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By the end of the 1930’s, kits of various kinds became a feature of American quilt life. These included patterns for quilt blocks and all the cloth that was required, sometimes pre-cut into the desired shapes. The kits also sometimes included embroidery charts, or patterns that were printed directly on cloth using a system of X’s for the embroiderer to work in cross stitch.

A 1950's embroidered quilt made from a kit, USA (TRC 2019.2926).A 1950's embroidered quilt made from a kit, USA (TRC 2019.2926).

The example of an embroidery chart for a quilt corner derives from an embroidered quilt in the TRC collection (TRC 2019.2926), from the USA in the 1950's. It was worked in a thick turquoise cotton yarn on a white ground, in cross stitch.

Cross stitch chart for the corner of an embroidered quilt (USA, 1950’s; TRC 2019.2926).Cross stitch chart for the corner of an embroidered quilt (USA, 1950’s; TRC 2019.2926).

 

 

Drawing of a Peking knot.Drawing of a Peking knot.This Wednesday morning workshop will focus on various types of embroidery knots, including the French knot, the bullion knot and the Peking knot. The workshop will be given by Joke van Soest, free-lance embroidery teacher.

The French knot is a decorative stitch used to create one or more small knots or dots on a ground material.

The bullion stitch is a decorative technique that is worked by twisting a thread around a sewing needle several times before inserting the needle into the cloth. Short bullion stitches are sometimes called bullion knots.

The Peking knot is characteristic for much of Chinese traditional embroidery in silk, whereby rows of these fine stitches are used to fill in the motifs. Other, more romantic names for this stitch are the blind knot or the forbidden knot.

Date: Wednesday 26 February 2020. Time: 10.00 – 13.00. Location: TRC Leiden, Hogewoerd 164, 2351 HW Leiden, The Netherlands. Lecturer: Joke van Soest. Language: Dutch. Fees: 30 euro. Materials/coffee/tea provided. Max. number of participants: 12. Please register well in advance: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Exhibition starts with the quilt block ' Dutchman's breeches', to the left. The quilt to the right is called 'Birds in the Air'.Exhibition starts with the quilt block ' Dutchman's breeches', to the left. The quilt to the right is called 'Birds in the Air'.

Quilts from the first half of the 20th century.Quilts from the first half of the 20th century.

Hanging down the wall, a Star Burst quilt from the 1860's. Hanging down the wall, a Star Burst quilt from the 1860's.

Detail of an appliqué and embroidered quilt, 1840's.Detail of an appliqué and embroidered quilt, 1840's. 

A selection of quilts and quilttops from the 1880's and 1890's.A selection of quilts and quilttops from the 1880's and 1890's.

Three quilts from the early 20th century.Three quilts from the early 20th century.

Three historic quilts from 1916 (left), late 19th century (centre), and 1840's (right). The appliqué coat was made in early 21st century by Henny Vogelsang from Schagen, The Netherlands.Three historic quilts from 1916 (left), late 19th century (centre), and 1840's (right). The appliqué coat was made in early 21st century by Henny Vogelsang from Schagen, The Netherlands.

Two modern quilts by Lies van de Wege, The Netherlands.Two modern quilts by Lies van de Wege, The Netherlands.

'Chinese Coin' quilt, c. 1900.'Chinese Coin' quilt, c. 1900.

Amish quilt, late 19th century.Amish quilt, late 19th century.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Examples of card weaving.Examples of card weaving.

Card weaving, or tablet weaving, is a technique for weaving sturdy, narrow, colourful bands that can serve as a belt, sling or a solid start for a large fabric. Finds from the Bronze and Iron Ages show that the technology has a long history. Ethnography tells that technology also occurs worldwide.

During the workshop we look at examples from different times and from different places. Next, the participants learn how to set up a simple fabric, how to make thread patterns, if desired, how to weave simple pick-up patterns and how to make possible finishes of woven fabrics.

Moreover, they receive tips for weaving as neatly and evenly as possible. If participants have a tablet weaving frame themselves, it is useful if they take that with them (please indicate when registering, so that I know how much I have to take with me).

This Wednesday morning workshop is given by Dorothee Olthof, an expert in the field of archaeological textiles and in the reconstruction of medieval and later clothing.

Date: Wednesday, November 25, 2020. Time: 10:00 am - 1:00 pm. Location: TRC Leiden, Hogewoerd 164, 2351 HW Leiden, the Netherlands. Teacher: Dorothee Olthof. Language: Dutch. Costs: 30 euros. Materials / coffee / tea are provided. Max number of participants: 12. Please register well in advance: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

Examples of twine binding.Examples of twine binding.Plant fibers are the oldest textile materials of mankind. They have been in use for millennia, long before the first woolly sheep appeared on the scene. Fine plaits, ropes, mats and even headwear and shoes made from lime bark, nettle, willow bark, grasses and rushes are known from the Stone Age.

