Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"B" is for Bird

The next block is a sweet little bird.

Block 2-The Bird
The alphabet quilt was causing quite a stir in the neighborhood. All of the mothers who saw it wanted to start one immediately. A newly made aunt was sure that her little nephew would adore the quilt.
                They discussed sizes. Nancy  told them that a crib quilt was normally 36 inches wide and 42 inches long. The next size was 42 inches by 56.But the youngsters outgrew these cribs so soon that it seemed foolish to make a quilt for that size bed. She herself was making Joan’s quilt to fit her junior size bed. The quilt was to be 60 by 90 inches when finished. If a mother wanted to make the smaller size she could change the size of the connecting blocks, but would keep the 24 alphabet blocks the given size. These are 6 inches square when finished, although blocks are actually cut 6 ½ inches square. This extra half inch allows for seams on all four sides.
                The “B” block which Nancy is working today is a study in tow shades of blue. Nancy might have made a robin with its warm coloring. But since she had made the apple a rosy hue she used a different color scheme. Anyway she had two scraps of blue in fast color gingham which would make the body and wing. The wing was of the darker blue.
** at this point the instructions for transferring the pattern to the fabric and making the templates repeats from block 1 so I am leaving that out**
                Since the body of the bird was curved she decided to lay it on the bias piece of blue. Curves are turned more easily when the material is on the bias.
                In cutting she allowed one-quarter inch on all sides for turning in. Then she cut the piece for the wing, allowing one-quarter inch for turning in. She discovered that points like the bill could be appliquéd more easily if the bill on the cloth were cut with a square instead of a pointed end. After cutting the two pieces for the body and wing she basted under a quarter of an inch and pressed the pieces.
                Laying them on the cloth according to the penciled outline she basted them in place then appliquéd them with fine, invisible slanting hemming stitches.
                She cut the body of the bird, remember, as if there were to be no wing appliqué, that is, it was the exact size of the whole bird. Then she later put the wing on top in it’s designated place. Nancy discovered that there was less danger of wrinkling or gathering the pattern askew if she did this.
                When she had outlined the letter B with four strands of fast color embroidery cotton in the same shade of green as she had used for the letter A in the first block, she now had two alphabet blocks ready to join with strips of white and color.

                She waited to do this until she had more of the finished appliqué blocks ready.  

click here to download the pattern

OH, and I just have to show you the pack of 1930's solids from Schoolhouse Quilts that I got at the Hershey show! Yummy!

Until next time....can you guess what the letter C will be?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Just a quick little detour....

I went with the family to Hershey, PA this weekend for the Quilt Odyssey Quilt show. I also got to meet up with some of my online buddies from Pat Sloan's Quilt Mash-up while I was there. So fun to meet these ladies in person who I have been chatting with online for several years!

One of the cool things at the quilt show is that there was an exhibit of 1930's quilts that I was interested to see since I have been doing research on this era.  Arlan Christ and his wife have a collection of over 1000 antique quilts. For this show they brought about 30 from the 1930's from there collection. I lucked out and got there right as they were giving a personal tour of the quilts. There were several that were made from newspaper patterns and mail-order patterns. I fell in love with one in particular called Autumn Leaf. It was designed by Anne Orr and the pattern was sold through the Sears and Roebuck catalog.  The original was slightly different from this one, but won 4th place at the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago.  I may just have to do this one next! It was made using feed sack fabrics. Feed sacks were the bags that sugar, flour and animal feel were sold in during the Depression. Women would buy the different prints and use them to make clothing, using the left overs for quilting. This was a free way for ladies to get fabric since they had to buy feed, sugar, etc anyway. AND I just happen to have a collection of feed sack 6 inch squares that my mom had bought years ago. So I am going to be on the hunt for this pattern, or draft it myself.

I'll post the "B" block when I get home! See you again soon!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A is for Apple-the first block in the Child's Alphabet Quilt-Along

Mildred's Block
My block

 It's time to start a quilt-along. I hope you will join me.  I have not been able to locate the finishing instructions for the quilt that are mentioned you could send away for in the paper. So I will tell you what I plan to do in the meantime. Maybe by the end of the quilt-along I will be able to find it!  The blocks are 6 inches finished.  I am laying it out in EQ7 and would be happy to share that with anyone who would like it, or do your own thing with the blocks!  I am using Kona white for the blocks and a perle cotton 5 for the embroidery using a stem stitch. For the original blocks embroidered by Liz's grandmother (the ones with the black letters) I am using a running stitch appique so that it matches her original quilt. For mine I am doing needle turn. You could easily do fusible applique. The blocks are very fast to make. With fusible applique they would be super fast to do. For an excellent instructions for any applique technique I would recommend Pat Sloan's book Pat Sloan's Favorite Techniques. You can get it here.
Alphabet Quilt – Block 1 – The Apple

