|A double-hearth quilt, made by a child in the late 1880s.|
My grandmother, Florence Patrick Crispin who was born in 1886, made this, her best quilt, when she was a child, cutting its blocks from her outgrown, used clothing, piecing, and then sewing the blocks together on a treadle sewing machine. She gave the quilt to me, her son’s daughter, when she broke up housekeeping. She said it is called a double-hearth because it has two small blocks at the center of each repeating design.
The two small squares in the center of each design represent
a double hearth. More pictures of the quilt are shown at
the end of this post.
At a time when women made many of their families’ clothing, learning to quilt enabled young girls to learn fundamentals about fabrics such as fabrics’ various weights; the importance of cutting and sewing on grain; and how to recognize and effectively work with color palettes including how to blend patterned and solid colors.
Notice that each block is cut on grain to its perfect shape, then sewn on perfect gauge, allowing the quilt to lie flat without any puckering. Grandmother was also well aware of personal color palettes and always chose fabrics with colors that enhanced the intended wearer’s color palette. I suspect he learned this from the women in her family as her quilt shows that her clothing was cut from fabrics in her autumn palette.
Mr. Rich Guido, Administrative Librarian of the Salem
County Historical Society (New Jersey) accepts
Florence Patrick Crispin’s best quilt from her
granddaughter, Laurel (Crispin) Hoffmann, June 16, 2015.
As did my grandmother, I protected the quilt in her hope chest that she gave me until donating the quilt to the Salem County Historical Society (New Jersey) in June of this year (2015). That is why the quilt is in like-new condition. It has been carefully preserved for over 100 years.
Quilts, made by the bride from her childhood clothing were a form of album, evoking memories of her past. The men lived with their biological families on their family’s homestead, taking over the farm as their parents aged. The women moved to their husband’s family homestead. Quilts made from childhood clothing helped to retain the bride’s memories of her former home. Grandmother pointed out which blocks had been cut from her apron, etc.
The Crispin farm (homestead) where my grandmother moved
when she married in 1909. She had first worked there as a
seamstress, making clothing for her future husband and his parents.
My grandmother also made a second-best quilt, probably worn out and discarded long ago as grandmother, like most farm women, wasted very little. She said when she became engaged in 1909, the women on her side of the family quilted her best quilt (the double-hearth quilt), the women on her soon-to-be husband’s side quilted her second-best quilt.
After my grandmother finished eighth grade she took a local sewing course with her younger sister, Meta (Patrick) Gosling who took in sewing in Woodstown after she was married. Although Grandmother’s technical training was limited, she was naturally good at fit and design. She sewed for various families, moving from farm to farm, living with each family during the time she was making them their clothing as was then the custom.
She met my grandfather when she was hired by her future mother-in-law to make clothing for him and his parents. My grandfather was 6 foot 3 inches tall and very muscular. My grandmother was 23 years old, petite, a very pretty young woman with long black curls. Sixteen years younger than his older brother who now operated an adjoining farm, I think my then shy, 21-year-old grandfather was smitten.
Grandmother was married in a green dress which she probably made herself. She told me she later cut the dress up to make dresses for her little girls, her first two children. Although after marriage she never sewed again for profit, she continued to make and mend clothing for her family her entire life. It was always important to her that her family look decent. She made and bought most of the clothing I wore as a child. I was NEVER allowed to wear jeans into town. In old age she mourned that her hands shook, preventing her from threading a needle.
Grandmother was always careful with money, having been very poor as a child. She told me when she was growing up she would take off her shoes and walk barefoot to her destination, putting them on when she arrived. She did this to save shoe leather. She helped her family by plowing in the fields. Her hard work helped her parents, who had started out as share croppers, to later buy a farm and to be able to buy bicycles for her younger brothers. They were even able send her youngest sister to teacher’s college.
Here I am with my grandmother at my wedding reception
in 1970. I begged my grandmother to teach me to sew
when I was eight. It paid off. When this picture was taken
I was working as a grader/pattern maker/fit model at
Corner House in Quakertown, PA.
In the late forties Grandmother would take me with her to Philadelphia to shop. Just before we were about to go home she would say, I also need to buy a little fabric. And we would go into Karlins, a premier fabric store then on 9th Street where she would buy several yards of fabric to make her current project. Grandmother never had a cache of fabric on hand. She bought as she sewed.
This picture shows the quilt’s backing. Both the backing and the
quilt’s edging seem strange choices, considering the colors
in the front of the quilt.
|A close view of the blocks.
© Laurel Hoffmann, 2015. All rights reserved.
All material on this blog is copyrighted by and is the exclusive right of Laurel Hoffmann.