The Midwest Fabric Study Group met on Saturday, March 12th at
Jonathan Byrd’s Cafeteria in Greenwood, Indiana. There were ten
members and three guests present. The topic of the day was “Tools and
We started our day viewing the newly acquired quilts and ephemera our
guests brought to share with us. These three sisters attend Cindy’s church. The things they brought previously belonged to
Louise Harding who was 93 years young when she passed away last
November. Louise left the contents of the house to our guests’ brother
as he had taken care of her in her later years. When cleaning out the
house he discovered several quilts, tops, blocks and boxes of ephemera.
Viewing these quilts was like a “pop quiz” of sorts. We saw quilts
from three generations that spanned several decades.
were several nice utility quilts from the turn of the last century many
of them containing the same shirting fabrics. It was said that someone
from the family would go to the nearby shirting factory in Seymour,
Indiana, to get scraps. One of these utility quilts was done in
different stripes using the block called “Bright Side” (see Brackman
#2919). What great graphic appeal!
There were several quilts made in the 1930s and 40s. The one that
appealed to me the most was a tree of life done in purple and white. We
even saw a couple we believe would have been made in the 1950s. One in
particular was a blazing star with a spearmint green and bright yellow
fabric that we suspicion to be of 50s vintage and possibly a kit. All
the diamonds in this quilt seem to be uniformly cut as the center didn’t
seem to have the usual volcanic upheaval you usually see with this
pattern. In the quilting designs, we noticed a wreath design was used
repeatedly on many of the quilts in the collection. It must have been a
favorite. From looking at the quilting stitches we decided the
grandmother must have been the best quilter of the bunch since the older
quilts seemed to have the better stitching and attention to detail. It
was truly a treat to see such a collection as this one!
After a satisfying lunch, we began looking at items brought by our
members. We saw several interesting advertising post cards and even some
old photographs with quilts in them. One of our members brought her
collection of plastic toy sewing machines! Many being “house brands”
think JCPenny, Sears, etc. Another brought a small sewing machine
complete with carrying case that was sent to her all the way from
England as a Christmas gift from her son! Imagine her surprise when she
opened that box. We should all be so lucky.
We also saw a couple interesting irons. One was rather large and
heavy made of metal that had an opening in the top of it where you place
the hot coals. Another was an electrified flat iron that still works!
Its owner recently had it rewired.
finished off the day looking at members' latest finds. We saw an unusual
trip around the world top that used tiny two and a half inch bow tie
blocks in place of the traditional plain squares to achieve a concentric
round effect. This top also had a three sided boarder with a primitive
red tulip vine appliqué on it. We also saw a variation of the Winding
Blades or Wandering Jew block (see Brackman #3786) set on point with
alternating red calico squares. The setting made a secondary grid appear
due to just the points of the pieced blocks touching at the
There was also an appliquéd red, green, pink, and chrome orange
beauty with six rather large squares featuring a large flower in the
center with scalloped wreaths forming two concentric circles around the
center and a carnation type bud in each corner. This quilt had floral
bud borders on two sides done in the same colors as the blocks.
Our next meeting will be at Hillforest Victorian House Museum in
Aurora, Indiana, just south of Lawrenceburg on Saturday May 14th at
11:00am. We will begin the day looking at quilts and "High
tea" will begin at 1:00 pm with more quilts to see afterward.
As a point of interest, Hillforest was the home of industrialist and
financier Thomas Gaff and his family between 1855 and 1891. It is listed
on the National Register of Historic Places and was designated a
National Historic Landmark in 1992. Hillforest Mansion is located at 213
Fifth St., Aurora, Indiana.