A longtime quilt friend cleaned out her library of books and brought some to our Kiltie Quilters group. We were welcome to take any, and the remaining she planned to donate elsewhere. She indicated one particular book I might enjoy, knowing that I collect older quilt books. The book was The Standard Book of Quilt Making and Collecting by Marguerite Ickis published in 1949 by Dover Publications. Alas, I already have the book in my collection, although her book was in much better condition. Someone else can enjoy the book filled with illustrations and history of early 1900 quiltmaking.
Instead, my eyes glimpsed another book, 101 Patchwork Patterns by Ruby Short McKim published in 1962 by Dover Publications. Many of us know the name in association with the Kansas City Star. She was an artist and designer with many of her early patterns published there. Ruby was inducted into the Quilter's Hall of Fame of Indiana in 2002. You can check out quilt patterns from the publication at Kansas City Star Quilts. McKim is best know for 101 Patchwork Patterns, with all the patterns available online at this website.
The book contains many oldtime patterns, which we seldom hear of or see today in quilting. Patterns such as Beggar Block, Sky Rocket, Rising Sun (appliqued), Little Beech Tree, and Fish Blocks. Of course, there are also many familiar blocks, with Midwestern regional names, since we are all familiar with some of these blocks having different names. The book contains pattern templates, which many modern day quilters have never used. I can use this absolute, because many of you will nod your heads and indicate how thankful you are for the rotary cutter and mat. For those of us that have been quilting before it's advent, we can remember using templates. One of my first quilts was an Ohio Star baby quilt, that I cut from cardboard templates, tracing around the inside stitching and outside cutting lines on each triangle and square, then cutting out with scissors, and piecing by pinning the blocks together at the drawn corners to ensure accuracy. Looking back, my Ohio Star is the only quilt that I made in this fashion. I was thrilled to purchase a rotary cutter and mat and give up my templates. My daughter still possesses that baby quilt I handquilted for her back in the 1980's.
I enjoy reading through these old quilting books, to understand quilting history and the thoughts of past quilters. I chucked over the following excerpt, from 101 Patchwork Patterns, titled "Apartment Quilting":
"Maybe this should be "compartment" quilting, but still it was originated for the woman who lives in tiny rooms, efficiency all over, even to finishing her full-sized quilts therein, to its last lovely stitch. This may be done in an apartment that can't accommodate a large picture frame, to say nothing of quilting frames! One young thing wrote, "We even have collapsible tooth brushes, and yet, I am quilting mine own quilt."
We can all relate to this woman's ingenuity in finding space to quilt regardless of where we live. We all talk about how we store fabric, lay out large quilts to baste, and quilting on our domestic sewing machines. Many of us also yearn for a mid-arm or long-arm machine to quilt our own, rather than sending them out to someone else to finish. And, we get our husband's involved in building us storage shelves or converting rooms or garages into our sewing studios. Space is certainly a commodity we seek. Interesting that our predecessors suffered from the same ailment sparked by the "quilting bug".
Welcome to the modern world of quilting. It really doesn't change much. We've just evolved into purchasing stashes of fabric and every gadget and gizmo that comes along, so that we can produce as many quilts as possible. Instead of templates, we use our Accu-Quilts. And, there is any conceivable gadget available to assist us in our quilting. What more can someone possibly come up with in the quilting world. But, 10-15 years from now, there will be, I'm certain, a plethera of new gadgets available to the quilter, and we will all be clamoring for space to house it.
Filed under: modern quilting, fabric stash, books, quilt history, Kiltie Quilters, patterns, QHF, Kansas City Star, Ruby Short McKim, gadgets, quilting space