     Little four-year-old Joan skipped home from the shopping expedition with glee.  Aunt Nancy had purchased the materials for her new quilt.  She had watched the clerk measure the five yards of white Peter Pan gingham and had chosen the soft pale green. Of this color she heard her aunt order one and one- half yards.
     As soon as they reached home Nancy hunted up her piece bag and chose a figured print in soft terra cotta tones. She found some medium dark plain green and a scrap of dark green.
She used the figured print for the apple itself and the dark green for the stem with the medium shade for the leaf.  In her book of embroidery cotton she found some fast color brown which she later used to embroider the few ragged points at the blossom end of the apple.
     She had purchased some fast color embroidery cotton in green, the same shade as the green gingham which she planned for the strips of color between the white blocks.
Had she chosen pink, blue, yellow or lavender for the strips of color she would have purchased embroidery cotton in the color to correspond.
     Nancy experimented with various methods of transferring the apple pattern to her block of white.
First she cut her white block making it 6 ½ inches square. This allowed one-quarter inch on all sides for seams so that her finished block was 6 inches square.
     Since the white material was so soft and fine she found she could lay the square over the pattern, as given in today’s pattern. She cut the square out of the paper and held her square of cloth over it. By putting them on the window pane she was able to follow it with a sharp lead pencil making a fine mark on the white block. When the outline was on the goods, she took the newspaper square and pasted it on a piece of light weight cardboard or tag board. This was dried under pressure.
     Then the apple, the stem and the leaf were cut out and used as patterns. She laid the apple on the goods and cut, allowing one-quarter inch on all sides for turning in. She did the same with the leaf. The stem was cut from a piece of bias material and was twice as wide as the pattern given. She basted the edges back on both apple and leaf. The edges of stem were turned back until they met at center of underside. They were basted in place.
      After pressing the pieces they were laid in place on the pencil outlines on the quilt block and appliqued with slanting invisible hemming stitches.

     Nancy tried pinning them in place but she found that she could get the work done more easily if she basted the applique pieces in place then began the fine stitchery. She used white thread for appliqueing  The initial was worked with a fine outline stitch. She used four strands of  cotton. She could have used a chain stitch. In either case she found that she needed to make small stitches and have fairly heavy strands of cotton, otherwise the effect was weak.  

Click HERE to download the pattern.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Introducing the Alphabet Quilt

Before I head off for a week in the Adirondack Mountains I thought I would leave you with the introduction to the alphabet quilt. This was the introductory article published in the paper. This particular clipping came from the Detroit Free Press on October 6th, 1929. I found this at

It's a little hard to read, so with the help my magnifying glasses I have transcribed it for you. Later in the month I will start giving you each weekly article and pattern. I hope you will sew along with me! The blocks are very simple shapes that could be done with any method of applique, such as needleturn, machine or fusible applique. There is just a little bit of simple embroidery too.  Pick your favorite method of applique and stay tuned!

Announcing a new Alphabet Quilt series
General Description Today-First pattern appears next Sunday.
By Florence La Ganke

“Will I ever have a quilt all my own, Aunt Nancy? I want a pretty quilt for my bed.” Said Joan one day. “As soon as you know your alphabet, child, I will make a quilt specially for you. Let’s see how many letters you know now. What is this nice slim one with a hook on the end?”
                “J for Joan, and next comes a round O, then a tent A and then a Nen”  “Not a Nen Joan. That is pronounced as if it were En. Say En for this letter” and Nancy pointed to N.
                The lesson over, Aunt Nancy put her wits to work. What kind of quilt could she make for her little niece? As she looked at the child’s alphabet blocks she had an idea.
                After the idea was worked out it was this.
                The quilt was to fit Joan’s new bed-a junior size for which the shops sold spreads and quilts that were sixty inches long  by ninety inches wide. The background was to be white. Strips of pale green were put in to form frames for the twenty-four blocks which formed the center of the quilt.
                Nancy discarded the letters X and Z for two reasons. First she needed just twenty-four blocks to make her figuring and pattern come out even, and secondly she found it difficult to get an appliqué pattern for objects starting with those letters
                The alphabet blocks were six inches square when finished. On each one was outlined a letter. In addition an appliquéd object which started with the letter outlined in the upper left corner was in the main part of the block.
                These appliquéd objects were make of plain and figured material in colors. Nancy used many scraps left from summer sewing. She bought a few pieces however. A quarter yard of any one pattern gave her as much and more than she needed for her appliqués since no two patterns where made entirely from the same pattern. She used the same shade of green for all leaves.
                Most of the material was English print or Peter Pan gingham, two materials which are of fast color. For the background of the quilt Nancy purchased five yards of white material. The green strips were cut from one and one-half yards of material.
                Nancy did quite a bit of arithmetic in working out the number, length and width of the various blocks and strips. By sending a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Nancy Page care of this newspaper you will receive a direction sheet which will include a diagram of the quilt, as well as dimensions of pieces.
                The quilt bade fair to be as beautiful as any Nancy had ever seen. She avoided harsh colors in the appliqués, making the quilt, making the quilts a nosegay of soft colors. And every object that was appliquéd was something which Joan and other little children recognized.
                In finishing the edges of the quilt Nancy put on a band of color. She could have scalloped the edges but since Joan’s bed was the kind which need a tuck-in quilt she felt that the scalloping was superfluous.

