I. CHOOSE A PATTERN
YOU may be a confirmed "quilt fan" and have a chest full of beautiful
coverlets and yet be eager for one more handsome pattern; or you may be
just on the verge of attempting your first quilt. At any rate, you
surely cannot be indifferent to the charms of patchwork-that simply
isn't being done! This wholesome revival of quilt making which is so
thoroughly sweeping the country is far more than a fad. One would
hardly call Monticello or Mount Vernon "Vogueish". The are the very
soul of American art and dignity, and are being more appreciated as
such every day. A wing chair, tilt-top table, a four poster, or a
highboy may be real Early American or a faithful reproduction. They are
the sort of furnishings best loved by the home makers of our land today
who appreciate the rich background of beauty and tradition bequeathed
to us by Colonial forefathers. The American wing of the Metropolitan
Museum of Art is not a fad, and neither, we vouch, is quilt-making.
So if you are making a quilt, and it is taking many hours of your time,
do not consider them as spent in some fancywork craze such as
ceiling-wax jewelry one year and painted plaster casts another. You are
making a thing of beauty, let us hope-something useful, beautiful and
Quilts with straight seams such as may be run on the sewing machine are
always the easiest to make, and by the way, No. 80 thread,
machine-stitched, gives about as soft a seam as No. 50 hand done.
That's a trick worth knowing for a busy woman. Even such elaborate
designs such as Log Cabin, Palm, Zig-Zag, or Lone Star sew straight
Others, such as Noonday Lily, Rolling Star, Fish Block, or Sunbeam,
have to have a piece fitted in, but this is not so difficult for anyone
who sews, and some of the designs are well worth the extra bother.
Some applique quilts are included throughout the book for those who
prefer this form of handwork and the lovely effect it gives. Almost
always the "Bride's Quilt" was an applique and there are many gorgeous
ones in antique collections, bearing testimony of countless hours in
their planning, placing, and stitchery. We can not show many in such a
book of this sort as applique designs are usually so large. For
instance, the rose and bud motif of our "Rose Cross" might be used in a
Rose of Sharon.
No design has more versions than this same romantic Rose of Sharon-all
are the built up rose flower with leaves, buds and stems, but
arrangements vary in varying localities, and almost all are lovely. We
have patterns on two, a simple and a more elaborate later Rose in
special patterns. This was by long odds the most popular "Brides Quilt"
patter, its significant title coming down from the love songs of
Solomon. " I am the Rose of Sharon, and the Lily of the Valleys. As the
flower among thorns, so is my love among the daughters. As the apple
tree among trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. My
beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and
come away! For the flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing
birds is to come!" Sounds like a June wedding with roses, valley
lilies-or do you think it suggests elopement? To some Colonial girl
with imagination it meant a quilt!
But I'm rambling with romance. Getting back to technicalities and
patterns there was a difference between the "piece" quilts and "patch"
quilts. And, contrary to what you might expect, the patch variety was
aristocrat and the pieced the poor relation. For "patch," sometimes
called "sewed on" or "laid work" meant the appliques and required new
cloth bought especially, while piecing used every vestige of left-over
material, whole parts from worn garments, bits of finery or blanket or
traded scraps from friends—anything to piece together to make
covers for the beds.
But "piece" quilts have come up in the world. Such lovely patterns have
been evolved form squares, triangles, diamonds, and strips that now
women buy handsome materials as some practical husband remarked, "just
to cut up and sew back together!" However, a finished quilt is worth
all the price of material and work expended, as well as unsympathetic
comment endured. This last is rare; usually we are due for admiration
if not envy, from the time the first well-planned block is made until
the fine old quilt wears out in service, a generation or two later.
