Friday, August 9, 2013

National Book Lover's Day

Check the Moda Cutting Table Blog
for more about this blog hop
and prizes.

Topeka Rose
by Carrie Hall
Helen F. Spencer Museum of Art
University of Kansas

Sarah Beth at Moda asked the designers to blog today about a book from which we learned to quilt OR a book that influenced us to start quilting.
Here's a book that did both:

The Romance of the Patchwork Quilt in America
Hall & Kretsinger, 1935

In 1965 I was in college. All the girls in the dorm at the University of Kansas had quilts on their beds. Being from New York City, I did not. I decided to make one. At the public library I found two or three books on quilting. I checked out this one looking for a pattern and some instructions.

Patterns---a thousand.
Instructions---pretty slim.
But it really did change my life.

Carrie Hall indexed quilt patterns by name,
something that inspired me to extend her index for my 
Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns and 
Encyclopedia of Applique.

Rose Kretsinger discussed applique and quilting,
showing reproductions that she and the women
in Emporia, Kansas were making.

I have made many quilts and written many books myself based on The Romance of the Patchwork Quilt in America. You can see my books over in the left hand column here.

One of the things that fascinated me about Romance 
was that Hall included patterns named for Kansas towns.

Like Topeka Rose.
This version by Prairie Atelier

Topeka Rose
By Will Work for Fabric

When I taught beginning quilting in Topeka, Kansas, I used the Topeka Rose for my basic applique design. It's a great starter pattern.

How did it get that name?
I soon discovered that Carrie Hall had lived in Leavenworth, Kansas, and traveled around giving "quilt talks" in the area in the 1920s and '30s. When she went to a town she designed and named a pattern for the place or the club she was visiting. There were patterns named for Leavenworth and Tonganoxie, among other nearby towns.

In 1935 she donated all the blocks she'd made and photographed for the book to the University of Kansas. 

Topeka Rose by Quilter Forever

I have spent almost fifty years looking at that book
and getting ideas for quilts, research and writing.

Here's my version of the book jacket's Orchid quilt by Rose Kretsinger.
The pattern for this Iris quilt is in Making History: Quilts & Fabric from 1890-1970.

Rose used orchids; I used iris.

I did a book called Carrie Hall's Sampler, featuring some of my favorite blocks, which has a pattern for the Topeka Rose. I've found many versions from around the world made from the Sampler book.

Topeka Rose by Quilting Cowgirl

The Hall/Kretsinger book was in black and white, but you can see color pictures of Carrie Hall's blocks at the Spencer Museum's website.

Click here:

At the top right type the words Carrie Hall into the search line.
888 images will come up---blocks in alphabetical order.

Album Block
by Carrie Hall
Helen F. Spencer Museum of Art
University of Kansas

See more of my posts about Carrie Hall's Sampler:



  1. Thanks for sharing your favorite quilt book. I'll have to see if my library has it.

  2. Me too. Please see if your encyclopedia can be reprinted! It's so hard to find and when I do, it's sold before I can hit buy. Very interesting how fate brought you to the quilting world and how much you've contributed. Thank you.

  3. Pami---I'm afraid the paper Encyclopedia has been doomed by the digital revolution. You can still buy Encyclopedia of Applique in paper but BlockBase, the digital version of the pieced book, is the future.

  4. oh my goodness, imagine my surprise when I opened up my blog reader today and did a double take of one of the blocks you had in your post. I thought the background fabric looked familiar, and then the other fabrics looked familiar, then I was like, that's my block!!!! I always thought the leaves on mine looked a little wilt-y. Then I scrolled down and saw the others, with their happy perky leaves, and then the book cover with same happy leaves! Can you believe I never realized I put those leaves on upside down all this time, until I saw the pic on your blog today? So embarrassed!! :) I LOVED making Carrie Hall's Sampler, it was so much fun. Thank you for making that pattern.
    As for my upside down leaves...maybe my version can be known as "Topeka Rose that Needs Watering"? ;)

  5. I really enjoyed reading your blog and how you got started, what a wonderful story and a wonderful start to your love for quilting.


  6. Your blog never fails to inform, entertain and inspire. Thanks for all the research, photos and links. Now I'll have to buy the Kansas applique book.

  7. The Topeka Rose block is such a beautiful one!
    The story of your beginning in the quilting world is so interesting. Yes a book can change one's life! We quilters are all happy that you got interested in this Romance...

  8. J---I;m not going to say which one is yours, but I didn't notice either till you mentioned it. Topeka Rose, drought of 2012.

  9. I have the book "Romance of the Patchwork Quilt" as well. I am 39, but have been quilting for 30 years, having learned hand quilting first. I use many of the things that I learned from this book, when teaching my quilting classes; and I laugh whenever someone calls it a 'new idea' Carrie Hall was an amazing woman. I will cherish my traditional quilting values that I acquired from places such as this.

  10. That was one of my first two or three books, too. There weren't very many more than that available back then! I still love it.

  11. Ahh, yes, my favorite book too. I need to spend some time and go look at them in color!

  12. Always inspiring. Thanks for yet another run down the internet rabbit trail to wonders previously unknown.

  13. How I'd love to have a copy of that "Romance" book. I'm so glad you were inspired by it. I have your Carrie Hall book, and just ordered the Encyclopedia of Applique. I've only been bitten by the repro bug for a little over a year, but it's bitten me hard, and now I HAVE to know all about these older quilts! Your blog is fantastic. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us.

  14. Those roses are beautiful, how cool to have such an inspirational book to get you started. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Thanks for participating. I'm participating in a BOM (actually 2 blocks per month) from your book - Civil War Sampler. I am really enjoying it and love the tad of history among it. We have a mini tutorial at the shop once a month with history. Again, thanks for participating.

  16. The Carrie Hall Sampler is new to me - I'll have to track that down. I have a different Carrie Hall book (Carrie Hall Blocks) and both your encyclopedias, invaluable!