From my sketchbook: Vintage China...

January 7, 2017

 

I'm quite keen on the cake stand quilt block, you might have noticed ;-) They are one of the large family of basket blocks that started to appear in mid-C19th American quilts. Inspired by and named after household objects, many of them were made by the women of pioneer families who migrated west after the Homestead Act of 1862. These enterprising ladies might have spent up to a year preparing for their journey, preserving food, packing up their homes and making additional warm clothes and bedding for their families, including quilts.

 

Quilting is an essentially thrifty occupation - although that seems laughable these days, as we hanker after the latest 'designer' fabric - and the quilters of the past were at their most inventive when they had the least to work with. And they were very inventive indeed: there are a myriad of basket block versions. Some of the loveliest are collected together on the quilt below, made by Sandi Walton as part of the Block of the Month tutorial series on her blog,  Piecemeal Quilts

 


What they all have in common is that they're pieced diagonally and often set 'on point' - turned through 45 degrees - in the finished quilt. And I've made a few cake stand blocks that way myself. My Afternoon Tea table runner rotates the diagonal motif across the quilt so that it looks 'the right way up' wherever you're seated at the table.

 

 

There are many inspiring antique quilts that take advantage of the diagonal construction: one of my favourites is is an early example from the Mingei Musem Collection

 

 

But for my quilt I wanted to avoid having to cut and sew lots of setting triangles, with their potentially wibbly-wobbly bias edges, which lead me to drafting an 'upright' version of the cake stand block, easily constructed from strips  and a piece of cake *ahem* to assemble. 

 

 

I used a Layer Cake (appropriately enough) of one of my favourite fabric collections - 'Vintage Modern' by Bonnie & Camille for Moda Fabrics - to make my scrappy version.

 

 

But I'm longing to make the 'Last Scrap' version too, which uses two colours but picks out one of the cake stand motifs in a print...and I have a precious scrap of soft, faded eiderdown fabric set aside for just the right project...

 

Nicola xx

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