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Welcome to the Quiltfiction Podcast!

First Time Here?

If you haven't listened to the earlier episodes of Friendship Album, 1933, you should start from the beginning of the story!

If you like quilting stories, then I’ve got some good news: The Quiltfiction Podcast is up and running! We’re going to begin with Friendship Album, 1933, a work of historical fiction by me, Frances O’Roark Dowell. Friendship Album, 1933 is not available in bookstores, in case you’re wondering, although it might be one day. Right now the only way to experience the story is via this podcast–and I really hope you’ll tune in!

Let me give a you a brief introduction. The idea for Friendship Album, 1933 came to me after reading Patchwork Souvenirs of the 1933 World Fair: The Sears National Quilt Contest and Chicago’s Century of Progress Exposition by quilt historians Merikay Waldvogel and Barbara Brackman. I’ll write more about the Sears National Quilt Contest in a later post, but suffice to say that with its $1,000 grand prize (nearly $20,000 in today’s dollars), a lot of women were inspired to enter the competition.

Five such women make up Friendship Album’s circle of quilters:

Eula, whose family has been forced by hard times to leave the farm and move into town, where she doesn’t know a soul and is pretty sure she’ll never fit in…

Bess, a widow of one year, who shows up at the first meeting as a way of avoiding duty on her church’s altar guild and her neighbors’ constant condolences…

Dorothy, a woman trying hard to keep peace in her home and her sewing scissors away from the lively young grandchildren who’ve just moved in…

Then there’s the bee’s youngest member, Florence, living the life of a bored socialite after being jilted by her fiancé. Can starting her own quilt business turn her life around?

And, finally, Florence’s sister-in-law, Emmeline, who’s fresh out of material for her weekly quilting column and hopes to find inspiration in this odd collection of quilters.

When the group members hear about the Sears Quilt Competition, they all make plans to enter, although for different reasons, not all of them to do with the prize-money. In Friendship Album, 1933, we follow the characters in their own lives as well as when they gather together to sew.

Here’s a fun fact: I’m still working on the novel as the first episode drops on iTunes! This is a bit scary for me, since I’m essentially reading from a first draft and have to stay way ahead so that we don’t run out of episodes (so far so good–I’ve written close to 200 pages). But it also provides some opportunities. Maybe I’ll ask listeners for help with a street name or ideas for patterns. If a listener has feedback, she can leave it in the comments and I might end up incorporating her suggestions into a later draft.

I’m going to use this space not only to introduce new episodes and collect comments, but also to give you background on the story, share patterns and recipes, and talk a little bit about the writing process. I’d also be happy to answer questions, so feel free to ask!

Doing research has been one of the most enjoyable parts of writing Friendship Album, 1933. Not only is the 1930s a fascinating time in quilting, it’s also a wonderful period to kick around in if you’re interested in old cookbooks, graphic design, fashion, home decor, and the domestic arts. I’ve created a Friendship Album, 1933 Pinterest board, which I hope you’ll come visit (and send suggestions for!). You’ll find it on the Quiltfiction Pinterest page:

If you enjoy the first episode of Friendship Album, 1933, I hope you’ll not only subscribe via iTunes, but tell your friends about it and share the link on your social media platforms. I’ll be back next week with a new episode, so stay tuned!

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Railroad Crossing: Bess, 1923: A Christmas Story

In this special holiday edition of the Quilt Fiction Podcast, we return to Milton Falls for Christmas! In this year’s story, “Railroad Crossing, Bess: 1923,” we find Bess Wilcox getting ready for the holidays–she’s shopping for presents, directing the church pageant, and trying to keep husband Bill from spoiling their three young daughters. When things start to go missing from her pantry shelves, Bess finds herself with a Christmas mystery on her hands!

Railroad Crossing pattern from the Kansas City Star:

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Crazy Quilt: A Christmas Story—Eula, 1932

In this special episode of Quiltfiction, we find Eula Baker doing her best to plan Christmas dinner for two as she remembers happier holidays surrounded by family. When the Christmas spirit finally moves her, it does so in very mysterious ways!

