Monday, April 16, 2018

Doves, Blue Birds and Bats

Block with a pattern that's hard to figure out

It's BlockBase #3768, an 8-pointed diamond star,
shaded to look like birds or fish or rockets.

The star points contain two diamonds, one half the
size of the other.

The pattern is easier to see in this version from about 1910.


Probably inspired by a pattern from the Ladies Art Company Catalog in 1898
with the name Flying Bat.

The Ladies Art Company may be the original source.

Plenty of stitchers made it.

Quilt with a label dating it to 1904 by Ann C. Barns, 
San Jose. From the Arizona Project and the Quilt Index.

You could also get the effect with the conventional star with points of nine diamonds.

Shading the small diamonds like this...

Which is what this quiltmaker seems to have done.

A shading suggested in the 1930s by the Spool Cotton Company for
Four Doves in a Window.

And copied by the Chicago Tribune's Nancy Cabot column.

You could combine the two ideas.

Mountain Mist called the pattern
Blue Birds for Happiness and popularized the rather minimalist
shading, which gives the effect of the four rotating birds.

Mary Catherine Hooten Robb, made in Illinois, from the 
West Virginia project and the Quilt Index.
Even more minimalism. 

This quilt before it faded probably followed the red and blue shading  Notice the blue birds along the bottom border. I bet there was a lot more blue in it once. It is a cool effect now that it has faded, though.

Garden maze sash

The pattern was published many times with many names.

Dove in the Window by Ruby McKim in
the Kansas City Star, 1929

Four Doves, Nancy Page syndicated column in the 1930s

And I made a mess of the whole thing in my original Encyclopedia of
Pieced Quilt Patterns. Much confusion about where those seam lines actually were.

And here's Kathy Doughty's version---she rotated the points
so they are all going the same way.


  1. I like the version in the big 8 point stars above "Plenty of stitches made it". Interesting that the smaller "birds" version came from color choices made in the diamonds of these big stars.

  2. I have a very old quilt made with this pattern in dark Victorian colors. I wish I could upload a picture for you to see.

  3. I have been looking for this pattern!!! I have a picture of my great-grandmother with her "dove" quilt. Her color choices make the doves hard to see in a photo, but now I know the pattern, I can make a few blocks and commune with my ancestors quilty spirit!