Nearly 150 years after emancipation, we still delight in hearing tales of a slave's escape. This lively block stitched of only one triangular pattern piece captures the cleverness the adventure required. In her 1935 book The Romance of the Patchwork Quilt, Carrie Hall gave the name "Catch Me If You Can" to an old design with many other names including "Winding Blades", "Devil's Puzzle" and "Flyfoot."
Escape was often an impulse move. When opportunity knocked, a slave might slip through the door. Eliza Potter told the story of a young woman, a slave in
Kentucky, who accompanied her mistress across the river to Cincinnati in the free state of : Ohio
"She was sent out one morning to make purchases and never returned, but found a happy home, I trust, on English soil."
Although we enjoy imagining good's triumph over evil, successful escapes were far too few. Most ended in failure for the simple reason stated by slaveholder William Dunbar in 1780:
"Ketty came home this morning of herself, finding it uncomfortable lodging in the woods."
Ketty must have weighed her options during the night and decided that hunger, cold and no real escape plan were worse than the expected whipping.
Don't make the mistake of thinking this first week's block was a code or form of communication on the Underground Railroad. The block was given the name in 1935 and Carrie Hall did not mention slavery or the Civil War at all in her description.
We are using a traditional block and a fanciful name to commemorate the Underground Railroad and escape from slavery. These symbolic patterns will have a label each week, as will reproduction patterns that actually existed during the Civil War.
Stitching the Block 8" Finished Block
Cut squares 2-7/8": 6 light, 6 medium and 4 dark
Cut each on the diagonal to make 12 light, 12 medium and 12 dark triangles [oops! that's 8 dark triangles]
Piece the triangles into squares, following the shading in the block photo
This story is taken from my 2006 book Facts and Fabrications: Unraveling the History of Quilts and Slavery. See page 68 for a 15" pattern. Click here for more information about the book:
You can buy it as a bound book or a digital book.
You can buy it as a bound book or a digital book.
Read Eliza Potter's 1859 memoir of her life as a free black woman before the Civil War at Google Books.
A Hairdresser's Experience in High Life
Great timing and topic...I have a lot of CW prints that need a home! It will be interesting to see how we keep up. Thanks.
I am thrilled that you are doing this. Thank you so much--I shall be checking in regularly from across the pond!
Sue, eagerly waiting for your new line to arrive in the UK
This is great, thanks so much for doing this. I've already made the first block, and really like it. Donna
Send pictures Donna and let's post pictures of everyone's progress.
Thank you so much...this is WONDERFUL! I work at a living history museum, quilting, in period clothing. I love all the history I get from you and your books!!!
Happy New Year,
Thanks for doing this...I love history! And mixing in quilts while learning. Have you read Enemy Women? It is fascinating part of Missouri Civil War history. I would say it is a novel mixed with lots of historical facts and ancedotes. I will look for the one you have recommended!
What a great idea this is. Since I am fairly new to quilting I am going to enjoy the history lesson and making different blocks. I do not have much of civil war fabric, but I think that my stash and likes are very similar in colors and style, so will make due with what I have! Thank you!
Barbara, thank you so much for starting this blog. I am so very interested in the Civil War and I will be making this quilt to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the beginning of this tragic time in our history. Marilyn Smith
I am greatly enamored of all things Civil War and will endeavor to find the fabrics and make the blocks, Thank you so much for you expertise and study of this facinating time in the history of our country.
Oh I just love this!! Thanks so very much! Getting ready to pull fabrics for this block!
What a great way of learning history! There is a reenactment of the handing over of the Augusta Powder works to the new confederate government later this month here in Augusta. I expect there will be many reenactments in the coming year!
What a great idea. I will be checking in regularly. I might have to make the blocks up in non-civil war fabric though. Are you going to start a flickr group to share photos?
I will make Block 1 tonight and look forward to all of us sharing photos. What fun.
I have recently pieced 3 large quilts using Civil War era fabrics, and my supply is getting low, but this is such a good reason to buy more fabric and make another. I like to mix fabrics and not use only from one lin.
THANK YOU, Barbara.
what a great idea. thank you.
Thank you so much for doing this...
I have a lovely collection of CW fabrics that will be perfect ..
It's a lovely way to learn more about the history and make a quilt..
