Thursday, January 31, 2013

Old English Flower Garden quilt block

Old English Flower Garden quilt block

January 31, 1933-"Printed Posies Grow on Gingham Stems in Quilts" was the title of Nancy Cabot's column this day and it introduced the Old English Flower Garden quilt block.

This is the first applique pattern to be published by her.  She instructs readers to "adventure with color" by varying the fabrics for the flowers and the flower pot. I think she means from one block to next but  I used three different yellow fabrics for my flowers and green gingham for the stem as she suggests!  I think the block would look cute with tiny buttons for centers.

To see an antique block, go here.

Nancy suggests the blocks "be set together with strips of color and joined with small blocks of prints."  I think that would be quite striking if making a whole quilt of these blocks.

To make this block, use whatever type of applique you like.  I did mostly fusible applique but then used English paper piecing on the hexagon flowers.  Have you ever gotten the little sample pack at a quilt show from the Paper Pieces booth?  Well, I have several times and the little hexagons in the pack are close enough to the size of the template that I used them.  I think the flowers have a little more dimension than if I would have fused them down.

If you are doing fusible applique, don't forget to cut the seam off.  This would make a really nice little project if you like to hand applique too.  The pattern includes a full size copy of the design so you can lay your pieces right on top the paper to get everything lined up right in addition to the pattern templates.  You can download it here.

This pattern (shown below) can be found in Electric Quilt as English Flower Pot.  It is very similar to the block above but there are double hexagons for each flower. To make the smaller hexagons that are on top of the larger ones just trim a 1/4" off the template provided in the pattern.

Block for tomorrow-Windmill

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pinwheels quilt block

January 30, 1933-Nancy Cabot presents her Pinwheels quilt block pattern.  Not at all what we would think of these days when thinking of pinwheels but I love it!  Do you see the four tessellating pinwheels?

She said this pattern reminded her of the days of making paper pinwheels pinned to a stick.  I remember doing this with my grandma.  Nancy showed this block being made from only three colors because she thought "the uniformity of a standard color scheme adds distinction."

This is another of her 5 patch quilt blocks in which I refuse to figure out the math for a 6" block.

So, to make a 5" block-

1.  Sew 9 four patch blocks using only two fabrics-a background and fabric #1-1 1/2" (1" finished) floral is the background and pink is my color #1 in my example.  A quick way to do this is to make strip sets with each fabric being cut 1" wide to make a sewn strip 1 1/2" wide.  Cut the sets into 1" pieces and sew these into 4 patch blocks.  You need 18" total of strip sets.

2.  Sew 12 half square triangle blocks-1 1/2" (1" finished) One side of the triangle is your background fabric and the other half is your color #2 or purple as used in mine above.  Use 2" squares and make these 2 at a time by following the method of drawing a diagonal line, sewing on each side and cutting on the diagonal line to yield 2 half square triangles.  Trim the new blocks to 1 1/2" or use triangles on a roll, no trimming necessary!

3.  Cut 4) 1 1/2" squares of your background fabric.

4.  Sew your units together following the diagram carefully.  It's a little tricky!

A similar block can be found in Electric Quilt and BlockBase as #1142c.  It is a 4 patch not a 5 patch and the lights and darks are flipped but it makes more stars when sewn together as shown in the drawing below.

I made the block at the right before I decided to do this sew along.  It is made 6" finished.  Very easy, the 4 patch blocks finish at 1 1/2" and so do the half square triangle blocks.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Kentucky Cross Roads quilt block

January 29, 1933-Kentucky Cross Roads was the quilt pattern of the day for Nancy Cabot's Chicago Tribune column.  The rough clay roads of Kentucky were the inspiration for this block.  Her drawing shows a dainty floral fabric as the background and the "bumps in the crossroads stand out in striking relief in materials of plain but contrasting colors" she explains.

She talks about an antique quilt made in 1842 by it's owner's grandmother and describes as such, "The materials were hand woven, the thread for quilting spun by hand."  Can you imagine?  Boy do we have it easy these days with all our wonderful fabric, thread and gadgets.

