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Friday, July 29, 2011

History of Civil War Quilts

Union and Confederate women rallied to the war effort when the Civil War broke out in 1861. Patriotic fervor abounded with both sides certain the war would be short and decisive.

Great Fairs For the Northern Cause

Great fairs were held in the North and quilts were among the more expensive items made and donated. Craft bazaars were already a way to raise funds for churches and other causes. Most of the items sold involved sewing. Now that effort went to the war.
typical of gunboat quilt
Although there were some who frowned on the idea of women being involved in any commercial venture patriotism won out as fairs became more and more elaborate. Women created beautiful quilts often of fine fabrics like silk. Album quilts and Flag quilts were popular styles. There is even mention of silk Log Cabin quilts. These fairs brought in a great deal of money to help buy needed supplies for the Union.

Gun Boat Quilts for the South

Southern women did what they could to help buy desperately needed gunboats. Excitement was high as communities competed to raise money for this urgent cause. Beautiful Gunboat Quilts* were made. Some of these displayed elaborate medallion style floral arrangements cut from printed fabric. The motifs were cut out and appliqu├ęd to solid fabric. This method is called broderie perse and requires very fine sewing skills. Through fairs, raffles and donations southern women raised enough money to pay for three of these ironclad gunboats.

During the spring of 1862 the enthusiasm for this confederate project waned when naval defeats made it likely that seaports would fall to the enemy. It was decided that the funds should go for medical supplies for soldiers instead. The war would continue for three desolating years with southern women's energy going primarily to help their soldiers.

Sanitary Commission Quilts in the North

Unfortunately the war that was supposed to "only spill a thimble-full of blood" drug out over four devastating years. It soon became obvious that there was a desperate need for clothing and blankets for Union soldiers.
Civil War quilts for soldiers
Northern women were accustomed to gathering together and sewing for a cause. Church and abolitionist groups simply changed their focus to helping soldiers. Many thousands of soldiers' aid societies were formed. An organization called the Sanitary Commission was established to do what was possible to prevent the death of soldiers from disease and injury. As the urgent need for soldiers' bedding became apparent the Sanitary Commission added the collection and distribution of donated quilts and comforts to their activities.

At first family quilts were donated but very quickly women begun to produce quilts specifically for the war effort. The military had requested that quilts be made about seven feet by four feet, the convenient size for a military cot and bedding pack. Many quilts were made from available fabrics and sometimes quilts were made by cutting up two existing bed quilts and sewing them into three cot quilts. Eventually money had to be raised to buy the fabric to make soldiers' bedding as existing materials were used up. By the end of the war it is estimated that over 250,000 quilts and comforts had been made for Union soldiers.

Southern Women Made Clothing and Blankets From Almost Nothing

Southern women were somewhat hindered in producing bedding for soldiers because they did not have a tradition of sewing for causes and the wealthier women were used to having slaves to do the everyday sewing. Nevertheless many of these women learned to sew and pitched in to help their soldiers. Once prewar textiles were used up fabric became scarce. The South could not get goods in through their ports and had no real manufacturing base of their own. Calico was said to cost as much as $25 a yard toward the end of the war. Eventually women had to make homespun fabric, a much slower process. Old mattresses were torn apart for fiber to spin. Even carpets were cut up and made into blankets for soldiers.

So Few Surviving Quilts

Just a very few of the quilts made for soldiers have survived. As you can imagine these quilts got a great deal of wear and probably did not seem worth saving after the war. Many completely wore out. If you add to that the fact that many soldiers were buried in their quilts you can understand why these quilts are extremely rare today.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Simply Primitive

 Living Room

 Dining Room

Cabinet in Dining Room


Tobacco Basket
Purchased during HGTV Longest Yard Sale

Monday, July 25, 2011

University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center ranks No. 13 in the country for treating cancer

UM Comprehensive Cancer is very near and dear to my heart.  I continue to receive excellent care from this facility.

