Friday, December 20, 2019

The Ship Quilt and Mrs. Danner

Sailing ships blocks were popular in friendship quilts.  I have two quilts in my collection with sailboats; the Banner Progressive Club quilt and the newly named Sugar Creek Township quilt.

According to Block Base the earliest pattern for a ship block was in Mrs. Danner's quilt books. I found them easily online. Mrs. Danner's Fourth Quilt book has the Ship Quilt on the cover.  There are no instructions, you had to send 50c for the pattern. I considered making the scalloped edge but thought better of it.  Maybe next time.

Mrs. Danner's Quilt Books


Unlike Aunt Martha or Nancy Page, Mrs. Danner was a real person.  Scioto Imhoff Danner (1891-1974) was a quiltmaker who began her career by selling quilts and demonstrating techniques in department stores.  She started selling her patterns in the 1930s and her business model was extremely successful; in 1934 during the depression Danner had 24 women worked for her.

The quilt books were catalogues for the patterns with advice on choosing a colour scheme and sewing tips.  The first three books were printed in the 1930s, then books 4 and 5 were added in the 1950s.

As a resource for pattern names, the catalogues are not the most reliable source.  Mrs. Danner would see a neighbour's quilt, copy it, then christen it without reference to already established names:

I shall call this Mrs. Anderson's Quilt.  It has always been called that because our neighbor, Mrs. Anderson, made it when I was a little girl.
Mrs. Steiger kept after me about the name for this quilt and continually referred to it as "that very pretty new one that ought to have a pretty name," so I called it Alice's Quilt for her.
 An Easy Applique Hickory Leaf - I am naming this quilt just that.  It is easy and would be improved by having all blocks appliqued instead of half of them plain.  And it should have more applique on the border.  It has a historical name but that is too involved for my space.  I suggest you make it in two different shades of one color or two contrasting colors.  Pattern 35 cents.

Some of her historical narrative also seems a little imaginative:

The Mayflower Quilt - The first four quilts in this catalog are each over 100 years old.  This is one of the prettiest quilts I ever saw and Mrs. Ericson whose hobby is historical quilts, found a picture just like it listed as a pattern that came over on the Mayflower in 1620.

But I can't go past Myrtle's Diamond Honeycomb.  It was made by a correspondent in Australia, and Mrs. Danner was most impressed with the Australia quiltmakers:

My Australian friend Myrtle Smith of Melborne (sp.) made this quilt ... The Australians are marvelous needle women.  They take sewing seriously.  Needle-workers have clubrooms, publish a monthly bulletin, and have teachers who give lessons on different kinds of embroidery, quilting, etc. certain days - afternoon or morning.  There is a schedule that they follow.  My friend, Mrs. Smith lends them her lovely home each year for a quilt show and they make money for charity on that, besides the pleasure they have.

You can find out more about Mrs. Danner at the following websites:

Friday, December 13, 2019

Twin Darts ~ a 1940s Quilt Block

This week's block is Twin Darts.

The block's maker is Cora Stewart.  I haven't found out too much about her; she lived in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania like the other block makers, her maiden name was Snyder and her husband John worked on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. Cora was one of eleven children but she had no children of her own; I imagine she made a fuss of her nieces and nephews.

This quilt from Armstrong County is not revealing any great secrets.  I have however discovered it was made later than I thought. One of the women on the quilt didn't get married until 1943 so it is one of the younger quilts in my collection.  I have found that one of the makers lived in Sugar Creek Township, which I think has a nicer sound than Armstrong County.  The women are the usual mix of mother and daughters, married sisters, friends and neighbours.  The recipient is possibly "Mother" of the centre block but I don't yet know who Mother is.

Anyway, back to Cora's block.  Twin Darts pattern was published in the Farm Journal magazines which includes The Farmer's Wife. There is a nice example in The Quilt Index, made in Nebraska in 1940.

Achziger, Marie Zeiler. Twin Darts. 1940. From University of Nebraska - Lincoln, Nebraska Quilt Project (Lincoln Quilters Guild). Published in The Quilt Index, Accessed: 12/14/2019

Most of the images I have seen are with two colours only, Cora used three so I did as well. I drafted the pattern with EQ7.

Some of the Farm Journal patterns were reprinted in a 1970s book called 'Modern Quilting' by Rachel Martens. I might have to get hold of a copy; but I still have trouble accepting that 1970 was almost fifty years ago.

That can't be right!

Can it?

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Aunt Martha's Hexagon Wreath - With a Swear Word or Two

"Aunt Martha" quilt kits first appeared in 1930.  The pre-cut kits did not stay in the market for long but Aunt Martha's pattern books and catalogues had a long print run from 1931 all the way to 1977.  You can find out more about Aunt Martha from Wilene Smith's research.

