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Quilt blocks that are leftover from a project or blocks that were test or practice blocks.
Other names: leftovers, part of an UFO ,WlP, (3.1 (Good Intentions) or PhD(Project half Done), reject, false start , OOPS, re-do, “What was I thinking?” , and Treasures in Reserve.
The Wisdom of Orphan Blocks: “Take something imperfect and unloved and give it a home in a completed quilt!” Tricia Lynn Maloney
Orphan blocks can be used for:
Practice square for hand or machine quilting
Practice square for new technique
Potholder or hot pad
Case for eyeglasses or rotary cutter
Tote bag or pocket or a tote bag
Mated with other blocks for a quilt
Center for a Round Robin quilt or a medallion quilt
Needlecase (tutorial @ patchworkposse.com)
Sewing table, remote or bedside pockets
Block for calendar
Coin or jewelry purse
Sewing machine cover
Gift bag or Decorative box cover
Patchwork Stuffed Dolls or Animals
Online orphan block challenges
Sell, Giveaway and/or Trade
A few websites to check out:
— Kathy Wickham
We have 16 quilts to show you today and we will “turn them back” one at a time and tell you a bit about each.
And since the theme of this year’s quilt show is Vintage to Modern we will begin with the oldest and end with the most modern.
Our first quilt, owned by guild member Natalie Norris, is an antique 1804 Hexagon quilt or Honeycomb quilt as it was known during that period. When this quilt was made the United States was a brand new country. Just 4 years earlier Washington D.C. had become our nation’s capital and the year before, in 1803, the Louisiana Purchase had doubled the size of the United States extending our border to the Rocky Mountains.
This is a large quilt, measuring 108” by 108” which is often an indicator of an early quilt. It is signed and dated “Rebeckah Morrison 1804” in the center honeycomb using fine marking stitches. These marking stitches are small cross stitches used to mark linens during the 18th century and the first quarter of the 19th century.
Several of the fabrics were made using wooden blocks to hand stamp the design on to a solid piece of cloth.
Hand pieced and hand quilted it is believed to have been made in Virginia. It has a light batting and rows of chevron quilting ½” apart. The tape binding is of special interest as it is perhaps hand loomed.
Our second quilt is an antique Evening Star made in 1846. While the maker is unknown, it has been in guild member Susan Kraterfield’s family for at least 100 years.
It measures 86 ½ by 93 ½. It is hand pieced and hand quilted with a narrow self binding. The plain, or setting blocks, are quilted with 4 oak leaves with the stems toward the center and the leaves pointing toward the corners of the blocks. The plain setting blocks on the edge of the quilt are quilted with tulips with the base toward the inside of the quit and the petals toward the edge.
Susan made an exciting discovery while helping us gather details so that we could describe the quilting for the bed turning. The first plain block that she looked at appeared to have writing in it and not oak leaves. So armed with a stronger light and a magnifying glass she found the year 1846 embroidered in the block as well as several surnames that lead her to believe that the quilt was made in a town on the east side of the Hudson River in New York State.
The quilt was exhibited in the 1976 bicentennial display of quilts in New Jersey and was voted the Best in Show Antique Quilt in 2006 at the Mountain Comforts Quilt Show in Ferrum, Virginia.
Album quilts are often called Friendship Quilts and were made mainly between 1840 and 1870 as statements of friendship. They were often presented as a gift to celebrate an important life event such as a marriage or a move to another community.
Most were hand appliquéd and hand pieced as is this circa 1850 Virginia or Maryland Album Quilt owned by Natalie Norris. There was no special pattern or pattern type used in these quilts. The pattern just needed an open area where a name could be written. The signatures on this quilt are inked, but other Album Quilts may have names embroidered with cross stitching or a chain stitch.
This wonderful example of an Album Quilt includes a Princess Feather Block, a Presidential Wreath Block, and a Crossed Tulip Poplar Block. The blocks have been made using a variety of techniques including appliqué, reverse appliqué, buttonhole stitching and embroidery.
While quilters all over the country joined the Album Quilt craze, it was the ladies in and around Baltimore Maryland who created the most elaborate examples.
This Baltimore Album quilt was made by guild member Linda Whisman in the early 1990’s and won a Blue Ribbon at the Vinton Dogwood Festival. Her inspiration came from the book, “Red and Green An Applique Tradition” by Jeana Kimball (SHOW BOOK ). Linda also created an original block for the quilt that features 4 bunches of grapes. Begun in February of 1991, it was hand appliquéd and hand quilted, and finished in June of 1994.
