Friday, September 5, 2014

Alice's Oak Leaf

Block 24 of the Chester Criswell Quilt is available now on the website Two Bits Patches.

CCCQ Alice Richmond

The pattern is a traditional one called Oak Leaf.  I've already had a great response, it's one of the patterns that everyone seems to enjoy.

The quilt above is in the International Quilt Study Center and Museum Collection.  It was made in New York about 1850.  I do like the sawtooth sashing and blue and white always looks good.
 IQSCM 1997.007.0711.

I have pinned a few more oak leaf block pictures you'll find them here on Pinterest.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Family Circle

Now that I have discovered Mary Criswell's older sister Agnes Smith I though I would see where her block fits in the Chester Criswell Quilt.

This is the centre of the quilt.  The large block in the centre is Andrew and Alice Criswell, Mary and Agnes's parents.  E3 is Mary Criswell's wreath which is the same as D6, Martha Lambourn's.  (The pattern is the same but not the date - Mary's is dated March 13th 1852 and Martha's is 4th Month 2nd Day 1852.  Mary was a Presbyterian and Martha a Quaker.)
Mary's sister Margaret is F4 and I'm not surprised to find that the 'new' sister Agnes is next door F5.  There are other important blocks here too.

C3   William Criswell, one of Mary's brothers (deceased)
C4   Alice McClellan, Mary's Godmother
C5   Lizzie Lambourn, Martha's younger sister
C6   J Dickey Smith,  Agnes Criswell Smith's son and Mary's nephew
E6   Martha Richmond, Alice McClellan's niece

One of the unanswered questions is as follows:

Who made the quilt?

My first assumption, now called Theory A, is that Mary's mother Alice made the quilt. There are far more relatives represented than friends on the quilt, many of them older cousins and aunts. But would Alice put herself and her husband in the middle of the bride's quilt?  It doesn't quite make sense.

Theory B:  Mary McClellan Criswell made the quilt herself, asking her family and friends to make the blocks.  She put her parents in the centre partly as a thank you and partly as a source of her own 'familyness.'  If Mary already had her dozen quilts in her glory box this could have been the thirteenth special quilt.
 (from Wikipedia - The term "hope chest" or "cedar chest" is used in the midwest or south of the United States; in the United Kingdom, the term is "bottom drawer"; while "glory box" is used by women in Australia.)

"This album's then a wreath for thee"

Theory C:  Martha Lambourn organised the quilt and the collected blocks were given to Mary as an engagement present. The verse on Martha's block suggests a gift from friends; the verse on Mary's suggests receiving such a gift. This was certainly common in the 1850s although pieced identical blocks would be more likely than the large appliques of this quilt.  But would Martha have contacted all of Mary's relatives, and why would she put Alice and Andrew in the middle?

Theory D:  All of the above, but I will never know for sure.  If we had all the answers then there would be nothing left to wonder about. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ready for the Third Year?

I've been working on this block.  Do you see green on white or white on green?

This pattern is part of Block #25 of the Chester Criswell Quilt.  That's right, there are more blocks and The Third Year is about to be launched.

The first pattern of the Third Year, Block #24, is due to be published on 1st September.  If you don't want to miss out you can pre-order now.

Do hope you can come to the Third Year party!

*** Wow - the response to the Third Year party is great - glad I don't have to post all the patterns.....

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Family Secret Revealed

Yesterday a total stranger sent me an email that led to the revelation of another secret of the Chester Criswell Quilt.

Do you remember Block 21, Mary Trayner's eight petalled daisy?  There is a second block in the quilt of the same design.

The names on this block are Joseph Smith and Agnes C Smith, Fairview.  In the Block 21 story I wrote,
"These Smiths are related to the bride; again, more research needs to be done to find the exact relationship."

Yesterday I received an email from Linda through  I don't know Linda, but her own family history search had found some Smiths and some Criswells.  She sent me an email to say that she found my quilt family tree and told me that one of the online resources on might be helpful to my research.

Smiths are always hard to research so I was pleased to follow Linda's hint and opened up 'Record of the Smith Family', written by Joseph Harris in 1906.  The record follows the descendents of John and Susanna Smith who migrated from Ireland to the Americas in 1720.  John and Susanna brought four of their children with them, one more was born on the voyage and a further ten were born in the New World.

Fortunately the 272 pages of Smiths are indexed and I quickly found Joseph and Agnes.  Their record looks like this.

Aha! Agnes was a Criswell before she became a Smith.  I added 'Criswell' to Agnes' record and promptly came up with a death certificate.  On the certificate are the names of Agnes' parents.

Agnes Criswell Smith's parents are Andrew G. Criswell and Alice Carlile.