Selecting a design is quite an individual problem and naturally we
cannot tell you which one you will enjoy the most. However, we can tell
you which ones are most popular-do you want the one everybody is
making, or an individual one? There are over a hundred patterns here in
your little book, each with possibilities of loveliness. Double Wedding
Ring is be made by thousands, usually with the widest possible
selection of print scraps. It is unquestionably popular, and yet the
owner of an art needle work shop told me recently that in her opinion
it was an ugly, erratic design!She Had not seen it in our rainbow tint
plan which(opinion again!0 is really more lovely than when made of all
unrelated prints. "Dresden Plate" or "Friendship Ring," the hexagon
plan quilts like "Grandmother's Flower Garden" or the "French Bouquet"
are favorites and not so because they are easy to make, either. Flower
and basket quilts are popular; so are the tree designs and stars-there
are some very beautiful star patterns, with the Lone Star best beloved
Irish chains are charming for the amount of work. They come under a
class of cut pieces all straight with the weave of the material; no
triangles or diamonds to an Irish Chain, but exactly even squares
placed as shown with our pattern of Triple Irish Chain of of Double
Irish Cross. An ordinary nine-patch set together with alternate plain
squares is sometimes called Single Irish Chain, while 9 each way in one
block with 3 appliqued onto alternate square corners is called
"Forty-Niner" and not Quadruple Irish!
Names often have much to do with a quilt's popularity. They do more
than identify a certain combination of pieces-a catchy name like Crazy
Ann, Dove in the Window, or Wild Goose Chase whets the imagination. We
get many letters from people saying "I have an old family quilt, pieced
like the sketch with red etc., etc., Please, what is its name?" And if
we can trace back its family branches, the grateful owner feels like
the treasures of her ancestors has been made legitimate.
Names of some patterns do vary. Period, locality, and general human
contrariness have caused many a fog over quilt escutcheons. an editor
of the Chicago Daily News wrote: "Tell me, is it possible that there be
various 'Roads to California' with one of them looking like 'Jacob's
Ladder' or possibly 'Stepping Stones?'" Yes, and "Drunkards Path" was
sometimes "Wonder of the World" and that long before prohibition, too!
Some quilt names are of pioneer ancestry with a breath of dare and
danger like "Bear's Paw," "Crossed Canoes," "Indian Trail," "Prairie
Queen." Others have a staid and homey background—"Rail
Wheel," "Meadow Lily," "Sun Dial," while yet another group bespeaks the
tang of the sea—"Square and Compass," "Ship's Wheel," " Ocean
"Storm at Sea," "Rolling Star"—these all come from coastwise
And by the way, the very Ship's Wheel of Cape Cod is called Harvest Sun
The easiest quilts to make are perhaps four-patches upon which so many
little girls have learned to sew, and "brick work," that boon plan of
piecing for the woman who has a lot of "sample" oblongs all shaped
alike. Brick work is simply sewing into shallow rows a strip of equal
size oblongs, then jogging the seam half way over for the next row,
etc. Four patches are 2 dark and 2 light squares joined checkerboard
fashion, and two of these alternated with plain square of equal size to
make a large block.
Quilts like Swastika, Orange Peel, Old Maid's Puzzle, and Windmill are
elaborated four patches; while it is easy to trace the nine patch
variation in many like Weathervane, Pin Wheels, Maple Leaf, Greek
Cross, Jacob's Ladder, etc.
Beggar's Block, Burgoyne's Quilt, and the triangle corners of the
Skyrocket are sort of three patch placings. Then come a great group
based on the diamond unit, the six and eight pointed stars, the piecing
plus applique designs like Honey Bee, Noon Day Lily, Cherry Basket, and
Friendship Ring. There are those that take curved seams, Mill Wheel,
Rob Peter to Pay Paul, and the French Star and those that demand
shallow angle seams like Baby's Blocks and French Bouquet. Double
Wedding Ring and Lone Star have the whole quilt top as a unit, although
they, too, must work from small pieces to larger.
If you are an applique enthusiast, we have included a few straight
"laid on" patterns.
We do hope you will find the very one that appeals to you and after
that another and another as every one has possibilities of real beauty.
It's up to you—Choose a pattern!
CHAPTER 1 ·