Washington and escorted us around, taking us by way of the Capital Subway system.  It happened that we rode it at the same time as President of the Senate, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, who was traveing with his photographer.

Mary is in the background behind Mom's shoulder and Dana, Hubert Humphrey has his hand on your dad's shoulder. At five, Joyce was too young to be admitted to the Senate chamber and was entertained by Richard in the lobby while we got first-hand exposure to our representatives in action. It's hard to imagine that we all traveled from Chicago to Washington and NYC and back in a 1959 Chevrolet station wagon, luggage and all.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Civil War Block of the Month - August 1863 - Confederate Silver

The block this month recalls deprivations Sarah Morgan and her family in Louisiana suffered.

I think of this as the Hourglass block.

Shep Whitcomb got to go home for a furlough in August, 1863. A letter from a friend still with the regiment on August 11th tells of his testifying for a comrade who was subsequently restored to duty without loss of pay. Another member of the regiment was killed cleaning his own revolver. Interestingly, he tells Shep a letter came for him from Charley (probably Shep's brother, my great great grandfather).  Had the letter been from brother Billy with the 82nd, his friend would have opened it.

Billy sent a letter home to Henry and a sister on August 8th from Camp Thomas, Tennessee, just back from a blackberry scout. He has heard "hints" that England and France were going to attack but hopes that is false.  He is aware that Shep is home and wishes he could be there too, and says that if nothing happens before next year at this time, "we will both be there to stay." He writes, "You spoke about the visiting party at Father's. You said that Shep couldn't relish one of mother's old fashioned dinners. If you think I couldn't, just try me. I'll bet a hoss that I could do a large share towards demolishing one or two anyhow. I might be like the feller's hogs after that.  There is a chance now for enlisting in the regular Army or something similar, but I guess that I shall be content with what I have. Not that I am sick of my bargain, or that I have ever regretted one time that I came, but if I get through with this safe, they may kiss my American star-spangled foot before I will go into it again. I would just as soon be a soldier as anything else if it were not for 2 or 3 objections."

On the 16th of August, with the army planning for capture of Chattanooga, the 82nd broke camp and was sent to Bridgeport to construct a bridge over the Tennessee River. The Bridgeport in question is in the northeast corner of Alabama.  A history of the town, including the destruction and rebuilding of the bridge multiple times, can be found at this link:

After the bridge was completed on the 31st, the 82nd rejoined the army at Battle Creek, and began to cross the Tennessee River there. It took two days to get the regiment across on temporary rafts.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Week 49 - An Arc

Ms. Brackman chose an arc to symbolize that the fight for equality is not yet finished, and a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr., "The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice." The quote is based on abolitionist minister Theodore Parker's much earlier writing.

This is the last block of the series - I have three extras for my setting for Dana's quilt, but I decided to elaborate on the given block to make this fan. It was really fun to see my fussy cutting come out the way I intended it to!

My posts for last three blocks will feature more family photos, but today I am sharing three more of Faye and Fielding through the years. 

This one is undated, but Faye and Fielding are wearing the same clothing as in the 1940 era photo of them with their five living children that I posted for Week 11 back in November.

This photo is from Aunt Alice's collection, labeled Anniversary.  Their glasses may be the same, but Faye's dress and jacket are different than what she wore for their 50th in 1963. (photos at this link).  It was probably also taken in the 1960's.

 And finally, I believe I took this snapshot with a little Kodak Instamatic when I was in 4-H taking a photography project, so it was probably from around 1970.  Faye and Fielding are sitting on a picnic bench in the Johnson Mound Forest Preserve in Kane County, where my mother grew up and where they retired. I know it was not a posed shot, they were simply enjoying the family outing together. Fielding would have been about 80, and Faye just two years younger than he was.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Finished sweater - but not for me!

It feels like I haven't finished a sweater in a while. Back in February, when Joyce and Niki were here, I planned a project for each of them. Niki's boot toppers were done in April, but Joyce's sweater was going to be for this winter. Joyce was slated to come to North Carolina at the end of July, so while we were in Chapel Hill, I sewed it together so she can take it home with her.

I changed a few aspects of the designer's pattern for this sweater, Estrid, by Elsebeth Lavold, making the collar smaller, the bottom edge straight across instead of pointed at the bottom of the cable design, and adding the cable design to the center back. I also shaped it for the waist and slightly modified the drop shoulder to remove some extra stitches from the underarm area.

Joyce picked this delightful shade of blue.  It's one of the pattern designer's own yarns, Silky Wool, which I also used in a different color for my own sweater by the same designer, Ylva.

The cuff area of the sleeve is as designed, somewhat long with the point of the cable motif falling over the top of Joyce's hands.

 Just for fun, I tried some photos with different lighting and really like this one of Joyce's face!