Sunday, April 1, 2018

Farmer's Fancy & Pyrotechnics

When the Virginia project was documenting quilts this pattern often appeared
on their photography wall.

Locals call it Farmer's Delight or Farmer's Fancy.

The center unit

The pattern characteristics:
  • Circular design.
  • Center unit: circle surrounded by spokes (usually 12) in a sunburst or plate kind of design.
  • Surrounded by a ring or two or three of spiky triangles.
The variation with one ring of triangles was published several times:
Pyrotechnics from the Ladies Art Company
in the 1890s

BlockBase #3461

See a post about Pyrotechnics here:

With curvy outer triangles by
Newcomb Loom Works

Variations with two rings or three rings
have no BlockBase number because 
they were not published until recently (although made for generations).

Sold by Jeffrey Evans,Virginia auctioneer

See Kari Schell's EQ drawing of a pattern here:

This fringed example with a single ring may be the oldest seen so far, from the 
Virginia Project. Estimated date: 1840, collection of the 
City of Petersburg Museum. This is a single ring version.

The pattern seems to have been quite popular in the 1880-1910 era

The West Virginia project saw ten examples.

The two states share the Shenandoah River Valley, which is
where most of these were found.

Map by Karl Musser of the river and the cultural area.

West Virginia was part of Virginia until the Civil War when
Secession versus Union sentiment caused a break.

Phoebe Worsham in Lewisburg WV, Greenbriar County, 1875-1900.
West Virginia project. Lewisburg is outside of the Shenandoah
Valley. The pattern is not exclusive to that cultural region.

 1878 by Mary Shank Heatwole, Bedford County
in western Virginia

Collection of Sandra Starley
Variations include this one with ten spokes in the central design.

Margaret Beckley, about 1890, Raleigh County, WV
West Virginia project & the Quilt Index

Another variation: No center circle so
the central area is a star rather than a sunburst.

Similar block, mid 20th century

A double sunburst in the center, one ring of triangles

And diamonds as well as triangles in the outer rings.

Definitions always have fuzzy edges, so there
is always discussion about what a Farmer's Fancy is.

Me, I'm writing some numbers in my copy of 
Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.
On page 417 next to #3461 I'm writing in
3461.2 for the variation with two rings of triangles.

From the Collection of the Los Angeles County of Art

And 3461.3 for the variation with three rings of triangles.
With the words Farmer's Fancy or Farmer's Delight (VA & WV)

Photo from back cover of Quilts of Virginia

Does this one count?

Julia Belle Stowers Egnor (1859 - 1932) Lincoln County, West Virginia
"Owner believes the maker may have brought this pattern with her from Virginia"


  1. I had no idea this was Virginia-centric pattern. Maybe Becky needs to make one!

  2. You tell her. It would look good with color graded hand dyed fabric.

  3. I first saw this pattern at the Virginia Quilt Museum a few years ago when antique as well as modern versions of this Shenandoah design were on display - some were quilts from the same family, generations apart. It has remained my favorite exhibit at the VQM and is on my "to do" list - but don't hold your breath. I believe the gift shop at the museum sold the pattern, it may still be available.

  4. Farmer's Fancy, very fun block, I enjoy seeing the variations.
    And the bit of history and geography, thanks Barbara.

  5. Awesome.Love them all.Many thanks.