Monday, June 30, 2014

More Grandmother's Choice Blocks

6 Grandmother's Choice Blocks
I made 6 Grandmother's Choice blocks during my very productive month of March. It's one thing to make the squares but quite another to prepare a blog about them. Since then, I've made another 4 blocks. Here is my post for all 10 squares. Yup, it just keeps on going and going! As before, most of the information is taken from Barbara Brackman's amazing blog, Grandmother's Choice. The exception is block 48 which represents Canadian Suffrage. I researched it and found a slightly different story.

Block 15: Centennial
Block 15: Centennial


15. Centennial: New Zealand's Victory
Centennial recalls the 1993 centennial celebration  of New Zealand as the first country to give all women the right to vote in all elections. "Each year September 19th is remembered as Suffrage Day or White Camellia Day because supporters of votes for women wore white camellias."


22. Jack's Delight: Ridicule as Humor

Block 22: Jack's Delight
Block 22: Jack's Delight
Humor was used a lot to ridicule women who wanted the vote. Many of these "jokes" were published on postcards. "Historian Catherine Palczewski estimates that about 4,500 suffrage-themed postcards were published." In most of the images, women who supported women's rights to vote were depicted as unattractive, bossy, a bore, a busybody or even promiscuous. They might also have been depicted as too dumb or distracted to vote; and of course incompetent to govern.

24. True Blue: Too Smart
Block 24: True Blue
Block 24: True Blue
At the time, a woman was called a blue if she was self-educated and a blue-stocking if she was educated. These terms were meant to be an derogatory, "although many women wrote they were proud to be blue. The word implied a woman who read, who wrote (for publication, horrors!), who discussed ideas, literature, philosophy and history, who valued conversation over card playing."

Many women in Great Britain were arrested and spent time in jail for their efforts on behalf of women's right to vote. When in prison, women were identified as prisoners by the "broad arrows", a triple line stitched or painted on their coarse clothing. For many, the Broad Arrow became a badge of honor worn by women who'd endured imprisonment.
Block 30: Broad Arrow
Block 30: Broad Arrow
Block 33: Contrary Husband
Block 33: Contrary Husband

The Contrary Husband is a renown quilting block. Since women can be as contrary as men, Ms. Brackman examines the legislated right of a contrary husband. The case in point is Charles Lewis Bankhead, a drunk who abused his wife. Her influential family tried to intervene but there were few options available in 1815. "Charles had every right to beat his wife who was obligated to remain under his control."  

Block 35: I'm an Anti
Block 35: I'm an Anti
Not all women supported Women's right to vote. To be fair, it may have been difficult for some women to assert themselves, especially when some of the women in the suffrage movements were so militant. There were women however who were against women's right to vote. In the US, the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage (NAOWS) was created. It seems that some of their arguments such as "Why waste time, energy and money, without result?" were more about the difficulty of obtaining the vote than actually being against women voting. 

It would be wonderful to think that women got the right to vote in Canada because politicians and men in general believed in the equality of women. Unfortunately, that's not usually how politics works and it's not what happened in Canada. "In 1917, Prime Minister Robert Borden felt he could save Canada's honour only by winning that year's general election, so he rigged the vote to ensure that he would." Borden's conservative government gave women in the armed forces the right to vote since they were the most likely to vote for his government. Recall that this was during WW1 and Borden needed more men to enlist, but since they weren't, he proposed conscription to force them to fight. 

Block 48: Fair Play
Block 48: Fair Play
Before the elections Borden's government passed the Military Voters Act and the Wartime Elections Act. "The first gave the vote to "all British subjects, whether male or female" who were in the armed forces. In one stroke, about two thousand army nurses became the first women to get the federal franchise." The Act also allowed the government to use those votes wherever they needed them, as opposed to the ridings where the people in the armed forces came from. The Wartime Elections Act took away Canadian's right to vote if they had become citizens after 1902 and came from a country that Canada was fighting. These changes ensured that people who were likely to vote conservative got the right to vote (women in the armed forces) while taking away the vote of new immigrants who generally voted Liberal. 

"Margaret Gordon, president of the Canadian National Suffrage Association, said it would have been more honest to make it illegal not to vote Conservative."

Borden's campaign promised all women the federal vote and, in 1918, they got it. By the early 1920s, women also had the provincial vote everywhere but Quebec, which resisted the inevitable until 1940.

FYI, this information is from Jensen, Sid. You Don't vote for Kings, Beaver, Apr/May2007, Vol. 87, Issue 2 It's probably a little more realistic than Ms. Brackman's view.

Block 2: Amethyst
Block 2: Amethyst
The purple amethyst reminds us of the purple, green and white of Britain's Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU). They were a militant group that were also know as suffragettes. The WSPU's main mottos were "Votes for Women" and "Deeds Not Words". 

In the US, the main suffrage colour was gold. This is why I've chosen to use green, purple and gold in my quilt.

Block 16: Capital T
Block 16: Capital T
Many of the women who fought for the vote learned public speaking while fighting for another cause - Temperance (Capital T). It wasn't a bad idea, but since we know that organised crime became what it is today because of the temperance movement, I find it very hard to be sympathetic (besides I'm more of a "let live" type of gal).

Block 21: Parasols & PR
Block 21: Parasols & PR
Women used parasols to shade themselves from the sun. These yellow and white parasols were used as wonderful billboards for advertising "Votes for Women"!






What I learned:
  • It was only as I was trying to match the photos to each block that I noticed that two of my blocks are different from those on the Grandmother's Choice blog. Oops! It seems that I inverted some of the blocks when I pieced them. Unless you compare the blog's pictures with mine, you probably won't notice.
  • Most of the blocks I have completed are what I consider the easy ones - that is, the blocks with squares, rectangles and triangles. I really hesitated making the blocks that required that I cut out templates (irregular shapes from a pattern). The first one I made from a template was block 2. Since it came out much better than I anticipated, I attempted a few more. Block 48 is a more difficult template using circles. I was nervous but in the end it's a lot like putting in a sleeve when making a blouse. I took my time and used a lot of pins. Not bad for a first effort. I did make another block that didn't make it on the blog - I'll have to work on those Y seams (don't ask!)
  • Block 21 is an appliqué. I find appliqués difficult to make well, but if I don't practice, I'll never get better. The good thing about appliqués on a quilt is that I can FMQ on top of them to make sure they stay in place.
  • At the end of this post I had a total of 19 blocks completed. I did make another 4 blocks on the weekend - but that will be another day. I have start thinking (actually the correct word would be obsessing!) about putting these blocks together in a quilt. More on that later.
Tomorrow is Canada Day - hope yours is a great one!
Any day spent quilting or thinking about quilting is a great day :-)

4 comments:

  1. Wow! What a collection! I had not heard of Grandmother's Choice Blocks. There are the Dear Jane blocks and the Farmer's Wife blocks that I did know about. These are lovely! Great job on them too! I love the colours you're choosing. I hope your summer's going well...

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    1. Thank you. It's been a challenge to make but I love them. I also love learning about the issues and women of the era. Summer's hectic but good (especially when it's not too hot and muggy!) Hope your enjoying a slowdown before the storm :-)

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    2. I didn't see that you'd replied. It did slow down this summer (no association sized order of pants) but I had a half dozen quilts to machine quilt and various other sewing type commitments. It's been a nice change from the last 3 years tho'. :) I hope your summer has been gentle as well.

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