During the workshop we are introduced to these prehistoric plaiting materials and techniques. The participants don't have to bring anything but a good dose of patience.

This Wednesday morning workshop is given by Dorothee Olthof, an expert in the field of archaeological textiles and in the reconstruction of medieval and later clothing.

Participants will be seated in the spacious workroom of the TRC, to guarantee the one and a half metre distance. Subject to national guidelines, participants may choose to wear a face mask. You may bring your own, but masks are also made available by the TRC. The TRC attendance protocol will apply.

This workshop is organised four times, on Wednesday 24th June, Thursday 25th June, Wednesday 15th July, and Thursday 16th July.

Dates: Wednesday, 24th June, 25th June, 15th July, 16th July. Time: 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. Location: TRC Leiden, Hogewoerd 164, 2351 HW Leiden, the Netherlands. Teacher: Dorothee Olthof. Language: Dutch. Costs: 35 euros. Materials / coffee / tea are provided. Max number of participants: 5. Please register in advance: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

For more information, click on the illustration.For more information, click on the illustration.ASKARI, Nasreen and Hasan Askari (2019). The Flowering Desert: Textiles from Sindh. London: Paul Holberton Publishing, Mohatta Palace Museum, Karachi. ISBN 978-1-911300-71-7, hardback, pp. 168, fully illustrated in colour and b/w, bibliography, glossary. Price: GB ₤30.

A beautifully illustrated and presented book about woven, dyed and hand embroidered textiles and garments from the Sindh Province of Pakistan. Most of the items date from the 20th century and are items worn by girls and women, with some pieces for men. In addition, there are accessories and household items, such as game boards and covers for objects.

The subject matters are divided into five essays, a chapter about the collection, as well as a glossary and extensive bibliography. The essays include numerous details concerning different peoples and tribes, materials, techniques (especially embroidered and dyed forms), patterns, and the general diversity of the textiles produced and used in this vast region.

There are numerous high quality object and detail colour photographs that make following the complexity of the different groups and their textiles a pleasure.

Recommendation: This book should be in the library of anyone interested in embroidery, let alone South Asian textiles and accessories. It will also be worth while having just for the sheer enjoyment of looking at these diverse, colourful and decorative textiles (especially the embroideries). The textiles are indeed flowers in the desert.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, March 2020

Alabama beauty, Ashland rose, Brunswick star are not the names of flowers or birds, instead they are just a few of the thousands of different types of blocks used for making American quilts. For a long period of modern American history, quilts were one of the main means of women’s personal and artistic expression. They became a unifying force, an interest shared, while quilt gatherings provided a support service and mutual encouragement.

But what exactly is a quilt?

Basically a quilt is a bedcover or bedspread. These were initially made from two layers of cloth. At some point it was discovered that by adding a filling between the two layers it was possible to significantly increase the amount of warmth created. It was also quickly learnt that it was necessary to secure these layers together in some manner and that a series of small running stitches was the solution. This became one of the most popular techniques of quilting.

Quilting dates back for at least three thousand years. Ancient examples have been found at archaeological excavations in various Central Asian countries. Quilting was used for a range of objects, including floor coverings, wall hangings, as well as boots.

Bedspreads decorated with quilting were made in Scandinavia and Europe long before they were being made in America, with some of the most elaborate extant examples dating from the 14th century and originating from Sicily (the famous Tristan Quilt, made with trapunto or padded quilting), while later ones come from Britain, France, Germany, Sweden and The Netherlands. These quilts were made in a variety of techniques, including what is now called English paper piecing (using a card template) and ‘wholecloth’ quilting (quilts made from one piece of cloth).

Introduction of quilts into the US

When the Mayflower and the Pilgrims arrived in America in 1620 there were no bed quilts on board, but the settlers would have had the basic skills and knowledge of quilt making. The earliest surviving American quilts are made using the so-called wholecloth technique, but in later years quilts were being made that consisted of three layers. In the early 19th century the top layer often consisted of patchwork, made out of blocks. By the 1850’s, a typical American quilt was thus defined as being a covering for a bed that was made from three layers of cloth, with a patchwork top layer. The use of blocks seems to have been developed for convenience, as it was easier to draft a small design in a square rather than on a full quilt.