The red and green fabrics used here by Linda were used almost without exception by the Baltimore ladies who did their finest work between 1846 and 1860. Linda’s wonderful swag border beautifully frames the 20 blocks that took her 9 months to complete.
As in this quilt, wreaths were used extensively in the antique Baltimore Album quilts . There were wreaths of grapes, cherries, tulips, but the most loved were those of roses and rose buds. There were also baskets of fruits indicating plenty and doves for a happy marriage. Flowers also had specific meanings: roses for romantic love, violets for modesty and lilies for purity.
Our next quilt, the Naia or Dolphin quilt was hand appliquéd and freehand echo quilted by Susan Kraterfield in 2003.
We have placed it here to show a very distinct style of quilting that emerged in the late 1800’s. Missionaries from New England had arrived in the Hawaiian Islands in 1820 and they invited the Royal Hawaiians to join their sewing bees introducing them to quilting techniques. The Hawaiians merged these new techniques with their traditions to create what is now known as Hawaiian appliqué.
Traditionally, the Hawaiians used one large appliqué pattern cut from a single piece of folded cloth and appliquéd it to a solid color background fabric. If you remember the snowflakes we made in grade school it is the same technique – fold, fold, draw on the design, and cut to get a perfectly symmetrical 4 part pattern.
Susan used a different technique for her quilt. She marked the entire design on the lime colored fabric and basted it onto the background with no cutting. She then worked the needle turn appliqué from the center, cutting away an inch or so at a time. That way there were no raw edges to fray and the piece stayed stable as she worked on it. She used an olive colored silk thread for the appliqué.
The background is a blue/green fossil fern and the lime fabric has specks that make it look like dolphin skin. Her quilt features echo quilting which is traditional to the Hawaiian quilts of the 1800’s.
The quilt measures 88 x 88 and took Susan approximately a year to complete. But she says that she finds it very relaxing especially the echo quilting which is a “no stress” way to hand quilt because there is no marking.
By the 1880’s a man’s success was measured in part by the number of leisure hours enjoyed by his wife. Hours of cooking and cleaning were not the hallmark of a lady in a well to do household. As a result ladies were expected to devote many hours to fancy needle work.
Our next quilt is a Victorian Crazy Quilt, a style that emerged in that period. Victorian Crazy quilts were made of scraps of silks, satins, and velvets often set against a dark background so they would glow like stained glass. And instead of simple quilting they were finished with lavish embroidery which added richness and also disguised the seams. They were usually made by women living in cities since they dressed more formally and would have had the silk and satin scraps not the cottons of the more rural areas.
The quilt you see here was made by Mamie Burrow Harris in 1952. Mamie was born in 1899 and lived in Verona, VA for her entire life. She made this crazy quilt, and many others like it, as gifts for family members and for charity raffles at the New Hope Church of the Brethren. Although Mamie’s early crazy quilts were made from a variety of fabrics and even from old clothing, her later ones were pieced entirely from velvet and velveteen scraps bought at the Compton Fabric Mills in nearby Waynesboro. All her embroidery work was stitched free-hand without the use of patterns. She machine pieced on her Singer treadle sewing machine. Each of her quilts depicted at least one bird and the year of completion and all were hand tied.
Mamie was the great-grandmother of guild member Judy Coffman.
The Crazy Quilt that we just saw used embroidery as an embellishment. On this quilt, a Red Work Summer Spread, the embroidery provides the only design. And the embroidery is not elaborate. Red Work is usually done in a simple stem stitch that outlines the image and no fill in stitching is used.
This quilt was purchased by Natalie Norris at a farm sale at Mills Creek from a member of the Sifford family of Botetourt County. Most Red Work covers like this one were made as summer spreads and had no batting, backing, or quilting. And most were made with red stitching on white cloth. Early Red Work quilts used some of the same motifs as the Crazy Quilts. By the 1920’s quilters were using blocks with themes such as the days of the week or state birds. Also many were made for children using nursery rhyme characters, farm animals and flowers.
These quilts are hard to date since the same blocks were used in quilts made from the late 1800’s through the 1940’s. And quilters today are using the same vintage patterns to create their own Red Work treasures.
This quilt, made in 1933 and owned by guild member Susan Berry, was used as a fundraiser in Wardensville, WV, a small town about 34 miles west of Winchester, VA. The fundraiser was to help defray the costs of replacing the roof of St. Paul Lutheran Church, which had been damaged by high winds in a storm. People paid ten cents to have their names embroidered on the quilt in red. Names in black were for deceased people. Susan’s grandfather won the quilt in an auction paying $10.00 for it.
