Sunday, September 5, 2021

Mariner's Compass #2: Patterns


As noted in yesterday's post we see much variety in the
circular designs we call Mariner's Compass.

About 1840

About 1910

The petals---the compass points--- can be relatively simple
or quite complex.

Based on 16

Based on 9

Based on 5

The likely explanation for this creative variety is
that everyone made her/his own pattern.

Notice I did not say "Drew their own pattern."

They folded their own pattern.
Marguerite Ickis in her 1949 book focused on using old-fashioned folding techniques for creating your
own patterns.

Her instructions are kind of hard to follow but I think this is what she meant.
You need a crisp piece of paper, a ruler, a pencil and a compass.
On a square piece of paper the size of your desired block
draw two concentric circles with the compass.

Fold your paper in quarters

and then again into eighths.
Open it up and with the ruler connect the
folded lines on the circles.

She suggests two circles but you could go on
with many more---and some people did.

Connecting fold lines and circle lines could
give you infinite variety.

Based on four folds

Eight folds

Six folds

Six folds

Or twelve



Tomorrow: Regional Sources for the design.


  1. My mind is blown. I've always wanted to make this kind of quilt. Amd now that I know I can fold paper, draw some circles and have an infinite number of different compass' I'm in. I'd be game for an album-style compass quilt. Now its possible!

  2. The second from the top I would call Bombs away!