I now have pdf copies of a few of the Aunt Martha books.  The following one was one of the later books, printed in 1960.

One of the patterns is for a Hexagon Wreath, and I thought that a single block would make a nice sample quilt. This is the entire set of instructions; no You Tube tutorials or group forums, but how hard can it be?

I used English paper piecing to make sixteen hexagon flowers and sixteen leaves.  All I had to do was arrange them in a wreath and sew them together.  But I couldn't for the life of me make them fit together. They would only join into a six sided wreath, not an eight sided one.  After an hour of frustration I took a closer look at the pattern.

In the hand drawn picture, the hexagons aren't quite hexagons.  The hexagon flower at the top has the points facing towards the centre, but so do the ones on the side.  It is an optical illusion.  Great work Aunt Martha!

I unstitched the green leaves, placed them under the hexagons and stretched the wreath a bit.  Then some hand quilting and a binding.  I am glad I only had to make one!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

The Sailboat Oklahoma

When I first saw this block in the 1930s quilt top I thought someone had made a mistake with the pattern.

Most sailboat blocks have the bow and stern facing away from the water, like this one.

But no, the odd sailboat is a pattern from the Kansas City Star.

Lovers of the sea will enjoy this small watercraft design. 
It came from Mrs. J. R. Barnes, Williams, Ok.
Kansas City Star   28 June, 1944

I don't know if the block is The Sailboat "Oklahoma" or The Sailboat (from) Oklahoma.  We will never know.
The maker of the quilt block was Sarah Fannie Brumbaugh.  She wasn't a farmer's wife, her husband Clyde Delvin was a driller in the mining industry.  Her daughter Ruth also made a block in this quilt top which I will show you next post.

I made two Sailboats Oklahoma (or Sailboat Oklahomas?) The first was nearly finished when I discovered a piece of fabric that was a better match to the original block, so I made it again.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Milady's Fan by Grayce

Grayce Wilson was the maker of this fan block.

Grayce Wilson lived in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania and made this block about 1938.  She was a farmer's wife with three sons, who all worked in the coal mines of western Pennsylvania.

According to BlockBase the name of this pattern is Milady's Fan, and it was published in one of the Aunt Martha series of pattern booklets.  With some Googling I found that Milady's Fan was in book #3500, "Easy Quilts".  Some more Googling located an Etsy seller with a digital download of "Easy Quilts", and very shortly I had a copy of the whole booklet.  What did we do before the internet?!

To make my own block I printed the BlockBase pattern onto freezer paper, ironed each piece onto my material and hand pieced the nine inch block.  It's an exciting challenge to find fabric to match the 1930s prints.  I took the original top on holidays and went through each quilt shop on the way with the top in tow.  My block is a good match for the colours, I doubt that I could find a similiar paisley print.

Milady's Fan

Thursday, August 22, 2019


Yesterday was my Dad's funeral.  I don't feel like blogging.  I will again one day, but not now.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

A CCCQ Finish

A few months ago I met up with Carole / Wheels on the Warrandyte Bus at Gippsbeary Cottage in Korrumburra.  There were other people there too, but Carole and I stole some time to bring out our Chester Criswell quilts. You may remember when Carole did a guest blog post showing her beautiful applique work while the Chester Criswell Quilt was a block of the month.

A preview of Carole's quilt

Friends - Carole's quilt and my CCCQ

Well.  Carole entered her CCCQ (Chester County Criswell Quilt) in the Victorian Quilters Quilt Showcase and it was accepted. Congratulations!  It will be on display from tomorrow, 25th July through the 28th July at the Stitches and Crafts Show in Melbourne.  Look out for it!

If you were at the Sydney Quilt Show you may have seen Michelle's CCCQ - you may not have recognised it at first but it is a magnificent interpretation.  If you are on Instagram read the touching story of this quilt #michellethequilter.

I can't help but be a little bit proud - I feel like a quilty godmother!

If you are feeling inspired the patterns are still available on Etsy.  I haven't yet uploaded all the patterns but here are some to get you started. More to follow!


Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Time for a Fresh Quilt Saga

The response to my latest Kindle e-book Cadet Blue and Texas Too has been most pleasing, thank you.  There are plenty of copies left so you won't miss out!

Now that the book has gone to print it's time to explore another signature quilt. Hooray!

I've had this quilt top about two years and did some research when it arrived.  It's from Armstrong County, PA, which was coal mining and steel mills and manufacturing when the quilt was made in the late 1930s.  It's just a top and never used so the colours are nice and bright and the signatures are clear. 

Let's begin at the beginning.  I have chosen just one block at random to explore - see that blue one near the top? Here it is.

Mildred Alice Doverspike was the eldest in a family of five girls. Mildred grew up on the family farm and completed high school.  In the 1940 census Mildred is 25 years old and working as a live-in maid. She never married and died at the age of 70. So far, that's all I know, but I expect as the quilt research progresses we may learn more about her.

