Free Pattern Friday — Four Rose Appliqué Blocks

These traditional rose patterns appeared in the Aug/Sept, 1987 issue of Lady’s Circle Patchwork Quilts magazine. The original pages were only one-quarter of each 16″ block, but I have photoshopped them so you can see the whole design. Clicking on the images below will open a pdf version of the original one-quarter pattern, which you can download, print, and use to trace your templates. To make the guide for placing your templates, print 4 copies of the pattern, then trim and tape the four quarters together.

Ohio Rose


Mexican Rose


Rose Spray


Rose Cross



WIP Wednesday — Nearing the End of the Appliquéd Squares

Thank you to everyone who helped me come up with ideas for these squares. There are quite a few designs in this batch that were suggested by readers, and there is just one more group left to stitch. My husband is relieved that the design part is over, because I might have been driving him a little crazy.

Oops, I just noticed I forgot to stitch the inside of the sleigh. This happens a fair amount — I don’t see the mistake until I look at the photo.


Free Pattern Friday — Star Patterns and a Story

This cute story about a little boy who makes a simple star quilt appeared as part of a series titled “Daddy’s Bedtime Stories” which was published in the Salina Evening Journal (Salina, Kansas) from 1913 to 1916.

Below the story are pieced diagrams for 3 star quilts — two very simple (like the boy in the story might have made) and one more complex. Clicking on the images will open a pdf file of that quilt’s templates for printing.

The Little Boy Who Could Sew Nicely

There is no doubt that small boys have not much taste for sewing. “Though once when I was a small boy,” daddy told Jack and Evelyn, “I knew a boy who could sew very nicely. His mother said that he should learn to use the needle when he was young, and then if he grew up and became an old bachelor, he would be able to patch his own clothes and sew on buttons.
“And, let me tell you, he could sew very nicely. He had no sisters, and the evenings were sometimes dull.
“One night, as they gathered around the evening lamp, Georgie — that was his name — watched his mother take out her workbasket and begin stitching.
” ‘Mother, could I have a needle and thread?’ he asked.
” ‘Certainly, his mother replied. ‘What are you going to make?’
” ‘I’d like to make something useful,’ Georgie answered
” ‘I’ll tell you what you can make,’ she answered. I’ll cut out some patches, and you can make a quilt for your own bed.’
“Georgie was pleased with the idea, and when his mother cut out the gay patches to form a star pattern, he went to work with a will.
“Every evening when they sat down at the table Georgie sewed more patches. Soon he had quite a pile of them done.
“When the patches were sewed, his mother showed him how to put them together.
“Then she lined the quilt with cotton and tacked a plain piece of material on for a back. When she had bound the edges together, Georgie had a handsome cover for his bed, and he was very proud of it.
“When this little quilt was done, he set to work and made a larger and handsomer one for his mother. He seemed to have a knack in matching the colors, and his relatives saved ‘patches’ for Georgie’s quilts.
“Every year a county fair was given by the people of that part of the state. The farmers sent their finest cattle and fattest pigs to be shown. The farmers’ wives sent jars of their best preserves, their choicest butter and finest hens.
“Besides this, there were all sorts of pretty and useful things made with the needle, and prizes were given for the nicest and best things of each kind.
“A dear old lady who admired Georgie’s quilts told his mother he ought to send one to the fair to show.
“So a quilt did go off to the fair, and the judges were to tickled over the idea of a little boy having made a quilt that they voted to give him a handsome bicycle as a prize, and I’m afraid after that, Georgie did not make many quilts.”

Evening Star – 6″ BlockEvening-Star-Quilt-scaled-piecing-diagram

Variable Star – 12″ BlockVariable-Star-Quilt-scaled-piecing-diagram

South Carolina Star – 15″ BlockSouth-Carolina-Star-Quilt-scaled-piecing-diagram

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WIP Wednesday — Crazy Courthouse Steps Vintage Quilt Top

I hope those of you who were fans of the original quilt top will not be disappointed that I ended up changing it a bit. In the process of pressing the top to prep for quilting, I realized it was never going to be flat enough to stitch. I also discovered, upon closer inspection, that the top did contain some dubious fabrics — a few had rust stains and there were a couple of thick flannel pieces.

When I began unpicking the blocks, it was easy to see why the quilt was so lumpy. The pictures below are representative, although each block was oddly shaped in its own unique way. Some were square-ish, most were sort of rectangle-ish, and the length of the crooked sides varied from 9″ to 11″.

