BLOCK Friday: House Quilt Blocks

“Through the years, quilts have become documents of history. They are the products of their society, influenced by the culture, and the environment of the people who made them. The history of America can be seen in the history of quilts.” – National Park Service

Won't You Be My Neighbor Quilt
Won’t You Be My Neighbor

House quilt blocks have a way of bringing American history into modern homes. They offer a sense of nostalgia, even if the quilter or receiver of the quilt National Park Service - Schoolhouse quilt blockisn’t aware of the story surrounding them. Like many quilt blocks that quilters work with on a regular basis, House quilt blocks have seen a metamorphosis of sorts since the quilt block’s conception in the latter part of the 1800s. With the movement west, spurred on by the Homestead Act of 1862, the prospect of a new start and ownership of land inspired many women to document their lives and the prosperity of their western towns. Building a better life meant providing children with an education via schoolhouses and the townspeople with various other public buildings. The National Park Service discusses how the process was recorded in fabric, “The Schoolhouse block was often a variation of a house or church pattern. Most featured a side view of the building and were either pieced or appliquéd. Depending on the skill of the quilter and time available to her, crosses in the windowpanes and outlines of the doors could be added.”

Coming Home Quilt
Coming Home

It’s fun to see how House quilt blocks have changed over time. The House block in Coming Home is created in a similar style to the traditional Schoolhouse quilt block, while the House block in Won’t You Be My Neighbor looks totally different and works up quicker.

You can see tradition shining through the House quilt blocks in the Cabin Runner below. These blocks resemble the original Schoolhouse block that was created by the westward-bound pioneers. The houses in the Thimbleberries project by Lynette Jensen (right) are met with a little whimsy – country flowers divide the houses to create space in the design, giving the impression of a neighborhood, rather than standalone houses.

Did you realize that House quilt blocks have such a poignant past? The history of this quilt block resinates with me, triggering a sadness for the many lives that were lost during the tumultuous movement west. Some pioneers prepared for months and even years for a journey with unknown consequences! Ultimately, I feel a resounding pride for the quilting community and its efforts to keep this great story alive with the continuation of this quilt block. Let’s continue to quilt American history, Quilters!

Carrie Sisk, Online Editor, Fons & Porter

 

Happy Quilting!

Carrie Sisk, Fons & Porter, Online Editor

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Carrie Sisk

About Carrie Sisk

Carrie's first sewing machine was a gift from her dad—a better gift was never given. A crafter, trained pianist and experienced paintballer, when the opportunity arises, she's hiking in Yosemite or Rocky Mountain National Park.

2 thoughts on “BLOCK Friday: House Quilt Blocks

  1. This article stirred my memory. Our quilt guild did a house block exchange and I have a few left-overs. The cabin table runner suits me perfectly. Can’t wait to get started. Thanks.
    Ps. Love your magazine and your Friday blocks. RAH

  2. I have an unexplainable attraction to house blocks….I love them! I have made several quilts and wall hangings and other projects from house blocks. I would love to post pictures of some of them, but that isn’t an option. Thanks for the posting!

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