Saturday, December 31, 2011

53 Union Shield

Union Shield
by Becky Brown
Becky used striped fabric.

Because there are 53 Saturdays in 2011 we have 53 blocks. You might want to repeat this one for the corners. It's an original design I drew because I noticed how popular appliqued shields were during the 1860s and '70s, but found no pieced versions.

Shield from a sampler than looks to be
from the late in the 19th century

See a blog post about appliqued shields here on my main blog:

Union Shield
By Rosemary Youngs
Rosemary made her own stripes.

Union canteen
The image was popular during the War to represent the Union. 

I think these were called earbobs at the time.

Parcheesi board about 1880
Shields remain popular as a symbol of the country.

Cutting an 8'' Finished Block

Here's a link to a PDF with the templates:
A  Cut a background square 2 7/8'' x 2 7/8'' . Cut  in half diagonally, creating 2 triangles.

B  Cut a starry blue rectangle 8 1/2'' x 3 1/4''. Trim using template B.

C  Cut a background rectangle 4 3/4'' x 6 1/4''. Cut into two triangles from corner to corner with one cut. This is also on the template page.

D  Cut a striped red fabric into a rectangle  9'' x 5 7/8''. The stripes should run parallel to the short sides. Use template D to trim into a rectangle.

Repeated blocks make a patriotic miniquilt.

Alternated with the pieced star in week #41.
The shield goes right to the edge of the block so
sashing provides a little visual space around it.

Here's a mockup without sashing I made from photos of Becky's blocks.

This is the last of the blocks, but not the last of the posts. I'll keep you updated with pictures of finished quilts and news on the book and new Civil War reproduction fabric lines. Subscribe through email (see top left) and you'll get a note when there's a new post.

The shield just seems perfect the way it is but there were other drafts.

Here's an idea that was rejected.

Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Circle of Friends
Somehow you all know about this surprise quilt made for me from blocks sent in by subscribers to this blog.

"This quilt was made for Barbara Brackman in appreciation for her Civil War Block of the Week...."

Dustin and Becky and others of you coordinated 49 [Becky says 56 not 49!!!] blocks from around the world.

Becky set it and asked Deb Jacobs to machine quilt it.

Both did a lovely job.

Becky bordered it with a stripe from the Civil War Reunion collection.
That's a heck of a miter.

Becky used the sashing and cornerstones set for a 7 x 7 grid.

It's already off to the publisher for official photography for the book.

Here's what the label says:

Then it has all your names.
> This quilt was made for Barbara Brackman in appreciation of her Civil
> War Block of the Week featuring a weekly history lesson and quilt
> pattern December 2011 Quilters became a circle of friends as they
> enjoyed the history, stitched their blocks and shared them on Flickr
> The blocks for this quilt came from Australia, Canada, France,
> Germany, Malaysia, Netherlands, Portugal and the United States of America.
> Assembled by Becky Brown, Quilting by Deb Jacobs.

Thank you each and everyone.

Christmas 1862 by Thomas Nast in Harper's Weekly

Saturday, December 24, 2011

52 Christmas Star

Christmas Star by Becky Brown

This modified nine-patch block with a wreath in the center can remind us of the first Christmas of the War. You'll find out why Becky put parrots in it below.

Christmas Eve by Thomas Nast for Harper's Weekly

The Davises with daughter and grandchildren in 1885

In 1896 Varina Davis, first lady of  the Confederacy, wrote a memoir about Christmas in the Confederate White House. She told of her children repairing broken toys for the neighborhood orphans in Richmond during the War's last winter.

Girl with a doll, about 1900

"While looking over the advertisements of the toys and everything else intended to make the children joyful in the columns of the city papers, I have been impressed with the contrast between the present time and the... Southern country thirty-one years ago....

"For as Christmas season was ushered in under the darkest clouds, everyone felt the cataclysm which impended, but the rosy, expectant faces of our little children were a constant reminder that self-sacrifice must be the personal offering of each member of the family. How to satisfy the children when nothing better could be done than the little makeshift attainable in the Confederacy was the problem of the older members of each household.
The Davis children early in the War.

"The ladies dispersed in anxious  squads  of  toy-hunters,  and  each  one turned over  the  store  of  her  children's treasures for a contribution to the orphans' tree,  my  little ones rushed over the great house looking up their treasure:  eyeless  dolls,  three-legged  horses, tops with  the  upper  peg  broken off, rubber tops, monkeys with all the squeak gone  silent  and  all  the ruck of children's toys that gather  in  a  nursery  closet.

