Thursday, May 9, 2019

Empire Star & May the Fourth

Last week was Star Wars Day, as in "May the 4th be with you"

My block of the day is Empire Star.

If you Google this block you will find is can be made entirely of half square triangles. Like this:

I didn't think this was a traditional block but I was wrong.  BlockBase lists the source of this block as the Hearth and Home magazine. Barbara Brackman has a post about the quilt designer for Hearth and Home, Clara Stone.

Clara Stone's patterns were collected and published in 1906 in a booklet called Practical Needlework.

1906!  That is twenty years before Ruby McKim and Nancy Cabot.  Brackman says the McKim and Cabot most likely used Clara Stone's patterns as a source document. 
The post has a number of Clara Stone's blocks, and then, almost as an afterthought -

You can have a copy of Clara Stone's innovative booklet as a free PDF here:

Jackpot! I downloaded the PDF and printed it out.  It reminds me of the quilt block books I used to borrow from the school library fifty years ago; black and white drawings, no colours, no information, just page after page of quilt blocks.

I didn't find Empire Star in this booklet, however I did find Star of Empire.  Unfortunately it's a completely different pattern.

Top left hand corner.  How do you think that would be pieced?

And, what block would you choose for Star Wars Day?

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Double 9 Patch and Treasures from the Barn

This week's block is an easy one - Double 9 Patch.

This block was included in Ruby McKim's Sampler Quilt.  My 1930s sampler has seen better days.

I was pleased to find an easy block in the Kansas City Star collection.  When I decided to follow the KCS for my block of the week I thought I would just find the relevant block, make it and post it.  However not all of the KCS are straight forward.  It took me two weeks to make the Rising Sun.  I skipped a few - should I now try and catch up with Broken Circle and Princess Feather?  I think I better think it out again.

I attended a workshop at a lovely quilt shop that is full of reproduction fabric - Gippsbeary Cottage in Korumburra, Victoria.  The presenter was Linda Collins of Quilts in the Barn fame.  She has published a book with Quiltmania and on this day she was showing us all the quilts that went into that book.  What a treat!  We had fun with Little Boy's Britches and Panama Pyramids as well.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Rising Sun for a Brand New Day

This is my recently finished Rising Sun block.

The Kansas City Star reminds the reader that "it is rather an intricate pattern, but will not daunt the quilter who aspires to a design that is both lovely and unusual."  It certainly was a challenge.  This block is pieced by hand using the English Paper Piecing method (over cut out papers).

I have made it before as an applique block.  Also a challenge, I'm not sure which method was easier.

That is all the quilty bits for this post.  You don't have to read any more but if you are one of my invisible friends you may want to continue.

I prepped the Rising Sun block so I could take it with me on holidays.  Our favourite holidays always involve beaches.

Moruya Heads, New South Wales

This was a special holiday because it celebrated the sale of our family business. I am now retired - more or less. I will still be looking for part time or casual work but I will no longer be in a shop six days a week - what a relief! 

It also means more time for quilts, both sewing and researching.  I have quite a few projects planned.  The only question now is - what do I do first?!

Friday, February 8, 2019

Progressive Club Quilt 1938~2018

I have a finish.

This is my reproduction of a quilt dated 1938 - 1939.  The original was made by members of the Banner, Oklahoma Progressive Club. 

The original quilt is densely quilted.  Mine is lightly quilted, but it is done by hand.

I used another scrappy quilt top as the back which suits it well.

I now have a new favourite quilt.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Spider Web Quilt Block

"A Spider Quilt Made from Odd Materials"

Spider Web

This week's block is Spider Web.  Once the pieces are cut out it is very easy to piece. There are two Spider Web patterns in BlockBase, #292 and #2726. I used 292 to make this block, the eight triangles are the same size.  In the other pattern the print triangles are wider than the plain ones.  Other names for the block are Amazing Windmill, Autumn Leaves, Boston Pavement, Denver, Merry Go Round and Mystic Maze.

