The 100 Days Project 2019

The 100 Day Project officially began yesterday but it isn’t too late to join in! You can start this project at any time but joining in now is extra fun since there is a whole global community taking part.

What’s the 100 Day Project? It’s a free global art project. You pick a project, do it for 100 days, and share it. I’ve been participating since the first 100 Days Project was launched by Elle Luna in 2015 (it's now led by Lindsay Jean Thomson) and this will be my 5th year joining in. I haven’t finished every year but I have made progress, and progress and community are the whole point. Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane to see what I’ve learned and accomplished each year, even when I didn’t finish and then I'll tell you about this year's project!

 

My Past Projects

2015

The first year I did 100 Days of Stitching (#100daysofstitchingtc). My goal was to sew just one stitch on something per day. It didn’t matter what the something was or if it was hand or machine sewn so long as I took one stitch. I quickly modified the project to a goal of five stitches per day because usually once I took one stitch I wanted to take at least a few more! The project ended up being largely cross stitch even though I had intended to quilt. Cross stitch has always more portable for me than quilting and it is something that I can do in bed or sitting on the couch when I’m tired. I made lots of progress on a few different cross stitches that year and finished some mending as well!

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The cross stitch I worked on the most during my first 100 days project. This is what it looked like in full on day 97.

 

2016

Pleased with my success the first year I decided to make my project more specific the second year with 100 days of Quilting (#100daysofquiltingtc). The plan was to try out a different free motion quilting motif each day for 100 days, resulting in a reference quilt that I could turn to of 100 different ideas at the end of the project. It turned out that being overly specific wasn’t really the way to go for me, however, and this was a year that I didn’t finish.

Even though I didn’t finish I learned a lot, such as the importance of setting yourself up well for success. It quickly became apparent that the project was too time consuming with a full time job. I should have precut the squares that I was quilting on and I should have made the squares smaller. 5 square inches is a lot of space to quilt and each square often took hours of my evening when I was already tired. The project also wasn’t easily portable since I needed my sewing machine so if I was traveling I quickly fell behind.

I did completed 14 days, however, and made great strides in my free motion quilting confidence that has translated directly into my ability to long arm quilt today. I also learned some new quilting patterns that I love and now incorporate into my pieces.

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Pebbles quilting motif. Day 5 of my 2016 100 Days Project.

 

2017

I learned from the challenges of my 2016 project and in 2017 I went back to a broader goal: 100 Days of Crafting (#100daysofcraftingtc). This was another year that I completed the challenge and again I mostly ended up doing cross stitch. I made great progress on my planetary cross stitch, almost completed a Bob Ross cross stitch (there was just some backstitching left when the project ended), and made good progress on a cats and quilts cross stitch. I also got some quilting in that year and did a lot of quilted walking foot circles and made a few quilt blocks. Most importantly, I learned the importance of small daily practice. This was the year that I really noticed that I had gained a lot of confidence in terms my design aesthetic. I found myself making modifications to cross stitch patterns on the fly to ensure that they better suited my own aesthetic and later that year I actually rearranged an entire cross stitch pattern to make a personalized gift for a friend.

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My solar system cross stitch which got the most attention during the 2017 100 Days Project. Planet patterns by Stitchonomy on Etsy.

 

2018

Last year the 100 Days Project fell during a particularly busy and stressful season of my life. I almost didn’t join in at all and then made a decision to try and do so at the very last minute instead of planning anything out. I decided to do 100 Days of Things that Make Me Smile in an attempt to see the positive despite everything going on around me. I did about 20% of this project before I fell behind and stopped. One of my challenges was that I found it difficult to find a good visual to put on Instagram for the things that were making me smile each day. Even though I didn’t complete it I’m glad I have those things documented to look back on and continue to smile about now.

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Sunrise at a quilt retreat. Day 5 of my 2018 100 Days Project.

 

In looking back, I see that I have completed the project every other year. So odds are good for me completing this year! And I’m excited to share my project!

 

2019: 100 Days of Documenting

This year my project is 100 Days of Documenting. You can follow along on my Instagram and with my personal hashtag #100DaysofDocumentingTC

I know this sounds like a vague project and it is meant to be since projects that are too specific trip me up. The idea is for me to take time each day to catch up on labeling and signing some older quilts and other art pieces that need to be documented. It’s also a chance for me to experiment with different documentation methods to learn what I like and don’t like and what works best for me.

Most importantly for me this year, I hope that I can inspire others to document their art and the things in their lives that are important to them. It can really be quick and easy to do and it is so very important! This is a passion project for me and I even offer classes (forthcoming) and a lecture based around the idea of signing your art!

I look forward to sharing tips and tricks along with my own progress these next 100 days! Keep an eye on this space for some round up posts as we hit major milestones along the way and again you can follow my Instagram for daily progress.


The 1718 Coverlet

 

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The 1718 Coverlet. Courtesy of the Quilters' Guild Collection, #2000-11-A.

Historical quilts and textiles are one of my passions and last summer I had the chance to see a truly amazing piece of quilting and patchwork history!

The 1718 Coverlet is the oldest dated patchwork in the United Kingdom, that we know of at this point anyway. The piece is made predominantly from silk and is pieced over papers which are still intact in the coverlet, a process that we refer to as English Paper Piecing today. It is not quilted, hence the reason why it is called a coverlet and not a quilt.

