Saturday, January 29, 2011

5 Kansas Troubles

Kansas Troubles by Jeanne Poore

This week's block commemorates Kansas Day. Kansas entered the Union 150 years ago this week on January 29th, 1861. For years the territory had petitioned Congress for statehood, but Southern politicians refused to add a new free state in the West. After Southern Senators paraded out of the Senate Chamber, the remaining majority finally had the votes to create the 34th state in the Union.

Elizabeth Blair Lee wrote to her husband in the Union Navy of her visit to the Senate chamber, January 20, 1861:

Mother & I went to see Kanzas enter the Union---before she was allowed to do [so] the Senators from Ala Florida & Mr. [Jefferson] Davis [Senator from Mississippi] announced the exit of these States out of it---These gentlemen were deeply moved but I never saw such an aroused audience when they left their places simultaneously---the Democratic side rose & surrounded them---But the Republicans ignored the whole scene & except 3 of them, all kept their seats & went on with business---looking stern & solemn...The ladies [in the gallery] sat calmly---thro the whole---I wished in my heart for Old Hickory to arrest them all--it might save thousands of precious lives, so I thought & felt & so I did not weep tho' my head ached and so does my heart....
A few days later the House passed the Kansas statehood bill and on the 29th President Buchanan signed it.

President-elect Lincoln
with a 34-star flag signifying
Kansas statehood in Philadelphia
February, 1861

Fair Maid of Kansas in the Hands of the Border Ruffians

Kansans (free white men who were Kansans) could vote on whether to be slave-state or free-state,
an idea that encouraged Northerners and Southerners to use voter fraud and terrorism to advance their agendas. The territory became known as Bleeding Kansas.

The Kansas Troubles increased tensions between North and South in the seven years leading up to the formal declaration of War in 1861.

Kansas Troubles quilt, about 1850, by L.B.
Collection of the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas

The quilt pattern goes back to the time of the Kansas Troubles, but we have no idea what women called the design then. The pattern name appears in print about 1890. It doesn't matter how many little triangles there are; it's the rotational repeat that makes it a Kansas Troubles.

Karla Menaugh, Kansas Troubles, 1998

We Kansans love the pattern. Lots of triangles!!!
Pam and Jean and a Kansas Troubles quilt top

Cutting for an 8" block

A - Cut 2 light squares 4-7/8". Cut each into 2 triangles with one cut. You need 4 triangles.
B - Cut 4 light squares 1-1/2".
C - Cut 8 light and 12 dark squares 1-7/8". Cut each into 2 triangles with one cut. You need 16 light and 24 dark triangles. (You might be happier cutting the squares larger---say 2-1/2" and then piecing the small two-part squares, and finally trimming each to 1-1/2" squares.)

These little squares finish to 1" for an 8" block

D - Cut 2 medium squares 2-7/8". Cut each into 2 triangles with one cut. You need 4 triangles.

The hardest thing about putting this block together
 is keeping the small triangles lined up in the right direction.

Kansas Troubles by Becky Brown

Read more of Elizabeth Blair Lee's letters to her husband in Wartime Washington: The Civil War Letters of Elizabeth Blair Lee, edited by Virginia Jeans Laas.

See a pattern for a 14" version of the Kansas Troubles on page 41 in my Borderland in Butternut and Blue, available from Kansas City Star books. Click here for more information:

Or see this version in Civil War Women, page 42. Michelle Marvig used that pattern for her quilt with a border of Kansas cottonwood trees and New England pines. They'll print you a copy of the book on demand at C&T Publishing. Click here:

See the quilts at the Spencer Museum of Art by clicking here:
and then typing the word QUILT in the search box---hundreds of quilts and quilt blocks.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

4 Tears for Texas Tears

The Polly Parrot

Well I haven't started actually crying yet, but now I remember why writing a book is a cooperative effort between author, editor and technical editor (who works with the patterns). A blog is a different thing. You readers are my technical editor and I appreciate the corrections.

When I posted #4 I put up this sketch from EQ.

Notice it is quite different from the actual block and instructions in the corners of the inner block. How did this happen? A.G. pointed the error out in the comments so I have replaced the block in the original post.

1000 Scraps

Several people ask why I don't post these patterns as PDFs. Mainly because it takes time to make a PDF. As far as I can figure out I'd have to reconfigure the page and pictures etc. in a publishing program and then make a PDF and save it in the cloud somewhere. I write these on the blog post format---which is not too flexible.


So...I'm going to buck up and work on number 5. And show you some more posted blocks.

Bettina M. has all four done. She substituted a pieced star for the Seven Sisters.
As a reader said:
"I'm glad there weren't more sisters."

Saturday, January 22, 2011

4 Texas Tears

Texas Tears
by Becky Brown

Texas Tears is a variation of a quilt block printed about 1890 by the Ladies' Art Company, a St. Louis pattern source. We can use it to remember Sam Houston.

Sam Houston wearing his broad-brimmed hat
and serape in the early 1860s

Sam Houston was Governor of both Tennessee and Texas. He was also president of the Texas Republic and a Senator from the state. A natural leader, proud and independent, tall and outrageously dressed, Houston defined the mythical Texan. He was well known for wearing a broad-brimmed hat at a time when top hats were the fashion. He wore a Mexican serape as an overcoat and a vest of wildcat fur. A Washington woman remembered him in the U.S. Senate: "a rather unusual sight, ...a large man, so large that he was called the 'big Texan.' He was always whittling [on the Senate floor]."

