Sunday, December 30, 2012

Photos of James Carlile's Block

How was your Christmas?  We didn't have any visitors at home so I didn't have to get the house ready; but it did mean that we were the ones travelling.  Family commitments can be a juggling act this time of year - I hope you have had quality family time as well as your own space to relax and recharge.

I have completed two versions of James Carlile's block.  Carole sent me a silver gel pen like the one she uses and I found that very handy for the remaining leaves on my second block.

James' block done in one fabric

James' block in two fabrics
If you have blogged about your block you can share your blog entry using Inlinz.  If you use Flickr for your photos you can add them to the Chester Criswell Quilt album

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 above and paste your link into the box.

Thank you for sharing, it's fun to see how others use the pattern.  Block 6 belongs to Reuben Stubbs and will be available 7th January. Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

School Days

Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, was chartered in 1793, making it the first college in the newly recognised United States of America.  

James Taylor Carlile was a freshman student at Dickinson College in 1849.  It was run under the banner of the Methodist Church.

The president of the college while James was a student was Jesse Peck.  Peck was not the most successful academic and was the focus of many student pranks, including the most infamous prank in the history of the college. 
Peck was travelling by train to the Staunton, Virginia to make his initial appearance before the Methodist Conference. To seek revenge for a schoolfriend that had been disciplined for drinking and card-playing, a student sent an
urgent letter to the superintendent of the (insane) asylum there; a deranged relative had escaped from his attendants and would arrive by the railway cars at Staunton. Could Dr. Stribling meet him at the station and detain him? A physical description was given, together with the fact that the patient, as soon as approached, would announce himself as "Jesse T. Peck, D.D., President of Dickinson College."
Peck was duly locked up in the asylum until he was rescued.  The members of the conference thought the incident "a very amusing joke", a feeling not shared by Peck.

I hope you are enjoying James Carlile's block.  My sewing space is full of Christmas presents for children and grandchildren, my own sewing is waiting for the dust to clear.

I have been thinking about projects for next year.  I have a wedding invitation for November 2013 which is a good excuse to make a quilt from new fabric, not from the stash.  I have organised Babara Brackman's BlockBase for my own Christmas present.  I plan to use the program to draft the blocks from the Ohio Sampler that I showed you in my last post and make a reproduction for myself. 

What are you looking forward to making in the New Year?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Going, Going....Gone!

I have two antique quilts.  One you are very familiar with <G> and the other is a Mariner's Compass that I bought in an opportunity shop for $25.  Two objects isn't a collection, it's only a pair.  So I feel the need to acquire a third quilt so I can be a quilt collector.
I have been looking at online auction sites and have discovered the universal dilemma - the quilts I can afford I don't like, and the quilts I like I can't afford.  Never mind.  I though I would share two quilts that I definitely would have added to my almost-a-collection.

The first quilt was a pieced friendship quilt from Massachusetts.  The blocks are inked with signatures, poems and sketches of the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition.

The details are worth a look - the link is here

The second quilt has been for sale for a while.  It's also a signature quilt, this time from Ohio.

It was out of my budget so I tried not to look at it too often.  But as I was driving home work one afternoon I realised that this quilt ticked all the boxes.  It was a signature quilt like the Chester Criswell Quilt.  It was from Ohio (like me).  It was pieced, and it was a sampler.  It was bright and interesting.  I decided that regardless of the price, it was meant to be.
I got home, turned on the computer and looked for the quilt.  Can you guess?  It was sold.

I still love the look of it.  I guess that the tan pieces are faded from green.  There are at least 6 different sized blocks, and the spaces are filled with Chinese Coins and half square triangles.  I can imagine a young lady getting all her friends to make her a block, and then taking it to her mother and asking, Can you put this together for me?

I'll keep looking for my collection.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Block 5 - James Carlile

Crazy Nasturtium Leaves

As I've said before, I am a needleturn beginner.  My first two blocks, Jane Wilson's and Elizabeth Cowan's, were confidence building.  Needleturn isn't so hard after all!  I can do this!  My third block was this one.

Those of you who are more experienced than I can guess at the difficulties I had.  There are points and turns and lots of little curves.  But that's OK, if we only did easy things we would never get better.  The leaves reminded me of nasturtium leaves, so I mentally called this block Crazy Nasturtiums.  It also reminded me of pressed flowers, arranged between the pages of a book so all the flowers and leaves are flat.

The original block is not one piece of fabric.  It was pieced from leftovers and includes a seam down the middle of one leaf.  It is all made from the same fabric however.  I thought about making the leaves separately from the stem, and made a second block.