I made this block 6" finished.  After a lot of trial and error, I decided this size is best done by paper piecing. You can download the pattern here.  The background pieces are cut from templates that are included with the pattern.  The following photo shows the basic parts of the block.

Block layout

The upper right corner shows how the 4 pieces in the lower left corner look when sewn together. All of the pieces in the center are sewn together before adding the 2 corners.

I really like this block and can't say that I've ever seen it anywhere but it can be found in Electric Quilt and BlockBase as #2914.

At the end of her article, Nancy shows all the blocks she featured for the week and reminds people that they can buy patterns for them for "5 cents in stamp or coin."  Here are my blocks for the week-

Cactus Basket
Fruit Basket
Georgetown Circle
Old Gray Goose
Variable Star
Kentucky Cross Roads

If you have any blocks that you'd like to share, please send me a photo and I'll post them so we can all see them.  It's always good to see new ideas!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Variable Star quilt block

Variable Star quilt block

January 28, 1933-Nancy Cabot published the Variable Star quilt block "formerly known as the Tippecanoe and Tyler Too!"  To be "historically correct", she tells readers it should be made from print fabrics but would be "more outstanding if pieced in plain colors."  Tippecanoe and Tyler Too was a campaign slogan from the Harrison presidential election of 1840. 

To see a more colorful example of this block and download a FREE 12" block pattern, go here.

I made a 6" finished size block since I'm making a sampler quilt that size all from Nancy Cabot blocks.

To make a 6" block from two colors-                                      Row 1

Unit A- 4) 2 1/2" squares of background fabric
             1) 2 1/2" square of fabric for center of star
                                                                                          Row 2
Unit B/B-2) 3 1/2" squares of background fabric
               2) 3 1/2" squares of fabric for star                       
                                                                                          Row 3

To make your B/B units, you need to make quarter square triangles from your 3 1/2" squares.  When completed, trim each unit to 2 1/2".  Sew the units together in rows as shown in the diagram. Very Easy!

McCall's Quilting has an excellent video explaining how to make quarter square triangles.  There are also written instructions right below the video.

This basic block is #1631d in the Electric Quilt and BlockBase software.  It shows it in 4 colors though.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Old Gray Goose quilt block

Old Gray Goose quilt block

January 27, 1933-Nancy Cabot published the Old Gray Goose quilt block named for the song "Go Tell Aunt Rosie the Old Gray Goose is Dead."  She claims it dates back to the 17th century and was originally  pieced with many colors.  She wrote, "Today, since we do not depend upon the scrap bag as our source of materials, the blocks will assume added distinction if done in two colors."  I love it in two colors!  The block has also been called Devil's Claws and Double Z which is a more common name today.

This a very easy block to sew.  It can be made from 16 half square triangles, a combination of half square triangles and flying geese units (what I did) or 8 flying geese which is how I would make it if I do it again.

You just need 4 geese of one fabric and four geese of another fabric.  Two dark centers go across the top and two more go on the bottom row with both rows facing the outer edge of the block.  All 4 light geese go in the center, turned the long way, facing each other. For a 6" block, the geese need to finish at 1 1/2" X 3".  Use whatever method you like to make your flying geese units.  Quilt in a Day has a special ruler to make them that I personally like.  This block can be found as #3221 in the Electric Quilt and BlockBase software.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Georgetown Circle quilt block

Georgetown Circle quilt block

January 26, 1933-Nancy Cabot published the Georgetown Circle quilt block.  She says it was originally called Crown of Thorns.  I think that is a more apt name as it has really been a thorn in my side.  The way she drew it, it had 42 pieces! I spent a whole day trying to figure out the best way to construct it and finally came up with a paper piecing pattern that makes it very easy to construct.  I also eliminated 8 pieces! Can you tell where?
Nancy Cabot original design

You can download the pattern for a 6" block here.  There are several good tutorials about paper piecing online if you have never tried it before.  Try this one or this one.  This block is #2048 in the Electric Quilt and BlockBase programs.  It is colored differently however.

