I love when something considered women’s arts (for lack of a better term) is used to subvert those stereotypes in an unexpected way. It’s even better when the woman in question did so well over a hundred years ago!

Sarah Baker’s Solar System quilt, 1876 (image from Wikipedia)

This quilt really caught my fancy – and it’s for science! A teacher, Sarah Baker, completed it in 1876 to use as an Astronomy teaching aid. And it’s beautiful! The level of hand work is really stunning. I’m not a huge fan of quilts generally as physical objects (through the stories that go with some of them can definitely sway me), but this one is stunning on its own visual merit with it’s starting black background and delicate contrasting hand stitching. It even depicts, most likely, Halley’s Comet, which was a huge topic of conversation when I was a kid in 1986 (maybe around the same age as Sarah’s students) and could be visible a second time in my life (next sighting should be 2061).

The quilt is rather large at 89″ x 106″ and is made of a wool top section with appliques, silk and wool embroidery threads, wool braid and cotton back. It took 7 years to complete!

You can read more about Sarah and the quilt on Wikipedia. The quilt is currently in the Smithsonian collection.

If you’re interested in historic quilts for science, Sarah’s was not an anomaly. Such quilts were entered into country and state fair completions and likely adorned other classroom walls. Thought perhaps not with quite as much style! There are also modern art/science quilts.

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Look what I just got!

Sugar Skulls for Ashley, Seahorses and Starfish, and Octopus and Sea Turtles

Seahorses and Starfish, Octopus and Sea Turtles and a cheater quilt with a third smaller scale fabric with seaweed

At some point I heard about Spoonflower and started occasionally designing my own fabric, mostly for holiday projects. Getting a Spoonflower package in the mail is always a great way to end the day! If you are unfamiliar, I suggest you check them out. They have thousands of unique designs available on a number of different fabrics and even wallpaper. Should you happen to purchase any of my designs I receive a designer percentage credit (and if you do, thank you!).

Sugar Skulls for Ashley is a variety of hot pinks and red on a pale pink background. I designed it for my friends Ashley, who is into dia de los muertos and loves pink. The face in the heart is basically her. Each framed face is about 2″ wide in this version, though I printed the sample at a smaller scale. This fabric will be a dirndil skirt.

There are three Sea Creatures fabrics designed to go together. They are intended for some baby items, so I wanted to keep them pale overall with the animals in navy blue. There are also pale blue, bright and pale green and a little bit of gray detail in the fabrics.

The main sea creatures item is a cheater quilt featuring groups of three to six continuous squares of each fabric. The back will be the version with the white background and I’ll be doing a wide boarder of the version with the sea stars, which is the brightest one. I’ve never made a quilt, so I figured a cheater version was the way to go, especially if I want to get it to my cousin before his son is no longer a baby!