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Maker(s):Deerfield Society of Blue and White Needlework
Title:bed curtain
Date Made:ca. 1900
Materials:textile: bleached (white) plain weave linen; polychrome linen embroidery
Place Made:United States; Massachusetts; Deerfield
Measurements:overall: 61 in x 34 1/2 in; 154.94 cm x 87.63 cm
Accession Number:  HD 69.1206
Credit Line:Transfer from the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, bequest of C. Alice Baker
Museum Collection:  Historic Deerfield

One of a set of six bed curtains (HD 69.1201-69.1206) embroidered in blue linen on a white, plain weave linen ground, which were made by the Deerfield Society of Blue and White Needlework (1896-1926). The Deerfield Society of Blue and White Needlework was founded by Deerfield residents Margaret C. Whiting (1860-1946) and Ellen Miller (1854-1929) in 1896. Originally started as a way to preserve and document 18th and early 19th century embroidered bed hangings in New England, the Society quickly became a village-wide industry, and mirrored larger national and international Arts and Crafts interest. Although the original embroideries Whiting and Miller studied were wrought in crewel woolen yarns, these new reproductions utilized cellulosic threads, often linen, which were less susceptible to insect damage. The group’s members, all local women, engaged primarily in the production of domestic textiles, but also made some clothing and accessories. The Society was featured in numerous national exhibitions and publicized in magazines and newspapers throughout its thirty-year history. Both Whiting and Miller created most of the embroidery designs, which embroiderers executed using locally dyed yarns. Favorite stitches included New England laid, satin, herringbone, cross stitch, outline, French knots, blanket, feather, and chain. For most pieces, workers were paid a percentage of the price charged. The Society was well-known for the exacting design and execution standards put forth by its founders; only those pieces that met with their approval were allowed to be embroidered with the Society's seal, an upper case "D" within a flax wheel. Together with a headcloth (HD 69.1207) and coverlet (HD 69.1208), the set was a commission by Phoebe Apperson Hearst (1842-1919), begun in 1896 or 1897, for her home in Pleasanton, California. Margaret Whiting and Ellen Miller based the design of the coverlet on the quilting pattern of a c.1797 wool whole cloth quilt attributed to Olive Curtiss Baker (1776-1844), now in the collection of Memorial Hall Museum. The curtains are based on a set of late 18th-century bed hangings attributed to Keturah Baldwin (b. poss. 1772), that were destroyed by fire in 1900, shortly after Whiting and Miller copied their designs. This reproduction set, and their designs, are all that remains of the original Baldwin designs.

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