Agnes Criswell has the same parents as the bride Mary McClellan Criswell.

Agnes is Mary's older sister.

I couldn't believe it.  How could I have missed another sister for Mary?  I went back and forth between the records to confirm what I had just found.  Yes, the bride Mary had an older sister who was already married.

How did I miss this important relationship?  The 1850 census records are my starting point.  Agnes was married before 1850, and living with husband Joseph and three year old son John Dickey Smith on their own farm, close to the original Criswell farm.  I didn't know Agnes' maiden name was Criswell, I only had the initial 'C'. I was aware of all of Mary younger siblings; Margaret and Susanna were recorded in the 1850 census.  The Faggs Manor cemetery records provided the names of her other four brothers and sisters. My grandmother's notes only mentioned Mary and did not include any siblings.

Have you found the next clue yet?  The children of John Smith and Hannah Dickey are Joseph Smith and Jackson Smith, each of whom married a Criswell girl.  Jackson Smith is Jesse Jackson Smith so his Criswell bride is Mary McClellan herself.  The Smith brothers married the Criswell sisters.

Now the groom has a family too, something I had not been able to discover without this new source of information.  I have the name of a brother, his father and mother and his grandfather so I can work on Jesse Jackson's family tree.

It was hard to get to sleep last night with all these names running through my head.  Just before I went to sleep I had an amazing revelation.

If Alice Criswell's daughter Mary was not her first daughter to be married but the second one........

...... there must be another, earlier Chester Criswell Quilt.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pinning and Posting

I've jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon.  There are so many inspiring images in cyberspace, I've decided to collect a few.  One positive feature of Pinterest is the picture's source always stays with the picture - you can easily visit the original post and view the original context.

I've set up four boards.  I only have one follower so I would be pleased to gather a few more.

Friendship Quilts



Antique Album Quilts

Patchwork Blocks

Chester Criswell Quilt

There is no new Chester Criswell Quilt pattern next month but there is still plenty of activity around the CCCQ community.

 Carole from Wheels on the Warrandyte Bus is choosing fabric.

 Miriam from Yellow Roses has finished Block 23 - the Bat Signal block.

 Chris is Quilting at the Farm and finishing Dear Jane as well.

Wanda appears to have five blocks on the go at the same time - Scrap Happy.

Nancy's design wall is working overtime - these are half of her completed blocks. Tattered Garden Quilting.

Last but not least, Jan Mac's design floor.  Sew Many Quilts, Too Little Time.

And what have I been doing?  Well, don't tell anyone, but I bought another antique quilt.  Shhh...

Saturday, July 12, 2014

It followed me Home - Can I keep it?

I have added another quilt to the (growing) collection.

I was attracted by the big, bold blocks and interesting patterns.  Sampler quilts are my favourite, I don't like making the same block over and over again. 
I bought it online; the seller described it as late 1800s and purchased in Chester County.  Excellent - another Chester County quilt to keep the Criswells company! 

I wasn't disappointed when it finally arrived.  The fugitive green fabric has faded to tan and some has perished altogether but the patterns are clear.  The whole quilt is in good condition, you don't have to hold your breathe when you fold it up (like I do with the CCCQ).  The cable border is just a bonus.

I wanted some expert opinions on the quilt's age, so I posted some photos in the Facebook group Quilts - Vintage and Antique.  I got over seventy likes which was very nice and a variety of thoughts on how old the quilt is.  The patterns and fugitive green fabric points to 1890s, but the scalloped edge has a 1930s feel about it.  The border fabric matches the background fabric so it must have all been made at the same time.

The big surprise was the number of people that said, it's an Ohio quilt, isn't it?  It looks just like the Miami Valley quilt book.

I went to find my copy of the book and looked through it.  I was very pleased to find lots of similar blocks in the book and my new quilt.  I live in Australia now but I grew up in Ohio; I have always wanted on Ohio quilt.

 There is one odd block however.

That's not fugitive green, red and cheddar.  That's double pink and a tiny green print. How does this block belong with the others?

I love a good mystery.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Some Finishes - Of Sorts

The last block of The Second Year of the Chester Criswell Quilt is online now.

Block 23 - Mary Watkins

Those cut-outs remind me of one of my favourite television shows when I was about 9 years old.


So, if this is the last block is the quilt finished?  No, not quite.  There are ten more blocks to go so there is a Third Year of the CCCQ.  For those of you that have just discovered this quilt, there are plenty of blocks to come.  Don't forget to share your pictures and your comments;  it will encourage those of us that would like to get on with other projects.  The next block should be arriving 1st September 2014.

