Friday, November 10, 2017

Heart of Washington - Yours to Download

The blog mystery is no longer mysterious.

It's a proper pattern now, and you can download it NOW ...  if you like.

If you are in the USA, may I recommend the Etsy site.  The pattern is in US dollars and there are no extra charges.

If you are in Australia or the rest of the world, may I suggest a download from my site Two Bits Patches. Price is in Australian dollars, and there are a few free patterns as well.

(If you buy at Etsy and you don't live in the USA a VAT/GST tax is added to your purchase. You can buy from Etsy of course but check the final price before you pay.)

I do hope you consider adding the pattern to your collection. And if you don't need another pattern please considering sharing the links through your own social media.  Sharing makes the cyber world go round.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

What I'm Working On - circa 1888

I have recently finished hand quilting the first quarter of this lovely.

I have drafted the blocks from my Ohio quilt, probably made in the late 1880s. Isn't the scalloped border great?

I don't know for sure that it is from Ohio, but the patterns and colours have suggested Ohio.  And I come from Ohio so we're a match.

Peonies.  The 19th green material has faded to tan, the original would have been just as bright as this.

Mariners' Compass ... sort of.  This compass only points in six directions (but Ohio isn't very near the sea).

Four tulips.  The double pink isn't really 1880s, the original quilt has some much older material pieces.

Love apple, with a quilted tulip borrowed from the previous block.

Saturday, September 30, 2017


Here are two quilts that I have mentioned before.

These two quilts were made by members of the same family.  They both ended up with an antiques dealer, who sold them online to two different buyers.  End of story.

....except that the two buyers were keen quilt collectors and belonged to the same group on Facebook.  And one day the connection between the two quilt was discovered.

What did we do before social media?  But getting back to the quilts....

The first quilt was made in 1916 for Dr. Maria Jessup, a Quaker woman living in Indiana.  It was given to her on her 70th birthday.  Each block was made by a friend or grateful patient, many of them being Quakers too.  Every block has a name, and many have a date of birth - perhaps babies that 'Dr. Ria' delivered.

Maria died a few years later and it seems as if the quilt was returned to the makers.  It then traveled with the extended family to Palmer, Texas in the 1920s, where neighbours from Indiana remained neighbours in Texas.  After another generation the second quilt was made about 1938 - same block, similar colours and many of the same names.

How could you separate two such fascinating historic quilts? This split had to be repaired. 
So Janette McInnes - The Plain Needlewoman - and myself got together to compare notes.

We didn't meet in Indiana or Texas.  We met at Federation Square in Melbourne, cause that where you meet when you live in Victoria, Australia.

And when we said goodbye, both quilts came home with me. I am very fortunate and very excited to have another story to be researched and shared.  Two quilts at once is a bit of a challenge.

Grandmother Adeline Reeve, I'm looking forward to getting to know you.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Ships Ahoy

This week's block is a Sailboat.

Sailboat - H. E. Putnam

There is the usual challenge of deciding which name to use for the block.  Options were Sailboat, The Ship, Little Ship o' Dreams, Sailboat in Blue and White, The Mayflower and Tad Lincoln's Sailboat. 

The pink Sailboat is from a 1937 friendship quilt from Oklahoma.  There are two Sailboat blocks in the quilt.

Sailboat - Lou Henslee

So how are the blocks set into the quilt? Not how you would think.  Notice too the dotted green border strip.  It keeps getting wider and wider the further you go.  Each block in this quilt is not quite square and is a different size to every other blocks.  It must have been a challenge to put together; it sits quite flat and the corners are almost right angles.

Maggie Malone (120 Patterns for Traditional Patchwork Quilts, 1984) shows a similar block called Flags & Ships.  She points out that, unusually, the block is rectangular instead of square.  The Sailboat adds a white strip to make it square which then becomes a perfect block for a signature.

Flags & Ships

My latest friendship top appears to have a Sailboat block.  I assumed that Fannie Brumbaugh had some issues assembling her block; the hull is upside down.  But apologies to Miss Brumbaugh, it is a real pattern from the Kansas City Star.

The Sailboat Oklahoma

I have Googled 'Sailboat Oklahoma' but apart from the original reference I can't find any images.  If you ever see the good ship Sailboat Oklahoma in your travels I would love to hear about it.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

This Too is Jacob's Ladder

This week's block is Jacob's Ladder ... but not the usual patchwork ladder which Jacob saw in his dream.

This block is in a top which was made in Pennsylvania, probably about 1938.  I don't know who Charlotte was, which is a pity, but I have found a few of her friends in the other blocks. There are more photos in a previous post.

You can find a pattern for Jacob's Ladder at Field Guide to Quilts but it is a diagram of the patches with no measurements.  For a 12 inch block the flying geese units finish at 1.5 inches, and the corner blocks finish at 4.5 inches.

