Mudcat Café message #679160 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #45879   Message #679160
Posted By: aussiebloke
29-Mar-02 - 08:39 PM
Thread Name: Sewing/Weaving songs
Subject: RE: Sewing/Weaving songs
Canadian singer & songwriter Cathy 'the singing quilter' Miller has written, recorded and released a superb CD of sewing/quilting songs, called One Stitch at a Time. More info, track listing, samples etc on her web-site: Click here to go to

Here is some info from her site:

Cathy has researched many facets of old (and new) quilting traditions in order to write the songs included in this collection. She has had help from quilt historians and avid quilt-makers from North America and Australia. The CD covers a wide range of quilt-lore.

The songs:

100 Ways to Hide Your Stash
Quilters can be very creative in hiding their fabric collection! Some of the ideas in this song came from a talk that Julie Wallace gave to Darwin Patchworkers and Quilters meeting in 1999.

The Extra Chair
A song about quilting bees and immortality through quilting.

Follow the Stars to Freedom
A spiritual about the use of quilts by the Underground Railroad that served as maps to Canada. This song is based on the book "Hidden in Plain View" by Jacqueline L. Tobin and Raymond G. Dobard, which is an interesting exploration of how quilts were possibly used by some slaves in their quest for freedom.

It Ain't Finished Yet
UFOs (UnFinished Objects) tend to accumulate in quilters' sewing rooms. There is some frustration involved in these lurking projects!

Just Look Up
A story about an Airing of the Quilts in Hobart, Tasmania. The occasion was the annual Scquilters' (Southern Cross Quilters) Retreat, organized by Cathy Craig. It stopped traffic!

A wonderful song by Cathy Fink about the world's largest quilt - the AIDS quilt.

One Stitch at a Time
The Kosovo quilt drive gave 4000 quilts to Kosovar refugees, and a new sense of community to Australian quilters. And Mary-anne Rooney won a bet with her husband that she would get more than 30!

Patchwork of Life
Flying over the Canadian prairies, the land is always reminiscent of quilt blocks.

Rajah Quilt
The only known surviving convict ship quilt made by transportees to Australia in 1841. Thanks to Elizabeth Fry, each female prisoner was provided with a bundle of sewing supplies to help in their rehabilitation, and taught how to quilt! They made this quilt on board the Rajah, the ship that took them to Van Diemen's Land. It was discovered in 1989 in a Scottish attic. Of recent interest: in 1996 the Ottawa Valley Quilters Guild created an emulation of the Rajah quilt in Canada and donated it to the Elizabeth Fry Society in honour of their 45th anniversary. It can be viewed in their offices in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. To write this song, I used research by Margaret Rolfe in her book "Australian Quilt Heritage", 1998.

Scrap Bag Polka
Fun with fabric! And there's an accordion, too!

Time Flies
Three quilts were made during WWII at Changi Prison in Singapore by civilian internees to get messages to their husbands and sons. See the November 2000 issue of Quilters Newsletter Magazine for an article about these quilts, including photographs. There's a useful book called "Diary of a Girl in Changi" written by Sheila Allen (now Bruhn), with her descriptions of life in Changi Prison. The new edition of the book, ends with a chapter on the quilts, with photographs. I believe this can be ordered from the Australian War Memorial shop in Canberra, ACT, Australia. I also used another book called "Dear Philip" by Freddy Bloom, who kept a diary in the form of letters to her husband, Philip, during her incarceration. She does not mention the quilts, but her story is amazing, and we know that she contributed two blocks to the quilts. The song is written from her perspective.

Toss the Cat
One of the more unusual bridal quilt traditions. I've recently (Feb. 2002) received a note from my friend Jennifer Richards, about a photograph of this event that was in a book of folk music. One of the girls doing the tossing was Jean Ritchie, a notable name in American Folk Music. The cat landed nearest her in this case, and within the year she had married the photographer, George Pickow. They have just celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary!

All but one of these songs were written by Cathy, and are of interest to both quilters and the quilt-challenged. Performances are laced with entertaining stories about specific quilts that intersect with larger historical events, the actual making of quilts, and even quilty urban myths. Cathy is always interested in hearing about quilts and quilt-making, continuing her research and writing on the topic.