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!!