Getting Ready for the Edmonton Festival of Quilts

Part 15: Putting it all Together.

How do quilters get ideas for their creations?  Today there are thousands of books that inspire or provide complete directions as to how to make a quilt.  You can even buy kits with the fabric all picked out for you!  Never mind all the hours you can spend on the internet searching for ideas and the next trend globally. I wonder when was the turning point where the craft was no longer primary passed personally on from one generation to the next?

If you look at the home fashion sewing history there could be some clues. According to “A History of the Paper Pattern Industry: The Home Dressmaking Fashion Revolution”, between 1825 and 1850 there were a number of important changes that occurred. Not only was the growing availability of the sewing machine important, but also for the 1st time there was inexpensive paper produced from steam-driven paper-making machines. This resulted in an avalanche of affordable dressmaking publications and patterns. There was now even a national postal system that allowed for patterns to be purchased even if you lived in remote communities!

In 1860 the Butterick Company, of Ebenezer Butterick, was creating cardboard cut-outs of children’s clothing. . In 1870, Scottish immigrant James McCall began designing and mccallsprinting his own line of sewing patterns . Were there also quilt patterns? I was unable to find any evidence. But by the late 1920’s and 1930, there certainly were numerous quilt patterns that could be purchased from companies like McCalls.  Complete quilt patterns could even be found in newspapers.

In my art quilts I typically do not part from a pattern. My creations often start from a photo or a sketch. I might  cut out applique shapes out of freezer paper or a fusible web product. If it is going into a show, I most likely will have to adhere to a finished size. Otherwise it typically is an adventure with lots and twist and turns, eureka moments and surprise endings. I decided, however, in this case since I will be assembling precise squares and triangles, I had better do advance planning so it all fits together!

The design had to accommodate 13 unique blocks that will make a comfortable lap size quilt. In the end I decided to make a medallion style quilt where the central motif was based on the traditional maple leave block I posted in my 1st blog. Jinny Beyer’s book “The Quilters Album of Patchwork Patterns” became my go to quilters bible. Using the grid system, instead of a 3×3 grid, maple-leaf-block I expanded the block to a 12×12 grid and played with it on graph paper and finally my very old EQ5 program. I came up with the following pattern. The white spaces are where the provincial blocks go.  It can be easily scaled up or down in size depending on how big I want to make the overall quilt with some sashing and borders. I hope it will be traditional enough. I guess now it is time to start making my blocks and get those perfect points! Less than 6 months till the quilt show. maple-quilt


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