Quilt appraiser, Neva Hart, told Sue that this type of fundraiser quilt was used often during this time period in Ohio, West Virginia, and parts of Virginia. The quilt is priceless to Sue because it has the names of most of her maternal relatives, including her grandparents, her mother, and her mother’s seven brothers and sisters.
Surprisingly, the quilt does not have any names from Sue’s father’s family who lived only 11 miles from Wardensville. Sue does not know whether this is because of the difficulties of traveling during that time period or because her father’s family lived in great isolation and poverty in a West Virginia “hollow.”
This lovely Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt is owned by June Patterson and was made by her husband’s grandmother, Edith Louise Harvey Hanks. She was from a small town in Pennsylvania called Shinglehouse and was married to an oil driller from Minnesota. June believes that she was living in a small town in New York State, right on the Pennsylvania border, called Knapps Creek when she made the quilt probably in the 1930’s.
This was one of the most popular patterns of the 1920’s and 1930’s even though it would be one of the most labor-intensive. It is a one patch design made entirely of hundreds of separate hexagons. Colored groups of hexagons are joined together to form a larger hexagon or “garden.” The solid color “garden path” is also composed of hexagons. In this quilt the garden centers are all the same yellow solid. These are surrounded by another ring of solid fabric and the maker used many different colors here. The final outside ring in each garden is a floral print that coordinates and gives the look of flower beds in bloom. The background, or garden path, in an off- white solid, connects all the flower beds.
This quilt is hand pieced and hand quilted and the backing was brought around to the front for the binding.
Most Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilts are made in pastels like this one and most were made during the Depression years. In this quilt we see the same traditional hexagon pattern as in our first 1804 quilt but the strong colors of the earlier patchwork quilt have given way to these lighter colors.
Our next quilt, owned by guild member Donna Bohon, is named after a song called “The Letter Edged in Black.” The song was written by Hattie Nevada and was first recorded in 1877. At least 8 other singers have recorded the song since then, including Marty Robbins, Hank Snow, Jim Reeves and most recently Johnny Cash in 2006.
The song tells the story of a happy carefree young man who finds his life changed when the postman hands him a “letter edged in black.” The letter from his father tells him that his mother has died and that her last words were, “Tell my boy I want him to come back!”The young man had left home after an argument with his father and in the letter his father is asking for forgiveness for his angry words.
The quilt was pieced by Donna’s grandmother, Clara Esplin Spencer, on her treadle machine that had an electric motor attached to it. It was hand quilted by Donna’s mother Roberta Spencer Hadley after Clara passed away. Even though she did the hand quilting, Donna’s Mom, Roberta, never liked the quilt because of the black fabric. She dislikes black in anything including clothes and shoes and especially in a quilt. For this reason she gave it to Donna.
Donna has not been able to identify the pattern in the quilt and would be interested to hear from anyone who might be able to give her information about the pattern.
Trees were vital to the development and expansion of the United States. For generations we have depended on our forests for timber for our homes, fuel for our fireplaces, as well as wood for furniture, and even maple syrup for our pancakes. So it is not surprising that the tree is a very popular pattern in quiltmaking and has been used since the 18th century.
This 2 color, red and white, Pine Tree quilt is owned by guild member Cathy Fandel. It was made in the early 1940’s and given to her aunt, Elizabeth Spencer, and her husband as a wedding gift. They were married in Ogdensburg, New York, a city in northern New York State, located on the St. Lawrence River. It is quite worn on the “under the chin edge” as it was loved and used for many years.
The quilt is hand pieced and hand quilted and is composed of 13” blocks set on point. It has three blocks across and four down. Other names for this triangular shaped tree pattern are Tree of Temptation, Temperance Tree, Live Oak Tree and Tree
For most people an Amish quilt is instantly recognizable. They feature saturated, jewel like colors and even the antique Amish quilts have a striking contemporary look with their solid fabrics and bold geometric shapes.
The Amish fled religious persecution in Europe and came to the United States throughout the 18th century. Many settled in Lancaster, PA. They had no heritage of quiltmaking and were slow to discover quilts and made very few before 1800. But when they began to quilt their isolation from the outside world and their plain ways led to their unique style of quilting.
Their principles of simplicity and humility were evident in every part of their lives including their quilting. But their use of bold colors and elaborate quilting suggest that they enjoyed the creativity involved and that their quilts were more than a way to fight against the “evils of idle hands.”
This Amish House quilt is owned by Ann Bannan and was purchased in 1986 at the Houston Quilt Show. It is machine pieced and hand quilted using all cotton fabrics and a polyester batting. It was made by Sylvia Yoder and her name and the 1986 date are stitched on the back of the quilt.
