Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Xenia's Zinnia

Xenia at Legacy Quilts has this mid-19th-century Maryland quilt in her inventory
and we've been discussing the pattern.

She says it's a clamshell variation
and I didn't see it that way till she mentioned it.
I find I have a lot of examples filed away.

But she's right---the geometry is ever larger clamshell shapes
Pieced or appliqued?

This one is so nicely drafted and quilted.

Looks pieced to me.

It hasn't got a BlockBase number as a pieced quilt
or an Encyclopedia of Applique number either.
The closest thing would be in applique 
#14.22 which is "unnamed from a circa 1840 album quilt"
Below is a detail of page 80 in the Encyclopedia of Applique.

It should go right there between 14.22 and 14.23

There's something similar called Zinnia at 14.23 from Nancy Cabot in the 1930s.
It's only similar because of the structure---8 identical radiating petals.

So maybe we should be calling this pattern Zinnia
with apologies to Xenia.

A zinnia

Stuffed work

Chrome yellow in the center

Chrome orange in the center

The latest one I found---20th century

Most are red and green from the 1840-1870 period.

This looks embroidered around each clamshell.
You could go on and on.

Once I saw this one I realized it is in BlockBase. Hubert Ver Mehren at the pattern company we call Home Art Studios did the design as a Whole Top Pattern.

In the 1930s it was published as The Royal Aster.

It's BlockBase #3999
The center starts out as the same except it has 12 clamshells
rotating around the center circle.

I searched for Royal Aster at the Quilt Index and found a few.

Royal Aster By Julia Marsh, 1945.
Nebraska Project, Quilt Index

Royal Aster by Blanche Buhler, 1981
Michigan Project, Quilt Index

Because that variation is in BlockBase I can give you a pattern of sorts for the block.
It's the center of the Royal Aster with 12 clamshells.
I printed a preview of the pattern for #3999 and focused on the center.
I added a bigger circle in the center and you could add a larger circle yourself.

To Print:
  • Create a word file or a new empty JPG file that is 8-1/2" x 11". 
  • Click on the image above. 
  • Right click on it and save it to your file. 
  • Print that file out 8-1/2" x 11". 
  • Adjust the printed page size if necessary. Or enlarge it on a copy machine.
  • Add seams when you cut the fabric.
So maybe it's an Aster rather than a Zinnia.
They are members of the same family.

See the preview of my Encyclopedia of Applique here:


  1. Wow, you got it.Just gorgeous.

  2. Barbara, I mentioned in a Facebook group we are both members of, that I was trying to recreate this quilt, based on the one that my grandmother made back in the 1930s. I've traced over her quilt to get a possible pattern, but I cannot figure out how she pieced it together. Do you happen to have any insight into that?