Question for you as I am getting ready to cut these out right now. You indicate that one will need: 6 light, 6 medium and 4 dark squares and then to cut them in half to give 12 of each for triangles....is it good to assume that you meant 6 dark squares? The pictures shows only 4 total dark squares thus giving 8 triangles? Thats how I am going to proceed but just want to make sure I wasn't leaving something out.
Michelle is right. That should be 12 light, 12 medium and 8 dark triangles. I fixed it in red. I don't have a technical editor here so let me know when I make mistakes and I'll fix them.
Thank you for sharing this project with us. I look forward to the journey.
I am looking forward to getting some motivation from this new blog. I have a stack of CW blocks and a nice collection of fabrics to make more. I can't wait to see you new fabrics too.
What a great blog!! I will be checking back here regularly! I am looking forward to learning the history and creating a quilt to go along with it!
Thank you so much :)
Barbara: I have a FQ bundle of your line Civil War Homefront. Your block patterns on this blog would make a great sampler quilt using this fabric!
Thank you for creating this blog and all the hard work that goes into it. I'm a CW buff, so this is right up my alley!
I am so excited that you are doing this. I plan on making the first block today. Just have to decide on the fabric.
What a great way to start a new year!
Thank you so much! I love those stories you tell. And the blocks you are giving us.
I hope 2011 looks as good to you too!
My stash of CW repro fabrics suggests I should concentrate on using them, not just admiring them. Your timing is perfect, Barbara, and I'm looking forward to your weekly blocks and stories.
I may not leave a comment very often, but I read your blog faithfully. Your posts are always interesting and informative, and the photos and illustrations you add never disappoint. I'm getting history lessons of the best kind every week--quilting history.
Keep up the great work, Barbara. You have a loyal, well-educated following.
Oh gosh this is extremely wonderful! What fun.
Barbara,will all blocks be the same size? So nice to see the already finsihed blocks! Some folks are sure faster than I am lol. THANKS ALL
Julie in TN
Looking forward to this great project. Thanks for the history lesson. What better way than to combine is with such a fun quilting project. Seeing the blocks that others are creating is wonderful. Thanks for doing this.
Barbara, can you tell me how much fabric I will need to complete all the blocks you are going to post? I am going to purchase some of your wonderful fabric for this project so want to be sure I have enough to complete the project.
Love this blog!
Wonderful block. I don't have any of the Civil War fabrics - but I've always wanted to make a quilt using these fabrics. Your blog has inspired me to move forward with this dream. Thank you so much. And I'm now a follower so I can keep up with all the new posts. : )
I am really excited about this adventure. Thank you for doing this blog.
What a wonderful idea, thank you for sharing with so many, looking forward to the stories and the blocks.
What a super project! I'll be folowing along. Barbara, is there a picture or button we can link back to here from our blogs?
This is going to be a great blog! Thank you for sharing this with all of us. HUGS... and stitches
Thank you! This will be a wonderful quilt when it's finished. I saw above you asked us to send pictures but - where? I have so many Civil War reproduction fabrics in my collection it will be nice to put them in something I can see and use! I hate having them hidden in closets and boxes. Thank you for doing this and sharing.
A Great idea and have now finished my first block. Have posted a picture on my blog.
Thanks to Linda Franz for mentioning your civilwarquilts blogspot. I am looking forward to stitching a new/different block each week and will try to keep up.
Oh, thanks to a friend, I found you just in time, before I fall behind already! I love this idea! I was planning something for the sesquicentennial of the start of the War of Northern Aggression, , but I like this so much, I'm going to do both. I love the idea of a history lesson with it, too! Do you object to our saving all the posts, not with the object of selling them, but just to have them to re-read over and over, once the project is done?
I think I'm going to love this quilt along!!! Thanks so much! I just finished my first block! Can't wait for the next one!!!
You must have seen my stash of Civil War fabrics aching to be used. I am sincerely anxious to get started on this project. I was a museum curator for 10 years and learned to love history in general. This is where my love of history and love of quilting come together.
LOVE IT! I have some old quilts I wish I could share with you sometimes. Molly of Molly's Place
Oh Man, I'm all over this...My favorite fabrics and an ongoing project.
