Getting Ready for the Festival of Quilts

Part 7: Patterns and survival, Nova Scotia block.


In the new world  resources were scare, there was little free time for women to pursue non-essential activities and quilts were needed for survival.

Unlike England where quilting was mainly an upper and middle class activity, in North America during the 1800s’s quilting was a necessity for many settlers. The 1st immigrants, unprepared for Canadian winters, pieced together fabric scraps from garments, furniture and even old socks. These scrap quilts in themselves essentially became a record of the history of the family.

Quilting “parties” or “bees” were an important part of social life, especially for rural women. It was said that if you wanted a social life, you had better be a good stitcher.  Of course quilts were also used to display wealth, worldliness and used to celebrate special occasions.


In early years patterns typically reflected the styles and colours of the countries people came from. Patterns however evolved over time to reflect the new world around the settlers.

Applique which was more time consuming, wasted fabric and required larger pieces of  fabric so was not as common a practice for settlers in the new world.  After the 1880’s, quilting changed except for isolated communities and for the poor. Steam driven machines and industrial produced needlework dealt a near death blow to quilting!

The next provincial block I will tackle is Nova Scotia, one of the 4 founding provinces of confederation in 1867. I think it is a forgone conclusion at least to me what my choice is.  When you think of this province you think of the iconic image of Peggy Cove lighthouse and the rugged beauty of Cape Breton. But from all the provinces, I felt the tall ship block best typifies this province.ship-nova-scotia

I was surprised by all the traditional variations of boats available. Maybe I should make it out of old socks 🙂

Nova Scotia block (sail boat block)    … free instructions



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