This design was printed in the booklet 'Grandma Dexter Applique and Patchwork Designs'.

The book was published by Virginia Snow Studios in the late 1930s.  Here is the Jacob's Ladder pattern on the right, printed as a scrappy block.

I found a downloadable copy of the whole booklet on the website Sewing Solutions.  This site has a range of 1930s sewing books which can be downloaded for personal use.  The price is reasonable and the link worked first time with no trouble.  However, a word of warning - for some reason there are a number of links on the webpage that do not lead you to quilt patterns. I found it best to put my mouse over a link and check out the preview before I clicked - there appeared to be a number of medications that are not required for patchwork.  Say no more.

Sport Coat made from Silk Patches

Wearable art? Maybe not.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

One More Final Block

This really is the last block, there isn't room for any more.

I don't have a name for this block.  It isn't uncommon, I have come across the same pattern in other antique quilts.  The nearest block in Barbara Brackman is Blockhouse ... which is the same but different.

A - 4 dark squares 3.5" x 3.5".

B - 4 dark and 8 light rectangles 1.5" x 3.5".

C- 1 light square 2.5" x 2.5".

D - 2 dark squares 2.5" x 2.5". Cut diagonally to make 4 triangles.  Sew to C, trim to 3.5 inches square.

Block measures 9.5 inches.

I have added a border to my mystery and it is nearly quilted.  I quilt my tops on the same sewing machine I use for piecing, so it's always a rush to finish the quilting and then get onto the next project.

The mystery is finished but the blocks keep coming.  We haven't finished the 1930s yet, I have more friendship quilts on the shelves which have been waiting patiently.  Next post will be Jacob's Ladder - but not as you know it ......

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Mystery Revealed*

*conditions apply

It is finally time for you to see the assembled mystery blocks. A number of blocks were made and auditioned for the final selection, and one managed to get into the final quilt without being introduced.  Rather than wait another week I have decided to show the finished layout now; some more instructions will be posted next week. I just wish I was a better photographer - the picture doesn't do justice to the real quilt top.


The blocks that you have been making fit together according to the following grid. It doesn't matter which six inch block goes into each six inch space; you can follow my pictures or rearrange your blocks to suit.  Earlier in the blog there were Dresden plates and House blocks - if you want to include them just put them in a matching sized space.  The quilt top divides into four quarters; A, B, C and D. Arrange your blocks on the design wall/floor for the whole quilt, then sew them together quarter by quarter.

quarter A

Quarter A uses one 12 inch, two 9 inch and 5 six inch blocks.

quarter B

Quarter B - one 12 inch, two 9 inch and five 6 inch.  The block you haven't seen is the blue and purple one on the right.  I will provide a pattern in the next post, or you might figure it out for yourself.

quarter C

Quarter C - two 9 inch blocks and three 6 inch blocks.

quarter D

Quarter D - one 9 inch, four 6 inch and five 3 inch blocks.  For the 3 inch blocks I used leftovers from other blocks.  You could make five different blocks. 

I am going to add a border too, again, your choice for border / no border.  Any questions?  You can comment below or join in on the Facebook page - and I would love to see your photos!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

One Last Block

The friendship quilt made in Malaga in 1937 has been the inspiration for the mystery blocks of the past few months.

I chose blocks that fit into the 6 - 9 - 12 inch pattern, and I left poor Sunbonnet Sue for another day. I discovered that I needed one more 9 inch block to finish the quilt so I opted for an old favourite.

Dutchman's Puzzle

I disassembled my Whirligig block that I decided not to use.  It was all half square triangles so I rearranged it into a Dutchman's Puzzle.

It will work a little better with Flying Geese to start with and can also be made in three colours - make the center geese one main colour and the outside geese a contrasting colour.

A - 2 dark 5.75 inch squares. Cut diagonally twice to make 8 triangles.

B - 8 light 3.25 inch squares. Cut diagonally to make 16 triangles.

Trim each flying goose block to 2.75" x 5".

Block measures 9.5 inches.

I made a few more flying geese blocks, this time with real geese.

So ... next post, the big reveal!  I do hope you like the end result.

Friday, July 28, 2017

A Mystery in a Mystery

Minnie Key's block needs a bit of imagination to reproduce.

Minnie's fabric has not worn well, it is very thin and there is no colour left.  The pale orange blotches in the photo are the backing fabric showing through the block.  Sometimes the seams of the patches still show some colour but I don't see any in this one.  All we have is the piecing.

I have also been unable to find a name for this block.  It looks familiar but nothing matches. 

I have pieced the design as two colours and as three colours.

I'm interested in your interpretations.

A -  2 light and 2 dark 2" x 2" squares.