The block is easy to make as a ten inch block but I wanted mine to be nine inches which took some calculating.  It has a lot of different names - Nest and Fledgeling, Rolling Stone, Wedding Ring, Single Wedding Ring, Odd Scraps, Mill Wheel, English Wedding Ring, Old Fashioned Wedding Ring and Vice President's Block.  It seems unfair to call it Wedding Ring for spinster Mildred so I'm going with Nest and Fledgeling. Now, what block shall I choose for next post? Any thoughts?

 A simple pattern in triangles and quadrilaterals but with many a corner to turn is "Nest and Fledgeling," a typically spring time block.  The color specified is orange but whatever your "bedroom" color this pattern will be equally lovely. Allow for seams.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Cadet Blue and Texas Too: Quaker Quilts on Kindle

I have added another title to my Kindle bookshelf.

Cadet Blue and Texas Too

This story took longer than I thought to finish.  The story has unfolded on this blog.  I bought the first quilt way back in 2015. That was an interesting blog post because it turns out that my initial assumptions about the quilt have been mostly proved to be wrong.

I discovered the second quilt in 2016 when pictures of it were shared on Facebook.  Two quilts from one family, made twenty years apart and showing up in the same Facebook group nearly one hundred years later. What a happy co-incidence!

Then in 2017 I was able to add Quilt #2 to my collection and the two quilts now live side by side happily ever after.

The story revealed by the research is amazing.  The e-book has just been released on Kindle.  Remember you don't need an actual Kindle to download, I use the Kindle app on my phone.  USA readers can get it here, and Australia readers can get it there.

It's not a long book, you will need two or three cups of tea to finish it.  And if you are able to share on your social media account, I would be very grateful. I hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Noonday Lily - A Bit of a Challenge

I now have another McKim Sampler.  This one is just a top and I think the maker was a young girl who still was on a learning curve when it came it needlework.

Noonday Lily from the McKim Sampler patterns

It is a combination of pieced and applique, and there is a blanket stitch around the stem and leaves.  There are a few tucks in the block to get all the pieces together.

The block is hand pieced using black thread - even on the white lily flowers.  The finished quilt blocks are all machined together with a bobbin tension that was too tight.

Then I noticed this detail on the front of the block. See that tiny triangle near the bottom of the block?  What happened here?

My guess is a slip of the scissors, and a quick patch was inserted to make things ... well, almost right again. The vague instructions printed in the newspaper didn't make the job any easier.

This is one of those lovely old quilts which so effectively combine pieced blocks with a bit of applique into most charming unity.  Patterns, as the others in our series, are size to mark and sew to, but they cut a seam larger all around.
The small pieced squares are made first, then joined together as shown with plain blocks the same size and one which cuts the area of four small squares, that is about nine inches, which allows for seams.  The longer straight stem pattern also is not given but should be about twelve inches long of the darker green.
Sixteen whole blocks set together diagonally with plain pale green squares of equal size make a center about sixty-eight inches square.  This with ten-inch border, top and sides with sixteen inches bottom border completes about seventy-eight by eighty-four.  The border of light or darker green could be enhanced by small pieced lily squares appliqued at regular intervals.
A number of women have written requesting the entire set of patchwork quilts patterns which is now running on the Woman's Page.  The entire set will not be for sale until all the patterns have been run in the paper.
If you have missed a block, or want extra copies of any of those which have been printed, just write to THE POST'S Quilt club, giving the name and number of the one you want, and inclosing 10 cents, the price of each back block, and a stamped, self-addressed envelope.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Paper Piecing Pinwheel Star

This week's block is a Pinwheel Star.

Isn't it pretty? The geometry is mind boggling, those diamonds don't have equal sides; and three pieces inside the square meet four pieces around the edge.  I used EQ7 to print the pattern BB3866 as templates, then copied the page three more times onto heavy paper to use as English paper piecing templates.  Here is the back view.

English paper piecing - EPP - isn't my favourite activity, it is slow, but the end result is beautifully neat.  My block is 14 inches square.  The original pattern was in The Patchwork Book 1931 as a nine inch block!

I am going to use this big block as the centre of a small quilt.  The fabric range is called Yarra Valley, by the amazing Australian designers Max and Louise. I love the tiny conversation prints.  Here are a few more blocks to go with the Pinwheel Star.

Remember how I retired in March? Me neither.  I thought, with retirement, that I would have lots and lots of time and the blog posts would almost write themselves.  However I have been working again.  I spent three weeks working for the Australian Electoral Commission with the recent Federal election.  Long hours, precision work but entirely fascinating. The election work reminded me how fortunate it was to live in a democracy where everyone has a vote, every vote is equal and every vote counts.

I'll get back to retirement next week.

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.