Saturday, March 29, 2014

Threads of Memory - Month 3: New Garden Star for Catherine White Coffin

Our Threads of Memory history stories are from the Underground Railroad. Today's  block honors the Coffin family from North Carolina who moved to Newport, Indiana to operate a way-station that offered shelter and clothing to escapees.

New Garden Star

They operated out of a meeting house they named New Garden for the place in Guilford County, North Carolina they left behind.

I have no soldier letters from Shep and Billy for March. After the Meridian Campaign, according to the regimental history, veterans, which Shep would have counted among, were absent on furlough during March and April, leaving Vicksburg on March 4th and arriving home March 17th. I hope that Shep was able to enjoy some time with his family while the newer recruits went on the Red River campaign.

The 82nd was still in the vicinity of Chattanooga.  The regimental historian, Colonel Hunter's brother Alfred, wrote that their duty after the battle was to guard the area of Ringgold, an important point for the eventual march against Atlanta.  Alfred tells one story from March:

"During our stay at this point, some time in March, a snow six inches deep fell, and two Ohio regiments formed in line of battle some distance apart facing each other, and opened a snowball battle. It was real exciting to see them charge and counter charge, and finally commence capturing their enemy and carry them to the rear. The men became as earnest in the battle as though it was an actual enemy confronting them. There was much blood spilled principally from noses and all appeared to enjoy it very much."

Alfred also tells a complicated story about getting an extra ration of potatoes for the 82nd that were shipped in barrels to the Indiana troops.  It sounds as though potatoes were much appreciated and not part of the rations.  

from the Library of Congress collection: Boxcars and depot with Federal cavalry guard beyond, Chattanooga Tennessee.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Four Identical Little Memory Quilts

When my family was going through my mother's clothing to sort what some of us wanted to keep and what should be taken to the local thrift store, I came across a blouse made of a fabric I instantly recognized. My father had brought it back from a trip to Egypt decades ago.  I had personally not seen my mother wear the blouse, but based on the frayed parts around the collar and sleeve seams, she had worn it quite a bit. Because I lived away from the area, I asked my geographically closer siblings if they had seen our mother wear it, and they did.  The blouse was a great example of her excellent sewing skills, but, with its large boxy shape and kimono sleeves, was out of style and too worn out to be useful as apparel -- indeed, based on its location in the closets, she had not worn it for some time herself. The blouse seemed too precious to me to turn over to the thrift store, where no doubt, it would be thrown into a stack of items for sale by the pound to the industrial rag industry.  The fabric is a very fine Egyptian cotton plain weave - what was a quilter to do?

I turned into not one but four quilts, one for each of my siblings.  I thought the hieroglyphics lent themselves to this classic strippy design with a simple on-point nine patch block. A current fabric line called Legacy, with Egyptian motifs in blue and gold gave interest to the setting triangles, and very thin cuts of a classic stripe separated the original blue and white cotton from the pieced areas.  The size of the quilts (about 25 inches square) was determined by the length of the strips I cut from the fronts and back of the blouse.

I had long ago planned to make an Egyptian-themed quilt and collected several prints in fat-quarter and full-yard pieces.  The two largest of these wound up on as backings.  Carl got this one, because his living room has long had a print of the mask of King Tut on display. 

These quilts were finished several months ago, but the other three waited in a dark closet for a couple of months here in North Carolina, while Carl's quilt went on display in the "Something Blue" exhibit Dorry curated for Art Space in Herndon Virginia.  Dorry has sent Carl's quilt on to him.

Jeff's quilt got this camel print for the backing. I thought it would appeal to his wife, Joanna.

Joyce and Roger's quilts got another print from the Legacy fabric line - I thought I took a photo of the two quilts with the back of one and front of the other showing, but I can't find it right now. Here's a swatch of the print -

Some parts of the sleeves of Mom's blouse are already in a quilt that granddaughter Jenn made for her sister Lyn last year (pictured at this link) and I have a few more of those sleeve pieces in my collection yet. My family members do not have to display the little quilts on their walls - they can use them on a table, or put them in a drawer, but I feel much better that the fabric that my Dad personally brought back and that my mother worked with and wore might stay in the family for a few more years.

Monday, March 17, 2014

WWI Block of the Month - Block Three: Dog Tooth Violet

The story and photos that went with the block this month were interesting, but I missed the connection between the Dog Tooth Violet block and the soldier's experience.  Perhaps these blocks were chosen merely for their patriotic flair.

I have not made this block before, but it is a pretty one. The wreath is intended to overlap the piecing, and I'm getting used to that. I put the block together yesterday, but didn't even get a start on the applique, even though all the pieces were ready to fuse and stitch.  I have found that glue-basting the stem is the best way to hold it in place for the machine applique. The fusible I was working with does not hold.