Karen writes about life as a Quiltmaker in Austin, Texas; surviving in an empty nest, marriage, cooking, gardening and (did I say?) Quilting...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Celebrating National Quilting Day

I'm so happy to report that I did my part to forward "National Quilting Day". In keeping with my current desire to start limiting my fabric purchases (the closet is full!), I decided to add go to the Austin City-Wide Garage Sale and see if I could find some suitable additions to my store inventory (click on "Shameless Commerce Division..." link to the left if YOU didn't get your change to celebrate yet.

I came a cross a delightful 1930's-40's era quilt in a lovely pastel orange... not a color you see in quilts very often. A nice generous 94 x 70, it should make up to a nice queen size with a good border.

I'd never seen the block pattern, which is actually very simple.

Draw a square block, then segment it by drawing eight lines across the center creating equal sized wedges around the block.

But... do not start your lines by drawing corner to corner! The starting points for the crossing lines is actually on a 5 x 5 grid! (See a block close up below).
Isn't it nice how the block is totally lost in the new pattern formed when the blocks are put together (see above).

I now have in the Karen Quilts Texas library the TWO great reference books for quilt block research: Maggie Malone's 5,500 Quilt Block Designs, and Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns. The only similar design is "The Thrifty Wife, a Kansas City Star PAttern from 5/10/1939"... but, it's not EXACTLY the same. The KC Star pattern has it's design lines crossing in the corners... on a 4 x 4 patch grid... The Maggie Malone book has another very, very similar, which is also drawn on a 4 x 4 patch...with smaller print wedges and larger background wedges - these are equal "background" and print. Those two patterns names are calle "Endless Chain from Laura Wheeler and Crazy Star from Grandma Dexter. Here's a close up of a square:

It is so expertly hand pieced... I don't know that I've EVER seen such even stitching. But even so, it does have a problem. The quilter ran into difficulting trying to piece those pesky centers.
She pieced the block in two halfs and then sewed the two halfs together... rather than leaving the centers free to be swirled into a relatively flat center. As a result the centers are a big lump... possibly the reason the top was abandoned. Those lumpy centers will never be right... some are better than others. But you can see in this detail that the center has been mashed down forming those little circular puckers all round the center. This sort of block is best pieced in quarters, and then the quarters put together, sewing just to exactly the quarter inch end of each center, and leaving the center loose. The resulting fabric can be swirled in a little pinwheel, and will almost seem to lay flat... and the points will match fairly closely.
At any rate, it's a lovely addition to my 30's collection, and it gives me a challenge to go on my "to be quilted" list! I think I'll sacrifice something else to store inventory, as this is just too unusual to sell.
I did also do my part to benefit the fabric biz too... buying 15 yards of 3 different backing fabrics from the nearby Hancock... using my special 40% off coupon... woo hoo - and another special 10% off everything too...my justification... backing fabric my dears!
Happy Quilting Day to you all!

1 comment:

Alycia said...

Beautiful quilt! I bet you were happy with that find!