Monday, September 6, 2021

1930s Patchwork Turtle Still an Orphan

 This orphan block is made from a pattern simply called Turtle.



I'm guessing it was a challenge for the maker.  It is hand pieced with very neat stitches but the outcome isn't quite right.  The block doesn't sit flat and the triangles aren't quite large enough. There appears to be some machine stitching in the top pieces that has been removed; perhaps an attempt to square the block up.  Orphan blocks often look like this, they are the ones that could not be joined together with their friends.


I have not found the Turtle in the reference books but I have found it in a newspaper.  It was published in The Daily Pantagraph, Bloomington, Illinois on Saturday, September 6, 1930.  Many of the newspapers that wanted to add a regular patchwork pattern opted for the syndicated designs by Nancy Cabot or Laura Wheeler.  But not the Daily Pantagraph.  They decided they could run their own series of patchwork designs and called on the local county home adviser Miss Clara R. Brian to supply the patterns.

Now if I was planning to introduce a series of patterns to entice the readers I would start with something special.  I would include an attractive sketch that would cry out, Make Me! But the Pantagraph editor knew better. 



The above picture shows the complete block in the Turtle quilt, patterns for which are offered on this page.  This is the first pattern to be offered in a series of 26 which are being arranged for the Pantagraph by Miss Clara R. Brian, county home adviser, and members of the Home Furnishing committee of the McLean County Home bureau.  This pattern is adapted either for scraps to be found in the home or for definite material of one color.  Any wash material of fast color may be used.

The large block at the top is to be made of colored material for the Turtle quilt; the small triangle pattern is for the eight white blocks and the other pattern is for four colored blocks which complete the quilt block as pictured on this page.  This is first of a series of quilt patterns being arranged for The Pantagraph by Miss Clara R. Brian, county home adviser, and the Home Furnishing committee of the McLean Count Home Bureau. 


Hmm. Nice try but the Turtle didn't win the race this time.

Here is something new that I hope meets with approval.  I have added a new ebook to the Time Travel series in the Two Bits Patches Etsy shop.  This one is from 1930 and covers April, May and June.





And because you have read right to the end of this post, I've got a 50% off coupon for this new ebook.  The code to enter is BLOGGER.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Star and Crescent (and The Colonial Quilt Book)

 Today's block from Mother's Quilt is Star and Crescent.


This block adds to the mystery, "Who is Mother?" Virginia Watson is a member of a family unrelated to Lizzy Shoup, and there are five blocks belonging to this family on the quilt.  

This Star and Crescent was made by Velma Shoup, so although the women on the quilt are unrelated they certainly like to share their patterns.

The pattern for Star and Crescent isn't in the usual newspapers.*  The following comes from The Cincinnati (Ohio)  Enquirer.  Don't you just love the border crosses?

This is another delightful old-time favorite patchwork quilt design that today’s women are enjoying to the fullest in reproducing.  This pattern has lived for generations and when completed makes a very beautiful quilt.  Any color combination can be used, white or plain colors or prints and white makes a lovely effect.

Quilting Design No. Q532, price 10c (for tracing), and Patchwork Border No. 817, price 10c, complete this beautiful quilt.

Be sure to send today for our beautiful Colonial Quilt Book – 32 pages, showing over 200 of the most popular designs in lovely color combinations.  As a special offer, we are giving you free, one quilt pattern with each order for this attractive book, which is only 25c.  Single patchwork patterns, of quilting patterns (for tracing), are 10c each, or three for 25c.  A special combination, No. 322C of the book, patchwork pattern, quilting design and patchwork border pattern is given for 40c.  Inclose clipping or state number of pattern desired.  Send order with coin to

Needleart Department of the Cincinnati Enquirer, 

609 South Paulina Street,

Chicago, Illinois.



* Well knock my socks off!  I googled the Needleart Department of the Cincinnati Enquirer and they were very proud of their newspaper patchwork patterns.  "The quilt patterns appearing daily in The Enquirer are the most beautiful designs from a collection numbering well over 100,000."  100,000 patterns is a whopper of a collection.  And the Colonial Quilt Book can be downloaded free!

Colonial Quilt Book

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Introducing Mother's Quilt

This friendship quilt has been in my collection for a few years. It hasn't received a lot of attention. I don't even have a good photo of the whole quilt, it's quite large.  I call it Mother's Quilt because there are not one but two blocks that say "Mother"; the second one has the date 1936.

 I spent two days on and I now know a lot more about the quilt and its makers.  I found the majority of names in the 1930 census for Richland Township, Clarion County, Pennsylvania.  Very conveniently, most of the names were recorded in just three or four pages of the census.

I think that "Mother" is most likely Lizzie Shoup with blocks made by four daughters, three daughters-in-law, three granddaughters, a few nieces and so on.