I finished this quilt for my brother's birthday.  I've called it '50 Cats'. My brother is now 49 and 12 months.

I always piece backs of quilts from my stash - it's fun and a reward for being disciplined and finishing the top.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Photos of Block 22 - Rosebud Bouquet

CCCQ Block 22 - Jesse Jackson Smith

 I haven't found out any more about these 'odd botanical' blocks in the Chester Criswell Quilt.  I was hoping for some photos of similar blocks in similar quilts but nothing has appeared.

I've noticed a few finished blocks, if you put your link here we can all enjoy them.

1. Write your blog post. Publish it on your blog.
2. Copy the link of the specific blog post. This is not just the link to your blog itself (, but the link to the specific post: (
3. Click the blue link up button below and paste your link into the box.

I had my own bouquet of roses last week for my birthday.  Flowers don't appear very often in our household, I was very surprised and very pleased. There is just something special about roses, isn't there.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

National Sewing Machine Day

13th June is National Sewing Machine Day. That's all the information I can find, but it's enough for a blog post.

This is my machine. It's a Janome 1600P.  Unlike many Janomes it only has one straight stitch, forward and reverse; no zigzag, no fancy stitches.  I cannot make a buttonhole or put in a zip (hooray!) I can quilt a queen sized quilt with it.

 I call her Miranda, after the British actor Miranda Hart (Chummy in Call the Midwife).

Last week's finish was a little quilt for new grandbaby Ryan.  Ryan was two weeks early so it wasn't quite done for his homecoming, but it was finished by his due date.  The pattern is called Hunter's Star and I bought the hand dyed fabrics from Dyed and Gone to Heaven.

I like pieced backs.  The two colour ranges I purchased are Mocha and Peppermint.  When I was ordered the fabric I had to decide between Peppermint and Blue Skies.  When the green fabric arrived I wished I had bought the blue.  I felt a little frustrated at my choice until I went to my stash to find some fabric for the back.  The first fabric I found was the hand print.

Hope you have a chance to get to your machine on National Sewing Machine Day.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Those Odd Botanicals

Block 22 is another one of the 'odd botanicals' in the Chester Criswell Quilt.

Jesse Jackson Smith CCCQ Block 22

Block 5 was the Crazy Nasturtiums block.

James Carlile CCCQ Block 5

This block is yet to be numbered, it has ivy leaves, daffodils and carnations.

Maria Criswell CCCQ

Other blocks in the quilt have the symmetric, stylised flowers and leaves that you find on other quilts from the 1850s.  These three blocks pictured have all been cut from a single piece of fabric; the leaves and stems have not been cut as separate pieces.  Crazy Nasturtiums is an exception - the large piece of material has been 'made' by piecing smaller bits together, and then the whole pattern was cut out - the joins are all in unusual places.

The patterns look like dried pressed flower arrangements.  I can imagine the seamstress putting a sheet of tracing paper over the pressed flowers, tracing around the whole arrangement and then cutting out the paper pattern.  My other thought is that the designs may be a silhouette, with the shadow from a floral arrangment traced onto paper.

Have you seen blocks like these in other quilts?  Do you have blocks like these in your own collections?  I would like to find examples in other quilts, if you can share some photos or some links I will follow them up in another posting.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Photos of Block 21

Block 21 was nice and easy, I've finishing quilting it now.  I decided to Quilt As You Go for this quilt.  The hand quilting is quite enjoyable when you are only doing one block at a time.

My Windows XP home computer did not survive long after the customer support for XP finished.  I have been using my laptop while I was waiting a brand new computer to be installed at work, so the work computer could be retired to home.  Now when I need a photo to upload I need to think, where is it?  Is it on the old computer, the backup external hard drive, the laptop, the new computer or still in the camera?  It's in the camera, good, now where is my photo software......?

Hopefully you can find some photos to share.

1. Write your blog post. Publish it on your blog.
2. Copy the link of the specific blog post. This is not just the link to your blog itself (, but the link to the specific post: (
3. Click the blue link up button below and paste your link into the box.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

CCCQ A Stitch in Time

Block 20 of the Chester Criswell quilt was a little challenging.  I shared how I made the block in the post  20 Blocks / 100 Posts.

Miriam of Yellow Roses has also shared how she made this block.  Miriam's blog has a lot of hints for needleturn applique.

Nancy at the Tattered Garden used two pieces of fabric and cut alternate rings from each piece.  This gave Nancy more fabric to turn under.  It also means you could use two different fabrics and make a striped piecrust block.  Has anyone tried more than one fabric?

Block 21 is on the website now.  It's much easier to make -  Quilting at the Farm Chris has finished it already!