Friday, October 19, 2018

Ocean Waves

This week's block is Ocean Waves.

Ocean Waves is one of those blocks that looks lonely by itself.  It's a party block, it feels best when hanging out with friends.

IQSCM collection dated 1900

Sandra Starley's blog has another antique Ocean Waves quilt.

Ocean Waves appears in the 1931 catalogue The Patchwork Book. One thing I have found curious in this magazine was the continual references to the colonial women and their patchwork.  I don't think American colonial women were making patchwork blocks, the 1700s were too early for patchwork.

Barbara Brackman addresses this issue in her latest blog, Women's Work: Quilts.

In the early to mid-20th century popular quilt writing was valued more for mythology than accuracy. Nostalgia for an imagined colonial and pioneer past fed a sense of national pride. Patchwork quilts were survivors that seemed to support that argument. Curators, popular historians and pattern companies shaped their stories to fit the myth.

The image: An isolated woman working alone, recycling scraps from her ragbag, clever and artistic enough to imagine new patterns named for geese, bears and turkeys as she glanced out her cabin door at the wildlife. Occasionally finding respite from her solitary life in a group quilting bee.

Ahh. So it's the Romance of the Patchwork Quilt (yet another book from the 1930s.)

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Martha Washington

As I was sorting out some files in the sewing room I came across the name for another one of my new antique blocks.  At this rate I will have them christened in no time at all.

Martha Washington

For those who don't know, Martha Washington was the first First Lady as she was married to George Washington.  She was know for her quiltmaking; guests to Mount Vernon would find their bed covered with a dozen quilts, each one needing to be admired and folded before there was room to sleep in the bed.

Mount Vernon, Va. Flower Garden postcard by the Mount Vernon Association, 1926

Thursday, September 20, 2018

On the Hunt for a Name

Yesterday was exciting, a parcel came in the mail. 

Hooray! A new lot of blocks to play with!  They are big blocks, most are 15 inches.  They are perhaps not quite as old as I expected but there are some old fabrics and a mix of hand pieced and machined pieced.  As usual when buying online, the photos were closely examined.  The following was one block that said, Pick Me!

Have you seen this one before? I haven't.

While I was waiting for these blocks to arrive I received another package.  It's a CD-Rom of the Kansas City Star quilts published from 1928 to 1958.  There are over a thousand files, each one a copy of a quilt pattern published in the newspaper.  I do prefer original books but ...  a thousand patterns! How could I resist. 

Not to sure on how to get through so much information I decided to start, logically with the A's. Airplane, Album, Amethyst, Anna's Pride, Arkansas Centennial/Crossroads/Star, Arrow Head .....

Arrow Head.

(Clip and Save.) The contributor of this quilt pattern, Mrs. Mattie Cron, rural route No. 3, Mulhall, Ok., is a quilt fan who likes to share her favorite designs with other enthusiasts. She just has finished a quilt made by this pattern in rose and white.  The block is twelve inches square. - 29 Jan 1936

That wasn't too much of a hunt, my new block is an Arrow Head.  It also demonstrates something that I did not know.  I had assumed that the Kansas City Star quilt patterns were designed by professionals like Ruby McKim.  But the vast majority are blocks contributed by women to the newspaper in the hope of getting published.  Thank you Mrs. Mattie Cron - although that right angled white piece is going to take some skilled needlework to fit.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Duck, Duck, Goose Tracks

Again this week, a block with several names.

Goose Tracks

Goose Tracks seems like a logical name for this one but it isn't the only name.  Woman's World calls it Signal; imagine a lighthouse or beacon sending out a signal light.

The Kansas City Star went for Cross and Crown.

This quaint old pattern with its "firm-in-the-faith" title is really a variation of the lily blocks which have flowers resembling these "crowns" combined with applique stems, leaves, with perhaps a pieced basket corner as was shown at another time. "Goose tracks" is also quite similar in pattern but of course less dignified in name!  This is one of the more simple quilts to piece, the finished effect varying considerably in relation to the way it is set together.  With red lattice strips joining white squares at the corner the pattern stands out entirely different than when white strips or large squares are used, or again the background may be light with darker design.  Allow seams extra; about 3/16 inch is right for this on all sides.

