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.


  1. What a great story. I can hardly wait for the blocks to come.

  2. I'm giddy just reading this! I just happen to have on hand 5 yards of feedsack white material. This will be a fun one!

    1. wow Sarah! Perfect! I'll be getting it ready on my vacation!!

  3. This is wonderful. Thank you for transcribing the story.

  4. I just saw your most recent post with the newest lettered block. I had to scroll through your posts just to see the other ones done up. Really cute blocks. What a fun sew along.

    1. Thanks Carrie! I'm glad you are enjoying them. They are easy and fun to do.