Nancy recalls that the block was at one time called a Memory Quilt when pieced without the "thorns" from "garments of departed relatives and friends"  It was called a Tombstone Quilt when inscriptions were stitched in the center. It's also been called Wedding Ring.  I wonder why she calls it Georgetown Circle.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fruit Basket quilt block

Fruit Basket quilt block

January 25, 1933-Nancy Cabot wrote, "Though its origin dates back many, many years, "Fruit Basket" has a decidedly futuristic accent with its straight line and angular simplicity."

She believed this block originated in the New England states because it reflected the "characteristic traits of the inhabitants of the section-conventionality and simple severity."  I wonder if she is making fun of or complimenting New Englanders!

This is a 5 patch block and super simple to make.

I made mine 5" finished simply because the math is easier.  I used a feed sack fabric from my stash since I am trying to make all of these blocks from vintage fabrics. I love the little button design. Several of Nancy's designs are 5 patch blocks so maybe I'll make a sampler of  "nickel" blocks!

To make this 5" block,

Follow the photo above for color placement

Make 7-1 1/2" HST* units (1" finished) B/B
using a method you like as your scraps will allow            

Make 1-3 1/2" HST (3" finished) D/D

Cut a triangle from the background fabric with 2 7/8" sides (C)

Cut 2 background fabric-1 1/2" X 3 1/2" (A)

Cut a 2 7/8" square from the basket fabric and cut on the diagonal for the 2 triangles of  the basket (B)

Sew  following the diagram-

1. B to an A twice as shown

2. 3 B/B to the D watching for color placement

3. 4 HST together like on right side of diagram and then sew to block

4. Sew the A/B units to each side next

5. Sew C to the corner to finish the block

*HST=half square triangle

This block can be found in Electric Quilt and BlockBase as #714.  It is a mirror image so you will need to rotate it to get the same orientation as Fruit Basket.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Album quilt block

Album quilt block

January 24, 1933-When publishing this block, Nancy Cabot describes it as dating from the "time when quilts were necessary as well as decorative."

In the good old days that she refers to, when a girl announced her engagement, her friends got together and each made a quilt block for her.  Each girl stitched her name in the center of the block.  Nancy writes, "The blocks were joined and the rest of the day was spent on quilting; later there was supper, followed by merriment in which the menfolk joined."  I think that's a good idea even today!

I found a version of this block that I just love!  The colors are reversed and there are no names written in the centers but it is definitely the same pattern!
Click here to see more about it.

The Album block may look familiar but it is actually made a little differently than the blocks that come up if you search the internet for Album blocks.  Both blocks can be found in the Electric Quilt or BlockBase software.  Just search for #2414 to get the Cabot block or #R010 to get the second version also called Chimney Sweep.

Nancy Cabot's 1933 Album block

Album block more common today

There are several different ways to make this block depending on what size scraps you are using.  My scraps were large enough for me to make strip sets.  Here's what I did to make a 6" block-

I made a strip set of green/white/ green fabric, cutting each strip at 2" X 4".  When sewing the 3 strips together, I made my seams a bit wider than 1/4" so that the 3 strips sewn together equal 4 3/4".  (I thought this was easier than cutting an odd 1 15/16" strip.)  I then cut the strip set in half to go on each side of the center signature strip and sewed each strip to each side of the center strip creating a nine patch center.

Next I made 4 corner sections by sewing white squares to 3 sides of a green square and sewed each one to a side of the center.  It looked like this-

To square up the block, I centered by 6 1/2" ruler on it and trimmed.

If I were going to make a quilt with these blocks, instead of a 6" finished square, I would decide what size squares (or strips) to use and just use whatever size block it makes.

This block is actually very popular on the internet.  It's now being called a Granny Square block and there are a few tutorials out there on how to make it.  I think this is the original one that started it all.  I love the look of the Granny Square quilts and even have all my background fabric cut for one.  Hope I make time to work on it soon!

This is the tutorial I followed (which is more like the Chimney Sweep block) and she has a nice 6 1/2" potholder project you can make too!  Has a few more rounds but nice just the same.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cactus Basket quilt block

Cactus Basket quilt block
January 23, 1933-The first quilt block introduced by Nancy Cabot is the Cactus Basket design.  She describes the block as being "inspired by the brilliant blooms of the American desert"  and suggested it be made of  "gay diamond shaped prints" with the basket being brown or green and the background cream.  Her black and white illustration indicates a different print for each diamond.

