Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Patchwork as Quilting Designs

Top by Thelma, Quilting by Judi

Judi at Green Fairy Quilts posted photos of a quilt she is finishing for Thelma.

She used the Order Number 11 design between the stars and then she did the various blocks of the week in the background.

See more by clicking here:

A wonderful idea. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

48 West Virginia

West Virginia by Becky Brown

West Virginia can recall the state created when part of one state seceded from the Confederacy. In 1861 Virginia was  a larger state than it is today. After Virginia joined the Confederacy, many in the mountainous northwestern  part of the Old Dominion believed their interests lay with the Union.

The illustration above highlights differences between Virginia life on either side of the mountains. The captions: "Life in Eastern Virginia: The Home of the Planter" and "Life in Western Virginia: The Home of the Mountaineer."

An illustration  in the New York Herald
showing the proposed state of New Virginia
with the Kanawha River running west of Charleston

Union loyalists met in Wheeling in October, 1861 and proposed a new state of Kanawha named after the river that flows into the Ohio River.  Kanawha was rejected as a name (We Kansans are glad, as a good deal of our mail would have wound up in West Virginia .) Other ideas included Allegheny, Columbia and New Virginia, but the majority of the delegates favored the name of West Virginia.

A sketch of the Wheeling Convention at the Custom House in
Frank Leslie's Illustrated Weekly, 1861.

The Custom House remains a West Virginia historical site.

The new state of West Virginia became the 35th star. The flag contained 35 stars for two years between July 4, 1863 and July 4, 1865 when Nevada became the 36th star.

The hills of West Virginia continued to be a battleground between north and south as various armies occupied territory and retreated throughout the war. Sixteen-year-old Serene Bunten wrote about Southern soldiers who came to dinner and tried to persuade her to abandon her Unionist views. The family managed to keep their cow but lost some bedding in that 1864 encounter.

"There was eleven rebels ate supper here last night. There was one Lieut. here and he kept his men straight....That Lieut. tried very hard to make Harry and I rebels but he had to give it up. They camped down at E. G. Burr's last night. Late. There was about six hundred rebels passed here today, they were driving cattle and I just expected they would take ours (cow) but they did not. They took Chet's but the girls got them back. It was a curious body of soldiers, they were dressed in all colors. They robbed the stores and houses all along the road. They took one blanket from us."

West Virginia (BlockBase #3798) is a variation of a block published about 1915 by Hearth & Home magazine, given that name when the editors were asking for a block for every state. The complicated design makes an even more complicated design when set side by side.

All very nice---but not at 8". This block this week uses the essential parts---a square that forms a diamond star when set side by side.

This square is BlockBase #2605, which was published in the Ohio Farmer as Star & Square in 1894.

Cutting an 8" Finished Block

A - Cut 4 red and 4 blue rectangles 5-1/4" x 1-7/8". You will cut 4 parallelograms of each color by trimming a 45 degree angle off each end as shown. All the reds go one way and all the blues are reversed.  Remember these are NOT diamonds with four equal sides but are longer on two sides.

B - Cut 1 background square 5-1/4". Cut into 4 triangles with 2 diagonal cuts.

C- Cut 1 background square 4-1/2".

A Quilting Party in Western Virginia, 1854
See Bertha Stenge's  20th century patchwork interpretation of this illustration at the Illinois State Museum.

Read excerpts from Serene Bunten's diary here:
And more about the creation of West Virginia here:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

More Setting Ideas

I noticed on our Flickr page that Thalia has mocked up an diagonal chain in alternate blocks, which looks good. A nice way to unify some very different blocks.

And Magpie Memories is going to use the same set she used in her "Sylvia's Bridal Quilt."

I thought about a medallion kind of format. Sorta like this. All 53 blocks fit. The quilt is a little bit more than 95" square and it's easier than it looks because it's really just an alternate block set with the blocks on point.

I was inspired by this quilt that Terry Thompson and I did years ago for one of our Moda Civil War repro lines.

The pieced blocks are white squares in this mockup. The quilt is a grid of 7 x 7 blocks on point.
The border finishes to 8" with four pieced blocks in the corners.

This is the alternate block (A) finishing to 8".
Cut squares 8-7/8". Cut each in half diagonally to make 2 triangles.
Piece into squares.
You need 24 alternate blocks like Block A---
16 shaded in palette 1 for the outer ring and
8 shaded in a palette 2 for the middle ring.

To get the medallion shading you need a second alternate block (B) to turn the corners.

You need 12 alternate blocks B---
4 shaded in palette 1 for the outer ring,
4 shaded in a palette 2 for the middle ring and
4 shaded in palette 3 for the center ring.
Piece them as they are shaded above but you have to rotate these to get the medallion illusion.

Cut Block B

Cut the large triangles by cutting squares 8-7/8". Cut each in half diagonally to make 2 triangles.
Cut the small triangles by cutting squares 9-1/4". Cut each into 4 triangles with 2 cuts.

You also need edge triangles to finish out the sides.
You need 24 larger triangles for the edge. Cut 6 squares 12-5/8  ". Cut each into 4 triangles with 2 cuts.
And 4 smaller triangles for the corners. Cut 2 squares 6-5/8". Cut each in half diagonally to make 2 triangles.

For the border
Cut 4 strips 8-1/2" x 79-7/8". (2 1/2 yards of a border print would be plenty.)