I found a nice 1950s scrappy Spider Web at Ann Quilts.

This is a good pattern for using odd materials, although any quilt is more sophisticated made in a definite and limited color scheme.  Spider web pieces easily, too. First sew the quadrangles of contrasting color to the bases of all isosceles triangles.  These augmented triangles then join and the corner triangles complete it into a square about 11 by 11 inches.  Make cutting patterns of cardboard from the ones here given.  Draw around with a pencil onto your material; cut a seam larger and sew back to the pencil line.  A splendid way to file these old-fashioned quit patterns is to put each series of cardboards into an envelope marked with the name and a sketch of the block.

I love the straight-forward directions written by Ruby McKim.  "Sew the quadrangles to the bases of all isosceles triangles." It was assumed that every quilter knew her geometry.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Block of the Week? It's Been Done Before

How do I chose a block of the week to share?  I usually select something from one of the (many) projects I am currently working on. Today I was pondering which block to do today, perhaps something from my Kansas City Star CD-Rom. There are hundreds to chose from in the KCS collection, after all they published one block a week for years and years .....

Eureka! It was a light bulb moment for me.  All I had to do was chose a block published this week, just a few years earlier.  As it is now 2019, I went back to 1929, ninety years ago, to see what was the block of choice for this week. 

Monkey Wrench

Another Monkey Wrench

Also a Monkey Wrench

Back to the Kansas City Star.  Here is Monkey Wrench, January 16th, 1929.

This quilt is one of the best examples of how an exceedingly simple block may be set together into an intricate pattern.  Pieced blocks of squares and triangles cut from the given patterns and pieced as shown, alternate with 10-inch plain blocks, dark in one row and light in another.  It really isn't hard to do, although each "monkey wrench" must be turned at a certain angle, as the diagram indicates.  Make cardboard cutting patterns a seam larger than the four patterns here given.  Mark around each with a lead pencil and cut a seam larger, sewing back to the pencil lines.

This block really works well as an allover pattern.  But I would need more than a week for that.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Sky Rocket in Sight

New Year's Eve was just last week so a Sky Rocket quilt block is still relevant.

Sky Rocket

It is tricky to piece. Use stitch and flip white corners on the yellow squares; and templates for the outside triangles.  Other names are Jewel Box, Starlight and Shooting Star.  The following is from the McKim Studios and was published in the Kansas City Star September 21, 1928.  The block was Block No. 12 in the McKim Sampler quilt. If you are a young quilter you will find the instructions interesting - this is how we used to cut patchwork pieces BRC (Before Rotary Cutters).


The sky rocket is another of the 12-inch blocks which is particularly well adapted for the pattern of a cushion.  Old fashioned oil calico prints are suggested for the material.  These patchwork pillows are just the thing for chair seats in an old fashioned rocker; or more scantily padded, these may be used to tie to breakfast room chairs.

If used in a quilt set the blocks together, diagonally, with alternated white blocks.  Half blocks (triangles) of the plain material are used to complete the ends of each row to make the quilt square.  A border of gold and white triangles pieced "zig-zag" makes a very attractive finish.

To make the block, trace the patterns given above on cardboard.  Then cut out the cardboard patterns and lay them on the cloth.  Trace around the pattern with a pencil mark.  These patterns do not allow for seams, so when you cut out the cloth allow sufficient margin beyond the pencil line, but when piecing the block, sew back to the pencil line. 

To piece the block, first add the small white triangles to the gold blocks to form squares; then make the center nine-patch.  Now piece the four corners and add to the center block to complete this lovely big design.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Now on Stage - The X Quartet!

X Quartet sounds like a vocal group appearing on a television talent show, doesn't it?  It's actually the name of this week's quilt block.

X Quartet

This is another block I have chosen from the The Patchwork Book 1931. I have made quite a few blocks from this publication now.

Other names for this block are Double Quartet, X Quartette and The Flying  X.

