sew and tell Friday
June 19, 2012
catching up
June 24, 2012
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antique quilt patterns

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

I have admired antique quilts for years. Our family has a few, and I own two. One was made for me before I was born, and sadly I must admit that is enough to make it antique. It’s a very simple polka dot quilt. My great-grandmother had set herself a goal to make a quilt for each of her great-grandchildren. Mine is the last one she finished.

The second is an Iris applique quilt that the same great-grandmother made for my mom to celebrate her 16th birthday. In our family quilts were used, not saved. Sadly this iris quilt is in bad shape. The edges are so tattered that there is no saving them-and there are irises appliqued all along the edges. The center of the quilt is a large iris medallion. I have been searching for the pattern and designer of this quilt for many years. It is very similar in style to some of the “kit” quilts that were popular in the 40’s.

When I ran across this index of antique patterns mentioned in another blogger’s post today, I was so excited. I think I’ll be purchasing one or two of them-if I can narrow down to the likeliest to contain the iris pattern. Perhaps if you are an admirer of old quilts, or are interested in the old-time designers, these may be of interest to you too.

The indexes will only contain black and white drawings of the blocks, no directions for how to construct them. Another fun past time of mine is to analyze blocks I come across to determine how to piece them. I know that when the old blocks were designed, templates were the rule of the day. (I continue to be amazed by the geometry skills that those designers had-no computers to help them, and maybe no protractors or compasses either!) I learned to quilt drafting my blocks on graph paper first, then converting them either to templates or sometimes “ruler cut” blocks. This was prior to the dawn of rotary cutters and strip piecing. In my mind those two innovations were like the discovery of fire, or the invention of the wheel! Not every block can be strip pieced but it sure helps speed up the process, and definitely helped my accuracy of piecing. Sometimes those antique blocks adapt to strip piecing so easily and sometimes not so much. That’s the challenge for me. (I know–kind of geeky, but aren’t math teachers supposed to be geeks?)

Maybe I’ll find another star for our quilt-a-long in one of the indexes. I have the third one for us all ready for July. Don’t forget to take your Lucy blocks to the guild meeting this week, or send photos to Don, our webmeister.

BTW, here’s a link to a flickr group of Nancy Cabot blocks made in modern fabrics. (Nancy is one of those old-time designers. She designed blocks for the Chicago Tribune.) What would you think of a quilt-a-long of some of those antique blocks? Or we might use one of the many books that are out with collections of blocks-the Elm Creek series come to mind, or the Farmer’s Wife book? No need to decide yet, Lucy Goosey will run until October and then we’ll break til the end of the year so we all can finish our quilts! (TFPIC!) Guess what that acronym is for!

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