Saturday, February 4, 2012

Victorian Puzzle Saga II

I was trying to recreate this Victorian puzzle pattern.
It looks like a hexagon but it's string pieced in diamonds.

The examples I've seen are generally late-19th-century and are mainly of silk, but also wool or cotton. What I liked was the spontaneity in the hexagon.
I realized the key is the center strip. It's not just a random strip of dark. It has to go at an angle, narrower at one edge than the other and it has to be the same size in each diamond, although the rest of the strips can be random.

I drafted a diamond with a repeating dark shape in the center. It worked, so I plunged ahead. I used a dark red solid for the center and sort of fruit sherbert colors for the string piecing.

I don't know if it's my drafting or my piecing--- the intersections still don't meet well.
But at this point I decided to continue, although there were many stops and starts.
It's really a puzzle because there is a lot of directional skill involved in putting these diamonds together right.
[Not my skill area.]  You could see why someone might abandon the project....

An unfinished top in silks

And then I couldn't find any more of the dark red. 
 So this is as big as it got with a different, striped dark red for the border.
Victorian Puzzle or the Curse of Mrs. Bulwer-Lytton

Dot for scale
I'd give you a pattern but I think somebody else could draw it better.

Here's one from the Kentucky Historical Society with a little embroidery.

And one from Betsey Tellford Goodwin's Rocky Mountain Quilts online store.
There are just three pieces per diamond here.

And a string-pieced example from Laura Fisher's online store.

Maybe I am being too fussy about my points not meeting....


  1. Dot looks happy on her quilt with the fascinating design challenge.

  2. Barbara!
    I am so inspired! I have been itching to start a new project and this might be it! I love your version of the quilt.
    Thank you for doing what you do! I love learning about old patterns in quilts.

  3. looks tempting. now is Dot a min dachshund or a maxi dachshund-for scale.

  4. I just drafted the pattern using a 45 degree diamond ruler. It seems that not only you would have the angled wedge in the center of it but also the strings are at angle. Each side of diamond is identical. I drafted four of the same diamonds and made a mirror pattern for the other four. This allows you to make a version of the quilt from Kentucky Historical Society with eight diamonds.

    I will also try making the pattern from the 60 degree diamond. I think that would mimic the pattern correctly.

    If I wasn't teaching at Philly Modern Quilt guild today, this is the quilt I would be starting!
    I love a design mystery! Thank you for my daily fuel! Sending you the pictures soon!

  5. I was so wrong! Can't make the one with 45 degree diamond. But I think I am on the right track with 60 degree. Got to go try this now!

  6. Enjoyed the "puzzle saga", but I'm too directionally challenged to give it a go myself!. Guess I'll just enjoy the eye candy! Great quilt name!

  7. I'm so glad you asked about Dot. She is a sorta dachshund from the shelter. Weighs 23 lbs. Can leap up and grab things off a table if she wants to. Dachshunds don't leap. Might have some Jack Russell in her.
    And Sujata---send pictures soon.

  8. Wow! You solved it. Thanks! Dot is a cutey.

  9. The mail could not be delivered. Please check Period Piecers. Just posted it there for you to see.

  10. These are really wonderful quilts and love the whonky look, something I would do, but not on purpose;)


  11. I love these wonky hexagon-looking string quilts! Your version is yummy in the sherbet colors. Of course Dot is charming. I am always trying to figure out quilt patterns - those visual puzzles appeal to me. Haven't yet tried this one.
    Lalexander733 (at) gmail (dot) com

  12. Hey! Your quilt is as good as or better than the others you put up on the blog. There is nothing "perfect" looking about this pattern. It'supposed to be a visual confusion for the viewer to figure out. If there is anything wrong with your points or your piecing I don't see it. Thanks for writing about your process of discovery.

  13. I like yours. the inspiration quilt has a wider "kite" shape. (the dark shape looks like a kite to me)

    love the sherbert colors!

  14. Check out the string quilts found in the book "string Quilt Revival" by two sisters from Tennessee. their site is http://stripsandstrings.com/

    I heard them speak at the Wisconsin Quilt Expo last September. I have 6 blocks pieced so far using the pattern on the cover of their book...I am using yellow and 1930's reproduction fabrics.

    Thank you for sharing-love your blogs!!!!

  15. I'm loving the way these blocks are turning out. Thanks for the intro to them.

  16. Oh yes, this saga carried on over to my house. Thanks to you and Sujata I have finished my spider web and have posted the top today! Thanks so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. I am such a string quilt junkie! Thanks for analyzing the puzzle. I think I'd like to give it a try. This is me ... http://talkischeapquilts.blogspot.com/