The piece is currently a part of the British Quilters’ Guild collections. The Guild purchased it at auction in 2000 and has been studying the piece ever since. At the time that it was purchased, the coverlet was owned by the Brown family of Aldbourne, England, and it is assumed to have been made by a member of that family. Unfortunately, even though the piece also contains the initials E. H. in the dated block, no one has yet been able to find an E. H. in the Brown family history who might have been the maker or recipient of the coverlet. It is unfortunately a good example of how, even when historians have provenance information, a date, and initials, the knowledge of who made the piece and why is easily lost.

Even though we do not know who made it, this piece is a key element in my own quilt history research because of its arrangement in a medallion-style layout and its use of block patterns that also appear in colonial and early American quilts. I have conducted research with the British Quilters' Guild collections in York, England, before, but the coverlet was too fragile for me to see it in person on those research trips. I have written about the piece (see the Learn More section below) but was only able to study it through photographs and the writings of others. So when I heard it would be on display last year for its 300th birthday I knew I had to find a way to see it!

The quilt was on display at the American Museum in Bath during July 2018 and I definitely bought a plane ticket just to see it in person. The quilt was displayed in the Folk Art Gallery on a raised dais in the middle of the room. It was covered with a sheet of archival plastic to protect it and the room was staffed by volunteers to keep an eye on it and the other fantastic works on display. The plastic unfortunately meant that there was always a glare on the piece from the lights but the ability to get right up next to the coverlet was wonderful and amazing! They even had magnifying glasses available so that you could examine the details up close.

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The 1718 Coverlet on display at the American Museum in Bath. Photo by author.

I teared up when I entered the room and first saw it. There’s nothing like seeing something that has had a profound impact on your career and research for the first time. I did go and enjoy the rest of the museum as they had a great exhibition on WWI, period rooms, and more quilts on display elsewhere, but I also kept coming back to the 1718 Coverlet to see it again and again.

Here are a few detail photos of my favorite blocks:

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The signature block containing the date "1718" and the initials "EH" is set next to a heart block and above two blocks depicting an man and woman. The fabric in the date block is very worn.

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The swans at the bottom of the quilt have great detail!

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Bells or birds? You decide which image you see first in this block.

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The maker(s) of this quilt did a lot of fussy cutting and careful piecing to create effects like the radiating squares found in the center of one of the modified nine-patch blocks.

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I love cats so I really enjoy this block depicting a cat with a fish in its mouth! It is one of many different typical English farm animals pictured in the coverlet.

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This block shows where fabric has worn away, revealing the papers used to piece the quilt. This paper scrap seems to have come from a ledger.

For those of you who didn't get to see the original on display, the British Quilters' Guild has actually made a replica of the coverlet, serving as both a research project and as a display piece that shows what the coverlet likely looked like when it was first made. In its current condition many of the fabrics have faded, disintegrated, or have lost portions of the design in the fabrics themselves but the replica lets us appreciate what the piece would have looked like when it was first constructed.

While the original 1718 Coverlet is now safely back in storage, there are still lots of ways to learn more about it and even make your own! You can check out the resources below and also learn more about the coverlet and its importance in quilt history through my talk "The History of the American Block-Style Quilt."

 

Learn More

There is a lot of information on the 1718 Coverlet if you want to learn more. Here’s where to find it!

For a brief overview:

The Quilters’ Guild. “The 1718 Silk Coverlet,” June 12, 2009. 

 

For in-depth research:

Janice E. Frisch. “British Influences on the American Block-Style Quilt.” Quilt Studies: The Journal of The British Quilt Study Group, issue 15 (2014): 34-65.

  • Currently available for purchase from the British Quilters’ Guild. This article by me talks about the layout and design of a few key British pieces and their influence on what would become an iconic American quilt layout. The 1718 Coverlet is one of those pieces. I also discuss this piece in my talk on "The History of the American Block-Style Quilt."

Bridget Long. “Uncovering Hidden Marks on the 1718 Silk Patchwork Coverlet.” Quilt Studies: The Journal of The British Quilt Study Group, issue 9 (2008): 62-83.

  • This issue is also out of print but check your libraries and look for used copies that occasionally pop up on Amazon. You may also be able to get a copy of the article via Interlibrary Loan.

Dorothy Osler, ed. Quilt Studies: The Journal of The British Quilt Study Group, issue 4/5 (2002/2003). 

  • Issue 5 was a special issue devoted entirely to the 1718 Coverlet with articles on the piece’s provenance and history of the Brown family, the fabrics in the coverlet, the social and economic context in which it was made, and a comparison with other contemporaneous textile techniques. This issue is currently out of print but check your libraries and look for used copies that occasionally pop up on Amazon.

 

Make your own version:

Susan Briscoe. The 1718 Coverlet: 69 Quilt Blocks from the Oldest Dated British Patchwork Coverlet (David & Charles, 2014). 

  • This book contains patterns and template to make your own versions of the blocks. It also has overview sections on the research that has been done on the coverlet as well as the making of the replica.

Credits: Unless otherwise noted, photos in this post are by Janice E. Frisch.