I printed the pattern twice and used one for the stem and the other for the leaves.  Don't forget to number the leaves before they are cut out.  It was still a fussy block to sew.  The corners on the leaves end up padded with the turned-under hem, but that makes the leaf more three dimensional.  I think I like this one better than the original.  

How are you going to make James' block?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Elizabeth's Block Revisited

Today I was playing with my set of block photos.  I have one set of photos of each of the original Chester Criswell quilt blocks which are in an album with a written description of the block maker and other interesting statistics.  I have a second set of photos which are loose, and I can spread them out according to pattern, family connections or whatever.  This morning I was using the photos to plan which patterns would be in The First Year and which ones would wait until the follow year/s.

This photo caught my eye.

Lydia Baker, Philadelphia

It's not in good condition, the red fabric has deteriorated badly.  I don't think Lydia Baker was a family member.  Lydia was most likely a school friend of Mary Criswell - there are no Bakers in the genealogy and the block is in the outside row of the quilt, not close to the centre with family.
However, what struck me today was the shape of the applique.  It was both familiar and not familiar.  Scanning through the other photos I found its match.

Elizabeth Cowan, Sadsburyville

It's the same patten as Block 2, Elizabeth Cowan's block.  The two outside arms of the leaf have been cut as part of the main block, and the inside of the leaf is a single piece.  The inside of the leaf shape branches differently but the outline is the same.  The finished effect is quite different.  I wonder if Lydia and Elizabeth were using the same source for a pattern.  Perhaps they had a one colour design and chose to make it with two colours.

Today was the first time I realised the two blocks are the same.  That's one of the reasons why I like this quilt so much.  Each time I look at it I find something new.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Photos of Nancy Smith's Block

Hey!  The blog has reached 12,000 hits this week, thank you for your clicks and comments.  How do we ever get our quilting done when blogland is so time consuming!

James and Nancy Smith's home in East Nottingham
is in the lower left hand corner of the Chester County map.

I hope you have enjoyed Nancy's block.  If you have photos of the block on your blog you can add a link below to your post.  If you use Flickr you can add your photos there as well.

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 above and paste your link into the box.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Reds for the Stash

My stash of red fabric has grown considerably since I began this quilt.  Last week I travelled to Melbourne to do a spot of grandmother duty.  On the weekend I travelled in the opposite direction for a belated wedding anniversary weekend.  So, I was able to visit a few shops I rarely get to and I took the opportuntity to add to the red collection.

On the left is Dear Jane II by Brenda Papadakis from Windham Fabrics.  The middle is a Moda fabric, I think, and I don't know what is on the left (but it is a tinier circle than Dear Jane).

Peddlers Pack by Judy Roche and Corienne Kramer for Henry Glass fabrics; and another Windham fabric.

And finally a very pretty Dear Jane and one of Barbara Brackman's Battle Hymn.

The fabric I used for Nancy Smith's block is one of my favourites.  The selvedge says Circa 1845 by Roberta Benoin for P&B Textiles.

Red is an excellent colour - especially with green.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Nancy Smith's Block

This month's block was made by Nancy Carlile Smith.  You can get a pattern for this block at Two Bits Patches. Nancy's mother Mary was a sister of Alice Criswell who made the quilt; so Nancy was a cousin of the bride Mary.  Nancy was married to James Smith and had three children when she made her quilt block.  Nancy had two more children and lived to the age of 68.

When I was drafting this block I was conscious of the irregularities in the applique. The ruffles around the outside aren't evenly spaced.  The reverse applique cutouts had a bit of a jag in the middle.  So, I redrew the outside line so the peaks and troughs were evenly spaced.  I considered doing a cut and paste in Photoshop to get the edge perfect.  The inside cutouts would benefit from a drawing compass, I thought, so that each semicircle was equal distance from the centre and from each other ....

And then it struck me that the pattern I was drawing no longer looked like the original block.  It looked quite nice, but I had somehow lost the character that made this block Nancy's.  I went back to my original tracing and kept the pattern as much like the original as possible.

I'm still in two minds as to whether I should have averaged those peaks and troughs.  Would it look better if it wasn't quite so .... undisciplined?

Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it.
Salvador Dali

I wish my stitching was perfect, nothing wrong with that.  However, I usually go for speed rather than perfection.  If I finish a seam and think, I should do that again, but don't; that's fine by me.  If I look at a seam three or four times and think it could be better then I do unpick and sew again. 