"Some  small  feathered chickens and  parrots  which  nodded their heads in obedience to a weight beneath them were  furnished  with  new  tail  feathers, lambs minus much of  their  wool  were supplied  with a cotton wool substitute, rag dolls  were  plumped out and recovered with clean cloth, and the young ladies  painted their  fat faces in bright colors and furnished them  with  beads for eyes."

Boy with a toy dog, about 1865
Read more of Varina Davis's story about their make-shift Christmas by clicking here:

Boy with a toy boat, about 1880

The name Christmas Star was given to this block by the Oklahoma Farmer Stockman periodical, which had a quilt column in the late 1920s and '30s. The pattern (BlockBase #1806c) has other names and different shadings, among the names: Wedding Ring, Crown of Thorns and Memory Wreath. I modified it a bit so the grid based on 5 fit an 8" square better.

Same block, different shading from a 1940s quilt

Cutting an 8" Finished Block

A - Cut 4 light green, 2 red, 4 dark green and 6 background squares 2-3/8".  Cut each in half with a single diagonal cut.

You need 8 light green, 4 red, 8 dark green and 12 background triangles.

B - Cut 4 dark green and 4 background rectangles 2" x 2-1/2".

C - Cut 1 light green square 2-1/2".

A block from about 1900---be careful how you turn your triangles.

This block was one of the most popular in the early 20th century.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Stitchers who are ahead of you...

Karen Dever has her top set together.
She wanted to show it to her class last Saturday so I sent her the last two blocks.
She made some progress in using up her reproduction stash.

She used the set I suggested based on this late 19th century design. It looks like a medallion but it's just blocks set on point. See the pattern here:

And I noticed on the Flickr page that ATypicalQuilter has hers set.
She's consistently used solids and batiks
so her results are very contemporary looking.

Two more Saturdays....

Saturday, December 17, 2011

51 New York

New York
This week's block can recall the ladies' fairs that raised funds for soldiers' aid.

"In the Parlor: At the Fair"
By Thomas Nast

150 years ago December brought preparations for the annual ladies' fairs, the ancestors of our Christmas crafts bazaars. During the Civil War these charity events benefitted soldiers North and South.

The largest of them all was the Great Metropolitan Fair, which took place in New York City in 1864.

The fair to benefit the Sanitary Commission was held at Union Square (actually named because it was at the union of Broadway and the old Bowery Road, but an appropriate location, nevertheless.)

Fairs often sold needlework and crafts made by women, but this fair also was like an industrial exposition with states and cities showing off their manufacturing. It was resembled an antique show too with paintings, furniture and curiosities for sale.

Women organized it and "manned" the booths.

Here's a photo of the booth for the city of Hartford, Connecticut.

A blow-up of those items hanging next to a soldier's uniform indicate that one is an embroidered banner and the other possibly a four-patch strip quilt. Quilts were definitely part of the fairs.

The Fairs raised a good deal of money, although French visitor Ernest DuVergier seems to have begrudged the donations he made to the Philadelphia Fair ...

"Nothing is more ingenious than the way they get money from visitors. They have discovered an infinite number of different temptations and traps. I pay to get in, I pay to get out, I pay to see a museum where well-varnished examples of run-of-the-mill native painting shine by gaslight; I will pay if I want to take part in the vote which will award a silver vase to the most popular politicians...."
Hey, Ernest, it was all for a good cause.

The block named New York was published in Hearth and Home magazine about 1910. The pattern featured a pieced star in the corner. This week's block is adapted for an 8" pattern with a star print in the field area.

Last year at Quilt Market Cindy Rennels showed off her patriotic quilt that alternates a version of the New York block with a larger star.

Cutting an 8" Finished Block

A - From a star print cut a square 4-1/2", focusing on a star if you like.
B - Cut 2 white and 1 red rectangles 1-7/8" x 4-1/2"
C - Cut 1 white and 2 red rectangles 1-7/8" x 8-1/2"

This easy block might make extras for the corners of your quilt. We're getting down to the end of the 53 blocks here and you are going to need 56. I'll give you another corner option at the end of the month.

Many of the Sanitary Commission fairs published newspapers every day they were open.
See The Canteen, the publication of the Albany fair by clicking here at Google Books:
And The Drum Beat from the Brooklyn Fair by clicking here:

Embroidered silk pillow top with a history
that it was purchased at the Metropolitan Fair