Just remember that this picture and comments are the complete instructions to sew the entire quilt; no more information was supplied.

This Goose Tracks hand sewn block was made a little differently.  It isn't pieced, it's reverse applique. 

This is the back of the block, which started as a nine patch.

Three gingham pieces were appliqued on the corner patch to make the goose track. Gingham wasn't possibly not the best choice in this situation.

Not much contrast but another block of the same pattern.  This sampler quilt was made in 1939 and the maker wrote the name of each block on the quilt.  And her name for this one?

Duck's Foot in the Wind.  I wish I knew the back story for this one.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

A Friendship Quilt Block

... or, a Friendship block quilt.

These two blocks sit side by side in this quilt by the Banner (Oklahoma) Progressive Club, 1938.  The block is called Friendship Quilt BB2895 from Kansas City Star.

This quilt may have white strips for the names of friends to be embroidered.  The strips may be in solid color.  This was contributed by Mrs. Delia Davidson. Vilas, Colorado. Thank you.

The Kansas City Star printed more than one pattern named Friendship Quilt.  It must have been a useful generic label, my index for KCS includes nine different Friendship Quilt blocks.

On the quilting pile

Thursday, August 30, 2018


This week's quilt block is Jack in the Box.

Jack in the Box

The name isn't obvious but I discovered as I made the block that each corner held a letter 'J'. I also found out in my research that the toy Jack-in-the-Box was popular in the 18th century, much earlier than one would think.

Harper's Weekly - 1863

 More about the toy at Planet Retro Blog - Jack in the Box

Jack in the Box from Kansas City Star 1929

Jack in the box is a crisp angular pattern almost as perky as its surprising name.The sketched block shows how easy it is to piece first the white triangles into a diamond, then two white triangles onto a red triangle, then wholemaking one corner square.  Seams are not allowed so should be added to the sizes given.
And right here may we put in a splendid suggestion for those who repeatedly wonder "How much material does it take to make a quilt?" by tracing onto brown paper as many patterns of each color as are called for in one block of the design and allowing seams between, quite accurate areas of cloth for one block may be estimated.  Then it depends on the size you want the finished quilt and how the blocks are to be set together to determine the number of blocks to be used.  Hence if it takes a 6-inch square of pink for one block and quilt has eighteen blocks you would need half a yard of 36-inch material for that one color.


This is another block named Jack in the Box - almost the same.

Jack in the Box BB 1875

If you want some clearer instructions there is a detailed tutorial at Generations Quilt Patterns.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Patchwork Book 1931

I was searching for publication dates for the patchwork block Cracker a few weeks ago.  According to BlockBase it first appeared in 1931 in The Patchwork Book.  Serendipitously my watch list on eBay had a copy of The Patchwork Book and although the freight was three times as much as the book I managed to justify the purchase.  So here it is.

The Patchwork Book was published in Chicago by the Woman's World Service Library.  It is a catalogue of patterns that can be purchased by mail as well as some social commentary on quilt making. It is sixteen large pages, all in colour.

One of the most interesting things I found in The Patchwork Book is the naming of the patchwork blocks.  Names were not yet set in stone because not many quilt books had been published; patchwork designs still showed regional variation.

Cracker is in the bottom right hand corner.  The green block above it the Peek-Hole, now more commonly known as Necktie or Bowtie.  The blocks on the left hand side have similar unusual names; Dragon's Head (Churn Dash), Aeroplane (Monkey Wrench) and Signal Design (Goose Tracks).

And while you were stitching away you could reflect on these gems of wisdom from The Patchwork Book.

In Colonial times the art of patchwork quilt making reached a high perfection in America.  As our great-grandmothers were forbidden to wear bright colors, patchwork quilts became the medium of expression for their love of them, and into their fine stitches they wove their dreams, their aspirations.

Feminine fancy for this season decrees pillows - more pillows - and still more pillows.  When the demand is so unmistakable as this feminine, nation-wide interest in pillows, we feel we just have to do our part to make this sensible interest both an artistic and a practical adventure in home-making. 

These historic pillows which we present for your consideration on this page are as much a part of American life and tradition as is the American flag - for they show the spirit and patriotism of our home-making women during the last two hundred years. 

