Saturday, January 29, 2011

WWII Parachute Silk Quilt to finish - surprise!

Me (giggle), Mom Dianne (laugh), and sis-in-law Lynn (smile)
Lynn created these fun quilted signs for the dental office she works in!

Lynn completely surprised me with three freshly-cleaned quilts made by 
my great-grandmother Margarethe (Maggie) Block and my grandfather Elvin Volker.

Mom Dianne writes a story about the surprise quilt top and quilt bottom that Lynn brought along.  
This is what she wrote:
"In 1945, after World War II, salesmen sold parachutes door-to-door.  I remember this salesman because he didn't bring me gum like the usual salesman.  I was five years old and lived in Gardena, North Dakota with my grandparents Otto and Maggie Block.  My grandmother bought a colored parachute from the salesman and she cut big blocks, sewed them together to make a quilt.  Now my daughter-in-law Lynn and my daughter Mary Ann, 67 years later, are finishing the quilt.  Mary Ann is spraying water on the material to iron the wrinkles out.  Next will come the sewing of the top and bottom."
Together we purchased a queen sized Hobb's silk batting (90% silk and 10% polyester) from Harriet Hargrave's online store (Colorado, USA).  Lynn purchased green and yellow silk thread and began small repairs.  Mary Ann and daughter Katie carefully sprayed and ironed the silk, and upon finding a small hole in the yellow back, Katie carefully pinned the spot so that we can go back later to find and repair it using some of the 1/2" binding from the top of the quilt.  We measured the quilt back this evening and found it to be 77" (yellow borders) x 91" (turquoise borders).  

Lynn using silk thread to make repairs on the top of the quilt, which contains four patch blocks.

My daughter Katie carefully checks for tears, rips and holes, thankfully only finding one tiny hole.

Ironing the silk.  It's amazing to know that most of the parachute silk sold after WWII was white and ladies sewed their prom dresses, wedding dresses and daughter's cathecism dresses from the silk.  It was difficult to find any information about colored parachute silk being sold.  Evidently, it was quite rare.  If you have any information, please leave a comment below.

??Perhaps this is nylon material instead of silk:

            Women were asked to turn in their hosiery to help with the war effort.  Silk stockings were used to make powder bags in naval and artillery guns, while nylon hose was used to manufacture parachutes and tow ropes for gliders.
            On February 18, 1943 an intensive effort to gather up old silk and nylon hosiery in the Dayton area resulted in the collection of nearly 225,000 pairs of hose.  In one instance a woman who had been making rugs from old stockings brought in her partly finished rugs, while another woman donated 118 pairs of stockings she had collected over a period of ten years intending to make rugs.  By the end of September 1943, about 46 million pairs of hosiery, or over 2 million pounds, had been collected nationally.  This was an amazing feat, due to the fact that no silk or nylon hosiery had been manufactured for quite some time.


My sis-in-law and I were talking tonight about the parachute quilt.  Since we're not sure if it is silk (we hope!) or nylon, we decided to google how to test fabric to see what it is.  There is a simple burn test that requires precautionary measures.  Perhaps the chemistry teacher at our local school can offer assistance?  From reading the fabric test information, it comes down to this:  if the fabric burns and smells like hair, then it's silk; if the fabric burns and smells like plastic, then it's nylon.  Well, that makes only to conduct the test.  I think I'll need to have a second person there to get their noses' opinion, too.  Have you ever found yourself testing fabric before?  Any advice for me?

1 comment:

  1. Silk is 100% natural. Leading a life by using natural products is the best way to stay healthy. is offering such elegant products for protecting your health and providing you a better nights sleep. The Silk Emporium is committed to provide the best products to its customers. If you use our silk pillows, bed sheets, blankets, etc you can enjoy a sound sleep.


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