HANDCRAFTS, like all phases of human endeavor, rather run in varying
cycles. Some of us were born in the Pyrography period and reared on
hand painted plates with much beshaded backgrounds; others of us date
back to the stork painted on velvet with a pressed pen technique, while
all of mature age have survived the era of crochet boudoir caps, of
tinfoil and glass paintings, and much be-beaded lamp shades!
True, there have ever been crafts worth while, some arts where beauty
combined with purpose to create the "joys forever." Our treasure chests
contain exquisitely fashioned needlework on garments, household linens
and purely decorative pieces. There is hand-made lace of such dignity
and daintiness that it is sheer beauty, whenever used. There have been
scattered gems of weaving, batik, pottery, and metal work, of basketry,
woodcarving, tooled leather, decorative painting, and such for
countless generations. Tradition tells us that after primitive man
first shaped for use his rude bowls and jars, he very soon daubed them
with crimson clay and purple berry juice--to add beauty.
We have devised a hundred ways to fabricate floor coverings, draperies,
and bedding. Which brings us to quilts and the no end of fascinating
patterns and tales in their history. Through all the changing fads of
woven bead-belts or melon seed portieres our quilts have been always
with us. A wholesome thing it is, too, that American women have so
saved and planned and pieced. To have wrought beauty even from
beautiful surroundings has not always been achieved; but to salvage
beauty and usefulness from coarse waste materials was the everyday
accomplishment of our pioneer mothers who hooked rugs and pieced quilts.
Some way we are apt to think of the quilt makers as mature or even old,
but a second thought assures us they were often merely girls. Pioneer
movements are not sponsored by those who have passed life's meridian.
It takes youth, with its unspoiled imaginings to blaze trails, to leave
the family hearth for the open road, to hazard security for chance. So
most of the families who surged their way westward were young as the
civilization which they were formulating. A girl-wife, driving an ox
team, with her firstborn held close in her strong young arms or under
her stronger young heart, was the heroine of the day. Not that they
called her a heroine then; no; but her timid sister who stayed with "pa
and ma" back in York State or Ca'lina may have spent the rest of her
spinster days in envying willful Emily who rode away with John.
And the story of their wanderings, their few original possessions,
their accumulations, the friendships formed, their abiding faith and
the home established, is the story of patchwork quilts. Study the names
of patterns and again you will know they were so christened by young
ladies of imagination, sometimes devout, sometimes droll but always
kindled by that divine spark of originality. Listen to this for a
less-than-500-word history, all quilt names stitched in bed coverlets,
which are more comforting, if not more enduring, than words graven in
"London roads, Ocean Wave, Lost Ship, Star and Compass; Charter Oak,
Lafayette Orange Peel, Tail of Benjamin's Kite; Turkey Tracks, Bear's
Paw, Indian Hatchet; Washington Pavement and Washington's Plumes; Dolly
Madison Block, Whig Rose, Democrat Rose, Philadelphia Beauty, Virginia
Star, Georgetown Circle; Horn of Plenty--Hovering Hawks! Mill Wheel,
Churn Dash, Tea Leaves, Anvil, Brown Goose, Chips and Whetstones,
Clamshell, Corn and Beans, the Log Cabin, Arrowheads. The Pine Tree and
the Little Beech, Folded Love Letter, Swing-in-the-Center, Eight Hands
'Round'; Free Trade Block, 54-40 or Fight, Tippicanoe and Tyler Too,
Clay's Choice, Little Giant, Mexican Rose, Lincoln's Platform. The
North Wind, Hosanna, World without End, Delectable Mountains, Rose of
Sharon, Wagon Tracks, Road to California, Snake Fence, Love Apple,
Arkansas Traveler, Oklahoma Boomer, Kansas Troubles, Cactus Basket,
Prairie Queen, Texas Treasure, Rising Sun, World's Fair, Mrs.
Cleveland's Choice, Coxey's Camp, The Pickle Dash, and Cake Stand,
Fanny's Fan, Pullman Puzzle--Hour Glass!"
We have not shown them all, only a hundred or so of them are contained
in our pages, but we have found bits of interesting history about these
and drafted patterns from which you can copy them. We have estimated
the yardage, suggested ways of setting blocks together into tops and
planned suitable quilting designs.
During years of experience there have been questions come to us
concerning every phase of quilt making. We have tried to answer them
all in this book, to tell you every practical, helpful angle in the
game of quilt making.