-Written by Debbie Janes, Museum Shop, and Dottie Macomber, Museum Library Volunteer
A donor from Provincetown, Massachusetts recently gave some interesting textile pieces to the museum shop. The most impressive of these items are two beautiful vintage christening gowns. They are from East Boston and were made by machine, most likely by a professional seamstress, as the construction is very nice. A museum volunteer has starched them, and they are on display in the shop; they are also for sale. Either of these would be lovely stitched to a fabric background and framed.
The other items from this donor are small hexagon, or “hexie” pieces made by hand from old shirting materials. These items were made using the technique known as English Paper Piecing, and the basting stitches and the paper pieces are still in them. Four of these hexie constructions have been framed in double frames so both the front and the back can be viewed. There are some other unframed pieces, and both the framed and unframed pieces are for sale in the shop. There are empty diamond-shaped spaces in these pieces that were formed by the way the hexies were stitched together. Some of the dark fabric is not colorfast, so these pieces were most likely made for decoration rather than for some practical use, such as a table covering.
Another vintage donation arrived at our shop in a different manner, literally by being left on the doorstep! This is a large, double-sided piece made of hexagons, many of which are of silk or a similar material. It measures 68” by 80”. The patches are larger on one side than the other. There is no batting between the layers..
All of these items would make lovely and unique gifts. Come see them now in the museum shop
-Written by Debbie Janes, Museum Shop, and Dottie Macomber, Museum Library Volunteer
Looking for a unique gift, one that she doesn’t already have? How about a gift with a connection to Japanese tradition but one you don’t have to go to Japan to get? How about a haori? What’s a haori? Well, let me explain.
Most people are familiar with the Japanese kimono, but they may not know that the traditional jacket worn over the kimono (in place of a sweater or a light jacket) is called a haori. The construction of a haori is slightly different from that of a kimono; on a haori, the banding around the collar and down the front is narrower than on a kimono, and the haori is not worn overlapped in the front, as is the kimono. The sleeves are very much like the kimono sleeves and are great as pockets. Traditionally, a haori is fastened with a small, removable tie (himo) which is often made with beads and is hand woven. These ties are made to be used on multiple haori, like a piece of jewelry.
We have haori in our museum shop, ready for you to purchase. Our haori do not come with the ties but they can be worn open, belted, or fastened with a brooch. Haori can be worn in place of a jacket or sweater, and they look great with pants. Some of the more formal haori have metallic threads and go well with formal wear. Haori are usually made of silk, although there are cotton, wool and synthetic versions. Sometimes you will see a haori that has large basting stitches (shitsuke) on the edges. These stitches are added to help the haori keep its shape while being stored or dry-cleaned. They can be removed easily or just left alone.
Haori are custom-made for each individual so you won’t find a size anywhere. We have regular haori in stock and also carry a version that is remade from a double-breasted Japanese coat; these will fit larger ladies. They are made out of the same beautiful fabrics and have the same sleeves but do not have the banding around the neck and front.
So if you are looking for a unique gift you may want to consider a haori. A gentleman from out of town stopped in the other day to buy his second haori. He had purchased one last year for his aunt and his lady friend was so jealous that he had to come back for a second one!
Written by Jo Myers, Museum Shop
Edited by Dottie Macomber, Museum Library Volunteer
The shop at the museum has many wonderful items for sale, both old and new, and we try to take photos of them and show them on the website. However, the biggest problem with this system is that the inventory changes on a daily basis; often someone will spot a quilt or other special item for sale in a photo but by the time they call about it or come in person, that item has been sold. Adding and deleting items from the website on a daily basis is a difficult task, but we want to keep information as current as possible. Therefore, we are going to try posting photos here on the blog so that if/when the items sell, we can note it easily in the comments. It will also be easier to post new items for sale in a timelier manner. We are hoping that you will find this helpful, especially as the holiday season approaches, and will check the blog often for changes in shop inventory.
Three new (vintage) quilts are being put on the floor for sale today. All three are on consignment and the consignee dates them all as being from the 1890s. The first is a log cabin in the barn raising pattern with a split center, measuring 80” x 80”. The next is a quilt in a herringbone pattern (90” x 86”), and the third is a Goose in the Pond (89” x 92”). These quilts do have some stains and issues with some of the fabrics, which we have tried to show in some of the detail shots.