Better go make some pillows.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Condition Not Important - Part 2

Last post I shared my latest addition to the quilt collection. I initially thought that the quilt maker had taken her patterns from Ruby McKim's 1931 book One Hundred and One Patchwork Patterns.

As I was searching in cyberspace for Ruby McKim quilts I found a few sampler quilts with Ruby McKim blocks.  Here is a lovely example from blogger Lynn at Quilts - Vintage and Antique.

 And another from Barbara Brackman Material Culture.

I always thought of these quilts as Ruby McKim samplers (with a small 's').  What I hadn't realised was they were actually Ruby McKim Samplers (with a capital 'S'). These quilts were a weekly pattern first published in the Denver Post beginning in September 1931.  All the twenty-five original patterns are thoughtfully archived on the Denver Post blog.

The original layout was blocks set on point with negative space to show off quilting. Not all of the Samplers were made this way - not everyone follows directions.

What I realised now was that I was the new owner of a Ruby McKim Sampler quilt. As we say in Australia .... I was gobsmacked * (which is good).

My quilt is twenty-four blocks instead of twenty-five; Grandmother Cross is missing.  My quilt's maker had no desire to show off her quilting skill (which is probably why it is tied). My poor worn-out orphan now has a lineage.

I promise that you will hear more about this quilt.

*gobsmacked ˈɡɒbsmakt  adjective British informal
adjective: gobsmacked; adjective: gob-smacked 
utterly astonished; astounded.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Condition Not Important (well, maybe a little ...)

I have been on the lookout for a new quilt for my collection.  I had a birthday last month, and what could be nicer than a fresh quilt to research? I started looking online about six weeks before my birthday but could not find anything that was both interesting and within budget.  I had just about given up; but with only two days to go I found a candidate. Now, I always say that condition doesn't matter because I like to reproduce a quilt rather than restore it; but I was wondering if this one was too worn out even for me.

The quilt arrived earlier this week.  The seller's description was accurate.  It is a sad orphan.

There is no batting, just top and back.  It isn't quilted, it has been tied with thick yarn which explains all the dots in the photo.  Some fabric is faded to white (bottom right had corner), some pieces are unstitched (Grandmother's fan with black, bottom row) and some material has vanished.

Here's an example.  What was it? I started with BlockBase and after some detective work I found a name - it's Corn and Beans.  There are traces of a pretty yellow print, and the fugitive green is completed bleached.

This block is in better condition but I couldn't find it in Blockbase.

I had a look in 101 Patchwork Patterns by Ruby McKim and found it straight away.

I kept looking in 101 Patchwork Patterns and found all twenty-four blocks.  I thought it would take a fair bit longer to name them all but it was nice to identify each neglected block.

The maker must have used the 101 Patchwork Patterns to choose her blocks.

                        ... or ...

                                    ... is there more to this story? ...

                                                                         ... don't miss the next installment ...

Saturday, June 16, 2018

For a Limited Time Only ....

.... my new e-book is FREE.

A five day promotion has just begun so don't delay.  If you can share this post too it will be much appreciated, sharing makes the world go around. You will find it on Amazon and it downloads to your Kindle or Kindle app.

The book is doing well so far.

And you can still be the first to leave a review!

My first e-book is still available too.  I have redone all the photos and it's looking great.

(Don't tell anyone, but I've already started the next book ...)

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Hurray! A New E-Book!

I am very excited to announce a new title in my Kindle Series (of 2).

You can find it on Amazon - Quilt Block Houses.

It's $0.99 on the US website and $1.31 in Australia.  If you want to wait two weeks there is going to be a FREE special, but you could spend a dollar now if that's too long to wait.

And, if you could, leaving a rating when you finish reading is most appreciated.  Ratings make social media run faster.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Tiles and Quilts

More inspiration from architecture.  This has to become a quilt.

This Ohio Star studded tile floor is the side entrance of the courthouse at Bairnsdale, Victoria, Australia.  The 1893 building itself is described as Federation Romanesque.

I made two blocks inspired by the tiled entrance.

And if you have read this far down the post you deserve a reward ...

I have a new e-book just about ready to release. It will be on Amazon in the next few weeks, and if you keep your eyes open, it will be FREE for a short period of time.  More to follow ....