 Houston in one of his more conservative vests,

Houston was a slave owner but he opposed the slave states seceding from the Union, threats that so-called "fire-eaters" had been using to hold the Federal Government political hostage for decades. As threats grew louder, Houston successfully ran for Governor on a Union platform. When Southern states played their secession card in early 1861, he refused to permit Texas to join the Confederacy and was forced out of office.

Realizing the influence Houston could muster, President Lincoln asked him to lead Union troops against a Confederate Texas, but Houston rejected the offer. Opposed to a War he knew the South could not win, he also refused to wear the Confederate uniform. Houston was a Southern politician with a realistic vision of the costs of war, a man who acted according to his conscience rather than the public consensus.

Becky's block uses the fashionable buff and blue color combination.
She said she didn't notice the T's until she photographed it.

Cutting Instructions for an 8" Finished Block

A - Cut 2 light squares 3-1/2". Cut each into 2 triangles with one cut. You need 4 triangles.

B - Cut 1 light and 2 medium squares 3-7/8". Cut each into 4 triangles with two cuts. You need 4 light and 8 medium triangles.

C - Cut 1 dark square 5-1/4". Cut  into 4 triangles with two cuts. You need 4 dark triangles.
D - Cut 1 medium strip 8-3/4" long by 1-7/16" wide.
E - Cut  2 medium strips 4" long by 1-7/16" wide. (You'll trim the ends of the strips after you piece them into the center square.)

Like most of the patterns here I found this one in BlockBase, the digital version of my Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns. I used the keyword search and typed in Texas. I found many ideas, but this one seemed to capture Sam Houston's Civil War experience the best. You can also find the block by its pattern number 3261.

This story is from a 2006 Block of the Month I did called Civil War Heroes. It's out of print.

Read more about BlockBase by clicking here:

Monday, January 17, 2011

3 Seven Sisters Posted

Stars upon stars by Donna

The reverse by Becky

Apparently I mentioned the A word, which can stand for Applique As Anathema.
But this is a relatively simple applique block.
See all the postings on the Flickr site (click on the photographer in the left hand column)
for different methods.
We did the one on the book cover by machine using freezer paper applique.
Last year Karla posted how-tos on her blog about machine applique techniques. This post on clipping inner curves could come in handy here.

Enquiring stitchers want to know:
Will there be more applique?
Will there be more appliqued stars?
Maybe (I've only written this through March as of yet)

You'll want to find all your blue star fabric as there will be more flags.

This print is from my 2010 Moda collection Civil War Homefront

Here are a few others.

You can use the star prints to fussy cut if you don't want to applique.

Here are Seven Sisters cut from a star print.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

3 Seven Sisters

Seven Sisters

150 years ago this week Mississippi seceded from the Union, the second state to do so after South Carolina. Within weeks Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas followed. These seven rebellious states voted to form a Confederacy, selecting a flag in March, 1861 that symbolized the "Seven Sisters" in the field, a flag reflected on the cover of my book Civil War Women.

One version of the first flag
When the Civil War began in 1861 Sarah Morgan was a well-to-do 19-year-old living in Baton Rouge, the capitol of Louisiana. She had a lively family centered in a row of substantial houses on Church Street (now Fourth). Six slaves, recorded in the 1860 census, waited on the Morgan family. In her diary, Sarah recorded the events that ripped up her comfortable life.

A year after the War began New Orleans was under Union control and Union ships were on the Mississippi River near Sarah's house preparing to take over the state capitol. She wrote about the first day of Union occupation.

"Early in the evening, four more gunboats sailed up here. We saw them from the corner….The American flag was flying from every peak. It was received in profound silence, by the hundreds gathered on the banks. I could hardly refrain from a groan. Much as I once loved that flag, I hate it now! I came back and made myself a Confederate flag about five inches long, slipped the staff in my belt, pinned the flag to my shoulder, and walked downtown, to the consternation of women and children, who expected something awful to follow....Nettie made one and hid it in the folds of her dress. But we were the only two who ventured."

A rebel flaunting an apron based on the first
Confederate flag attracts attention from Union occupiers.
Use this photo for a pattern.
Print it so it's about 8" wide.

This week's block is based on the first Confederate flag, drawn from a quilt made in 1861 by Mrs. Green McPhearson of of Arkansas. Click on the link to see our inspiration, the Secession Quilt in the collection of the Historic Arkansas Museum.

Click on the block picture above. Print it so it's about 8" wide to use for a pattern. Choose one star for a template, add a scant 1/4" seam allowance, cut seven and prepare the stars using your favorite applique method. Applique in a circular pattern to an 8-1/2" square background fabric.
Click here for a PDF version of the black and white photo.

NEW LINK (as of 9/1/2011)

Late in the nineteenth century a pieced design called Seven Sisters, among other names, was popular.
If you'd rather do a pieced version---Sandy Klop at American Jane offers a pattern for the quilt above.
Scroll way down almost to the bottom of that page to her pattern Seven Sisters.

Read an online version of Sarah Morgan's diary, first published in 1913 as A Confederate Girl's Diary by Sarah Morgan Dawson, at either of these websites:

As more states seceded the Confederacy added stars
 to the flag, but soon redesigned it 
because it was hard to distinguish from the Union banner.

This week's story is drawn from a 2009 block-of-the-month I did called Dixie Diary. It's out of print. You can find a 19" pattern for the appliqued Seven Sisters in my book Civil War Women. Click here for a preview and ordering information for a bound copy (printed on demand) or a digital version.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Flickr Group For Posting

Bettina in Spain

I have been getting lots of pictures and questions about where to post them.
Dustin started a Flickr Group called
Civil War Quilts 2011
Click here to see it and post:


From Lillian's Cupboard
Here's a how-to for the framed photograph:

Thanks to Dustin