How do you approach your sewing?  Is it the journey or the destination that gives you pleasure?  I'm certain there aren't wrong and right answers, just different answers. Are you going to even out Nancy's block?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Priscilla and Joseph Turner, Wilmington

The majority of the quilt block makers of the Chester Criswell Quilt lived in Chester County, Pennsylvania.  Locations such as Lower Oxford, Sadsburysville, East Nottingham, and Londonderry get frequent mentions.  Joseph and Priscilla Turner are some of the minority that did not live in Chester County.  Their block lists their home as Wilmington which is in the state of Delaware.

Turner is not a family name and I didn't know anything about Joseph and Priscilla.  There are two other Turners on the quilt still living in Chester County, so I assumed that Joseph married Priscilla and they moved across the river. I don't know Priscilla's maiden name which is one of the most useful bits of information to have.  So, I put their names in the search engine and this is the first historical record I found.

This is from the church records of the First Presbyterian Church in Wilmington.  It appears to be a record of church members visited before the quarterly Holy Communion service.  Halfway down the page you can see 'Presallie Jane Turner'.  The next name is Joseph Turner, who unfortunately is dead.
Poor Joseph.  I wanted to get to know him but this is the only piece of infomation that I have.
Priscilla's life is easier to follow.  She is recorded in the Wilmington City Directory and here is her address in 1867.

Priscilla J. Turner, widow of Joseph.  That is how Priscilla is recorded in the next ten directories.  Even twenty years after Joseph has died, she is listed as Joseph's widow.  The Orange St. address stays the same for a few years, then Priscilla starts relocating and eventually  has a different address every year.  There is no evidence of any children, or any other family members.

The City Directory was a useful book.  It gave the address and occupation of everyone living in the city of Wilmington.  It also listed businesses, council members and city regulations.

Block 4 is due out next week on 1st November.  It belongs to Nancy and James Smith, whose historical records reflect a much happier life than poor Priscilla and Joseph Turner.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Photos of Priscilla Turner's Block

I received a nice squishy parcel in the mail today, all the way from New Jersey.  I found this block inside:

Carolina Lily 1850 - 1860

This is a pieced block similar to Priscilla's Double Tulip applique block.  See those red flowers?  How would you piece them?  I would make four diamond shapes and set in the shirting square.  The maker of this block cut two red chevron shapes and set the backing square into the cut fabric, not into a seam.  I'm looking at the back of the block and I don't see how she did it so well!  The flowers are hand sewn and the sections are sewn on a treadle machine.  The green has faded to blue but the red and yellow are still bright.

I hope you are enjoying Priscilla's Block.  If you have finished the block why not show us all - you can add a photo to the Flickr pool on the left of this blog; if you have your own blog you can link it below.

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 above and paste your link into the box.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Big (and Bigger) Picture

I do enjoy taking a promenade through cyber space and looking at everyone's blogs.  You are all such talented people!  If I see a photo of one of the CCCQ blocks I try and leave a comment;  if I have missed your blog please wave your hand and I'll come and visit.

The layout of the original quilt made by Alice Criswell for her daughter Mary is shown here.  There are eight by eight 13 inch blocks with a double size centre block.  It is a big quilt.  Take a look at the photo of the quilt on the right of the screen, that's on a queen size bed and it nearly touches the floor all the way around.  Some of the blocks are repeated two or three times.  (I'm using EQ5, the libraries are a bit limited.)

This is the layout I have chosen for the Chester Criswell Quilt.

It is six by six 12 inch blocks with same double size block in the centre.  All the patterns in the original quilt will be in the smaller quilt.  You won't miss out on any patterns.  At the rate of one block each month you should have the whole quilt by early 2015.  The First Year is the first twelve blocks.  The Second Year due September 2013 will begin with the centre block.

I know some people are talking about reproducing the whole of the original quilt.  If you are making the larger original version you will need 8.5 yards of background fabric; you will need 4.5 yards for the smaller copy.  The placement of the blocks is up to you; you can put them on point and add turkey red sashing if it pleases.

Wanda left a comment on the last post, asking if anyone wanted to swap a block.  This has really got me thinking, wouldn't it be great to make the CCCQ a real-time signature quilt with blocks from around the world and the names of friends old and new.  My first plan was to make a reproduction of the original as accurately as I could; now I want to make a modern swap quilt too.

