Thursday, February 2, 2012

Victorian Puzzle Saga I

Years ago I saw this photo in a magazine.
A spiderweb, a hexagon from the end of the 19th century

It's not a common pattern but once I started noticing it I found others.
Here's one that is elaborately embroidered

And one with a little bit of embroidery.
I'd never seen it published or named. I decided I'd make one.First I figured out it is not a hexagon.It's a diamond.

A string-pieced diamond with a black strip in the center.
So I drafted a diamond in paper and string pieced colorful strips with a dark strip in the center.

But wait a minute. That's not it. The dark strip isn't as random as I thought.
Maybe if the center strip was always the same....

With a carefully drafted dark (or bright strip) in the center you get a hexagon, like the cotton quilt from about 1900 above, but it isn't what I was trying to do. I was befuddled. I set it aside.

 A year later I picked it up again and decided my start wasn't bad and I ought to finish it so I made another rectangle to piece to the end...

And when I put them up on the wall to put them together I realized I'd used a smaller diamond for the right half of the top. It's a Victorian curse apparently. I still have two similar (but not the same) small halves.

Next post---the saga continues.


  1. There was a fabulous antique version of this quilt on display at the Tokyo Quilt Festival last week. It was the only display that didn't allow photos but I sketched out the block because it was so striking. When I got home on the weekend, I was able to find it online here.
    As with so many quilts, the real thing is so much better than a photo, but this version was a stunner!

  2. I love this pattern! I think your drawing for the pattern is dead on, with half the units of the block done in reverse so the center band has a different angle in every other unit to give that whimsical spider web look!

  3. Good morning Barbara, Looking at the first picture, it seems to me like there is a wedge-shaped black piece at the bottom of each triangle. At the top right and left corner of the top that wedge particularly stands out. I'd be tempted to try this one, but I've enough to finish at the moment. Have fun!

  4. Wow. I can't wait to read the next posts. Beautiful work!

  5. I'll look forward to the unfolding mystery.

  6. Hi,

    It almost looks like they used the kite shape instead of a diamond, but I've not seen it in person.

    Look forward to see your next step in the redesign.

  7. In the Tokyo show quilt I mentioned earlier, the red center sections of the diamonds are all the same shape...not randomly angled.
    Also, when viewing the diamond shape (horizontally) so that the wider end of the red center is at the top, the right-hand tip of each diamond is always black, resulting in that little pinwheel in the center of the assembled blocks. (See the closeups in my link for reference.)

  8. I love that wedge shape or kite in the center of the diamond that you show - it adds so much interest to the wholespiderweb! Thank you for showing this one, I'm inspired to go and try some now!
    Best, Jolanda

  9. Your photo of an isolated diamond piece of the antique shows a black sort of neck-tie-on-its-side shape that's repeated in every diamond as you have undoubtedly figured out. Do you think such a complex & unusual pattern almost had to have a published source?

  10. suzanne, You have got to be right about that! How could there be so many quilts like this "out there" if the design wasn't available to the public somehow. This is so interesting.