Monday, February 23, 2015


This is a quilt we recently added to the Quilt Index. The owners think it was made by Margaret Wisher, possibly in Dubuque, Iowa.
Something about this quilt inspired me.  The red is still so vivid, although the triangles, stem, and leaves have faded from the original green to tan.  We see this fading often in quilts made in this time period.  The green synthetic dye is sadly unstable.  The quilt dates to around 1875.
It's really unusual to see this kind of block set on the straight, rather than on point.
When we documented it, we could not find an exact pattern match among the thousands of quilt patterns in our reference books.  It's similar to one called English Ivy (Brackman #1330), but it's not exactly the same.  It's a variation.
Variation is a useful term in documenting quilts.  Quilt makers are endlessly inventive.  Sometimes variations happen because we're trying to replicate something we saw somewhere, and it comes out differently than we expected.  Or we start out to copy a pattern, and then think, what if I changed this or that?  We add seams, and leave them out.  We change the colors, or reverse background and foreground.  We change the size or the set.
This is my variation of this variation.  One of the other names for the English Ivy pattern is Clover Blossom.  I'm calling my variation Red Clover.

One of the things that drew me to this quilt was the ease of drafting the pattern.  The original English Ivy pattern is much more difficult, with several sizes of triangles.  This version is just squares and half-square triangles, with a bit of machine applique.

I mostly left the colors the same, although I used print fabrics instead of solid colors.  I did change the small squares in the corners.
This is what the block would have looked like if I put the green squares on the corners, like the original, instead of background squares.  I just think it looks kind of clunky.
I also left out the leaves, just for simplicity's sake.
My version is a 12 in. square (finished) block.  The original blocks measured around 9 in. square, which I didn't know until I had drafted my version and made the first block.
I made 12 blocks, which will make a relatively small quilt.  Here's how I'm going to set it:
I'm using a three strip sashing of solid red, green print, and solid red.  The cornerstones are nine patch blocks.
This is an old, classic set.  I'm pretty happy with it, especially the vividness of the red.  I've been so drawn to red lately.  Wonder if it's because it's still so wintery outside, with white snow everywhere and bare branches on the trees?

Here are the directions, if you would like to make my version of this block.

Red Clover Quilt
12 in. block (finished)
To make one block:
You will need 2 half square triangles made from red print and background fabric, that measure 4 in. square finished.  I made these using the Easy Angle.  I placed a strip of background fabric face down on a strip of red print fabric, each 4.5 in. wide, and cut the triangles with the Easy Angle.
You will also need 13 half square triangles made from green print and background fabric, that measure 2 in. finished.  I made these by placing a strip of background fabric face down on a strip of green print fabric, each 2.5 in. wide, and cut the triangles with the Easy Angle.
You can make the triangle squares any way you like, as long as they end up measuring the same.
That takes care of the triangles!
You also need:
From background fabric, cut:
1 square 6.5 in. x 6.5 in.
2 squares 2.5 in. x 2.5 in.
From red print fabric, cut
1 square, 4.5 in. x 4.5 in.
From green print fabric, cut
1 rectangle, 2 in. wide x 10.5 in. long (this is the stem).
It looks like quite a pile, but it goes together easily.
First, sew all your triangles.  This is the most time consuming part of the block, and it really doesn't take that long.  Just chain them through, and press toward the dark.
Next, take the stem piece, fold it right sides together, and stitch.  Press the seam to the back of the stem, so it cannot be seen.  You can use applique bias bars, a thin piece of cardboard, or just moosh it.  I mooshed it.
Now pin the stem diagonally across the 6.5 in. background square, and top stitch on both sides, using green thread.  I'm using my chain stitcher here, so I don't have to keep changing thread on my treadle.  It also helps that I didn't have to wind a bobbin.  This is a good project for using two machines, one threaded with green and one with neutral for piecing.  ( I knew I collected all those machines for a reason!)

Now lay out the block.  A lot of it is already done.
I made this block in quarters.  The lower right quarter, with the stem, is already done.
Here I'm sewing the upper right quarter.  I sew the two triangle squares on the right together, then add them to the large triangle square.  I then sew the triangles on top to each other, and add the background square.  The last seam joins these sections.
The lower left quarter is sewn the same way.
Be careful!  These sections are not identical.  (This is why I lay the blocks out next to the machine.)
The upper left section is sewn in pretty much the same way.

Once you've got these sections sewn, you just join them together.
I used a variety of different reds and greens, to make it sort of scrappy. 
The sashing strips are cut 1.5 in. wide and 12.5 in. long.  The nine patch corner squares are made from 1.5 in. squares, and the nine patch finishes at 3 in. square.  I suppose you could strip piece them, but I find that it wastes fabric, so I just cut the squares.
I'm hoping to work on this quilt today, to get all the sashing and cornerstones made and decide on an outside border.  I finished the leaders and enders 4 patch blocks yesterday, so I guess today I'll work on a charity quilt as a leaders and enders project.  It's amazing what we can get done this way.

Keep warm, and keep sewing!


  1. What a great new project. I love your interpretation! I have been quilting for 26 years and have not seen this pattern before.

    1. Thanks, Jan! I'll keep looking for the original pattern, but it hasn't turned up yet.


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