Now do remember we have no technical editor here but St. Thomas over on the left so check my math before you cut.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

47 Dixie Tea

Tea Leaf by Becky Brown

The Tea Leaf block can remind us of Dixie and Confederate coffee substitutes during the blockade.

Sassafras Leaf

Mary Mapes Dodge in an 1888 story Two Little Confederates painted a picture of the limited treats her two main characters enjoyed during the war:

"There was no sugar nor coffee nor tea. These luxuries had been given up long before. An attempt was made to manufacture sugar out of the sorghum, or sugar-cane, which was now being cultivated as an experiment; but it proved unsuccessful, and molasses made from the cane was the only sweetening.... Sassafras-tea was tried as a substitute for tea, and a drink made out of parched corn and wheat, of burnt sweet-potato and other things, in the place of coffee; but none of them were fit to drink — at least so the boys thought."

Sassafras tea made from roots and bark has long been a home-brewed beverage. It's the traditional flavor in root beer, and so much a Southern staple that a reference to "cinnamon seed" or sassafras tea is found in older versions of the song "Dixie", the unofficial Confederate anthem.

Dan Emmett from Ohio published
many tunes such as "Turkey in the Straw."

"Dixie's" tune and lyrics were probably a folk tune sung for decades before it was actually published before the war in 1859 as a commercial minstrel tune. The lively melody became popular in the North and was a favorite of Lincoln. While "John Brown's Body" became a Union anthem, "Dixie" became a Southern marching song.

The chorus is generally sung as:
Oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton,
Old times there are not forgotten,
Look away, look away, look away Dixie Land.

An earlier version substitutes a reference to sassafras tea and catfish fishing in the second line

Oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton,
Cinnamon seed and sandy bottom,
Look away, look away, look away Dixie Land.

Soldiers on both sides invented numerous versions and as the word Dixie increasingly became a nickname for the South, patriotic versions were published, such as this 1861 “Dixie War Song.”

Southrons, hear your country call you,
Up, lest worse than death befall you!
To arms! To arms! To arms, in Dixie!

This week's block is #1735 in BlockBase, one of many variations on this nine patch. Pattern designers saw it as a tea leaf, a poplar leaf, a magnolia leaf and an a maple leaf, among other flora and fauna.

Cutting an 8" Finished Block

A- Cut a strip 1" x 5". You'll trim this later.
B- Cut 1 background square 3". Cut into 2 triangles with a single diagonal cut.

C -Cut 3 dark and 1 background squares 3-1/8"
D- Cut 2 dark and 2 background squares 3-1/2". Cut each into 2 triangles with a single diagonal cut. You need 4 dark and 4 background triangles.

A tea leaf quilt from about 1880-1910
 at the Red and White Quilt Show in
New York last spring.

Hear a 1916 version of the minstrel song "Dixie" by the Metropolitan Mixed Chorus on YouTube by clicking here:

"A preparation consisting of sassafras root, magnesia and iron.
 Pleasant to the Taste."
Root beer in the guise of patent medicine.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

46 Apple Tree

Apple Tree by Becky Brown

Apple Tree can remind us of a Union marching song about Jefferson Davis.

One hundred and fifty years ago this week  Jefferson Davis was formally elected President of the Confederate States of America for a six-year term. The candidate ran unopposed. And who could oppose him?  He personified the Confederacy and it's principles, whether one considered him hero or villain.

Union musician from the Liljenquist Family Collection
 of Civil War Portraits
at the Library of Congress.

Union soldiers who'd been marching to the tune John Brown's Body added lyrics to reflect their hatred of Davis with references to the President and a sour apple tree. Sour apples might cause "the diah-ree" (diarrhea), which rhymed nicely with tree. Or the branches could provide a scaffold for an on-the-spot execution if a Union soldier happened across the very recognizable Davis.

We’ll hang Jeff. Davis on a sour apple tree!
We’ll hang Jeff. Davis on a sour apple tree!
We’ll hang Jeff. Davis on a sour apple tree!
As we go marching on!

After the peace at Appomattox, a version of The Sour Apple Tree was published with an illustration of Davis's fictional escape in women's clothing.

Jefferson Davis in retirement in 1885

Jeff Davis was not hanged. After the War he was released from federal prison in 1867 after serving two years.

This week's apple tree block with red squares hanging in the green leaves was inspired by a block that Carrie Hall showed in her 1935 book The Romance of the Patchwork Quilt in America. The complex block is BlockBase #836. Hall called it Tree of Temptation, a version of the Biblical apple tree that tempted Eve.

Cutting an 8" Finished Block

A Cut squares 2-1/2" You need 2 red, 4 dark green and 6 light. Becky had some apple fabric for her lights.

B  Cut 1 background square 2-7/8". Cut into 2 triangles with one diagonal cut. You need 2 triangles.

C Cut a dark rectangle 3-3/8" x 6-3/4".
Trim the edges of this rectangle at right angles as shown

To read more about Jefferson Davis's wife see the First Lady of the Confederacy: Varina Davis's Civil War by Joan Cashin. On December 8, 2011 author Joan E. Cashin will discuss Varina Davis's struggle to reconcile her societal duties and expected allegiance to the South with her personal beliefs at the McConnell Center at the University of Lousiville. Information here:
It's a wonderful biography.