Monday, 23 February 2015

Red Sky at Night - Day and Night

There are some days when Google can't help you. Google can help you make a meal plan, resolve conflict and self diagnose strange skin irritations, but put the words 'day and night quilt block history' into a search engine, and you'll come up with nothing useful. Enter the words "Peace and Plenty" and you'll get a list of pubs and hotels. Enter "Maple Leaf History" and you'll find all you need to know about a Toronto Ice Hockey team. Really? Is it really that hard to find out why and how Canada got their flag, or if the term "Peace and Plenty" originated with Shakespeare? I think it's time to graduate from Google, and find some real books.
In the mean time, I've been brushing up on my broad American History, learning how all those wars came about and how they affected American culture and ideals. Australia is so different. We came from convicts, not idealists or businessmen. We fought faithfully for Britain rather than against her. And we would never, ever make quilts from our flag. But maybe because it doesn't have that funky sense of symmetry like the Union Jack. Or because we didn't win it at huge cost like America.
Anyway, I digress. I digress because instead of finding old quilts made by interesting people, or learning about where quirky block names came from, I'm finding a plethora of information about where I can get a good $10 steak. What have we let the internet become?? I sent a text message to my quilty friend Lucy last night, after I couldn't find anything I was after, and said, "I think it's time we visit America. Want to come?"
I thought this project would be a fun, simple exercise in sewing and story telling. After all, I'd completed a Modern History degree with distinction, while pregnant and with a two year old! Surely I could do this while drinking my morning coffee! But even when Google is my friend, I have more questions. I want clarification. I want to sit in a room with quilt historian Barbara Brackman and pick her brain over a cup of tea. I'm comforting myself with the idea that this is usually how really great things begin. With a small spark, a realisation that it's not so simple, some great frustration, and a huge drive to know more.


With that completely useless introduction, today we're making the Day and Night Block. I found it in one of my old quilt block books, but can't find it online to know what else it might be called and whether that might give us more insight. I'd love to hear from you in the comments if you can enlighten us. But despite not knowing anything about it, I still liked it enough to keep it in. I think it's interesting, don't you?

You will need:

Red: Four 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles, four 2.5" squares, and six 3" squares cut in half to make half square triangles.

White: Four 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles, four 2.5" squares, and six 3" squares cut in half to make half square triangles.

1. Sew the triangles together, press and trim to 2.5" square like we did last week.

2. Arrange the first quarter of the block like this:

 3. Sew together in rows. (this is the same block, just upside down! :))

4. Sew the rows together.

5. Make three more!

6. Sew them together by joining them in two rows, then sewing the rows together.

It's easy for me to get caught up in the things that aren't turning out the way I hoped. Making this Day & Night block this week, amidst homeschooling, and starting new jobs, and visitors, babysitting my brothers kids and dreaming of the freedom to travel, I've been reading this poem called Evensong by C.S. Lewis. It's a prayer I go back to often when I need reminding that the days are for work and play, and the nights are for sleep, and that as a mere human, if I can't accomplish everything I had in mind, it's not up to me to keep the world turning. I'll share the first verse here and you can look up the rest if you like it. (Google is good for that!)

Now that night is creeping
O’er our travailed senses,
To Thy care unsleeping
We commit our sleep.
Nature for a season
Conquers our defences,
But th’eternal Reason
Watch and ward will keep.

Stitch and sleep well, my friends!


  1. Google works better if you just ask it a question. I asked " how did Canada get its flag?" and Wikipedia has the whole history. And "peace and plenty" is the clan motto of clan Cavanaugh 12th century, again Wikipedia. I love researching stuff, yet I also can't find the quilt block history 😢
    I really do love your tutorials though and I can't wait to see this finished quilt!

  2. Beautiful post Jodi and I'm totally cutting in on that quilt / history tour of America! Love that the block came from an old book cause to me it looks super modern, I guess sharp solids can do that to a block :)
    I saw some cycle tourists on the road today, and it made me dream of travel too.
    In other news, my machine is here and I'm catching up! Xx


  4. Such a simple yet effective block. Love your post too. Made me laugh:)

  5. LOVE this block!! Can't wait to try it out! How big does it end up being?

  6. It's a beautiful block and I would not even have known it's name. You know, it's so true that great beginnings often have those elements of query, frustration and motivation. Hmm!

  7. This block was so much fun to make! I thought it would be hard and was pleasantly surprised at how quickly it went together. I did put it on IG and used the hashtag


  8. Barbara Brackman's book: Encyclopedia of Pieced Patterns, is where I look first. She will usually give the publication where the pattern first appeared. It is expensive on Amazon in the hardcover, but it is available in libraries and now AQS has it available in digital format. She also has an Encyclopedia of Applique Patterns and her blogs are also a source of quilting history. (Sorry if I'm gushing, she is my hero :)..

  9. always so interesting to find out the history behind the blocks ! I think a morning with Barbara would be awesome ! and you know when I looked at that block I thought you'd make two blocks and cut them on the diagonal and then switch them around but apparently not !!

  10. My favorite block so far! I love the graphic nature of it!

  11. Efabulous series! Love the history with the blocks! Awesome!

  12. Oh, I love this one! We are doing blocks from your series for this September's Love circle quilt. I would make this one, but someone already nabbed it =)

  13. I am making two of these quilts for Christmas...just started, after reading every post you have made all year. I think this is one of my favorite posts. I am so impressed by your own history along with your history degree. Your instructions are so easy to follow. I am just so glad that in finally found some down time to get my sewing machine out after a really hard year of teaching some great but hard college classes that required a lot of research.


I so love your comments! I read all of them and reply when I can. If you don't hear back, I'm lost under a mound of scraps or outside jumping on the trampoline with the kids. Jodi. xx