Red and white were the colors chosen for this pattern by the sender, Mrs. Lester Eaken, Swedeborg, Mo. However, a combination of two 1-tone blocks, or a print and a 1-tone piece could be substituted. (Please clip and save.)   Kansas City Star, July 12, 1939.

It is easy to make, if you like tutorials there is one on Generations Quilt Patterns.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Show and Tell - Happy New Year 1871

I selected my own Christmas present this year.  Can you guess what it is?

I now have my own Godey's Lady's Book.  It's 1871, all twelve months.  I found it at Abe Books; there were quite a few to choose from.  The price was reasonable but the postage was dearer than the book.  That comes from living in the Land Down Under.

However, just looking at the first colour foldout in the volume, you can tell it was meant to come to Australia.  That's a Major Mitchell Cockatoo as a tapestry chart.

Berlin wool work cockatoo

Feathered work cockatoo

All twelve fashion plates are attached with some wear and tear.  The colours are vivid.

March 1871 Spring

September 1871 Autumn

December 1871 Winter

Each month also has a foldout, front and back, with fashion ideas.

March foldout fashion

And most unusually, patchwork is mentioned!  You will know from reading this blog that patchwork does not rate very highly in the Godey's world. But I have already found two references.

Patchwork. No need to explain.

March issue - patchwork with instructions.

Design in Patchwork - In this design, the pieces of the same shape must be of the same color.  The best way to have the sections accurate in shape, is to have each separate part cut by a tinman.  The papers should then be cut out to the shapes; and finally, the pieces of silk or velvet should be carefully tacked to the papers previously to being neatly sewn together.

I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Jingle Bells and Sleigh Rides

It's Christmas Carols by Candlelight season in Australia.  The candles are now LED lights.  Santa comes by Country Fire Authority firetruck - if the truck isn't out fighting bushfires.  Carols are always outside in the evening - unless there are thunderstorms or a heatwave.  And we still sing about dashing through the snow and sleigh rides.  It's mad but it's Christmas.

In my e-book "Round is the Ring" I included the wedding story of Sarah Stubbs and Jacob Swayne.  Sarah Stubbs made a block in the Chester Criswell Quilt and she married Jacob on 24th January 1857.  The couple's honeymoon included a lot of snow and sleigh rides, and was re-told at their 50th wedding anniversary in 1907.

They were married at the home of the bride’s parents in Peach Bottom Township, York County.  At the time both were members of Fawn Grove meeting, York County. On the day of the wedding the country was deeply snowbound and the blockaded roads made traveling unsafe and impossible.  About 50 people had been invited to the wedding, but only ten succeeded in reaching the house.  Outside of the immediate members of the Stubbs family three of the ten guests referred to at the wedding are living: Elizabeth Stubbs of Delta, widow of Vincent G. Stubbs; Hannah Stubbs of Kennett Square, widow of Reuben Stubbs; Mrs. William Moore of York.  Three brothers of Mrs. Swayne, who were present, are also living – Daniel and Thomas Stubbs, residing on the old homestead, Dr. Henry Stubbs of Wilmington.

The wedding journey was so different in travel compared with the present day of swift and comfortable transportation that we give some of the important points for the edification of this generation of brides and grooms.  The following morning Jacob and his bride in a sleigh behind a pair of willing mules, started and drove across the frozen Susquehanna to Peach Bottom.  They were accompanied by Albert Stubbs and Phebe Hickman and Reuben and Hannah Stubbs, all in sleighs.  Near Cherry Hill Albert’s sleigh broke down.  While repairs were making in Wakefield the party stopped for two hours in the store which John and Samuel Wilkinson kept in the village.  Below Wakefield there is a spring and close to it Albert’s sleigh upset, he and his friend alighting in the snow.  Through fields and across roads the party continued on their toilsome way.  At nightfall they reached Oak Hill and inquiring about the roads were advised not to go any further.  They decided to remain over night at the home of Nathan Haines, nearby.  Driving carefully down the long lane they reached the house at a late hour and called Mr. Haines out, who received them in a friendly manner and entertained them until morning.  Of the large family at this homestead at the time – ten persons in all – but one is now living, Elizabeth L. Brinton, Oxford, who has a vivid recollection of the event.

