Monday, July 22, 2013

Cutting Corners with Civil War Jubilee

Dorothy Barker enjoys the unusually nice
porch weather in Kansas this July.

Behind her is a little quilt top I made from a Charm Pack of my Moda line Civil War Jubilee plus some extra yardage. The Octagon or Snowball block is an old pattern that I did in new techniques: the stitch-and-cut method---perfect for pre-cut squares.
See the free quilt pattern below.

Cutting Corners
Barbara Brackman
39-1/2" Square
Charm Packs include 42 squares cut 5" x 5".

My inspiration was this Civil-War era photograph from an online auction.

See more about the photo and the pattern at my Civil War Quilts blog:

I'm guessing the pattern in the picture is a block 
with the corners cut off to make an octagon.
The original alternated light and dark blocks.

More like this 20th century version.

Sue Garman has an old top quite a bit like the photo.
She her reproduction of it here:

Civil War Jubilee is a dark collection so I didn't have any lights. But I wanted to add a little zip---19th-century zip. They often used chrome yellow and double pink prints for contrast. I had some in my stash of reproduction prints.

You start with 2 squares, big and small. Each block finishes to 4-1/2"

Fabric Requirements:

  • Big squares: 1 Charm Pack (42 Squares precut to 5-inches).
  • Small squares: 1/4 Yard each of two contrasting colors.
For a reproduction look cut the corners with light prints like chrome yellow & double pink.

  • Inner Border- 2/3 yard. (I used yellow.)
Outer Border—Mitered & cut along selvage: 

  • 1-1/4 Yards Paisley stripe. 
The red paisley on top of the Charm Pack makes a great period border 

 Birds in the Air print in madder red.
(Moda #8257-12).

1. Use the 5” square Charm squares for the big square. I picked 36 from the pack.
2. For the small squares cut 2” squares: 72 of one color and 72 of another.
3. On the reverse of each small square draw a diagonal line corner to corner.


1. Place the small squares in the corners of the large square face to face with pencil lines as shown.
     Stitch right on those lines.

2. Before pressing, trim both layers of each corner by cutting 1/4” outside the stitching line.

3. Press open the triangles.

5. Alternate blocks with pink and yellow corners and stitch a 6 x 6 grid.

The inner border finishes to 1".
The outer border finishes to 5-1/4".


Inner Yellow Border: Cut 2 strips 1-1/2” x 27-1/2”.
Cut 2 strips 1-1/2” x 29-1/2”.

Outer Mitered Border: Cut 4 strips 5-3/4” x 40”.
Fussy cut dark stripes parallel to selvages leaving the lightest stripe hidden in the seam. Miter the corners.

The white lines indicate how I fussy cut the 5-3/4" strips. The strip with the "X" I set aside for a small border for some other project.

Here are other ideas for the same pattern.  Other Charm Packs????

By Carol Gilham Jones
Carol used some of my William Morris repro prints for a full-sized quilt. Her smaller squares are contrasting, almost-solid-color fabrics and she alternated the corner colors. You could try this with a Layer Cake of 10" squares. I think you'll need a design wall too.

You could try this with a Layer Cake of 10" squares.

An antique from the end of the 19th century.

Another from the early 20th-century.

You can get the same effect by piecing a square between the octagons, but I think the block method makes it easier to piece. I pieced mine by hand---something I love to take with me. Taking the above quilt with you as you work on it would involve dragging around a pretty big project.

Here's one from the Connecticut Quilt Project and the Quilt Index that uses Turkey red and plain white for the corners, another period look.


  1. Barabara, I hope you've seen this quilt. It will curl your toes to see your beautiful fabric collection in this one:
    it is at this blog site:

  2. I've been making the octagons (using your Blockbase pattern Ozard Cobble Stone) and have enjoyed the handwork.

    You can take a peek at what my project is looking like:


  3. Rose Marie
    This may be a better link:


  4. Susan-Thanks for the link to the French quilters group show. Everybody should check it out and enlarge the photos to see the details.


    I'm pleased to see my fabric used so spectacularly in the star quilt by Nathalie Ferri.