Overall, U-M earns a spot on national Honor Roll for 17th straight year; ranked No. 1 in Detroit metro area

-added 07/19/2011
Ann Arbor - The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center was ranked No. 13 among cancer programs nationwide by U.S. News & World Report magazine. It is the only hospital in Michigan ranked nationally for cancer care.
University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center ranks No. 13 in country for treating cancer
Learn more:
View the rankings.
Overall, the U-M Hospitals and Health Centers was ranked 14th for the third consecutive year. U-M was also ranked No. 1 in the Detroit metropolitan area, both overall and for cancer care.
The results, released online today, mark the 17th year in a row that U-M has been named to the honor roll of "America's Best Hospitals." The hospital is the only one in Michigan ranked among the 14 institutions on the national honor roll, which signifies all-around excellence in multiple areas of specialized medical care.
Cancer is one of 16 specialties U.S. News ranks individually. U-M earned a high national ranking in all 16 categories. Of the 4,825 hospitals considered for the rankings, only 140 made the list in even one specialty.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Baskets, baskets, baskets

As you can see from my previous post, I love baskets.  I've been weaving for over 15 years.  Below are photos of baskets in our home.  Enjoy....
Market Basket

Egg Basket

Market Basket

Pumpkin Basket

Fishing Basket

Gourd Basket

Americana Basket

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Colonial Craft of Basketmaking

Colonial Williamsburg basketmaker Richard Carr working white oak into strips.
COLONIAL AMERICANS used baskets to haul grain, store sewing implements, and carry vegetables, fruits, and eggs. By the eighteenth century, the need for baskets had fostered a thriving English industry. Full-time basketmakers, members of a large and powerful guild that tried relentlessly to boost output and income, supplied much of the demand for their nation and its American colonies. Each basketmaker tended to specialize in a type of basket.
English basketmakers shipped many of their goods to America. Usually, people in cities and towns bought and used them. In rural areas, colonists often made their own.  
Terry Thon weaving strips into a basket; technique determines a tight or loose weave. Farm basketmaking began early in Virginia's history and remained a common part of rural life until about World War II. After the conflict, a changing economy led country people to leave for cities. Rural basketry began to wane.

Colonial basketmakers fashion basket types common in eighteenth-century Virginia, including square and round-bottomed models, small and large. The preferred construction material is white oak. It has a straight grain and is strong, flexible, and durable.  Once basketmakers have a tree, they fell it and take a five- to six-foot section. Using mallets, wedges, and knives, they reduce the trunk to long, thin strips of wood to weave into a basket, starting from the bottom. When the sides are raised, they finish with a rim. Weaving should be snug. The key is to achieve the right tightness without unduly straining the wood. A basket for harvesting field crops might have large gaps to let rocks and dirt sift out. Other baskets might require a tight weave and a top to retain small items, like sewing pins.
People in the 1700s saw baskets as strictly utilitarian objects.


    Friday, July 22, 2011


    Trying to remain inside on yet another warm summer day.  Yesterday the temperature in Michigan hit 100 which was also one of the Ann Arbor Art Fair days.  Today's temperature is only in the 80's much more manageable.  I'm spending my days taking is slow as this was my week for chemotherapy.  Thank goodness my levels are normal and I feel pretty good.  But following doctor's orders very closely. 

    Below are photos of our blue bedroom.  We were fortunate to receive the lovely Ethan Allen furniture from my husband's aunt and uncle.  Certainly fits our colonial decor.  I hope you enjoy. 
    Quilt loving made by me..

    Photo on desk was for my 50th birthday.  It looks like the cover of Martha Stewart Living


    Thursday, July 21, 2011

    Colonial Gardening


    The landscape of colonial America has had a major influence on not only our country's homes but on our gardens as well.  Gardens were not just a pretty pastime for the colonists; they were a matter of survival.  Colonial gardens provided essential foods and medicines.   Although gardens of today serve a different purpose, there is much we can learn from studying early American landscape design.

