Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Block of the Month 1800s Quilt May

Unfinished Blocks are 9.5”

I have not been able to find a name for May’s block.  I first found this block in the  Benoni Pearce Quilt, part of the quilt collection at the National Museum of American History. The Benoni Pearce quilt was made in 1850 in New York.  There are 81 different blocks in the quilt made and signed by various family members and friends. This block is 8 rows down on the far right side.  The blocks are pieced, appliqued and embroidered. Mimi Dietrich featured it in her book Quilts an American Legacy.   After noticing it in the Pearce quilt I then found nearly the same block in an album quilt made in Wisconsin circa 1840. Nann Hilyard sent me this site as a possible similar block.  She recognized it as Brown Goose.  She suggests, "Maybe you could call it “Brown Goose in a Nest” to take into account the floated setting."

One of the major sources for quilt blocks and their various names is Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.  Although this is an even 9 patch block I could not find it in the book.  Does anyone know the name of this block? I'm going to have to go back and look for Brown Goose block.  Marge Gordon also offered up a block from the collection of blocks on her web site. The design is close but not exactly the same and the coloring is different.  If you've paid attention to any quilt blocks and names you've learned that by changing coloring you change the name and often times, the complete look of a block. 

Have you visited the quilt collection of the Museum of the Confederacy?  Check this web page out for a fabulous look at every quilt in their collection. http://www.moc.org/exhibitions/museum-confederacys-quilts?mode=general   This is a very large file and may take a long time to load expecially if you have dial up internet service.  I thought it well worth  your time to see these wonderful historic quilts.  It also has “Zoomify” so you can zoom in to see details.  Many quilts have additional photos.  I wish other museums could share their collections on the internet this way. 

The block is made in two colors.  I think it is best if you do not use directional fabric.  I chose dark for the triangles and light for the squares.
Cut 8 - 3 ½” square of background fabric (medium print in photo above).
Cut 12 – 2” squares of dark fabric.  Mark a line diagonally on each of the blocks

Cut 1 – 4 1/4” square of both dark and background fabric.

Cut each square in diagonally two times giving you four triangles from each block.  Put two triangles of each color aside as we won’t be using them. 


Sew a 2” block on the corner of all 8 3 ½” blocks.  Trim the extra and iron it out.  On four of the blocks sew another 2” block on the corner, trim and iron.  Remeasure block to make sure it is still 3 ½” square.  Trim the block to that size if necessary.

Using the 4 triangles make a broken dishes block for the center of the block. To trim it to 3 ½” place one of the  diagonal lines on your ruler on the diagonal of the block.  Where the 4 fabrics meet in the center should be at the 1 ¾” mark on your ruler. 

Now it’s time to put the pieces together.  I use a piece of cardboard to lay out my pieces  to take them to the sewing machine.   Sew the units into rows and then sew the rows together. 

Ironing:  I tend to iron to the dark generally.  As much as possible I try to iron seams in opposite directions for easy "nesting".

 Block two for May

This is basically another variation on a 9 patch.

Pick two fabrics  that contrast with each other.  This does work with directional fabrics but you might want to plan how you cut the directional fabric.  Additionally you can switch the light for the dark. I have listed cutting instructions as I show it above.

Cut 4 --2 ¾” squares  light fabric
Cut 4 – 2 ¾” x 5” rectangles dark fabric
Cut 1 – 5 x 5 square light fabric

Lay out the block as shown in the picture above.   Sew light  2 ¾” squares to each side of the dark rectangles.  Sew 2 rectangles on opposite sides of the 5” square. Iron seams to the dark.  Sew rows together as shown above. 

Because there will be 13 blocks in this quilt and we will only be working on the blocks for 11 months I’ll be doing two blocks this time and one other month. 
*** You might have noticed that this month’s block has not been added to the top picture.  SIGH – my windows based computer has lost its mind. (Well, that is what I call it.)  I’m hoping to get it back up and running in a week or so.  But the big if is whether my computer guru can rescue the files before the whole computer is reformatted.   UPDATE:  the wonderful computer guru was able to rescue the computer but I haven't gotten time to add the new pictures.  I should have put that on my weekly goals! 

Feel free to send me an email if you have any questions about these blocks.  

Happy quilting all!  


  1. These are wonderful blocks. Thanks for the tutorial.

  2. Bonnie, thanks for letting us follow along. Just found you and hope to get the first 6 blocks done quickly! I too have a huge stash of 1800s (recently increased with Blue Hill fabrics on sale at QIAD and Judie R fabrics on sale at her Schoolhouse Quilts!)

  3. it is brown goose a variant of double z block. can be fuond in field guide to quilt blocks

  4. oops fieldguidetoquilts.com for brown goose block


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