Happy holidays and Merry Christmas! This has been such a strange year for all of us, and I know I’m not alone in hoping that 2021 is much less newsworthy!

As I began writing “Crazy Quilt: A Christmas Story,” I realized that the year in which the story takes place–1932– has parallels to the one we’re living through right now. During the Great Depression, many families were separated; many suffered devastating losses. The times were hard indeed, and sometimes it was difficult to believe they’d ever get better.

I think a lot of us have felt the same this year. There’s been a lot of darkness. But at last we’re seeing some glimmers of light. I’m looking forward to next spring and summer when, with any luck, we’ll be able to gather with friends and family again, go to the library (I’ve missed the library!) and the movies, and chat with our neighbors without having to socially distance ourselves.

Whatever your life is like right now, I hope this Christmas brings you hope for the times to come. In the meantime, let’s continue to make quilts, tell stories, read books and take care of each other.

As always, thanks for listening!

Frances


ps. Always Christmas in Milton Falls? We wish! But here are two more holiday stories from years past…

 

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Aunt Jane of Kentucky: Episode 10

Welcome to the Quiltfiction Podcast! In this episode, I’ll be reading an abridged version of Chapter Nine of Aunt Jane of Kentucky by Eliza Calvert Hall. Entitled “The Gardens of Memory,” in this chapter Aunt Jane discusses her philosophy of the garden. This is the last episode of the season. Thanks so much for listening!

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Aunt Jane of Kentucky: Episode 9

Welcome to the Quiltfiction Podcast! In this episode, I’ll be reading the second half of Chapter Eight of Aunt Jane of Kentucky by Eliza Calvert Hall. Entitled “Mary Andrews’ Dinner Party,” this is the story of how a woman takes revenge on her miserly husband.

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Aunt Jane of Kentucky: Episode 8

Welcome to the Quiltfiction Podcast! In this episode, I’ll be reading the first half of Chapter Eight of Aunt Jane of Kentucky by Eliza Calvert Hall. Entitled “Mary Andrews’ Dinner Party,” this is the story of how a woman takes revenge on her miserly husband.

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Aunt Jane of Kentucky: Episode 7

Welcome to the Quiltfiction Podcast! In this episode, I’ll be reading Chapter Seven of Aunt Jane of Kentucky by Eliza Calvert Hall. Entitled “How Sam Amos Rode in the Tournament” this is the story of the time Sam Amos thought he might win a blue ribbon riding in a horse show–until his horse kept going!

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Aunt Jane of Kentucky: Episode 6

Welcome to the Quiltfiction Podcast! In this episode, I’ll be reading Chapter Six of Aunt Jane of Kentucky by Eliza Calvert Hall. Entitled “The Baptizing at Kittle Creek” this is the story of how some husbands and wives are destined (predestined?) to spend their marriages arguing about religion.

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Aunt Jane of Kentucky: Episode 5

Welcome to the Quiltfiction Podcast! In this episode, I’ll be reading Chapter Five of Aunt Jane of Kentucky by Eliza Calvert Hall. Entitled “Milly Baker’s Boy” this is the story of how a woman raises her son to be a great man, in spite of difficult circumstances.

Thanks for listening to the podcast! If you’re enjoying it, please consider leaving a rating and a review on iTunes! Don’t forget to sign up the the Quilt Fiction newsletter!

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Aunt Jane of Kentucky: Episode 4

Welcome to the Quiltfiction Podcast! In this episode, I’ll be reading Chapter Four of Aunt Jane of Kentucky by Eliza Calvert Hall. Entitled “Sweet Day of Rest,” this is the story of the day Milly Amos came to church and refused to sing.

Thanks for listening to the podcast! If you’re enjoying it, please consider leaving a rating and a review on iTunes!

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Aunt Jane of Kentucky: Episode 3

Welcome to the Quiltfiction Podcast! In this episode, I’ll be reading Chapter Three of Aunt Jane of Kentucky by Eliza Calvert Hall. In this chapter, “Aunt Jane’s Album,” Aunt Jane is giving her quilts an airing out and remembering the time Sarah Jane Mitchell finally won a blue ribbon at the County Fair.