Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Union Blues on Parade

I saw this utilitarian four-patch comforter in an online auction a few months ago.
It probably dates to about 1910
when this blue palette of shirting stripes was popular.

The patchwork was simple---yet complex----
One of the things I really like about quilts.

You almost dismiss a quilt like this because it's so plain, but the shading of the blues and the intriguing pattern make you look a little longer. It's always fun to figure out how the unknown quilter got the effect.

I figured out her pattern. It's a strip quilt alternating
pieced strips with narrower, dark unpieced strips.

I found it in my Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns as a strip quilt #484.
The reference there was to a 1970s newspaper column in the Baldwin Telegraphics
where it was called Garden Path.

Here's the same pattern from about 1900, but shaded

It's not quite as effective as the first example, due to
the shading. Maybe the alternating unpieced strips are too wide.

Another top from the same period

Here's a different way to shade it. 

The quilt is from the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.

And a  mid-century modern version.

I like the orderliness of the blue one at the top---like soldiers on parade, as in this sketch of Union troops in New York.

Perfect for the prints in my Union Blues collection.
The range of shades is similar to the vintage quilt.

Wait a minute: The first diagram I posted was wrong. This one updated on
May 27 is correct. I can't believe I made a mathematical error!!! Thanks to Patricia for

Here I've drawn the design out in EQ7 to use 5" cut squares for the four-patches (Square B): the Charm Pack pre-cuts.

Click on the pattern above, save the image to a Word for JPG file and print it out.

The four-patches (Piece B) finish to 9" square and are set with pieced triangles.Piece A is cut 7-5/8" square and then sliced to make 4 triangles.

These go between the four-patches.

Make four patches till you're tired of them. Set them with the pieced triangles like this.

Set them into strips.
Be sure the light squares are going
up and down.
Send me pictures.


  1. Love how the blues look like the older fabrics, would be fun to work with.


  2. Do the 4 patches finish at 8 inches rather thsn 9? Or is the cutting diagram wrong? Thank you for your advice. Patricia Geishirt

  3. This is perfect for Union Blues! Thanks.

  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have been a long time follower of you books, patterns and fabrics for many years - blog too. Reading about this simple quilt after a really difficult day is just what i needed. I think i have to make it too.

  5. A quilting store nearby had posted a picture of your Union Blues material on her FB account. the minute I seen it I hopped in the car and purchased a whole set. I love the material. It's beautiful!!

  6. Love your "soldiers on parade" ... I started a few 4ps and tris! I'll take a pic when I get the top going.

  7. My favorite of the quilts in this post is the mid-century one. Not so long ago, I would have considered it, and others like it, ugly but I love them now. What does that say? I hope it says quilters are capable of growth and change!