Quilts · Something to Think About · Textiles & Fabric

Nebraska’s International Quilt Study Center

Hunter’s Star quilt top, c. 2003, unquilted

Recently I commented on another Debbie’s block, titled Hopscotch, saying that it was an interesting variation on a Hunter’s Star block.  She wrote me back, included the link to the pattern she used, and said she couldn’t find a Hunter’s Star block that she thought resembled what she was making.

So I had to go and look at it again.  Yep–she was right.  It wasn’t a variation on a Hunter’s Star.  And, yep.  I was right.  It was a variation on a Hunter’s Star.  I could see that the author of the pattern had changed up the triangle to a 60-60-60 from a right-angle, and had extended the strips on the outside, leaving the center in a different fabric.  But not wanting to irritate the Copyright Gods who are already pretty cranky this month, I wrote back to say that I LIKE blocks that have more than just a hint of traditional blocks, for I believe “that creating a new twist on an old favorite, or dreaming up something new that has overtones of the standards, makes me appreciate the long and rich heritage we quilters belong to and participate in.”

While doing this research I dragged out my Barbara Brackman Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns (which if you don’t have, save up the grocery money and get one) and then headed over to my other favorite source: the International Quilt Study Center and Museum at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (IQSCM).  If you haven’t seen this website, head over there.  Click on Collections (in the black bar at the top) and then spend time scanning triangles or Log Cabins or whatever you feel like.  My advice is to set the number of the results per page to 50, as you can scroll through them quickly, stopping to enlarge the ones that catch your eye.

Like this one, made between 1930 and 1950. Info below.

Or this one (IQSC Object Number: 2003.010.0009).  I think the maker, who put this together sometime between 1940 and 1970, may have had our modern sensibilities when she made her colorful creation. Why are we always so quick to declare ourselves free of these amazing women and their quilts?  What is it about our quilting community now that only wants to have the latest thing on the block?  It’s well-known that any new idea is really only about 10% new, and while I hope to have a few new ideas here and there, I recognize my debt to these early quilters.  I also love seeing what women in THIS day and age are creating.  To me, it’s one big happy quilting world.

I think it’s interesting to notice in this screen shot of the listing, that there is a place for the “Brackman #”  (another reason to buy that book).  I have compiled hundreds of numbers of quilt blocks I want to make from Brackman’s book.  Pinterest (of which I also like for the ability to “curate” my own collections of ideas) has feeble numbers of ideas compared to the riches of Brackman and the IQSCM.

(Note to Pinterest Users:  Please don’t “pin” the IQSCM quilts without their permission; they allow only a one-time use of an image, with complete documentation per publication (digital or print)–with the IQSC Object Number.)

Happy Quilting, to all of us quilters–both modern and vintage, new and old!