Monday, January 21, 2019


Here's a terrific mid-20th-century quilt top

The pattern: Sunbeam from Ruby Short McKim
McKim published this design twice.

It's #2620 in BlockBase

She suggested a pillow or a quilt with alternate plain white
blocks in the Kansas City Star in 1929

And included it in her sampler called the Patchwork Quilt
in the Denver Post in 1931

The McKim sampler was a popular design; here's one from
Cindy's Antique Quilts.

And I've got pictures of  a few repeat block quilts and tops in the
 pattern from online auctions.

This beautifully pieced block is in the colors McKim suggested.

A sampler of color combinations

This block caught my eye. It's a two-color version and the
alternate white spokes fade into the corner pieces.
An asterisk.

I erased some seam lines.


The Chicago Tribune's Nancy Cabot column published a slightly different
 version in 1933 with the center square a little smaller. You can find a pattern here:

Nancy Cabot also called it Whippoorwill.

And read more about the Ruby McKim sampler at this post:

Monday, January 14, 2019

Tippecanoe Club

In 1906 The Delineator magazine published an article about quilts by Jean Thompson. She included several patterns with their names, one of which she called Tippecanoe Club (left side, 2nd from bottom).

Her Tippecanoe Club was a popular pattern despite its complex pieced curves. Here are some of
the published variations from BlockBase. Hers is most like BlockBase #3103, which was published in the Kansas City Star as a tulip block.

I had not seen this name before but I figured it had something to do with the presidential election of 1840 won by William Henry Harrison, nicknamed Old Tippecanoe for an 1811 victory over Shawnee troops headed by Tecumseh and Tenskatawa near the Tippecanoe River in what is now Indiana.

A Tippecanoe Club was a Whig political club, described in Boon’s Lick Times in June, 1840:
"The meeting proceeded to organize a Tippecanoe Club - for the purpose of promoting by all fair and honorable means, the election of Gen. Wm. Henry Harrison and John Tyler to the Presidency and Vice Presidency of the United States."

The quilt pattern probably refers to the second incarnation of Tippecanoe Clubs in the 1880s when Harrison's grandson Benjamin Harrison ran for president as a Republican. The ribbon below is from Benjamin Harrison's second unsuccessful campaign in 1892.

Tippecanoe Clubs continued as political organizations into the 20th century.

For more about the quilt pattern see this post:

Monday, January 7, 2019

Farmer's Wife---How many blocks ever made?

Did anyone ever make this block?
This is a question pattern historian Cuesta Benberry and I used to ask each other. Some designs seem so obscure that we were thrilled to come across an actual quilt in the pattern. 

I don't recall ever seeing this one made into a quilt, however.

It's BlockBase #4088
Best known as Farmer's Wife.

It's interesting but hard to construct, and as you might
guess by the seam lines, it's filed in BlockBase under Miscellaneous. I looked at
it as a pieced block.

I recently found the original source. In 1912 the Farmer's Wife from St. Paul, Minnesota  showed a sketch of "A New Quilt Pattern" by Mrs. H. L Miller. This pattern was designed expressly for this magazine from which it takes its name." The Farmer's Wife  would send you a pattern for a dime.

I was pleased to find the source of the pattern and the name. The periodical published many quilt patterns over the years.

I squared up the sketch but it still looks obscure, probably all appliqued.

Eveline Foland drew a variation for the Kansas City Star and her pattern, all appliqued, does look do-able.

Carlie Sexton offered a pattern at the same time. She
seems to have made up at least one block.

Have you ever seen a vintage block or quilt in the pattern?

Recently Sue Daley re-drew it and actually stitched a block!

Sue sells plastic templates for a pieced version.

Or print it out in BlockBase any size. Here's a sheet with an 8" pattern.

UPDATE: Margaret wrote me a note telling me Jen Kingwell has done a whole quilt, also sells the pattern and templates.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Sarah's Favorite from Farm & Home

Here's one of the oldest pattern clippings I have:
Farm & Home magazine, 1889
"Simple and Pretty Patchwork. Sarah's Favorite. Two Colors."
In the Busy Fingers department.

I've found pictures of two examples of quilts made in the pattern of triangles and squares.

Both from about 1900.

It works better in a side-by-side set than with the sashing.

It's not in BlockBase but it should be next to 2311

Also Sarah's Favorite---just a little different---fewer triangles.

I drew it in EQ8 by importing #2311 from BlockBase
and adding a few lines. Here it is in the "two colors" that
Farm & Home mentioned. I've given it the number 2311.2

And here it is as an all over block, recolored in EQ8

Kind of interesting.

Maybe best with an alternate block of a cheetos yellow orange.

BlockBase doesn't have a lot of patterns from Farm & Home.
It must have had a small regional circulation.
I just have that one clipping.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Rectangular Blocks

The Rectangular Block category in my picture files is pretty slim.
There are not many....

Which is a little surprising since rectangles will
tessellate as well as squares (Any 4-sided shape
can be repeated without gaps in the pattern)

The quilt at the top of the page is a Chinese Coins
pattern, a strip quilt that has been turned into a rectangular
block by matching the strip color in a regular pattern.

If you made every 6th strip black it would look like a rectangular block.

Kind of related to rectangular string quilt blocks

Any strip quilt could probably be turned into a rectangular
block; here's a flying geese

I have two examples of this strip of squares pieced
as rectangular blocks.

which might make the pattern easier
to handle than long strips.

Some rectangular blocks are just squares squeezed into rectangles.

Any log cabin could be a rectangle.

Here's a double four patch made of rectangles rather than squares

You could squeeze any square block in EQ8
into a rectangle twice as long as it is wide.

You can also create rectangular blocks by cutting a classic square pattern in half.

It's half of a Rolling Star set with an equal size alternate rectangle.

BlopckBase 3805 a and b

Collection of the Kentucky Historical Society

It's hard to see the pattern here but I think it's half a star pieced of diamonds.

Something like this
just stacked up.

You could probably do this with any square block with a central
focus, like a Dresden Plate. I erased half of the block in EQ8
and rotated the blocks around.

A rectangular block set with a rectangle

Some of these work better than others.