A Cooperative Crazy Quilt for a Civil War House Museum: Part II

Cindy Thury Smith © 2009

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This second installment about the creation of an all-silk, hand embroidered crazy quilt for the LeDuc House Museum in Hastings, Minnesota will feature eight blocks embroidered by four women: Freda Butler from Chicago, Illinois, Leslie Ehrlich from Windsor, Colorado, Patty Ellison from Yorktown, Virginia and Clairee Meeks from Sequim, Washington.

These women not only volunteered their time and expertise, they volunteered twice!

Freda Butler did a corner block and an interior block. The instructions and pattern for sewing the corner block were given in Part I of this article in the April 2009 issue of CQMagOnline.

In Freda’s second block (shown below) she did several fine examples of multi-layered stitching along the seam lines. I especially liked the single thread gold fan tucked into an angle. You will notice there are several large open patches. In the embroidery guidelines I mentioned how the LeDuc daughters did very few in-patch embroideries (they consistently embroidered every seamline), and hoped the volunteer embroiderers could resist the temptation to fill up every open area. I commend Freda for sticking with the design guidelines. Guidelines can be dreary, but they are necessary for a unified appearance of the quilt.

As you can see in the two Leslie Ehrlich blocks below, she likes wide multi-layered embroidery. In both blocks there were inserted patches of commercially embroidered silk; Leslie confined her embroidery to the seam lines, but she stitched very complicated designs. These two blocks were so eye-catching I placed them near each other near the center of the quilt so they could be viewed easily.

I didn’t realize it when I sent the two blocks below to Patty Ellison; somehow she got blocks with more contrasting fabrics than normal. One block has three light pink silks, two fuchsia, three maroon and two commercially embroidered patches, while the other block has three pink patches, two maroon and four tie fragments. I bet she wanted to kick me. But as you can see she got a wide variety of stitches in amongst all those competing fabrics. I particularly noticed the short piece of wide stitched braid at the top of the center pink patch (next to the black patch) and the little sunburst stitches above the purple patch in the block to the left.

Clairee Meeks likes curved embroidery lines as you can see in her two blocks below. She stitched in curving arches, curving spoked half circles, arches over flowers, serpentine curves over and under flowers and a simple pink heart on a patch of turquoise silk that really adds punch.

Last Saturday, June 27th, there was another needlework event at the LeDuc House. It was the opening of “Modern Interpretations of Historic Designs from Hastings Needle Work”. This competition involved posting twenty-four of the LeDuc daughters' historic needlework designs online and inviting artists (not just needlework artists) to interpret these designs in any media they wanted. We got half a dozen hooked rugs, a beaded tiara, several small baby quilts, some framed embroideries, a knot garden design, a large computer printed banner featuring several overlaid designs, a digital photograph and many more interpretations. I was volunteering at the opening and noticed there were two major traffic jams: at the beaded tiara and at the LeDuc Crazy Quilt. We finally had to post a note near the quilt that it was not part of the competition (we were collecting votes for a Viewer’s Choice award). So the LeDuc Crazy Quilt continues to be a traffic stopper at the LeDuc House.

Part III of this article (October 2009) will feature the remaining nine blocks, plus instructions on how to add the twisted silk cording edge.


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