IV. SETTING TOGETHER
"SETTING TOGETHER" may give a wrong impression to you of a romantic
mind. Now, as John Fox explains "whar you says 'making a call on a
young lady' we says 'settin up with a gal'--and stranger, we does it!"
Well, setting a quilt together means business, too, because the next
and final stage is quilting.
The blocks in this book finish all the way from 5 to 20 inches square.
Some may be made up according to choice, others must go a definite way
to make the quilt top. in quilt parlance "set," the noun, means
material and plan other than the pieced blocks. "Set," the verb, means
putting together the finished blocks with the "set"(noun). Nowadays, we
say "lattice strips" or "alternate squares"; these are the two
The manner of setting together our finished blocks has as much to do
with the appearance of the finished quilt as clothes do with the man!
Or the old debate question of birth versus environment is paralleled-my
blocks are so-what quality will their surroundings bring forth? Take
blocks like the "Honey Bee" or "Order Number Eleven," or even a simple
"Churn Dash." Visualize them as an all-over, or set slightly apart by
inconspicuous white strips, or widened further still by alternate
blocks. See how very different these effects are-and how changed again
when the dividing strips are dark or pieced into a pattern. So even
though you start with an ordinary pattern your quilt may be truly
individual when finished.
Some blocks must join edge to edge for an all-over effect as "Beautiful
Star" and "Lafayette Orange Peel." Some join but reverse color as "Mill
Wheel" and "Rob Peter to Pay Paul." Yet others join at all edges of
pieced blocks together but change position or placing into a more
complex appearing all-over like the "Drunkard's Path" or Milky Way." A
block must have strong individuality to use a lone repeat this way;
such blocks as Dutchman's Puzzle, Goose Tracks, Or most any of the
basic four patch or nine patch blocks would lose their identity as
blocks unless separated by strips or squares of plain. Pieced or
applique blocks which alternate with plain squares, usually white, of
the same size is the most popular method of setting together. This
makes the pattern of each stand out boldly, the design blocks forming a
checkerboard pattern with the plain. This is sometimes achieved with
block edges parallel to the quilt borders, and must be so in such
designs as "House on the Hill" where the block has a top and base
definitely so placed. Other patterns have a decided top and bottom on
the angle, as the trees, baskets and noon day lily. These are best set
together diagonally with alternate squares, finishing with half
squares, triangles, at the sides. The quilt called "Monkey Wrench" or
Snail's Trail" does something different again, alternating one whole
row with white and the next with colored plain squares, and achieving a
most unusual effect thereby. An applique block may alternate with a
pieced, as in Double Irish Cross.
Strips between, some localities call it "sash work" and others lattice,
is the next most popular set. Either three or four inches tear to no
waste from 36-inch material and make nice spacing apart for such blocks
as French Star, Swatstika, Bear's Paw, and dozens of others. When
matching the blocks background, these space the designs apart
inconspicuously. If you want each block to be particularly prominent in
itself use a contrasting color or a three-stripe lattice strip as 2 1/2
inch light center with 1 1/4 inch of dark either side. This is showy
for elaborate blocks like the Rising Sun or Skyrocket. The corner joins
have to be planned carefully in such a set. Each square may be plain, a
nine patch, or even a little pieced star as shown with "Virginia Star,"
which is very elaborate.
Again the lattice strips may be pieced; diagonally placed squares which
fill in with triangles to make a band are effective with such patterns
such as the "Album" or "Bird's Nest" where the same band design cuts
through that blocks center.
Aside from the standard squares and strips, a few quilts must have
specially shaped blocks to complete them. Such are the "Rolling Star,"
"Seven Stars," and "Double Wedding Ring." Our original design number
554 a pieced tulip in a sort of diamond paned window effect using
alternate six sided blocks of white with yellow triangles fitting
together in adjoining squares, the whole outlined in black to accent
the unusual plan.
A "crazy patch" is made of silks if it is to be pretentious at all, or
from wash scraps for economy of time and cloth. Even this may be made
in blocks, but the time honored method was to build on and on until
your quilt became a discouraging lapful. A quilt like "Baby's Blocks"
is an "allover set" and "Grandma's Flower Garden" really is too, as it
is made entirely of small hexagons.
The seam which joins blocks in the set is usually the same sort that
joins pieces in a block. Right sides of even length are faced together,
machine stitched or hand sewn with small, firm stitches, and the seam
pressed flat when finished. Sometimes fancy stitching marks the outline
of blocks, and you may have seen a "corded quilt" where the block seams
finished with cord run piping. Silk crazy quilts often had all the
little blocks embellished with fancy stitching around their irregular
The plan of setting together determines the size and shape of your
finished quilt. However, this may be decided by your wishes in the
matter with a little careful planning each time. By changing the
position of blocks from parallel to diagonal with the edge, the
measurement of blocks varies about one third.
Borders are such a potent factor both in adding size and beauty that we
are devoting a chapter to them.
For a full bed quilt you will want it not less than 72 inches wide and
perhaps never more than 90 inches wide even for a spread. However, many
of the old-time quilts used on high four-posters measured full three
yards square, but they had to master several feather beds and hide a
trundle bed by day beside! Seventy-two is too short for the length of a
quilt; even for a closed foot bed it should be a foot longer and for an
open foot bed 90 inches is a favorite length. Where one wants a
handsome quilt to serve as a top coverlet as we do these days, 99 or
even 108 inches is preferred by many. So your blocks whether they be 6
inches square or 18 inches square may be arranged to fit somewhere into
this sliding scale.
Size is a matter of taste again. One woman writes that she doesn't want
a stingy little quilt that you can see her bed springs under. She had
completed a pair of twin spreads in beautychine, and much to her
disgust, they were undersize. So we made matched flounces of satine,
corded them on at the top and bound their scallops at the bottom which
gave both generous size and an air of distinction. Another woman with
different taste complains, "My blocks are set together and it looks
more like a barn door than a quilt!" From this huge top we subtracted
enough blocks to make a pair of boudoir box edge pillows for the head
of the bed, and padded tie-on cushions for the bedroom rocker and
dressing table chair. You see there is always a remedy, no matter how
grievous the wail.
For twin beds 68 inches is a minimum width, although they could be as
narrow as 63 for inner quilts where they are for warmth only and not
for a top covering. Seventy-two inches is lovely width on a twin size
and of course lengths are the same as for wider beds.