Saturday, 24 May 2014

Mrs Lincoln and her dressmaker

My recent researches into American quilt history have meant getting to know a bit more about American history, women's history and the American civil war. This led me to find out more about the amazing story of Lincoln's wife, Mary (Todd) Lincoln, both generally, and in particular her relationship with freed slave and seamstress, Elizabeth Keckley.  Keckley became the favourite modiste of Mary Lincoln, designing her dresses as First Lady and subsequently writing a somewhat controversial account of her time at the White House and her relationship with Mrs Lincoln.



This is a quilt is said to be made (1850-1875) by Elizabeth Keckley from the scraps of fabric used to make Mrs Lincoln's dresses. You can find out more about it at The Quilt Index.



Photo from The Quilt Index


If you are interested, there is an interesting article by Susan Wildemuth about Elizabeth Keckley and the quilt here. And Jennifer Chiaverini, writer of the Elm Creek quilt novels, has written a very decent fictional account of Keckley's story. Meanwhile, for my birthday I have just got a copy of Jean H Baker's biography,  Mary Todd Lincoln, and Ken Burns classic documentary The Civil War, reputedly one of the best historical documentaries ever made. 

At least I can stitch while I watch that!








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