Saturday, January 26, 2013

Local Quilt Goodness!

**NOTE** Before I go any farther I have a message from Swooze over at QuiltvilleMysteries.blogspot.com.  They are running a yard sale today and would love you to pop over and participate, so go see!

This is another well loved North Carolina piece that I found while out antiquing the other day.

Big Lemoyne stars!

This picture is how I found it…draped over a chair.  Big red cornerstones and yellow sashings calling my name!  Some how I think those sashings that cross the other way may have been greener, but they have long since faded.

Are these Dan River plaids and stripes from the near by Dan River mills?

Or could they be Alamance plaids from the even closer Alamance cotton mills in Alamance county?  Plaids from the Alamance cotton mills are purported to have been the first plaid produced commercially in the Southern United States.

This photo is a sample showing vintage Alamance plaids:


Samples of Alamance Plaids.

Why is this important?  Hang on a bit and I’ll show you!

antiquemall 035

I found a place to lay the quilt out.  Stripes that go in every direction!  Plaids and prints and solids.  Sashings in 2 colors, but notice that the bottom and top edges are not sashed! 

This is a classic example of a North Carolina quilt! Which star jumps out at you the most?  I love the one with the red diamonds close to the center.

antiquemall 036

I also love the ones with very low contrast.  Was this quit made with remnants from the mills? Or from the family scrap bag or the good parts of worn clothing?

It is completely hand pieced, filled with a thick cotton batting and quilted in an edge to edge “Almost” diagonal that changes direction on the trop and bottom row of blocks.  Look at the full picture again.  Do you see the direction of the quilting lines in the top row? Then the center  3 rows are all the same as each other, and finally the bottom row changes direction again ---a huge zig-zag!  Wouldn’t you want to know the thinking behind the quilting design choice?  Could it be that changing direction of the quilting lines helps keep the batting from shifting and bunching or migrating to other areas?

And that is just the beginning!  What I found fascinating is on the BACK of the quilt:

antiquemall 038

Roller Mills
100 LBS
Grafflin Bags Baltimore
100 LBs

"Ship Stuff" is a by-product of flour milling and was used as feed for horses.

I googled Forsyth Roller Mills, and though I couldn’t find any photos I did find them listed in the Miller’s Almanac and Year book 1916 as a flour mill.  They are also listed in the Industrial and Shippers guide 1916. World War I started in 1914 and ended in 1918.  Which leads me to believe that the Forsyth Roller Mills produced flour and other  milled goods for the war effort.

Bag sizes and weights were standardized in 1943.  The sack on the quilt back could date to the WWII era.

I’ve waffled on whether to bring this quilt home or not.  The price was quite up there, I think because of the flour sack label so visible and the fabrics also from local mills.  Dan River cotton mills were just over 60 miles away while the closer Alamance mills were located eastward toward Burlington, just on the other side of Greensboro.

I just LOVE history ---and this quilt is rich in it!

Have a great Saturday, everyone!  It’s icy and yucky and I have no plans of going out today ----I plan to spend plenty of machine time!


  1. So did you or didn't you buy this beauty?
    Are any of these mills still producing yardage?
    I can't wait to move to NC :0), they'll be so much to discover!

    Happy Sewing

    1. I wondered the same thing, she left us hanging, LOL!!!

    2. Anonymous9:05 PM EST

      I thought the same thing LOL. I was reading the comments hoping she had clarified here, but nope.

  2. Stunning! I didn't know about Alamance Mills...how interesting!

  3. Awesome! I need to thrift with you one day! I never find good stuff. Is there a good thrift in Wallburg?

  4. A couple thoughts.

    First, the sacking background is very common in Carolina quilts I've seen. Sometimes the sacking is bleached, or has the printing turned toward the batting. Sometimes the printing is there for all the world to see.

    Second, diagonal quilting, again, is common in the Carolina quilts I've seen.

    Third, is this quilt as long and narrow as it looks? If so I'm thinking it may be a "hired hand" quilt. Often hired help (men and women) slept on narrow cots or pallets, so quilts for those beds were long and narrow to match. These quilts are relatively rare because they were true utility quilts, were sometime cut down from old, larger quilts, and were used to death.

    Fourth, as to the sacking backings "going away" in the 30s -- in the 30s the Carolina mills were cranking out lots of inexpensive cotton prints, so fabric was more available to quilters than ever. (I suspect that's one reason we start to see so many UFOs and orphan blocks in the 30s.) Also, flour and feed manufacturers began to package their goods in patterned sacks to further entice buyers.

    Great find, Bonnie!

  5. If you like the stripes and plaids, today a factory in Germany - Westfalen! - makes these same woven fabrics. It's their Pompadour series. You can find them - their site can be seen in English as well - at http://westfalenstoffe.de for those who want this kind of fabric to complete some ufo's from the past!
    Love the fact that you share such finds with us =^}
    Thank you!
    It snows again in Amsterdam,
    Love Irene

  6. Thanks for the history lesson. Did it come home with you?

  7. The link for the yard sale by Swooze takes me to the correct site. There isn't a yard sale there. Anyone know how to get to the yard sale?

  8. Google coughed up this reference to "ship stuff": http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ship%20stuff. Apparently a low grade of milled goods with high brand content. Don't we call this fiber nowadays?

  9. P.S. Did you buy the quilt or not? My guess is yes because you seem to still be in birthday week mode.

  10. How neat. I too lohistory. Especially quilt history. My dad and his family grew up in Kernersville Nc. I was up there just after Christmas and got to see a few quilts. My grandmother made which are beautiful. Will mail you the pictures.


  11. Bonnie, seems to me that these would be tax deductible... for you to purchase. If you used them to teach or in a book or reproduced it, etc, etc. Trying to help you "justify" more purchases. lol
    love it. I could not leave it...

  12. I think the quilting zig zag might be explained by being quilted on a floor frame with several women quilting on both sides. If you quilt on a frame with your right hand, it is much easier to quilt down toward yourself from right to left. Even if one person is doing the quilting and she moves to the other side of the quilt, it would result in a zig zag.

  13. On further thought, the way I described would not result in a zig zag. Maybe some left handed quilters sat opposite the right handed ones.....

  14. Go for it, Bonnie - or you'll regret it! It's just toooo rich in heritage and would look gorgeous draped over one of those treadles of yours ;-) I make a huge purchasing decision based on 1) Will I regret it later if I don't and 2) Is it in my budget and if not, how can it be? I don't d this with every little thing I think I 'need', just the really big/important purchasing decisions, and this one qualifies. Of course, I play 'let's make a deal' with myself and promise I will have to forego some other 'needed' quilting purchase, or cut down on my chocolate intake, to be able to afford it, (I just know you do this, too ;-), but it's always worth it...NO regrets!

    Looking forward to upcoming photos of it draped lovingly in your quilting studio...

  15. Yes, like Deb, I'm looking forward to upcomeing photos and hope to find it draped over your longarm when we tune into QuiltCam Sunday afternoon. Thank you for all the history on this quilt. Always learn so much from you! Hugs, Allison in Plano


If you are commenting as "anonymous" please leave your name at the end of your comment.

Did you know that ad space on this blog provides for all of the free patterns and free mysteries and challenges at no cost to you? Without ads, this blog would not be possible.

Thank you for understanding the many hours that go into this blog 6 days a week, 52 weeks a year. :)