Monday, November 7, 2016

Not Square Blocks: Curved Shell Shapes

Collections for a Cause: Love
 kit from Moda

I've been thinking about the shell shape and how it tessellates.
See a post here:
And a Pinterest page here:

One could design clamshell shaped blocks and fill them with patchwork.

Clamshell by Karen Stone

Well, it's already been done.

 I looked in my files of curved blocks in vintage quilts, which is rather limited.

Ardis and Robert James Collection
International Quilt Study Center & Museum

I've been blogging about this particular pattern for years

I've seen maybe ten in vintage versions

Holly posted a tattered but beautiful piece she bought last year.

This one looks a little older.
The quilting is so nice---you don't see much
of that fancy quilting in the years 1900-1920.

And now quilters are making them again;
this one from Cathi at Quilt Obsession

My question has been---if the pattern was popular enough that so many survive how was it passed around? I'd never seen it published.

But then I happened on this quilt top from about 1900.
Not the most graceful pattern in the world.
I realized I had seen it before.

Two on eBay in the last year. This one a pair of blocks.

And here it is in BlockBase. Somebody actually published
a pattern for this.

It's Paragon from Hearth and Home magazine in the early 20th century.

UPDATE: Wilene writes:
Paragon, also known as Vase of Flowers, is indeed part of the "Hearth and Home Collection" but was published in American Woman, October 1908.

I found Paragon in Mildred Dickerson's scrapbook of Comfort
Magazine patterns. 

Now I realize where BlockBase #4099 came from.

Say you wanted to show someone this pattern
but you had to fit it into a square format in your magazine.

You'd look at the repeat

You'd draft it to a square
and all your readers would understand just what you meant.
Or not.

And that is how we wound up
with the blocks above.

Massive communication problems.

Perhaps the quilt that was the inspiration for the pattern
looked like this.

"Paragon". A good name for a hard-to-piece design.

Note that Paragon has two rows of spiky points
whereas all the antique clamshell patterns have only one row.

The only other antique shell-shaped block I've seen is this
one from Julie Silber's shop.

See more about the pieced clamshells at these posts from four or five years ago.


  1. Maybe designing the pattern isn't so difficult if you did a lot of clam shell quilting patterns -- that seemed to be a popular quilting motif.

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  3. Paragon, also known as Vase of Flowers, is indeed part of the "Hearth and Home Collection" but was published in American Woman, October 1908. This design was never published in Hearth and Home. For those not familiar with this collection, the designs were published in five Vickery and Hill papers (Augusta, ME) -- Hearth and Home, Fireside Visitor, Good Stories, Happy Hours, and American Woman. In my database, I thought it fit better between 3190 and 3191.

  4. The Clamshell Pickle quilt you featured here was made by Cathi at Quilt Obsession (not the Australian shop Material Obsession) with Inklingo. You can see more about it here

  5. Making the Clamshell Pickle quilt I'm making was easy using Inklingo to print the templates on the back of my fabrics. I love the design - it's so different!