As an aside, a young gentleman came into the shop recently with a relative who was a quilter, and it was fun to listen to her explanations and descriptions of some of the quilts we had at the time. When we chatted, she said she has some vintage quilts at home which were made by family members and that she worries about giving them to members of the younger generation who are totally unfamiliar with quilts and quilting. We discussed the wisdom of giving them cleaning directions for the newer quilts vs. the older, more fragile quilts, and we talked about the technique of washing quilts in a tub with a sheet placed under the quilt so it could be lifted without straining and possibly breaking fragile stitches. Another idea to preserve these quilts so future generations can enjoy them is to purchase Plexiglas boxes at local craft stores; these boxes are often used to display sports jerseys and other items and are great for displaying fragile or damaged quilts and other textile pieces. These boxes frequently go on sale at such stores. Another suggestion is to have older quilts professionally appraised so the other family members will have a good idea of the monetary value, and document the maker and other information when available to preserve the personal value to the family.
As we finished chatting, the young man was across the room looking at the older quilts for sale. He remarked, “Look at how much money they get for used quilts, even those with stains and worn spots!!” Until his quilting relative can get her treasures appraised, it looks like she has some educating to do!
[Note: The title of this blog entry is a nod to the Lowell Offering, a literary magazine started in 1840 for the Lowell mill girls to showcase their poems, essays and fiction.]
Written by Debbie Janes, Museum Shop and Dottie Macomber, Museum Library Volunteer
Ed and Fred- or is it Fred and Ed? I was always fascinated by the tintype photo of two gentlemen in 1800s garb, one with his arms crossed in front of him and the other jauntily holding the lapel of his suitcoat with his other arm over the shoulder of his brother. One had a full beard and was clearly older; the other was clean-shaven and the younger brother. This photo was something my mother had, and she always told me that they were Ed and Fred, my maternal grandfather’s uncles. However, through my research on Ancestry.com and from other sources, I have found that my great grandfather, Daniel Augustus Wills, was married twice: once to Charlotte Parker of Vermont; and the second time to my great grandmother Annie Melville of New Brunswick. I have also discovered that he had two sons by his first wife, Charlotte, and their names were- you guessed it- Edward and Frederick! Aha! Those two dapper gents were not my grandfather’s uncles but his half-brothers!
And what, you may ask, does this have to do with the Quilt Museum? In the winding ways that family history and stories often take, I’m getting to that!
I was told, again by my mother, that Annie worked in the mills in Massachusetts. However, whether that was in Lowell or elsewhere we never knew for sure. Again, with the help of Ancestry.com, I found that Daniel, who was born in Maine (as was I), married both his wives in Lowell, returning to Maine after each marriage to be a farmer. This lends credence to the family story that Annie worked in the mills, probably in Lowell. I never knew what Daniel was doing in Lowell (other than getting married!) until recently. I discovered that when Daniel married Charlotte in 1853 and when he married Annie in 1873, his occupation was listed in marriage records both times as “Operative”, which is what the mill workers were often called. I even found out recently that Daniel Augustus Wills’ uncle, Daniel Marten Wills, was an overseer for the Lawrence Corporation, which was one of the mills in Lowell. This information was found in old City Directories for the city of Lowell, again on Ancestry.com. I imagine that Daniel Augustus Wills may have come down from Maine to work in the mills (and maybe to find wives!) because his uncle Daniel Marten Wills was there.
While searching through some of the online records of The Center for Lowell History at U. Mass Lowell, I found that one of the holdings contains bank records for the period of 1829-1992. www.library.uml.edu/clh/LIS.htm I searched through the records and found that Daniel Wills, listed as a weaver, opened an account in 1871. Edward Wills (who was born in 1853), also listed as a weaver, opened an account in 1872 and Fred, who is listed as a Minor (consistent with the date of birth that I have found for him of 1857), also opened an account in 1872. And where did they open these bank accounts? In the Lowell Institute for Savings- the very building where the Quilt Museum is now!
My ancestors walked some of the same streets that I do when I come to Lowell, and they did business in the very building in which I am now a volunteer. When I discovered this, I found another piece to the puzzle that has been “Ed and Fred”, and now I feel more than ever that I was meant to volunteer at the Quilt Museum!
Written by Dottie Macomber, Museum Library Volunteer