This is not the common way to make a block by this name and it is not an easy block to make.  The only example I could find is an antique quilt in a museum.  You can see it here.  It has three "Y" seams which I try to avoid but it does go together nicely so I think it's worth the extra little effort to make.

My pattern is for a 6" finished block.  The best way I could figure out to make this block is by using templates.  The dimensions are a little too odd to try to rotary cut I feel.  You can download a copy of the templates here.

Here's a basic tutorial-

Print your templates.  I printed mine on freezer paper because I think it makes the process a little easier.  Be sure to cut double layers where you need to.  I stacked up all four layers of the diamonds also.

Preparing templates to be cut

Iron your freezer paper templates to your fabric scraps.
Cut out your block pieces.  
Remove the freezer paper and you are ready to sew.
Templates after cutting
Block layout of cut pieces with freezer paper removed

Before beginning to sew the pieces of the block together, you will need to know how to sew a "Y" seam. This video by Ginny Beyer is helpful.  Here is the general order you should sew the pieces together-

Sew 2 diamonds together along 1 side and then add the corner triangle.  Repeat for the other 2 diamonds.  You need to use a "Y" seam to make this all fit.  

Next sew the 2 diamond units together along the side of the diamonds.  Make another "Y" seam to add the corner square.

Next add the corner triangles.

Add the large triangle of the basket.

Sew the smaller triangles of basket fabric to the ends of the background strips as shown.

Sew each of these strips to the sides of the basket.

And lastly add the final triangle of background fabric.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

About Nancy Cabot

Eighty years ago today, January 22, 1933, the Chicago Sunday Tribune announced  "a new pattern service for quilt conscious readers."   The article was entitled Time Honored Art of Quilting is a Rage of the Hour and began with, "Grandmother's patchwork quilts...the memories they recall!"  The article goes on conjuring up memories of grandma and quilts from your childhood, describing thin summer quilts and heavy winter quilts and how they had been handed down from one generation to the next. "Quilts made of scraps of everything, pieces from the capacious depths of the rag bag,  pieces begged and bartered from quilting neighbors; resplendent quilts that captured prizes for their beauty, color, and originality; famous old patch quilts..."  Not so different from today!

The author is Nancy Cabot and she goes on to explain that though quilting took a "catnap" as she called it when "machine made blankets and bed coverings tried to replace them" that the "nap is over"and declared that "The most fascinating of pastimes is now fashionable as well as alluringly entertaining."

Pine Tree quilt block

She featured photos of two antique quilts, a 90 year old Pine Tree quilt and a Lone Star quilt from 1766.  Nancy told a little of the history of each quilt saying that the Pine Tree pattern first appeared in Massachusetts in 1652! along with the pine tree shilling (coin) and that the pattern is also known as the Tree of Life.

Lone Star quilt
She claimed there are records of  Lone Star quilts as far back as 1662 and that the design is also known as the Texas Star and Star of Bethlehem explaining that the center star of diamonds never changed. The only variation came in the borders with the original Star of Bethlehem having a pieced star in each corner.  The Lone Star quilt she featured was made of "homespun materials, the borders being made from designs cut from glazed chintz."  Her photo shows fourteen small diamonds across the widest part of each of the eight large diamond sections!  I wonder how long that took!  This example has only six diamonds at the wide point.

A pattern for each quilt could be purchased for "5 cents in stamps or coin" with the pattern being promised as "authentic and accurate, whether historic or modern,  supplying readers with directions for making the quilts and information concerning quantities of materials needed."  What a deal!!

She ended her article saying, "Quilt patterns will be presented in both Sunday and daily issues.  For another interesting design, see tomorrow's daily Tribune."  On the same note, see tomorrow's blog for the first quilt block that she presented, the Cactus Basket.  Unlike the original article, I will show you how to make the block!  The Sew Along starts tomorrow on Wednesday, January 23, 2013.  You can sign up to receive a daily email with a new block being posted every day.  The sign up is at the top on the right side of this page.  You will need to verify your subscription via an email that will be sent to you.  All you have to do is click on the link they send you.  See you tomorrow!