Amid the unlimited expanse of snow a start was made next morning and Russellville reached by noon, the party stopping for an hour or two.  As the Limestone road was fence-top full of snow the party drove through fields, going by way of Faggs Manor to the White Horse.  At Joseph Pennock’s, the other side of the latter place, the drifts were immense and by permission of Mr. Pennock, Jacob sawed a panel out of a new fence in order to drive through his yard.  Doe Run was reached by dark, then Unionville and on through field and roads to Willowdale before nine o’clock – the home of Jacob’s parents.

In conclusion Mr. Swayne tells us he and his wife spent about ten days at the home of his parents.  They then started for York County, Albert Stubbs and lady accompanying.  The party stopped at the home of Samuel Passmore, near Chrome.  Mrs. Passmore is a sister of Mrs. Swayne.  Next day the party resumed their travel on runners, the roads in more passable condition, Mr. Passmore and wife having joined them.  All drove to Peach Bottom and proceeded in their sleighs over the frozen river to York County.  This statement is made to show that the Susquehanna was frozen over that winter, another paper having said that it was not.

It's a wonderful story.  And this is the last post for 2018.  I hope you join me again in 2019, there are some changes afoot and some nice surprises. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Signature Quilt Alert - Pambula, NSW

Historically, signature quilts in Australia were primarily fund raising quilts. Red embroidered signatures on white backgrounds was a standard layout around the world to raise funds during WWI.  The Red Cross provided guidelines to organise such a quilt but they were made by many community groups.

Romsey Quilt - Red Cross Collection, Victoria

Cheltenham State School - Red Cross Collection, Victoria

Not a lot of these Australian quilts are still in existence.  There seems to be less than two dozen documented quilts but they are not often on display.

Recently I discovered a reference to another one of these Red Cross quilts.  This newspaper article was first published in the Pambula (New South Wales) 'Voice' on 26th March 1937, and then appeared in the Delegate (New South Wales) 'Argus' on 1st April 1937.

Historic Quilt
Presented to Hospital

At last Saturday night's Red Cross meeting, the president (Mrs. D. V. Hart) handed to Mrs. C. A. Woollard (secretary of Pambula Hospital Auxiliary) a quilt of historic interest. It appears that, away back in the early days of the war, the late Mrs. J. W. Haywood, then president of the local Red Cross and a foremost patriotic worker, suggested the idea of raising funds by working names of soldiers, local people and visitors on a quilt at a charge of 1/- (one shilling) each. The intention, Mrs Woollard stated, on Saturday, was to present the finished article to the hospital for the use of returned soldier patients from time to time. Scores of names were duly worked on the quilt by local ladies, and many memories of other days and people who have left the district were revived by a look at the finished article on Saturday night. Among them we noticed the names of Professor Peden and the late Sir Austin Chapman, once Federal member for the electorate. Mr. Graham, Red Cross Commissioner, suggested that as the quilt was an article of great sentimental value is should be placed in a glass case and kept at the hospital entrance as a memento, but it was decided to observe the original intention. Mrs. Hart therefore made the presentation, and Mrs. Woollard suitably acknowledged it on behalf of the auxiliary.

What a great story - but so many questions!  If the quilt was started in 'the early days of the war', say 1915, why was it being presented in 1937?  Did it take 22 years to make, or was it waiting for Mrs. D. V. Hart to finish the quilting? How long did the quilt last in a hospital laundry? And what is the likelihood that it still exists?

I haven't found any other references to this quilt.  Both Professor Peden and Sir Austin Chapman had very productive and interesting lives. Pambula is a lovely place for summer holidays, next time I am there I will look for some answers.