One of the likely resources for design ideas was Grandma Dexter Applique and Patchwork Designs, Book 36A, published by Virginia Snow Studios about 1932. This 24 page book contained a small picture of each pattern and full size templates to trace. Instructions were minimal.  The applique block at the start of this post is Sweet Pea Wreath.  

This block is Tropical Butterfly.  Note that the template for the insect body is included, then you just "Embroider wings."

 Baseball. This block shows the quilting, free-form flowers joined with stems around each applique.

Dervish Star.  This pattern was particularly popular, there are four in the quilt. 

Grandmother's Flower Garden, a classic.

Triple Stripe in Grandma Dexter, more usually named The House Jack Built.  The maker's name is Avanell Shoup, one of the daughters-in-law.

I can't wait for chapter 2 of Mother's Quilt, hope you join me then!

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Quilt Patterns in the Newspapers

 2021 is half gone, hard to believe.  In 2020 I posted a Kansas City Star block every day on my Facebook page.  This year I chose quilt blocks from Nancy Cabot of the Chicago Tribune and the block #182 for 1st July was Indian Charm. 183 patterns to go til 2022.

There was a superstition among the ancient quiltmakers that black, included in a coverlet, was not to be taken as a good omen, and no one ever dared consider it in combination with other colors. When "Indian Charm" was adapted from an old Indian pattern the original designer defied the fates and incorporated yellow, black, and blue against a white ground with highly successful results. The popularity of the applique block has lasted through a century and seems to be gaining more favor as its age increases.  The 14 inch applique blocks are set together to form an all-over design and finished with a 10 inch border consisting of bands of blue, yellow, black, and white.

 Chicago Tribune July 1, 1938


Both the Kansas City Star and the Chicago Tribune had regular quilt pattern columns but the two newspapers did them very differently.

The first post for the Kansas City Star was  September 19, 1928 with the Pine Tree.  The National Quilt Museum has an informative blog post Kansas City Star Quilts.

The pine tree blocks make a very handsome quilt.  It takes sixteen pieced blocks to make a quilt about eighty-four inches square, aside from its border.  These blocks must set together diagonally with alternating blocks of white, cut the exact size of the pieced block.  The above patterns are the exact size in which the pieces should be cut.  The size of one block when put together is about fifteen inches.  Seams must be allowed in addition, for quiltmakers differ in opinion as to seam width.  

The best way is to trace the patterns on cardboard, mark and cut to complete your pattern.  Lay the cardboard patterns on the material.  The pattern is drawn with pencil carefully.  Cut a seam larger, sewing on the pencil line.  The two white pieces of irregular shape have to be fitted in as marked on the edges, otherwise the "Pine Tree" is largely a business of sewing small triangles into squares and adding them together.


The Chicago Tribune printed their first pattern five years later on January 22, 1933.  Interestingly they chose the same pattern as the Kansas City Star, the Pine Tree.


Grandmother’s patchwork quilts … the memories they recall!  The early dawns when you snuggled your small self beneath those gay and colorful spreads and listened to the farmyard chatter; the regular breakfasts that you could sniff in the making; the sunshine, the calm and peace and quiet that somehow always settled around you when you lived with that busy and master quilter, “grandma”!

There is nothing misty about your memories of grandmother’s patchwork quilts; you must remember them in all their gay and sprightly glory, every incredibly small stitch, sewed by hand, every beautiful pattern that had been treasured and handed down from generation to generation.  Do you remember the thin summer quilts with small patches cleverly assembled in one grand, quilt-big pattern, of vivid patched green leaves with scarlet blossoms made from the greatly cherished and rare turkey red calicoes or the sentimental tea rose patterns adroitly sewed into place against the tender green leaves of carefully hoarded pieces of a pale green gingham gown or what was left of it?

How sentimental!

The Kansas City Star published a pattern once a week in the regional version of the newspaper.  The Chicago Tribune printed Nancy Cabot's column every day seven days a week.  Nancy Cabot lasted for a bit over five years, the Kansas City Star went on for 34 years.

The Kansas City Star patterns were free in the newspaper, there was no more instructions available apart from what was printed.  The Nancy Cabot patterns were 5 cents each and you sent an envelope with 5 cents in stamps or coin to the newspaper office to buy a pattern.  The Kansas City Star patterns were sent in by the readership and were always acknowledged in the paper; all the Chicago Tribune patterns were accredited to the Nancy Cabot, the pen name of  Elizabeth Leitner Rising.

Would you like to find out more about the 1930s quilt pattern phenomena?  I have put together a collection of patterns and fascinating facts from the 1930s sources.





Listed this on Etsy, the link is here

Let me know if you find it interesting, the next one is in the think tank.