Nostalgia for simpler times is nothing new. In the 1920s, folks suddenly found themselves pining for Colonial days, which sparked enthusiasm for home decor that Martha Washington might have approved of, including quilts. Companies and cooperatives such as Rosemont Industries and the Mountain Cabin Quilters employed women to sew quilts which were then sold through catalogues and in stores across the country. Many of these companies’ were started by women, and much of the work took place in the workers’ homes. For more about these cottage industries, I recommend reading Quilt Cottage Industries: A Chronicle by Cuesta Benberry, the article that first made me gave me the idea that our Florence could be an aspiring businesswoman at heart.
I was also inspired by the story of Marie Webster, founder of the Practical Patchwork Company in Marion, Indiana, which she ran with her sister and two close friends in the 1920s and ’30s. Webster first gained fame when her patterns appeared in magazines such as Ladies’ Home Journal. Her work was so popular, she began creating original and distinctive patterns to sell through her own company’s catalog, “Quilts and Spreads,” as well as kits and completed quilts. Her quilts were also sold in major department stores.
Marie Webster ….
and a few of her quilts
For more on the business of quilting in the 20th century, check out this interesting article, “The Birth of Modern Quilt Businesses” on the International Quilt Study Center site.
In this episode, Dorothy and Bess review the Sears Quilt contest rules, which have finally arrived in the mail. There’s nothing exceptional about the rules–the quilts needed to be bed-sized (single or double), they needed to finished, and quilts that had been in previous exhibits were unacceptable. Quilters were encouraged to enter quilts of a recent vintage. What’s remarkable is the number of quilts entered that were clearly made with this contest in mind, especially given that the contest was announced in January and the deadline was mid-May.
For those of you who are new to this podcast, I thought I’d get you up to speed on what I’m doing here. Friendship Album, 1933 is a work in progress–Episode 6 consists of Chapters 13 and 14; I just finished writing Chapter 24. I’ve got my schedule mapped out so that I’m always ten chapters ahead. My plan is to finish the book long before we’re done publishing the recorded episodes. Wish me luck!
Why podcast a work-in-progress? It’s a little bit crazy, for sure, but it keeps me on my toes as a writer. Also, my hope is that if you’re enjoying listening to Friendship Album, 1933, you might want to read my other books! By the way, I hope to record both Birds in the Air and Margaret Goes Modern in the near future. I’ll keep you posted!