Quilt lore suggests that each quilt made by the Amish contains a deliberate error to acknowledge that only God is perfect and that the quilt maker is not. We searched for the Humility Patch in this quilt but did not find one….yet.
Quilters have always make quilts to celebrate milestones in their personal lives, such as weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, graduations and new babies. But quilters also make quilts to mark historical events as well – Women’s Temperance, the United States centennial, the United States Bicentennial, and most recently the start of the 21st century in the year 2000.
Our next quilt is just that – a Y2Q Project.
Guild member Loretta Bedia purchased a kit of 2000 different fabrics from Betty Boyink Publishing at Quiltfest in Williamsburg, VA in 1999. The kit was called Millennium Quilt Celebration – A Y2Q Project.
Loretta, who had been quilting for about 10 years says that she really stepped out of her comfort zone when she bought the kit. While the kit came with suggestions for layouts none of them appealed to her and she agonized over the box of fabrics for 4 long years. Finally in January of 2004 she decided how she wanted her quilt to look. She would make a total of 20 blocks with each block having 100 fabrics, with half of the block light and half dark. After sorting her fabrics into lights and darks she completed her first block on January 22, 2004. One month later on February 22 she had completed machine piecing the top.
Gayle Englehart did the machine quilting in May of 2004 using Hobbs batting and the final quilt measures 90 x 108. She uses the quilt on her bed and says that finally she and her husband don’t have to fight to stay covered as it is large enough for both of them.
What can you make using just one quilt block and just one fabric? You can make an amazing and dynamic quilt called a One Block Wonder.
This quilt was made by guild member Loretta Twiford in 2012 using the book One Block Wonder written byHer fabric, aptly named Lion Eyes, was made by Alexander Henry.
For the One Block Wonder, a fabric with a 24” repeat is ideal for variety in the blocks. Any smaller repeat leads to too much repetition in the blocks. And a busy fabric without any “dead spots” is also essential for the best results.
Loretta became interested in making this quilt after seeing one made by another quilter from the Blue Ridge Quilt Guild. She and 2 friends asked to attend one of their Bee meetings and the rest, as they say, is history.
Loretta says it is like putting together a puzzle and freely admits to being addicted. To date, Loretta has made five One Block Wonder Quilts, and has fabric to make 5 more. She has also taught a class on the One Block Wonder numerous times at Creative Quilting Connection.
The sampler quilt is a long standing favorite for all quilters. Classic samplers of yesteryear and today have rows of like sized blocks separated by sashing. It is often the first quilt made by a new quilter as it teaches different techniques that increase in difficulty. It can also help improve the skills of any quilter and the variety of the blocks makes for an interesting and dynamic quilt.
This contemporary sampler was made by Elsie Bailey and won a blue ribbon in its class at the 2013 Star Quilters Guild Show. As you can see this “next generation “ sampler has different sized blocks and no sashing. It is the design and the color that hold this quilt together.
But while the finished quilt may look very different from a traditional sampler the teaching techniques are still there. Blocks are pieced with straight lines, points, curves, appliqué and paper piecing. The inspiration for the quilt began with the book Dynamic Sampler Quilts by Marianne S Hatton.
Instantly recognizable as a portrait of Albert Einstein, this quilt was made in 2013 by guild member Nancy Oldham.
Nancy became interested in portrait quilts through an online quilting class. Not completely satisfied with the technique used she did more research and then as she says “just did her own thing,” and very successfully as the quilt won 1st place at the Blue Ridge Quilt Show at the Piedmont Art Center in 2013.
Einstein, most famously known for his Theory of Relativity, also played the violin, loved classical music and was very interested in human affairs. He had great compassion for the oppressed and was always a champion of the underdog. Nancy did a great deal of research on his life and calls him her muse. This wallhanging hangs in her sewing room and she feels that his eyes follow her around the room as she works.
For Einstein’s hair Nancy used a silk mohair yarn that she purchased at Yarn Explosion in Roanoke. When she walked into the store and told the first saleswoman that she was looking for “Einstein’s hair” she was met with a blank stare. But a second employee, overhearing her request, rescued her and took her to the perfect yarn that we see here.
Nancy has titled her quilt “Imagine Albert Imagining.”
That is our last quilt. We began with an antique 1804 quilt and ended with a modern art quilt. We hope you have enjoyed the journey and learned a bit along the way. We certainly have enjoyed the opportunity to share all of these quilts with you today.
Below are the Small, Medium, and Large Team Pieced quilts. Click any picture to see a larger version. If you find any errors in this or any other picture gallery, leave a comment and I’ll fix it.
This album covers all sized of entries that were pieced & completed by a single individual.