I need more hours in the day.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Block 3 - Priscilla and Joseph Turner

It's October, Springtime here in Australia, and it's time for another block.  If you would like to join us you can get Block 3 here.  It's not too late to order all the blocks in The First Year .  You can make the first three blocks now <G> and be ready for Block 4 in November.

If you have already signed up for The First Year you should have received your download of Block 3.  If you haven't check your spam or junk email folder.  If it's not there let me know and I will send it again.

I've named Priscilla and Joseph Turner's block 'Double Tulip'.  These images in Barbara Brackman's 'Encyclopedia of Applique' are the closest designs I can find.

There are actually three Double Tulip blocks in the original quilt.  The pattern is exactly the same for all three blocks and the same green fabric is also used in each block.  If you are making the 6 by 6 block quilt you only have to make one Double Tulip block.  If you want the challenge of reproducing the original 8 by 8 then you would need three of these.

Elizabeth Wilson
I don't know who Elizabeth Wilson is.  There are about twenty Elizabeth Wilsons in the Chester County census and I may never know which one is represented here.  Elizabeth used three different red prints in her block and I did the same.

Isaac Haines Wilson
Isaac Wilson is the second eldest son of Jane Wilson, Block 1.  His story is part of Jane's story so I haven't told it again.

Joseph and Priscilla Turner
 Priscilla has used the same red for all three flowers.  Notice that the stem piece is reversed to the other two blocks, but the pattern is certainly the same.

When I was working on this block I asked for a few volunteers to print out the first draft.  I was quite thrilled when Jo Morton put her hand up - her name is on the selvedge of one of my fabrics!  Jo commented on the fact that the stem and leaves were all one piece - a modern pattern would have the leaves and stems cut out separately.
Priscilla did her block as one piece, but Elizabeth and Isaac didn't fuss how the pieces were joined together.  A number of the blocks are pieced to make the fabric large enough, in some blocks the background fabric is pieced too.

Jan MacFadyen also proofread the draft for me.  Jan suggested that I include some instructions on using freezer paper for needleturn applique.  That's an excellent suggestion, apart from two points.  Firstly, I'm a beginner at applique and not the person for anyone to learn from.  Secondly, I've never used freezer paper so, ditto.
In September I linked to Carole's blog and her tutorial on using freezer paper.   Nancy  is also making the Chester blocks, also using freezer paper, but her paper goes underneath the fabric, not on top.  She shows her method here.
I am fascinated by the number of different ways people sew their blocks. What method are you using?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

What's Red and White All Over

The place to be next weekend.
5th, 6th and 7th October
Quilts in the Barn 2012
23 Hartley Rd
Wonga Park

For a sneak preview peek here.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Autograph Age Part 2

Some of the participants in the Chester Quilt added a verse to their quilt block.  Mary Criswell's verse reflects her receipt of the quilt as gift from her friends.

'My album is a garden plot
Here all my friends may sow,
Where thorns and thistles flourish not
But flowers alone will grow.'

Mary's best friend Martha Lambourn made an identical block to Mary's.  Her verse could be on behalf of all Mary's friends.

'Not I alone, this wreath will twine
But all thy friends who write a line
In this receptical of thine
Shall form the wreath in unity.
This album's then's a wreath for thee
Sacred to love and memory
And every name a flower shall be
A pure bright gem of constancy.'

Mary's sister Margaret continues the garden theme.

'The golden sun of summer
Hath never shone more fair
Than on the odour of the dying flowers
Which lies so sweetly on the air.'

Mary Stubbs states the obvious.

'Like a leaf we all must die.'

Margaretta goes for a round about message with round about writing.


'Round is the ring that has no end
So is my love for you my friend.'

But Jane Trayner has the last word with the classic:

'Remember me when this you see.'

Monday, September 17, 2012

Photos of Elizabeth Cowan's Block

How are you travelling with the second block? We'd all love to see your work, there are two ways you can share your progress.

You can add your photos with Flickr.  You first need your upload the photos to your own Flickr account, then you can add them to the group The Chester County Criswell Quilt.  Anyone can look at the photos.  If you need some help you can send the photo to me and I will put it into the Flickr group pool.

If you have your photos on your own blog you can use the InLinkz below to link your post here with a photo.

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 above and paste your link into the box.

Carole from Wheels on the Warrandyte Bus did a great photo tutorial about her first block. 

If you're just learning needleturn applique her instructions and photos are very clear.  Carole's blog is worth a visit, she does lovely hand work.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Autograph Age

Do you remember when Laura Ingalls received her autograph album?