    The Plymouth Colony settlers came equipped with seeds from England, yet nearly starved in the winter of 1620-21. They quickly learned how to cultivate the corn, pumpkins and squash in their new world, however, and a generation later Governor William Bradford wrote of gardens that contained not only food but flowers. The woman of the house was responsible for the garden adjacent to the home. Here she would grow the plants she needed for medicine, brewing and baking, repelling insects and vermin, freshening the home and dyeing cloth. She would have grown herbs for flavoring food, greens for making salads, and possibly a few flowers purely to enjoy.

    For the sake of economy and ease of use, the garden was often in a quadrant with walks in between the four sections.  An edging plant like box, pinks or thrift borders the beds to hold the soil in place.  Just as many colonial homes were symmetrical in style, so were the gardens.  The formal pathways between the beds were sometimes made of brick or pea gravel.  Crushed by oyster shells were a popular path material in some of the fine manor homes.  Although we tend to think all colonial gardens were in formal style of Williamsburg or Mt. Vernon, a more rustic and natural landscape style can be found at sites such as the National Colonial Farm in Accokeek or Claude Moore Colonial Farm in Virginia.

    The plants in the colonial garden would have included both native American plants and plants grown from seed brought over from England. Colonial herb gardens would have contained dozens of plants, including anise, applemint, borage, calendula (pot marigold), chamomile, chives, dill, hyssop, johnny jump-ups, lavender, lemon balm, mint, rosemary, rue, scented geraniums, southernwood, sweet woodruff, tansy, wormwood and yarrow. Some ornamental favorites of the time were boxwood, dianthus, hollyhock, iris and roses.

    Fences were an important element of the colonial garden landscape. By colonial law, fences of at least 4 1/2 feet were required around each property. They were intended to keep out stray horses and cattle. Brick fences were most common around public buildings. Private buildings were more likely to have a post and rail fence or a picket fence. More rustic wattle fences were made of twigs, branches or grapevines woven together in the springtime when the material was still pliable.

    Friday, July 15, 2011


    Last night I attended a Look Good Feel Better hands-on lecture for women battling cancer.  It provided a time of reflection and support.  We all came to the table battling our own demons and stories of chemotherapy.  The one thing we all had in common was our hair loss, but by the end of the evening we were laughing with each other.  The seminar taught us how to apply makeup while going thru chemotherapy.  The Cancer Support Community of Greater Ann Arbor provides women, men, children and families with support, education and hope for all touched by cancer.  I highly recommend their programs. 

    Please deck enjoy photos!

    Thursday, July 14, 2011

    May The Blessings From Above Fill This Home With Joy and Love

    Our Home

    History of Firkins


    A firkin is an old English unit of volume.  The name is derived from the Middle Dutch work vierdekijn, which means fourth, i.e. a quarter of a full-size barre.  For beer and ale a firkin is equal to nine imperial gallons, seventy-two pints, or a quarter of a barrell.  Casks in this size (themselves called firkins) are the most common container for cask ale.  A firkin is equal to a half a kilderkin.

    The term firkin is currently used to refer to antique wooden buckets, usually with wood handle and lid, about 10 inches (250 mm) high and 10 inches in diameter (about 10l or 2-3 dry gallons in capacity), formerly used to store sugar and other items.

    Sunday, July 10, 2011

    Day of Reflection

    This is the day the Lord has made....another beautiful Sunday in Michigan.  I plan to use this blog as an avenue to post photos and provide time of reflection. 

    2011 is my 4th year battling cancer.  When I was first diagnosed it came as quite a shock to my family.  We have since had time to turn "Pain into Purpose".  If I can in reach out to a cancer patient or family member and ease their pain, I will have fulfilled my purpose. 

    Faith is my steadfast rock for courage and strength.  I believe God doesn't put at our feet anything more than we can handle. 


    Need Rain