Thank you Barbara, for your time and effort in freely sharing
Barbara, thank you for this! I have a small stash of CW fabrics - very hard to find up here in western Canada, but several sweet friends in the US/Canada have sent me scraps - and I would like to make these. My question - will they all be 8" blocks??? Just wondering. Thanks for your answer, and your hard work that you share. Happy new year!
Gerda in Alberta
Finished my block today! Thank you, Barbara, for your time, talent and generosity!
I am new to your blog and love it already! Thanks for the block idea, I can use my CW fat quarters AND my imagination
Count me in!! Love the CW history and these are my fav fabrics. Look forward to it, I'll try to keep up!
Thanks for helping us use more of our CW stashes :-)
Lovely project and I have the fabrics that will work perfectly for it. Thanks so much for sharing your creative gifts with all of us. :-)
WONDERFUL!!! I definitely have to put this into my schedule - I have been falling more and more in love with CW Repros.....Love your fabric collections.....and thanks for this wonderful blog.....
found your blog this morning from another blog and so glad i found it, this will be fun, I have already made block 1 and can't wait for the the next story and block. Thanks so much. I add you to my follower list. Thanks Connie
I know I am blind, but I can't find a link to email a picture of my block--Did I miss it somewhere?
I'm in! I finished my block and I think I'll really enjoy this project as well as the weekly pace.
Thank you veru much for this great project, I am in too, already made block one! Love quilts with such stories
What a way to start the year, THANK YOU so much, I am such of fan of both Civil War era fabrics, and you!
Thank you so much for sharing these blocks and history with us!! I made my first blocks today! Love it!!!!!
Love this idea and love the story and pictures accompanying the post. I posted my first block today on my blog. http://lillianscupboard.wordpress.com/2011/01/07/civil-war-quilt-blocks-block-1/
Barbara. thanks for sharing this great yearly project.
I love this project already and like some of the others, have no idea where to send my picture. I posted it on my blog here: http://nancynearphiladelphia.blogspot.com/2011/01/catch-me-if-you-can.html
Love it, love it Barbara. I have started also, and am looking forward to all the blocks.
Sue in New Zealand
Where do I find the patterns for the 2 blocks, Thanks
Never mind I found them . Thanks. LOL
I've made the first block, and I show it on my blog.
What a great way to remember the trials and achievements of people in your history. This is really interesting and I will look forward to visiting. I just heard that a daughter is going to Charlston in the summer and I am soooo mad jealous!
un proyecto hermoso y con mucho aprendisaja.
Perfect!! Need to bust my stash and I think I will piece two blocks of each pattern. And I'll wind up with enough for two quilts. That way, I can keep one and gift one! Good theory anyway. So needed a new project to start and this one sounds like an attainable one...and I'll be learning some more American history as I go along. Like I said...perfect! Thank you so much.
Gettng a late start but have three finished.
hi,the first block is done, 4",but mirror inverted, perhaps I will sew another.
there is a picture on my blog!
Claudia ( Germany)
¿Hay alguna posiblidad de empezar el sal ahora? mi correo es firstname.lastname@example.org
Just getting started today with my son for a homeschool lesson.We will work hard to catch up! He picked out 10 fat quarters to start with, all in Civil War reproduction prints of blues, reds, grays, and blacks. Should be interesting! I will be blogging along about it on my blog. Maybe even the first post tomorrow if he gets this block done this evening.
Okay, it's August now (nearly September!) and I'm only just joining in. I really love how your posts made me mindful as I am making these blocks. I'm posting my versions of the blocks and reflecting on the stories and themes as I go along on my craft blog. It's really making me think; thanks!
It is now nearly the end of 2013 but I am starting, better late than never xxx
only found your blog recently after seeing a quilt at a show made up from one of your patterns and googling you.
Pair me with Victoria; I found your blog, too, and am a relatively new quilter. Love the 2011 BOM, and am planning on doing this one in 2014. Thank you for your terrific site!
Although this block is made only from Haf Square Triangles, at first sight it looks complicated. The quilting is simple, yet fabulous. I have several Civil War reproduction fabrics, now I know which block I will use them for. Thanks for the pattern, and the history. My heart breaks for the slaves, that were so unhumanely treated.,
Hello! I was wondering if you had a fabric requirement for this quilt so I can make sure I have enough for the whole thing
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