Wednesday, May 2, 2018

May Apple or Compass Flower

A new applique project for May.

It's a combination of piecing and applique.

Collector Mary Barton found a top fragment. When she
donated it to the Iowa Historical Society she called it Double Apple.

The only published name I've found---
from the Farm Journal

Dated 1849 by Mary E. Mills
from Fourth Corner Antiques

One from Cindy's Antiques. There's a lot
of variation. It's a single pieced flower
with a circle in the center and an appliqued stem on one side.

From GBBest on eBay.

Leaves or buds may be along the edges.

The examples I have look mid-19th century.
I've got two from the Quilt Index.

This one from the Minnesota project

Another from Quilts of Tennessee

A relative

The latest version I found. Maybe 1880-1910.
Perhaps someone's pattern block

I wanted a pattern. I realized it's probably related to the structure of a Reel block and I could probably draw it myself.

So I found a pieced Reel block in BlockBase...

Imported it to EQ for a basic pattern structure
and erased and added lines.

Here's my EQ drawing.

I re-oriented it in Photoshop & added some applique parts from the antique examples.

You get the picture.
You can print these JPGs out at 8"
and then double them for a large block

Here are templates for an 8" block from EQ:

Print it on an 8-1/2 x 11" sheet.
I'd make it at least 150% larger.
(You'll have to redraw the seam allowances if  you enlarge it.)

In Kansas we have a sunflowery plant
called Compass Plant or Compass Flower
because it orients towards the sun.

Silphium laciniatum doesn't look much like the pattern
but you draw the quilt design with a compass so....

If you do a web search for Compass Flower
you also find instructions on how to draw overlapping
circles, which is probably where the old pattern comes from.

A link to some mathematics:

And here's another relative.
All appliqued.

Becky sends a photo of a May Apple, a shy little shade plant.


  1. You are very clever. Thank you.

  2. Nice applique block.
    Mary Mills' quilt is a beauty.

  3. I'm very acquainted with Mayapples from wandering the woods on my parents Ohio farm Here are some views of the plant and flower http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/woodland/plants/mayapple.htm http://www.wildwoodsurvival.com/survival/food/edibleplants/mayapple/index.html

  4. I have a big patch of May Apples in the woods. They have just started blooming - I should send you a picture. They look like umbrellas the size of a lunch plate with one bloom on the underside. A sweet flower for an applique.

  5. What lovely variations. I think it was wonderful the way you made the pattern from another pattern. =) Thank you for sharing.

  6. Thanks for the information, I’ll try to draw my flower and do the pattern.