Saturday, July 10, 2010

Hexagonal Pineapples

I'm always fascinated by patterns that never made it into print.

One is this variation of the pineapple or windmill blades design based on a hexagonal block.

Years ago I bought the quilt above in Illinois. It's pieced of wool and silk blends (delaines and challis) and each log is stuffed with a strip of batting. I am guessing it is from the 1870s. Moths have munched on the wools.

Merikay Waldvogel has one too. Here she is at the Quilters' Hall of Fame exhibit she curated when she was inducted. Hers looks to date from about 1910. It has a faux patchwork (cheater cloth) back and fat, puffy wool ties. The hexagonal blocks are set with red triangles.

Quilt dealer Laura Fisher has a top with plaid hexes in the center and just two rows of logs.

The few I've seen are wool and silk, blends but here's one that looks to be 1870s or 1880s in cotton prints. I saw it in an online auction.

The trick here is to rotate the hexagonal blocks so the dark areas line up with the darks. The hexagonal blocks are set with hexagonal plain blocks.

I don't know where I found this tiny picture.
My skills in spatial relations are sorely tested with some of these patterns.
The one I own at the top has baffled me for years.

Somehow she made hexagons with 6 different sides and rotated them so that the green side matched another green side, the red side matched another red side, etc.

I have no recommendations about where to find a pattern or how to draw and plan these.
My BlockBase program is all square blocks for a reason.

Quilt dealer Stella Rubin has 2 of these on her website now:

And Betsey Telford-Goodwin has a silk version


  1. I love this. However, it would take a lot of time and energy to accomplish this. In the one you own it is amazing how in the close up the blocks seem to interlock at all times.

  2. Barbara, These are amazing quilts! The beauty of old quilts and their patterns never seem to age! It is also interesting to see the blend of colors. We get so wrapped up in just the perfect color combination for our quilts and lose the charm in the process!
    Thanks for sharing!

  3. These are a great puzzle. In your quilt, I believe you would have to start the hexagons with a partial seam in each round, in order to get all pieces of each round the same size. (This is not true in some of the others - the first piece of the round is smaller, the next four are medium-sized and the last is longest, just like a square log cabin). Also, in your quilt, two opposite triangle shapes are always black. If you made a row, matching up the black shapes, you could then make the other colors match by making each new hexagon specifically for fitting into an allotted space in the next row. I THINK this would work, but, with a zillion UFOs of my own, I am resisting the impulse to try it - so far. Mary Lou Smith

  4. I'm an Obsessive, not a professional, but I agree with Mary Lou, the closeup pic seems to show the partial seaming technique for the first round - maybe all the rounds? Can you tell if this was pieced on a foundation fabric?
    The extreme matching between hexagons reminds me of the extreme matching seen in the cover quilt of Mary Ellen Hopkins' A Log Cabin Notebook. Lots of preplanning and careful placement of fabrics needed! Not for me!

  5. I can usually look at a design and work out how to construct it fairly quickly ... but that first one has me stumped. I think it would have to be done one block at a time, and very carefully at that.

    However, the construction of the individual blocks possibly could lead to some interesting spiral effects if done without the part seam at the beginning/end of each round. With the part seam it could be a hexagonal target/bullseye.

    In contrast, the one with the white background is a wonderful clean neat design .... and so easy to see how to make it!

  6. Great samples of intricate work, amazing how these were completed when I think about the lifestyle people had back then.

  7. Lots of good hints in these comments. Foundation paper piecing would certainly be my method of choice for tackling these quilts. Drafting patterns wouldn't be too difficult at all for someone who is good at geometry (yes, I mean me!).

    Brenda Esslinger