BLOCK Fridays are always fun to write – I get to learn a little bit about the history of each quilt block and maybe something about what goes into making a quilt block that I haven’t constructed just yet.
Today, I thought I’d put together five of our most popular BLOCK Fridays. Enjoy!
The Shoo Fly quilt block has a rich history, having been used as a teaching tool in quilting for young girls at one point and receiving its name from an interesting source. Whatever its origin, this gorgeous, depression-era quilt block makes its statement in a variety of different forms. Depending on color arrangement, the primary design can appear as four arrows in the corners, pointing to a center block or a circle with a hole in the center. Four lovely quilts are shown with the Shoo Fly quilt block as an integral part of their design in this popular BLOCK Friday article: Patchwork Blues, Emily’s Wedding Quilt, Shoo Shoo Fly, and With Help From Friends.
Have you heard of “Beggar quilts”? If you have, you know that we’re talking about Tumbler quilts. These old-fashioned quilts were made regularly in the 1870s and became popular again in the 1930s and 40s. Today, we’re equal opportunity quilters, and these quilts can be seen in children’s quilt patterns, charm pack quilt patterns (or quilts using other pre-cuts), patriotic quilt patterns and, of course, they’re popularity reigns as homemade quilts. They’re a little bit of everywhere. Made even easier with a handy quilting template, contemporary quilt patterns bring old-fashioned quilts, like the Tumbler, into modern day.
Civil War quilts have the richest history of all the quilt blocks and quilt types I’ve researched to date. This makes sense, of course, since these quilts are part of events that shaped the United States into the country we know today. The quiltmaking movement, for Union and Confederate women alike, was community-based, a way to raise funds for the war, and a huge part of the effort to keep soldiers comfortable and warm. Original Civil War quilts were commonly made of scraps, a variety of quilt blocks and made in a hurry. The exception to this rule, however, was quilts sold at fairs and auctions. Those quilts were often made of finer materials like wool and fine cotton, even silk. The quilts donated to men fighting the war were made of a variety of fabric, sometimes pieces of old clothing or two bed-size quilts that had been sewn together and cut into three pieces to accommodate the dimensions of soldiers’ cots. If you’re interested in trying your hand at some Civil War quilt patterns, our Free Civil War Era Quilt Patterns eBook is a great place to start.
What Star quilt do you gravitate toward? There are plenty to choose from: Star of Bethlehem quilts, Lone Star quilts, Feathered Star quilts, Friendship Star quilts… the list goes on. You’ll find that a typical Star quilt block is composed of six to eight points made of diamonds or triangles radiating from the center. This quilt block is used in many traditional quilts and has been a part of the quilting world since the 1800s. You may have heard the Ohio Star quilt block referred to as Variable Star, Lone Star or Texas Star. These alternate names for the Ohio Star are results of political happenings in history. Star quilts are popular in any form, really. You can see if you like any of the Star quilt blocks offered in this free quilt patterns download.
The polls are in and Nine Patch quilt patterns made it into the #1 spot!
It’s no surprise really, the Nine Patch is timeless and versatile. It’s a great starting point for beginning quilters and diverse enough to be used in challenging quilt arrangements as traditional Nine-Patch quilt blocks or variations on the Nine-Patch. Of course, quilting templates always help with the more challenging quilts. The Nine Patch quilt block has been around for hundreds of years. Put in those terms, it’s evident that quilting is an integral part of American history, especially during the time of the pioneers and their move west. Women sewed, as was tradition, and children began their sewing education with simpler projects, like Nine Patch quilt patterns.
There you have it! The top 5 BLOCK Fridays according to popular vote. Stay tuned for more BLOCK Fridays. You can receive them right in your email inbox when you sign up for the Fons & Porter newsletter or visit the Fons & Porter blog often for BLOCK Friday blogs and other up-to-date quilting information, tips and techniques!