Pa and Ma had taken Mary to the college for the blind and left Laura, Carrie and Grace on their own for a week.  Laura was 14 and Carrie was 10, Grace was even younger.  Not something we would do today.  Laura decided to do the fall house cleaning and the week was spent washing, scrubbing and blacking the stove.  When the elder Ingalls returned there were presents for the girls.
In Laura's package was a beautiful small book, too.  It was thin, and wider than it was tall.  On its red cover, embossed in gold, were the words, 'Autograph Album'.  The pages, of different soft colours, were blank.  Carrie had another exactly like it, except that the cover of hers was blue and gold.
'I found that autograph albums are all the fashion nowadays,' said Ma. 'All the most fashionable girls in Vinton have them.'
'What are they, exactly?' Laura asked.
'You ask a friend to write a verse on one of the blank pages and sign her name to it,' Ma explained.  'If she has an autograph album, you do the same for her, and you keep the albums to remember each other by.'
Ma signs Laura's book a few chapters later.

Autograph albums were indeed all the range in the 19th century.  Their heyday was from 1830 to 1850.  Signature quilts are a phenomena of this period too.  One important development was the invention of permanent ink in 1845; signatures written 150 years ago are still legible today.

The role of women changed through the nineteenth century as a rural farming lifestyle was overtaken by an urban industrial society.  Men went to work in the 'public' world;  women stayed at home in the 'private' world of family.  Women turned to each other for friendship and support, and their signature quilts recorded family relationships and rites of passage.

Sources: Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder; The Signature Quilt by Pepper Cory and Susan McKelvey

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Visit to Wonga Park

We had a lovely time last week.  The Chester County Criswell Quilt, code name CCCQ, was invited to Warrandyte to visit some antique quilt lovers, and I went along as its minder.

Seriously,  Bev had contacted me to organise a showing of the quilt and Linda's home was chosen as the venue.  It was pretty brave of Linda and Bev; they didn't know me, they hadn't seen the quilt, and they invited another 30 ladies to come as well.  Fortunately everyone had a ball.

CCCQ was stretched out for a close inspection.

Then it was hoisted up for a photo shoot. I've never seen it looking so good.


We got to meet some of the early achievers.  If there was a race to the finish Miriam would be the winner.

The day was great.  CCCQ didn't want to come home,  it was very happy to be the centre of attention.  Thank you Bev for your organising, thank you Linda for your hospitality, and thanks to everyone that came out for a bit of show and tell.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


The response to Elizabeth Cowan's block and the First Year Set has been remarkable.  I wish I could say everything was running perfectly, but we are talking about computers after all.

Update:  The website has had an upgrade.  Everything is working smoothly, there will be no more problems from the computer (and the pigs are getting ready to fly!)

So, a few notices:
Thank you to Lynne who pointed out that I was recommending a 1.5 inch turnunder for the applique, not 1/4 inch.
I fixed the 1/4 inch, reloaded the files, and put them in the wrong folder on the website.  Thank you to Adele who discovered she couldn't download her pattern but stayed very polite and calm while I got the right pattern into the right folder.
A message to Phyllis L. of Fayetteville - your email is bouncing, I need you to get in touch so I can send your pattern.

Payments:  I hate to say it, but PayPal is working perfectly and is giving no trouble at all.  I am recommending PayPal as the easiest way to make your payment.
A few people have had trouble with their credit card payment.  If you receive an error message as you finish your order, don't pay again, just wait and the payment will be processed.  I have contacted PayMate to find out what the issues are.
If you are in Australia you don't have to pay online.  You can print the order form which includes my bank details.  Then you can pay with real money at any Commonwealth Bank.

If I am at the computer when your order comes in, I can send the link to the pattern straight away.  If I am at work or sound asleep you will have to wait a while until I get back to the keyboard.  I check the computer several times a day (or more) so you won't have to wait very long.

The link will come as an email headed Downloads Access.  You get three tries to download the link.  If you have trouble with the download and use up the three tries you need let me know and I will reset the link.

This stuff is boring, isn't it?  I promise that the next post will be much more entertaining.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Block 2 Elizabeth Cowan

I am so pleased to present Elizabeth Cowan's block from the Chester Criswell Quilt.  Elizabeth used green for the centre and red for the four elements; I reversed the colours. 
The pattern is now on the Two Bits Patches website.  You can choose just Block 2 or you can choose to purchase The First Year set and automatically receive a new pattern at the start of each month.

The quilt and I were invited to Wonga Park to give a bit of a show.  We had an excellent day, you can read all about it at Linda's Quilts in the Barn.