I trimmed all the blocks to the lowest common denominator (9″), and attempted to straighten them a little if I could. The suspect fabrics were replaced with pieces reused from the top, whenever possible. Although I kept the blocks in their original positions, I worried (because of the trimming) that I was going to ruin what Kathleen, in her comment, called the “step-back view” of the top. I’m pretty happy with the result, though, and now it’s nice and flat, and also a little smaller.


Since the top has about a gazillion seams, I knew I wanted a simple quilting pattern with a bigger stitch and thicker thread. I auditioned several different colors and types of thread, and decided on 3 strands of good old, versatile 6-strand embroidery floss in black, and a simple diagonal pattern. The floss kind of hugs into the fabric instead of sitting on top, and I happen to have a ton of DMC #310.


Now I’m excited to start quilting, because I’m going to enjoy marveling at every single crazy print she added to this top.


Vintage Quilt Top — Crazy Courthouse Steps

The last top I quilted was a wonky antique log cabin variation. This Courthouse Steps version is much crazier in every way — design, fabric selection, and construction (the only consistent element is the red center square in every block). It’s not completely flat, the foundation stitching is too big, and the edges are not straight (the photo is cropped). Despite all its flaws, and even though it’s unlike any quilts I make, I think it’s wonderful and has a sort of cool Gee’s Bend vibe.

The top was probably constructed no earlier than the 1940s, and this quilter obviously had an amazing scrap bag to work with. The top contains fabrics spanning decades — from 19th century mourning prints and indigos all the way to 1930s pastels and 1940s bright florals. Somehow, for me, it all just works.

Fortunately, the top is clean with no damage, stains, smells or inappropriate fibers — although there are a few pieces of seersucker that I’m not going to bother replacing. I will need to do some close quilting to get it flat and keep everything secure.

So, are you a fan of this craziness, or is this just too much?

Crazy Courthouse Steps Quilt Top
Unknown quilter, 1940s
76″ x 80″






McCall’s Monday – Peasant Embroidery

Peasant embroidery made a comeback in the 1970s, when I made several shirts with embroidered peasant designs. I even tried one very similar to the smocked Mexican style below. Argh! Why did I give all those clothes away!

I wish I had the actual McCall’s transfers for these patterns, but, as a substitute, I do have some peasant designs from a series of “make it yourself” books published in the 1970s by Columbia House.



peasant-embroidery-MIY-1 peasant-embroidery-MIY-2 peasant-embroidery-MIY-3


Free Pattern Friday — The Infant of Prague and Saint Thérèse of Lisieux Embroidery Transfers

I attended St. John’s Catholic School in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, through the eighth grade, and one of my favorite activities was collecting holy cards. The nuns (Ursulines, who all wore habits) would give out holy cards as rewards for all kinds of things, so,  even though I was an average student, I had quite a collection. The Blessed Virgin Mary was my favorite, but Saint Thérèse of Lisieux was a close second. This wall hanging design is exactly like my best Saint Thérèse holy card, with the crucifix and the roses.

I always loved the Infant of Prague because he’s like a little doll. The original statue is only 19″ tall, and because he had elaborate jeweled vestments for different occasions, people would often make clothing for their reproduction statues.

Clicking on the pattern image below will open a full-sized pdf file. Scroll to the bottom of the image, and click on the download button. Open the downloaded file in Acrobat Reader, and select “poster” in the print dialog box. This will allow you to tile print the original pattern size on multiple sheets of letter or legal sized paper, which you can then trim and tape or glue together. The transfers are not reversed, as I assumed you would be tracing them directly onto fabric. If you are going to go over the printout with a transfer pencil, you will need to reverse the image first. The instruction sheet for both patterns is available here.




WIP Wednesday — Even More Denim Coverlet Squares

Yay! The denim squares are back. 121 are finished, 13 are prepped (mostly the rest of the alphabet), and there are 30 more to design. I’m having a mental block coming up with new ideas, but am hoping for a breakthrough very soon. It’ll be exciting to move on to the next phase of this project — backing the squares with reproduction fabrics, and blanket stitching the edges with perle cotton.


McCall’s Monday – Wraparound Apron & Dress

To me, this apron seems excessive, even if it is supposed to be for “company.”  An apron doesn’t need to provide all that coverage, and if you’re going to put that much work into it, you might as well just make an actual dress.

The wrap dress below reminds me so much of my mother, who always wore dresses when I was little. She had nice dresses for church and for going to town, but most days she wore cotton house dresses. The catalog suggests that this dress is “a smart uniform for housewives . . . that will keep you cheerily at your chores!” I love that little bud embroidery.


Here is my mother wearing a typical outfit, with me and my older sister, Sally. This photo is from 1947, just a few years after this catalog was published.