Volume IV, No. 3, Spring 1977


by Caryn Rader

Artwork by Teresa Maddux

This bold red and white psychodelic-looking photo was discarded from our choices of quilts for the Fall 1976 front cover of Bittersweet. The staff said it looked too modern, for they wanted one that represented the old fashioned quilts made years ago. Much to our surprise we found out that this Carpenter's Square quilt was pieced in the 1860's. It looked modern because of the bold striking colors and the almost three dimensional design effect which made it look like abstract art.

The quilt maker was not an artist and did not think of herself as an artist.

The Carpenter's Square quilt is made of nine big blocks of many shaped pieces.


Carpenter's Square

(pattern illustration below)1.Piece together pieces for triangle I. Begin with piece A, add B,C,D,E,F and G keeping straight edge even.
2.Sew strip H on to triangle I.
3.Piece together strip II using 1 piece i, 4 red J's, 6 white J's and 2 E's.
4.Sew on to strip H. Match red lines from triangle I.
5.Sew on strip K.
6.Piece strip III as strip II only use C's instead of E's for end.
7.Sew on strip L.
8.Piece strip IV using 1 M, 6 white i's and 4 red i's and 2 A 's.
9.Sew strip IV to strip L matching red blocks as before.
10.Repeat steps 1-7 for other half of block and sew halves together.
11.This is one block. The completed quilt will use 9 blocks, 3 each way.
12.Put on border as desired.

For one 25" block cut: For complete quilt cut:


A-4 red A-36 red
B-8 white B-72 white
C-8 red C-72 red
D-8 white D- 72 white
E-8 red E-72 red
F-4 white F-36 white
G-4 red G-36 red
H-2 white H-18 white
i-8 red i-72 red
6 white 54 white
J-16 red J-144 red
24 white 216 white
K-2 white K-18 white
L-2 white L-18 white
M-1 red M-9 red

Complete quilt takes approximately 3 yards of 36" material for each color.


While making needed bedding for her family, she experimented with design possibilities creating patterns to suit her taste and moods. Like the modern abstract painter, she used color and geometric forms to represent objects (Fish Block quilt), movements (54-40 or Fight), ideas (Improved Nine Patch) and emotions (My Mother's Dreams). But unlike the painter, she used her imagination to create her designs with needle and thread and pieces from the scrap bag.

The utility quilt or pieced quilt's beginning point was basically the square which could easily be segmented into many different straight line forms which could create many different patterns by rearranging, adding and subtracting pieces quickly. These pieces were also easy to stitch together because of the straight lines. (The quilts with curved lines were appliqued--pieces sewn on the surface of another block. Since appliqued quilts were harder to make, they were valued because of the elaborate designs and fancy needlework.)

Pieced quilt patterns were loaned and shared readily. But even if five different women used the same basic pattern, none of the quilts would be alike because the makers might vary the size of the pattern by making it smaller or adding more pieces. They would all have different color combinations and use different materials depending on what they had and, they would put on a variety of borders that would give each quilt a different captured effect.

For those who enjoy creating quilt patterns there is no limit to the variety of designs available. But to make a quilt of real artistic merit requires not only imagination and an aesthetically pleasing artistic design, but also fine craftsmanship in the needlework.

On these pages and following are a few of our favorite pieced quilt patterns. We hope you will trace off the patterns, add one-fourth inch seam allowance to them and then make your own quilt. Or you may wish to share them with a neighbor, relative or friend who enjoys making quilts. (See "Pieces of the Past," Fall, 1976 for directions for making and quilting quilts.)

Autograph Quilt

Add 1/4" seam allowance to each pattern piece on all patterns. Measurements for most patterns are for a quilt 6'x7'.

What would be nicer than signatures of each loved one embroidered in a handmade quilt. This quilt takes 56 blocks.

For each block cut: For complete quilt cut:
A-4 light 224 light
B-4 light 224 light
C-1 light 56 light
D-4 light 224 light
8 dark 448 dark

Bow Tie

The Bow Tie is a pretty quilt made from scraps giving an over-all bow effect. The many sided center leaves room for a fancy quilting pattern.
For complete quilt cut:

A-120 white
B-436 print Y
C-218 print Z
D-99 white
E-40 white

Pointed Tile

This variation of the basic square pattern forms an all over criss-crossing design. Interesting effects can be achieved using coordinating solids and figures in two colors plus white. Don't forget to allow 1/4 inch on all quilt pieces.

For complete quilt cut:

A-262 white
   71 solid color Y
   72 solid color Z
B-284 color print Y
   288 color print Z
C-48 white


Colonial Garden

This flowery design of small hexigons gives the impression of a flower garden when pieced in colorful prints.

For complete quilt cut:

A-130 yellow suggested
B-1040 print
C- 154 green suggested
D-566 white or light solid
E-50 white (to fill in next to border)


This design commemorates the Pilgrims crossing the Atlantic. Any little boy would enjoy the many boats sailing on his bed. 56 blocks make a quilt.

For one For complete block cut: quilt cut:

A-8 solid color A-448
B-1 print B- 56
C-6 solid color C-336
6 print 336

My Mother's Dream

Each block of this complicated quilt composed of 68 little triangles in a design featuring 5 squares is a study in patience and skill. How about piecing the 42 to complete the quilt?

For one block cut: For complete quilt cut:
A-5 print A-210
B-20 solid B-840
C-24 print C-1008
24 solid 1008
D-4 solid D-168

Fish Block

Diamonds and triangles represent a head-on school of fish in this difficult quilt which would surely make a hit with the fishermen in the family. Requires 54 blocks.

A-8 white
B-4 white
C-8 white
D-8 print
E-16 print


Improved Nine Patch

This newer version of  the old faithful Nine Patch turns squares into an all-over circle design. Because of the curved edges, this is more difficult to piece. Requires 42 blocks.

For one block: For quilt:
A-4 white A- 97 white
B-4 print B-168 print
C-4 white C-168 white
1 print 42 print

Kansas Dugout

A hexigon and a square complete the patterns for this abstract design which would brighten even a Kansas Dugout.

For complete quilt cut:

A-840 print and 210 white
B-586 print and 672 white


54-40 or Fight

The campaign slogan of James K. Polk in 1844 regarding the dispute over the boundary of the Oregon Territory was the inspiration for this complicated block of many pieces.

For complete quilt cut:

A-112 white
B-224 print
C-280 white
   280 print

Eight Diamonds and a Star

The name of this difficult Pattern tells it all. It takes 72 9" blocks to make a quilt.

For one block:

A-i white
B-8 print
C-8 white
D-8 striped
E-4 print

For quilt:



Copyright © 1981 BITTERSWEET, INC.

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