Saturday, June 25, 2022

Centennial Prints, and Last Week for Dark Blue

 Welcome to Treadlestitches!

Red, white and blue are on my mind this week, partly because July 4th is coming up soon, and also because dark blue is our color of the month for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

As usual, I am sharing an antique quilt or two with you for the last Saturday of the month.  

These quilt tops both contain special fabrics printed to celebrate the 100th birthday of the United States of America. 

First is a simple nine patch, on point with alternate blocks.  I bought it in an antique store many years ago, more or less as a fabric study.

There are some nice madder reds here (madder being a plant dye that can make a variety of colors like brownish red, warm browns, orange, and even purple), and in the center of this block is an example of a Prussian blue print.  This color was popular in the 1840s and 1850s, and often appears as an ombre print.  These are some of the things that drew me to this top.

Above is a closeup of the alternate fabric between the blocks.  Several years ago, when I was considering becoming a quilt appraiser, I took this quilt top with me to an appraisal class at Paducah.  The teacher recognized this fabric as being a centennial print, meaning it was printed and sold to celebrate our country's birthday in 1876.  I had absolutely no idea.  I had focused only on the blocks and ignored the setting fabric.

The fabrics in the blocks, however, are much older, dating to the 1830s and 1840s.  Quite probably the old blocks were put together into a top with the Centennial fabric sometime after 1876.  (Maybe by a daughter or granddaughter?)  All the sewing is by hand.  As usual, I wonder why it was never quilted.  I won't be quilting it myself, of course, since it is so old and somewhat fragile.

Having this quilt top made me look into centennial prints.  I was surprised to find out how many there were, in lots of different patterns.  Click HERE for a short article by Barbara Brackman on the subject. 

When I found this next top wadded up in a box in an antique mall, I already loved it for all the wonderful brown fabrics cut in tiny squares.

But then I saw this!  I could hardly breathe!  (Sorry, old fabric does this to me, I can't help it.)

This particular Centennial fabric has a banner with the word Centennial, a star, and a red liberty cap.  The liberty cap was a tradition during the American Revolution that has since died out and frankly seems kind of odd to us now, but it found its place on many of these fabrics.

I've looked and looked, but only ever found about 10 pieces of this fabric in the quilt.  But the rest of the fabrics are great, too--lots of madder reds, great light prints, even a small amount of yellow and green.  So much fun for a fabric nut like me.

The pattern is a little unusual.  The pieced sections appear to be elongated hexagons made up of squares, with triangles on the long sides.  They are set together with squares on point.  If the squares in the elongated hexagons were half square triangles, I'd call this an Ocean Wave.

This was the closest pattern to it that I could find in Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.  My quilt is obviously a more complicated variation.  Or a different pattern altogether.  If you know of a better fit, please tell me.

I haven't done the math (well, of course not!  I run screaming from math!) but there must be hundreds and hundreds of these tiny squares, shown here with a bobbin for comparison.  All stitches in the quilt top are by hand, no machine stitching even to attach the border.  

At some point, the top was a tied comforter.  After I bought it, I kept finding small pieces of black wool yarn that had been used to tie the top to a batting and backing.  This also explains the wear on it, as the comforter must have been used.

Because of the Centennial print and all the other browns, etc., I am sure this top was pieced prior to 1900.

I was inspired by the old tops to get out my reproduction Centennial prints. 

Many of them are very faithful to the originals.

I kept noticing the word "Peace" on these prints.

Then I remembered the time period.  Our Civil War ended only 11 years before the Centennial.  All adults living then would definitely remember the war, and all the suffering it brought.

It probably helped to think back to the country's founding and shared heritage, including George Washington.

In other news,my prizes for Hands 2 Help participation arrived!

My buddy and I liked the colorful chicken charm squares best.  Thanks, Mari and sponsors!

I finished my dark blue crayon.  Lots of crazy novelty prints as usual, like kites and apples and dog bones and sail boats.  Oh, and dinosaurs.  Always dinosaurs.

This is nearly all the sewing I got done this week, except for some Positivity 2022 blocks, which I will show tomorrow.  Summer is such a busy time of year.

What if you could play in soapy water outside, with lots of bathtub toys, but not in the bathtub?  The little guys had fun with this on a hot day.

Let's all have fun this week, whatever the weather!

Thanks for reading,


Linking up with:

Alycia at Finished or Not Finished Friday

Angela at So Scrappy



  1. Your Centennial quilt tops and fabrics are fascinating, Sylvia! I'm always trying to figure out how blocks are constructed, and was so glad you shared that on point block design. That looks complicated for those tiny pieces! Kids and water on a hit summer day - the perfect combination!

    1. Thanks, Diann! I think that quilt pattern would be very time consuming to cut and piece. But the fabrics are fun to look at! Hope you're enjoying the summer too.

  2. Love the info on the antique tops. Playing outside in the water is always a fun summertime activity. Running through the sprinklers is fun too! Enjoy your week.

    1. Thanks, Deb! I need to get a new sprinkler, and not just for the dry grass!

  3. Interesting info on the quilt tops. I'm not sure what that block is called in the second quilt top but I made a quilt that used that block with those darned Y seams. I used the instructions found in the book Adding Layers by Kathy Doughty and her quilt was called House Party. I used garden themed fabrics so called mine Garden Party.

    1. I looked up your Garden Party quilt, but only found the post on Dec. 3, 2014. Great colorful blocks!

  4. I always d joy seeing g your fabulous vintage quilts, thanks so much. Playing with water is always such fun for kids, especially outside in lovely warm weather.

    1. Thanks, Jenny! Next week we may run through the sprinkler!

  5. Cenntenial quilts... have never hear about them before, thanks for the information Sylvia.
    Love the blue crayon block.
    Looks like the boys had a lot of fun playing with water.
    Have a great week.

    1. Thanks, Ivani! My little guys would play in water all day if they could! Enjoy your week!

  6. Love this post with the link to the well aged by now Barbara B. Blog. I guess I had not yet found her blogs when that one first came out. I treasure all the repro prints ts I do find!

    1. Thanks, Grams Jean! Repro prints were my first big fabric obsession, and I still love them. And of course, Barbara Brackman is a legend!

  7. I love reproduction fabrics. Unfortunately they are hard to find in my local quilt shops. When I see them, I buy some and I let the shop owner know that I appreciate them, hoping they'll order more! How fun to have a let's-stay-dry bath and outside no less! Hahahaha!

    1. Hi, Susie H! I think there are fewer of us buying reproduction fabrics, sadly. However, there is a whole store near me dedicated to them. And they have a sale rack!


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