Saturday, August 27, 2011

Petticoats, Quilts, and Comforters

A week before my road trip, I scurried around putting together a short proposal for Abingdon Press's Quilts of Love series. I was very excited of the prospect of inclusion in this series and set to research for a colonial period quilting theme. Less than three weeks later my agent notified me that it was accepted!

I received the good news email on the evening of the first anniversary of my step-dad's passing.  Seems like my book projects come with highs and lows, the bitter and the sweet. Within moments of reading the email, and before I even had a chance to tell anyone my head felt like it was about to explode and started throbbing most intensely. I was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance and they suspected life threatening conditions and possible need for a neurosurgeon. After testing and bringing my symptoms under control it was determined that it must have been a strange variation of migraine combined with the intense high blood pressure. Apparently the news was too much for me! Now home, I've followed up with my doctor and am on Prednisone, yet again, and feeling much better. But the good news I received right before this episode was like a promise from the Lord that He still had work ahead for me.

So, without further ado . . .

A Design for Love (Whole-cloth Quilt)
Boston, Massachusetts, 1770
Honour Metcalf’s quilting needlework is admired by a wealthy customer of the Boston mantua-maker for whom she works. In need of increasing her earnings, she agrees to create an elaborate white work bridal quilt for the dowager’s niece. A beautiful design emerges as she carefully stitches the intricate patterns and she begins to dream of fashioning a wedding quilt of her own. When Honour is falsely accused of thievery and finds herself in a perilous position, merchant tailor Joshua Sutton, comes to her aid. As he risks his relationships, reputation, and livelihood to prove her innocence, the two discover a grander plan—a design for love.

Tailor at the Margaret Hunter Shop,
Colonial Williamsburg
It was much fun seeing the display of beautiful quilts, like the whole-cloth quilt pictured above.  I also was able to ask about quilted petticoats at the milliner and mantua-maker's shop (Margaret Hunter's Shop) at Colonial Williamsburg and view the exhibits on colonial dress at the Dewitt Walace Decorative Arts Museum on Fashion Accessories from Head to Toe. 

This lovely work bag (circa 1760-80) caught my attention as something that my quilter might own or acquire, and the period is perfect for my story. It is equipped with special compartments and pin cushion sides and I believe worn tied about the waist.

As a memento of my trip I brought home a pretty Kate McCrostie quilted placemat as a reminder of all the pretty things I saw and for the hope I had in my heart to write the story swirling about in my head.

This talk about quilting makes me also think of comfortors and the comfort I received from my joyful vacation, wonderful news, and God's watchcare over me during my time of grieving and illness makes me ever mindful that "our comfort is abundant through Christ." (2 Cor. 1:5)


  1. Congratulations on the book deal, Carla! Sounds like a great story. I am especially interested in the "whole cloth" quilt idea - what a unique graphic art that must be to design illustration once stitch at a time rather than one pencil/brush stroke at a time. Love the concept - history, art, romance - you're talking my language!
    Sorry about your health scare - and revisiting grief - but how balanced on your plate with joyful news and the call of God upon your life - hope and future!

  2. Carla, Wonderful post - with all the historical details I so love:) I'm so sorry to hear about your hospital trip - the pain and fright of it all must have been terrible. But you're so right - the Lord clearly has work for you to do. I'm so excited about this new book and I know it will be made richer through your travels and experiences. Welcome back! Prayers with you:)

  3. Thanks, Kathy! The Lord is good indeed! And yes, that concept of art with the whole cloth quilting intrigues me so much. It has been lots of fun researching and I'm so looking forward to telling the story.

    Blessings back to you!!

  4. I thought of you often on my trip, Laura. It was such a wonderful time, despite the hospital visit. But all is well now. I'm so grateful for the reassurances that the Lord gives us to get us through the storms in our lives. I do hope you'll enjoy the story. This will now replace The Shadow Cather's Daughter as my first single title.

  5. Oh Carla. I will keep you in my prayers--that had to have been very scary. (Scares me to think about it!) I LOVE your proposal--like Kathryn, the concept of history, art, and romance blended into one is definitely "my language" also. My mother-in-law quilts, and I am blessed to own a whole-cloth wedding quilt she made for us, as well as several others since then.

    God isn't done with you yet, and I believe He wants you to tell this story. We need more stories like this.

  6. Love the synopsis, Carla. I'll look forward to reading, and congratulations! So glad you are feeling better. Praying for you!

  7. Congratulations! I was Googling for news of the quilt book series, and found your blog. :) Your book sounds like a terrific idea--and what a relief that nothing was seriously wrong.

    My quilt book is in the line-up too--it's set in contemporary Mass. in Fairhaven, near New Bedford, and follows the story of a textile conservator restoring an old quilt...I look forward to making a trip to MA for research.

  8. So glad you are feeling better now, Carla, and that you were well while we were running around CW, Jamestown, and Yorktown! Beautiful post!

  9. Carla, that must have been so scary! So glad to hear you're doing okay now and CONGRATULATIONS on selling!!

  10. So good to hear your wonderful news Carla! Congratulations :) I hope you stay too busy with your writing and unearthing of gorgeous textiles to revisit the hospital like that!
    Dotti :)


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