Monday, May 29, 2017

Mennonite Stars: Whole Top Designs

Broken Star or Carpenter's Wheel quilt sold at Skinner's Auction.
Binney Collection.

Here's a pattern with no BlockBase number or name, poor thing.
The star block takes up the whole top, a Star of Bethlehem variation.

Date-inscribed 1887
Holstein Collection, IQSCM # 2003-003-0159

These are full-size quilts and should have been indexed under the category Whole Top Designs along with Lone Stars, Center Diamonds....

And these more common Broken Stars. This pattern, broken into many
diamonds is a relative, numbered BlockBase 4007.5.
Capper's Weekly called it Broken Star in 1925, and
that's the name that's stuck.

When I was organizing my Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns I had no published source for a name for the simpler star quilts. And I hadn't seen that many examples. So it's not in there.

The large stars are a regional design, generally from southeastern Pennsylvania Mennonites, about 1880 - 1910. And usually of solid color fabrics. Here's a picture of one called Carpenter's Wheel
from America Hurrah Antiques and the Quilt Engagement Calendar.

An exception to the solid color rule.
The green and red patches are small-scale prints.

Broken Star  (80" square) from Phyllis Haders's collection years ago. 
The whites are prints.

By Mrs. Miller, Pilgrim Roy Collection
Museum of Fine Arts Boston.
More typical solids in green, red and chrome orange.

The pattern is commonly seen as a repeat block quilt. I found plenty of pattern sources and names for the smaller blocks.

#3807,  for example. was published as a repeat block  by the Ladies Art Company about 1890,
when most of these larger single star quilts were made. They called it Dutch Rose, which may have been a reference to the Pennsylvania Germans.

The standard names today are Broken Star or Carpenter's Star.

Pat & Arlen Christ Collection
The standard pattern for the large versions seems to be BlockBase # 3811a or 3811b, which has triangles in the corners.

I gave the Whole Top Version the number 
4007.3 and wrote it in on page 492 of my Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.

Paulette Peters did a beautiful version in 1979. I found
this at the Nebraska project's files on the Quilt Index.
I was not that surprised to find very few earlier Mennonite
example in the Quilt Index. Few Pennsylvania files are up there.

You can still find this 1981 Yours Truly pattern for a wall quilt online.

Or have BlockBase print out rotary cutting instructions for pattern # 3811a on a large scale.
Wait a minute! I'll do it for you. Here are rotary cutting numbers for a 72" square block.

The program sees the pattern as more complex than I do. For some
reason it thinks the pieces set on the diagonal should be slightly larger. Why?
I'd ignore that.

Here's a summary:

The diamonds are cut from 7-7/8" strips.
The sides are 11-3/8" long.
E goes one way, F another, but I'd ignore that too.

The squares are cut 11-1/8". It gives you two
sizes 11" & 11-1/8". I'd use the larger measurement & trim.

The half-square triangles A are cut from squares cut 11-3/8", sliced into 2 triangles.
And the triangles B & C along the edges are cut from squares cut 16-1/4", sliced into 4 triangles.

73" x 76", online auction.
Early 20th century?

1 comment:

  1. Franklin County, Pa., antique dealer Morgan Anderson considers this pattern to be a signature design in that area. He has seen & sold many since the early 1970s. The first shown in this post came from the Martin family, Old Order River Brethren members for whom this star was a favorite; they made several. He sold Phyllis Haders the one shown here. Debby Cooney