Monday, August 1, 2016

Blocks That Are Not Square: Triangular Blocks

Quilters working towards the end of the 19th century followed a 
fashion for triangular blocks.

Variations were given names in print at the time and later. 
This one pieced of 9 triangles is BlockBase #201, published as the Pyramid or Sugar Loaf about 30 years ago. It doesn't matter what shape the triangle is as long as it's the same triangle.

Sugarloaf Mountain in Brazil

"Sugarloaf" to us tends to mean a landscape feature, a ski hill for example. Those cone-shaped hills were named for their resemblance to the common packaging of sugar, which was molded into a cone for shipping and sale.

Sugar molding

Four equilateral triangles in the classic red and blue
color scheme from about 1900.

Looks a little older with more brown.

An early version with 9 triangles, perhaps
1840-1870. From Cindy Adams collection.

Same block---different set, about 1900.

Too bad about that blue green being so fugitive: about 1900

One can keep adding triangles.....

Collection: Shwenkfelder Library

Here's one by Annie Dorothea Walker documented in the Texas project,
from the Quilt Index. Apparently Annie had a hard
time thinking outside the square block.

Two triangles make a diamond.

And most of us call this triangle pieced of diamonds Sugar Loaf today.

It's BlockBase #204. Published names:
Sugar Loaf
Flat Iron

Cabot says:
"The old fashioned reliable flat-iron furnished the inspiration for today's quilt pattern, just as many other homely household articles have been represented in our early American examples of quilting. So numerous are the quilts of this pattern it has been impossible to trace its origin."

A flat iron with triangular nose.

Nancy says she couldn't trace the pattern origins but variations on this design seem to appear about 1870.

A top from Cindy Rennels shop, about 1880-1900

A repro quilt. Pattern is
Signal Flags Civil War Legacy by Carol Hopkins.

A different geometry.

All three of these about 1900...

See a sew-along for a repro of this quilt from Linda here:

BlockBase #202,
which Carrie Hall called Triangular Triangle in the 1930s.
Collector Phyllis Haders found an example she dated to 1865.

In geometry this subdivided triangle system is known as 
Sierpinski's Triangle.

Or Pascal's Triangle.

A Cosmati tile floor at Rome's Santa Maria Church,
perhaps dating to the 13th century.

One can go on and on.

Learn a little more about Sierpinski's triangles here:

And a LOT more here:

Triangular blocks with no BlockBase numbers,
indicating patterns were not published before 1970.

About 1900-1920.

Maybe the 1940s


Read more about sugarloaves here:
And flatirons here:

Kelly Ashton, Painted Mountains

And then there's Jane Stickle who did this triangular pieced border in 1861.


  1. Hi Barbara,
    l love reading your blog, always full of interesting quilts and information. Thank you for all that you share.
    That lovely antique quilt with the chrome yellow setting blocks is an antique quilt that l own. A pattern for it was first published in Quiltmania #94 back in 2013. Due to popular demand, l have started a sew-along for this quilt on Facebook, renamed it Panama Pyramids, and have now published the pattern on Etsy as the magazine has completely sold out. l would be happy if you want to edit your blog post to send ladies over to my Facebook group, where they will see lots of quilts in progress. https://www.facebook.com/groups/609616972521606/

  2. Love your idea for a Great new blog! Nice initial post filled with eyecandy and facts! We have another Sugarloaf Mountain here in Maine.......ski area. Thanks for all your sharing......keeps us busy when we aren't sewing!!