Thursday, March 31, 2022

Southern Spin #1: Circle Saw


Southern Spin: Block #1 Circle Saw

Block #1 by Becky Brown
She's using colors she doesn't often work with, hand dyed from Vicki Welsh's Colorways.

From the Tennessee project & the Quilt Index.
Southern solid colors and half blocks along the lower edge.

I let BlockBase draw the pattern for number 3390.

Circle Saw by Denniele Bohannon

The pattern was popular not only with quilters but with pattern
companies at the turn of the last century. 

The Ladies Art Company called it Rising Sun too.

Someone named Gladys kept a small scrapbook of patterns
with two versions. Rising Sun at the top and Wagon Wheel below 
(perhaps from Hearth & Home.)

The design has many names. Because Rising Sun is a name for several other Southern favorites we'll use the name Circle Saw.

Mrs Reaves of San Angelo, Texas liked the pattern in 1935.
Print the pattern out 8-1/2" x 11". Note the inch square for scale.

Read much more about Circle Saw at a post here:

A note about the block proportions:

Every one of these circular patterns has to fit into a square and the convention is to use a shape like this corner piece. Number 3390 in its many published variations usually is a tight fit between circle and square.

 Many of the nine patterns will have an even tighter fit and some will be looser like the one below. Becky writes the plan above is probably the easiest way to put a circle in a square.

The diameter of the circle varies slightly in the published patterns. If this is going to bother you you might right from the start plan to enlarge or shrink your printed pattern slightly to match the proportions in Block #1 here.

Use the same Piece C above for an outside shape and shrink or enlarge the circle to the same proportions, which in Block 1 means a circle 13-1/2 inches across. Or shrink the circle to 12-1/2" and create a larger piece C (might be easier to piece.)

I tell you, though, the different proportions wouldn't bother a Southern quilter 100 years ago at all.

Post pictures on our Facebook group: SouthernSpinQuilt

Here's the traditional Southern set. Cut the sashing strips 14-1/2" x 2"
and the nine patch squares 2" square.

You can buy all 9 patterns right now for $12 in my Etsy shop:

How To
Our master piecer Ms. Becky Brown tells you how she sewed Block #1.

1. Make templates by placing plastic on top of printed pattern. Cut templates - do not add seam allowance.

2. Draw around each template and that is the stitching line.
Keep one edge of A and B on the straight of grain to avoid sewing 2 bias edges together.

Give yourself some marked guides on the curvy pieces. I stitched the curvy center pieces first.

3. Sew the A and B pieces into a ring.

4. Add the ring of A/B to the center section matching up points.

5. Add the corners, part C. Note the larger the arc of the circle, the easier it is to sew. :-)

6. Press, paying close attention to getting everything in the direction you want to go. I didn't press anything until I had sewn all pieces together, except for the center circle. I decided which direction I would press the fabrics and carefully trimmed away red where it might show through the gold.

7. The final step was adding the center circle, which I appliqued on. I have the greatest respect for those marvelous women who long ago pieced such wonderful quilts who inspire us today!

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Eagles in A Wreath of Berries (?)


A strange bird. Is that a sweater vest or an American shield on the breast?
It must be an eagle, the symbol on the Great Seal of the U.S., usually shown with
arrows and olive branches in its talons and a striped shield on the breast.

The Great Seal

The appliqued bird is not one of a kind. I saw the eagle on a four-block quilt offered in an online auction recently.

Offered by a Pennsylvania seller.

I was immediately reminded of one in Rod Kiracofe's book, The American Quilt.

From Gail Binney's fabulous collection.
Same striped sweater vest and branch of berries in the beak.
Same wreath.
But an appliqued border echoing the wreath.

Both eagles have green heads and brownish wings, etc. This one came
from northeastern Ohio (up there by western Pennsylvania.)

And here's a third:

Found floating around on the internet as a "Slide"

This bird and the wreath are more complex. Thirteen yellow & red stars in the wreath. The others have only one green star.  The bird looks a bit more like the Great Seal with a shield and arrows (are those olive branches?) in the talons. Same appliqued border but with added appliqued ovals.

What is going on here?
Obviously some handing around of a patriotic pattern.
Shall we say 1840's or '50s.

Although the first example may be after 1880 by its strip border and the way
the reds are fading to brown.

My major question is:
What are those berries?

Poke berries 1818
I'd like to think they were poke berries and had some
political connection to President James K. Polk who ran for a single term in 1845.

Polk & Poke plant

A search in newspapers of 1844 reveals how pervasive the Poke Stalk image was.

That is indeed what poke berries look like.

But not what poke leaves look like.

However, the combination of red berries and those trilobate leaves is a common image in mid-19th century applique.

Here's a version with a five-lobed leaf at top left in an Indiana quilt pictured in Marie Webster's 1915 book .

Now you might say it's a grape plant but the other berry block in the quilt looks much more like a grape leaf and cluster of grapes.

What is that leaf & fruit?


Read more about Poke & Polk here:

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Triangular Blocks Adrift


An interesting repeat in a quilt from about 1900.

There's a place in the Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns
and BlockBase+ for quilts pieced of triangular blocks. It's a small place with just a 
few published patterns.

But not this one!
In fact there isn't one triangular block based on a half-square triangle proportion.

The few published patterns indexed there are based on other geometry...

Mathematically speaking: Equilateral Isoceles Triangles (Sierpinski's or Pascal's Triangles).

These are fascinating the way they tessellate. I've
been working on this one for Best of Morris fabrics....
That's not the point, however.

The missing patterns are Right Angle Isoceles triangles.

A whole class of quilt patterns adrift without identification.

This might very well be NOT MY FAULT!
The Encyclopedia is an index to published patterns and I'd guess these designs were not published in popular catalogs and magazines. Mainly because it's hard to show the repeat in a square box.

But I have pictures of quite a few, mostly pieced of small half-square triangles, mostly from online auctions and most of them look to be about 1900.

Schwenkfelder Library, Pennsylvania

Cyndi Adams Collection
This one is the earliest in the file---those blues and oversized stripes
look 1840-1860.

Minnesota Project & the Quilt Index

4 triangles per block---maybe 1870s

Mid 20th-century

But back to one at the top of the page.
It's a variation with alternating triangles.
Sort of like an Irish Chain where the alternate block contains parts of the more complex blocks.

An Irish Chain--two blocks

So you would need two blocks

But wait a minute wouldn't it be easier to make this as a square block?

and just stack them up?

The block is not in the Encyclopedia either.

Pattern for a version at 12".