Amish and Mennonite quilts

Two related religious groups have had a particular influence on American quilts. These are the Amish and the Mennonites. The Amish are a traditional, Christian group who are known for their simple way of life, plain dress and dislike of modern technology. They originated in the late 17th and early 18th centuries among the Swiss German Anabaptists and a man called Jakob Amman, hence the name of Amish. In the early 18th century, many of the Anabaptists and followers of Amman emigrated to Pennsylvania, US, and to Canada. The patchwork top layers of the Amish quilts are characterised by graphic, often symmetrical designs made with solid-coloured fabrics that are often made from the same material that is used for Amish clothing. Although these quilts have simple designs, the quilting itself can be very complex. A popular quilting pattern among the Amish is the feather motif.

In the late 19th century the Amish split up into the Old Order Amish and the Amish Mennonites. The Mennonites are named after Menno Simons (1496-1561), from Friesland (now a province of The Netherlands). They are a mixed Anabaptist group who believe in a different version of the mission and ministry of Jesus than the official Roman Catholic and later Protestant doctrines. Over the years Mennonites have migrated to many parts of the world, including America, and they were joined by some of the Amish, who subsequently became known as the Amish Mennonites, or simply dropped the name of Amish. Mennonite quilts tend to be much lighter and brighter than Amish quilts, especially as they use figured fabrics.

Social functions (quilting bees)

A quilting bee is basically a social gathering based around the activity of quilting. This may be a regular meeting on a weekly or monthly basis, or a special occasion such as quilting a finished top by a group of people for a bride-to-be. In the latter case, there would probably be other activities and food would be brought to share, there may even be music. One of the most important features is the opportunity to talk and chatter with other women, which was said to sound like ‘bees in a hive’, hence the term quilting bee.

One of the most famous groups is the Gee’s Bend quilters’ quilting bees This is a group of African American women who live in the isolated hamlet of Gee’s Bend in Alabama. The quilts made in Gee’s Bend are regarded as being simply made and with a distinctive free form, using whatever materials are available to them.

Over the last two hundred years, many bees have come together to create group quilts, which were produced to support charities, events and movements, such as the Red Cross, the American Civil Rights movement and the AIDS epidemic support groups, to name just a few.

Competitions

Quilt competitions have been held since the early 19th century at State and County Fairs, even at rodeos. Mostly, people were competing for ribbons and the kudos of winning, but some competitions did occasionally feature cash prizes. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, the National Quilt shows started to offer cash prizes that were sponsored by quilt related companies. The prizes gradually became larger and larger. The American Quilt Society (AQS) show in Paducah, for example, came up with the idea of a ‘purchase prize’, where the ‘Best of Show’ quilt earned a cash prize, and the quilt would go to the AQS museum. By the early 21st century there are quilt shows all over the US, from local guilds putting on their own show, to ones held by state-wide organisations.

A late 19th century quilt from America. TRC Collection (TRC 2019.2042).A late 19th century quilt from America. TRC Collection (TRC 2019.2042).In this workshop, Beverley Bennett, one of the curators of the American Quilts exhibition, will take the participants into a close study of an antique quilt from the TRC Collection. She will discuss with you the full context of the quilt, its maker(s), the region and time of production, and the techniques and methods that were used. Together you will look at the various clues that will reveal the world behind the particular quilt. Finally, we will discuss how to draft a pattern from an antique quilt and use it as inspiration for an original work.

Date: Wednesday 27 May 2020. Time: 10.00 – 13.00. Location: TRC Leiden, Hogewoerd 164, 2351 HW Leiden, The Netherlands. Lecturer: Beverley Bennett. Language: English. Fees: 30 euro. Materials/coffee/tea provided. Max. number of participants: 5. Please register well in advance: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Hogewoerd 164
2311 HW Leiden.
Tel. +31 (0)71 5134144 /
+31 (0)6 28830428  
info@trc-leiden.nl

The TRC is open again from Tuesday, 2nd June, but by appointment only.

Bank account number:
NL39 INGB 0002 9823 59,
Stichting Textile Research Centre

TRC Gallery exhibition:
5 Febr. -27 August 2020: American Quilts

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Donations

The TRC is dependent on project support and individual donations. All of our work is being carried out by volunteers. To support the TRC activities, we therefore welcome your financial assistance: donations can be transferred to bank account number NL39 INGB 000 298 2359, in the name of the Stichting Textile Research Centre.
 
Since the TRC is officially recognised as a non-profit making cultural institution (ANBI), donations are tax deductible for 125% for individuals, and 150% for commercial companies. For more information, click here
 
Financial donations to the TRC can also be made via Paypal: