Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Weaving and Dyeing Geneology

This coverlet was woven in about 1838 in Fryburg, Pennsylvania, by Elizabeth Sigworth (or possibly her mother), in anticipation of Elizabeth's upcoming marriage to Martin Kapp, which occurred on September 10, 1840.


The coverlet is woven with three different yarns: undyed cotton, wool dyed with madder, and wool dyed with indigo. It is a double-weave pattern reminiscent of the overshot coverlets of that period. The coverlet was woven as two separate panels which were then stitched together, a common practice because most looms were not wide enough to weave a full-width coverlet in one piece. Here's a close-up:

There are a couple of weaver's bloopers in there - which makes it all the more charming!

Elizabeth and Martin Kapp had seven children, among them two daughters, Harriet and Clara. When it came time for Elizabeth to leave the coverlet to someone, the daughters fought over it. Elizabeth’s solution was to cut the stitching that held the two panels together and give each daughter one half of the coverlet. After being passed down the family, Clara's half came to me. Harriet's half of the coverlet is in the [proud] possession of a distant cousin of mine.

Clara Kapp married Quintin Roberts in 1885. Part of her trouseau consisted of a patchwork quilt made by Clara. The center white medallion has the date May 20, 1881, stitched into it. You'll probably have to click the image and display a larger version to be able to read the text...

I also have Clara’s wedding dress, which in spite of the purple tinge in the photo, is actually navy blue. The construction is very fashionable for the day, with a bustle in back and a draped front overskirt over a fancy pleated hem. (My mannequin is too small in the waist and too large in the bust, so the fitted top isn’t buttoned up the front in the photo and the outfit doesn’t hang properly.)

In addition, I have Clara’s wedding nightgown, made of cotton sheeting, with cutwork embroidery on the front and back yoke.

I think the embroidery was done by hand, judging by the floats and knots of embroidery thread on the inside.

Clara was my mother's great aunt. Which is all just a very long-winded way of saying that I have a good excuse for my passion for textiles and handwork - it's in my genes!


Stef said...

Wow. Those are priceless treasures. What a talented family of fiber artists you have!

alice said...

Lucky you to have such a collection - thanks for sharing, especially that gorgeous close-up of the weaves in the coverlet, bloopers and all. Yes, good genes for sure.

bibliotecaria said...

That is amazingly fine work, especially on the nightdress.

Nancy JC said...

Thank you for sharing the photos of your beautiful treasures! The wedding ensemble looks like something that should be on the back cover of Threads magazine...actually the nightgown, too! Lovely!
Nancy JC

jackie said...

Beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing. I love the coverlet! And the story that came with it. You are very fortunate to have so much of your history at hand.