                Before long the neighborhood mothers and aunts were busy making alphabet quilts for the children –and great fun it was too.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Quiltmaker

Hello! Hello!
I have information on the maker of the mystery blocks! My sister-in-law has sent me some great back ground information on her grandmother.

Mildred was born in 1911, so she would have been 18 or 19 when these patterns were published in the paper. According to her daughter, she did not do any sewing until after she was married, so she apparently did not cut out and save these patterns herself.  We will most likely never learn who originally collected them, but if they were from the same area it would have been from the Portsmouth Herald (New Hampshire) or the Boston Globe. I will research that later.

She did sew, crochet  and knit later on and made all kinds of garments, baby blankets and afghans for the entire family. She made her ONE and ONLY quilt for my sister-in-law Liz about 50 to 55 years ago, so in the late 50's or early 60's.  She said it was so much work that she would never make another one!! Apparently she thought about it though, and cut out the patterns again and embroidered the letters on the blocks. We think that this was done much later. The fabrics appear to be maybe from the 80's maybe -not the best quality and colors. Here is the original quilt:

A few more interesting tidbits about Mildred. At one time she sold notions out of her living room so that the local ladies wouldn't have to go all the way to town. She sold thread, binding tape, needles, etc. When it got to taking up too much space she decided to make a shop in her walk-out basement but her husband put a stop to it because he wouldn't hear of his wife "working". After her husband passed away she went to work in the fabric and notions department of King's Department Store, a local five and dime. So she obviously loved sewing and crafting, but not quilting so much!

After deciding that no one REALLY likes the fabrics she had picked out for the second set of blocks, we have decided to preserve the embroidered blocks and replace the fabric with  30's prints that would have been popular at the time the patterns were published.

The quilt made for Liz was made using leftover pieces from clothing, aprons, etc. and the back is a crazy quilts of more pieces! So cool!!

Stay tuned for the first installment of the newspaper column. Then we can start a Sew-Along if you would like to make these blocks along with me!!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Clue #2.....

When I got to the LAST block in the pile-finally! a name!  It says Ann (I think) Patterson, and then the initials F.L.G. 1930. Why are the last letters in the pack  YOU? The embroidered block actually has XYZ on it. And a sweet little label that says "made by Mildred"! This lady was ORGANIZED!

I started searching. Nothing came up for Ann Patterson BUT I did find  F.L.G!  Florence La Ganke was quite well known for her series quilt patterns in the 1930's. Some have you may have heard of Ruby McKim who did numerous quilt patterns at that time, and apparently Florence was a competitor of sorts.  I also kept coming across the name Nancy Page as I was sorting through all of this.  Finally what I figured out is that Florence published her patterns under the name of the Nancy Page Quilt Club. There were multiple series over the years. Most were published weekly, say every Sunday, in the newspaper. They were distributed through a syndicate so were in many papers around the country. I have yet to find which of the papers these particular ones came from. I found a reference to the Detroit Free Press carrying in every Sunday starting October 6th, 1929.

Prior to this Florence did a household column. Here is a reference to it from a Syracuse paper:

The Nancy Page household column was introduced February 24, 1927, in the Syracuse (NY)
Coming! Nancy Page / Friend and Counselor / Commencing Monday, The Herald will publish the
daily adventures of Nancy Page, an attractive young married woman who meets and solves
problems of --Dress --Beauty --Food --Diet --Etiquette --Child Care --Economy --House Furnishings /
Created by Florence La Ganke the character of Nancy Page will grow upon all women readers.
Into her presentation of the solutions to pressing problems of the home, Miss La Ganke weaves
Romance, Individuality and Continuity. Ann Kerven,* noted fashion artist, will give Nancy her
costumes in the latest modes. / You will be interested not only in the running story of the life of
Nancy Page, but also in the methods she uses to meet life's baffling problems. / Watch for the first
installment of Nancy Page, to appear exclusively in The Syracuse Herald.  (

I thought that was pretty funny. I'll have to search for more on that column too! Stay tuned for more!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The First Clue....

My first clue as to where these patterns came from was on the back of the patterns. Most of them have a comic strip on the back that is copyrighted 1929. So at least I have an idea of the time frame.
Some of the patterns have stock reports on them and society news.

Stay tuned for Clue 2!

A Mystery to Solve!

My sister-in-law recently came across a package of unfinished quilt squares from her grandmother and asked me if I would be interested in finishing it for her.  She has an identical quilt finished and it looks like her grandmother cut all the pieces for a second one and didn't get to it.  The patterns look like they are from a newspaper. I am so intrigued I decided I would like to do some research on it and blog about my progress. So stay tuned for more information about the quilt. I have pictures coming soon of the first completed quilt to compare to as I go about working on this one. Heres a peak at my first glance at what it is the package.