Monday, 27 April 2015

T Block - Red Sky at Night

I had a little giggle when I read a while ago, as I was collecting stories and information for this quilt, that there was a quilt block specifically dedicated to espousing the benefits of total abstinence from alcohol. I have to admit, I rolled my eyes at the various movements that have gained traction throughout history. I'm often sceptical of any form of fundamentalism, even if there's good motives behind it.
But today I've been reading in more detail about the Women's Christian Temperance Union, and I've realised I jumped to judge too soon. These women were actually brave, intelligent, energetic and resourceful women who had little voice in their society, and used any means they could to be heard.
The WCTU formed in Ohio in 1873, as an organisation committed to women's and children's safety and rights. They focused their attention on domestic violence (especially related to alcohol), custody issues, land ownership, women in work, and suffrage. They organised rallies, published tracts, worked in education, lobbied government, prayed outside salloons, and made quilts. There were, of course, some cultural curiousities: they wanted to ban golf on Sundays, for example, but on the whole, they were committed to promoting the value and equality of women.

There's a number of quilt patterns, either designed in this period, or renamed, for the temperance movement. Many people associate the Drunkards Path, Temperance Tree, and this one, the T block with the WCTU. Quilts were donated to the homeless or women in need, auctioned, or made simply to represent affiliation. Sadly, however, not enough evidence actually exists to suggest they were designed by the Union, for the Union, as has often been assumed. The T Block's first publication in 1896 in the Orange Judd Farmer, makes no mention of temperance or teetotallers. The strongest evidence of affiliation are quilts with the letters WCTU embroidered on the back, and these exist on quilts of various patterns.

Still, it's kind of cool to think of quilts becoming an integral part of the women's rights movements, don't you think?


You will need:

Red: Five 4.5" squares, two 5" squares.

White: Four 4.5" squares, two 5" squares.

 1. Remember our half square triangle method? Match up four 4.5" squares of each colour, sew around the edges, cut into quarter diagonally, and trim to 2.5" square.

2. Cut the 5" squares in half to make triangles, and sew the reds to the whites. Press and trim to 4.5"

3. Layout as above.

4. Sew the small triangles together the make a larger white triangle. Press and sew two white triangles together to make a square of flying geese

5. Sew into three rows. Press the seams in the direction with the least bulk. That is, facing out on the outside rows, and in in the middle.

6. Sew the three rows together!

I'm so thankful for the right to vote (most of the time!), access to health care and education and the legal system, though I know there's still room to grow. And I'm thankful for quilting as a form of expression, of speaking up, of giving voice to things we can't say. It makes me wonder how I can use design more to express the values in which I believe.


  1. It is a lovely block and great to read more about the history behind it, whoever actually designed the original block! xx

  2. I love the way blocks can tell stories! Your quilt is going to look stunning once it is all put together!

  3. fascinating, and a very cool block. I really love some of these blocks you are introducing us to - many of them I haven't seen before.

  4. My good friend Dorie has done work in this same vein. See her beautiful work here!

  5. there's something especially strong and pleasing to my eye about this block. by the way, I recently came across your "rebranded blog" (I was a fan of tickle and hide) after my own blog-reading absence and have been happily catching up on your sewing adventures. thanks for sharing.

  6. Again a great story to go with the block. You need to print them all on fabric and turn them into part of the backing.

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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