B - 2 light and 2 dark 2.5" x 2.5" squares.  Cut diagonally to make 4 dark and 4 light triangles. 

C - 1 light and 1 dark 4" x 4" square.  Cut diagonally to make 2 light and 2 dark triangles.

Add two B's to square A; sew to C.  Trim to 3.5 inch square.

Block measures 6.5 inch square.

This following block is called Four Knaves from Nancy Cabot in 1938; almost the same as Nellie's Mystery.

A - 6 purple and 2 green squares 2.5" x 2.5". Cut diagonally to make 12 purple and 4 green triangles.  Make four half square triangles and trim to 2" square, add two more triangles.

B - 2 green squares 4" x 4".  Cut diagonally to make 4 triangles.

Block measures 6.5 inch square.

Make one of each block for your mystery quilt.  There is one more block to come, then all will be revealed!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Cactus Basket, Cactus Pot

This week's block is a Cactus Basket.

Sarah Cannon, who made this block, was the first woman that I researched on the Malaga 1937 quilt.  I had not planned to do any research at all but I decided to just have a look at a person or two.  I discovered that Sarah's husband was a missionary to the Indians and that her daughter was the first white child to be born in the area. After this gem of information I went ahead and was able to place every name that was on the quilt, not a single missing person. Exploring on is better than playing computer games!

Cactus Basket can also be called Desert Rose, Texas Rose, Texas Treasure, Basket of Diamonds or Flower Pot.  Sometimes the plant is much smaller than the basket.

Cactus Basket ~ Cactus Pot

Cactus Basket is usually made with diamond shapes, but that means set-in seams.  I have changed the diamonds to half square triangles for quick piecing - but you may change them back to diamonds if you like! The second block is Cactus Pot; very similar but different enough to include as a second pattern.  Make one of each for the mystery quilt.

A - 1 light, 1 pink and 1 basket 2" x 2" squares.

B - 2 light, 1 pink, 2 blue and 2 basket 2.5" x 2.5" squares.  Cut diagonally to make 14 triangles in all.  Make half square triangles using the picture as a guide, trim to 2" x 2".

C - 2 light rectangles 2" x 3.5".

D - 1 light 4" x 4" square.  Cut diagonally and use 1 triangle.

Block measures 6.5 inches.

A - 1 light 2" x 2" square.

B - 2 light, 2 green and 1 basket 2.5" x 2.5" squares.  Cut diagonally to make 10 triangles. Make half square triangles, trim to 2" x 2".

C - 2 light rectangles 2" x 3.5".

D - 1 light, 1 green and 1 basket 4" x4" squares.  Cut diagonally and use 1 triangles of each color.

Block measures 6.5 inches.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Album Blocks and Album Quilts

This week's block is an album block.

The word "album" has a number of different uses when looking at historic quilts.  These two blocks from the Malaga quilt are both Album blocks because the pattern's name is Album.  Blocks that are similar to these like Chimney Sweep and Cross Patch and Christian Cross can be called album blocks as a group.  An album quilt is a quilt made with different blocks, like a Baltimore Album quilt; or an album quilt can have signatures like an autograph album.

This  pattern is Chimney Sweep.  It was probably made in the 1880s. Seam allowance can be an issue on this diagonal blocks - you can see why this one stayed an orphan.

These are a variation on the Chimney Sweep.  They are in a 1940 quilt that I call Texas Too.  This Quaker quilt has the most amazing story behind it which I introduced here in the blog; one day I will get busy and find out the rest of the story.

So three blocks this week: Album, Chimney Sweep and Texas Chimney Sweep.

Album block

 A - 8 dark and 2 light squares 1.75" x 1.75".

B - 1 light rectangle 1.75" x 4.25".

C - 2 light squares 4" x 4". Cut diagonally twice to make 8 triangles.

D - 2 light squares 3" x 3". Cut diagonally to make 4 triangles.

Put the pieces together row by row.  The triangles are much bigger than the squares, that's OK.  Trim the triangles as you need to when you sew the seams.  The finished 6.5 inch block leaves a large margin around the dark squares - no disappearing points here.

Chimney Sweep

A - 8 dark and 2 light squares 2" x 2".

B - 4 dark and 1 light rectangle 2" x 5".

C - 3 light squares 4" x 4". Cut diagonally twice to make 12 triangles.

D - 2 light squares 2.75" x 2.75". Cut diagonally to make 4 triangles.

Make the center 9 patch square first, then build up the block by rows around the center. Block measures 9.5 inches.

Texas Chimney Sweep

A - 6 dark and 4 light squares 2" x 2".

B, C, D - same as Chimney Sweep instructions.

The center 9 patch is the only difference in this Texas Chimney Sweep block, all the other pieces are the same as Chimney Sweep.

Block measures 9.5 inches.