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The Midsummer Sampler: block 1

How are you? I hope you and your loved ones are feeling safe and well.

I introduced this project to you almost exactly a year ago and it seems, on reflection, more like a decade. But I definitely think this is the moment to start sharing my new Petit-Four sampler patterns with you prior to their release next month. In the next few weeks I will be revealing what our Block of the Month participants have been making these past eight months: blocks that recall the midsummers of old, a timeless place where we can walk along sunlit country lanes together, wade through flower strewn meadows and share afternoon tea in the shade of an apple tree...


the Cakestand and Folk Flower blocks

I'm rather partial to the traditional cakestand block - I use it as my logo after all - but I thought it was time for a more literal interpretation.

My inspiration for the block was that most English of pastimes, the afternoon tea. It was invented by one of Queen Victoria’s Ladies in Waiting, Anna, Duchess of Bedford, when the fashion for ever later dinners left her feeling rather peckish at 4 o’clock. It soon became terribly fashionable, not least with the Queen herself, who had a famously sweet tooth.

The royal children often prepared afternoon tea for their parents – by all accounts they were accomplished bakers – and it’s likely they would have included a nursery favourite, the sponge cake. The invention of baking powder by Alfred Bird in 1843 resulted in an even lighter texture and a change of name: the Victoria Sponge. This regal cake was served with a flourish on a footed cakestand – another Victorian creation - making it the centrepiece of the afternoon tea table.

The dear little Folk Flower block was chosen to complement the larger sampler blocks. It's my reworking of a traditional pattern - that rejoices in the name of Double V, which doesn't really do it justice - and calls to mind the delicious spriggy prints of a summer dress.


Next time we will be visiting the garden Dovecote. Until then, enjoy your cake,

Nicola xx


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