Sunday, March 6, 2022

Southern Spin Quilt Along


Circles & Spikes 

Georgia auction

Tennessee project, Betsy Parker


Alabama, Flavin Glover's family

There's a certain appealing style of quilt. We've seen a lot of them on our
Facebook group QuiltHistorySouth.

Defined in Teddy Pruett's chapter in Mary Kerr's Southern Quilts as "Circles & Spikes."

Texas auction

These wheel patterns require some skill ("Not for the faint of heart," says Teddy)
and I have been struck, as Teddy has, by the contrast between skill and ambition.

Ken Burns's Collection
Not exactly precision piecing.

Julie Silber's Inventory
Similar pattern

Georgia seller, Etsy

The contrast between the time required to piece these designs and the quality of the fabric is also striking. We've established that cheap solids prone to fading were what they had---the available Southern cottons after 1880.

Thread count was rather low and colors rather limited, yet the stitchers were remarkably creative within
a narrow palette of primary solids.

Hermann, Missouri
Stella Rubin's Inventory

And even when the blues and greens faded to gray they still look good.

Texas auction

Stephens County, Georgia

Florida, Maria Theius

The style thrived in the South between about 1880 and 1930 and then faded away.

Shown at Houston years ago

North Carolina auction

But there is no reason we can't revive it. Well, those of us who can piece precisely. My job is to give you patterns and offer color and setting advice.

Florida, Mrs. Cox
North Carolina project

It will be the job of our skilled model makers like Becky Brown to
actually sew.

Georgia, Elizabeth Salter Smith, National Museum
of American History

Arkansas, exhibit at the Old State House Museum

Looking for a challenge?

I'll post a pattern once a month here from March through November: Nine Hard-to-Piece Circles & Spikes. Look for the monthly pattern on the last day of the month.

Fabrics: That's up to you, but if you want to go South consider solids. Here are a few from Moda that
echo the primaries with some approximating the faded glories.

The Official Set = 60" x 60"

The patterns are drawn to finish to 14" so they fit on an 8-1/2 x 11"
sheet of paper. The sash, a triple strip & 9-patch, finishes to 4-1/2" wide.
You may want to make bigger blocks. I am giving you the BlockBase numbers
so if you have that computer program you can print the blocks any size.

Typical Tri-Color Scheme
Teal, red and chrome orange

First pattern March 31st.

New Facebook Group: SouthernSpinQuilt
It's a public group so you don't have to join.
Post pictures etc.

And you can buy all 9 patterns right now in my Etsy shop for $12.


  1. I really like the one from Florida. I think I'll be watching this one from the sidelines to see what others make!

  2. I saw a quilt made of Circles and Spikes in an old Ladies circle Patchwork and Quilts mag. It was from Wiscasset, ME. I have been working on one on and off for years. Drafted my own pattern, sewing by hand.

  3. Although enthusiasm may have trumped skill, these are still wonderful to look at. I especially love the piece from Ken Burns collection.

  4. I made the sunflower block from your Grandmother's Choice BOM. It was setting the center into the frame that drove me to foul language.
    I can't imagine making these without freezer paper to tame all the bias edges. Or doing them paper pieced somehow. My hat's off to those who made these in the days before freezer paper and printers to print patterns to stitch on.

    1. I think paper templates and English paper piecing by hand would be one way to do these. Another option is dividing them up for the modern way of piecing by machine over paper. But there are a lot of great piecers out there who will just cut the shapes and piece away on their machine. NOT ME.

  5. I am a fan of circles and circle quilts! I think paper piecing would be so helpful in sewing these blocks. Do you think the size of the pieces are somewhat “standard”. Paper Pieces would be able to supply the pieces but I think that they would need your permission because of copyright issues etc.