Monday, 4 May 2015

Album - Red Sky at Night Quilt

I've just spent the most lovely weekend sewing the final Flowers quilt with a friend of mine. It's such a treat sewing in company isn't it? I was pretty spoilt for quilty friends in Newcastle, but since moving to a small country town, I've yet to meet anyone who sews. It makes me so thankful for blogs and Instagram!
I once read in the book Quiet, by Susan Cain, that until the 1920s, most of us lived our whole lives in one rural town, got jobs through local and family connections, married our cousin, or that boy we went to school with, and grew our children up to be softly spoken, respectable citizens. What happened after 1920s? We came home from war, spent about a decade enjoying a season of peace and prosperity, and then walked headlong into the depression. The depression turned stable, connected folk into isolated nomads. The desperate competition for work changed people's view of 'trustworthy' from someone who minded their own business, to someone willing to put themselves out there.

I find it fascinating that the context of the depression gave rise to the explosion of quilt block patterns in newspaper columns, mail order catalogues and book publications. Were women even more motivated to find beautiful ways to reuse old clothing or linens? Did the isolation of moving to new towns or having their husbands away looking for work, draw them to the connections found in craft, whether in local groups or newspapers? So far I haven't found definitive answers, but it does intrigue me.

You can find a drawn copy similar to this pattern over at The Quilt Index. The pattern credits Nancy Cabot, a quilting columnist for the Chicago Tribune in the 1930s as the designer, though it was used published by other authors also. The block was used traditionally as a kind of signature block. A group of women, or quilting bee, might make a quilt together to gift a new bride or for a farewell, and each sign the white cross in the centre. The copy is an example of patterns drawn for swaps and pen pals in the 1960s. Women would advertise in magazines that they were organising, or interested in participating in pattern swaps, and build long lasting penpal friendships.

'Album' is a nice change from our other blocks so far - no half square triangles to trim! Mine finished off slightly under 12.5" though, so keep your 1/4" seams scant. I found this pattern by Barbara Brackman and adjusted it slightly. Watch out for all those funny fractions!

You will need:

Red: Eight 2 5/8" squares, four 2 5/8" x 6 7/8" rectangles

White: Six 3" squares cut in half diagonally, two 2 3/8" squares cut in half diagonally (for the corners), two 2 5/8" squares, one 2 5/8" x 6 7/8" rectangle.

1. Lay out your block as above with the white cross in the middle, red squares cornering the white cross. Next, lay down the red rectangles, the extra red squares in the corners, and the larger white triangles around the outside. place the smallest white triangles in the corners.

2. Sew each of the tiny white triangles to the side of each corner square.

3. Sew the two triangles next to the corner squares to each side of the red squares.

4. Line up these new pieced triangles with the red rectangle next to them, the edges of the triangle hanging equally over the edges of the rectangle. Sew them together. Press the seam towards the rectangle.

5. Now to the centre! Sew the red squares to two sides of the white squares. Press.

6. Sew the three lines in the centre together to make the white cross.

7. Sew a corner piece to two sides of the white cross to make a solid piece through the middle.

8. Sew the last white triangles to each side of the remaining T's.

9. Then sew your last three pieces together. Trim to 12.5"

Sewing Flowers for Eleni this weekend, made me so thankful for quilty friends. Both the one in my sewing room while we madly chatted about all the ideas we have and things we love, and for my online 'penpals'. It makes me feel even more connected to know that quilting has been drawing people together in similar friendships for hundreds of years. We belong to such a rich community.


  1. Am I the only one who hangs out around the computer on a Monday morning ready for the next block in Red Sky at Night?? lol.
    Always enjoy reading your research about the background and then I race home from work to cut, sew, press and piece...

  2. Ooo how slightly under was it? Worth fiddling with the initial cuts or no? Xx

    1. Becky, it was 12.25", which means a scant seam will fix it. :) Have you measured your other blocks? Because I'm sure my seams looked a little bigger using your machine. If you're are all a little under, you could just keep this one the same! :)

  3. I really like this one! Thanks for sharing.

  4. I have to say I'm not a huge fan of this project. It is seeming to go on forever and using the red and white makes the blocks look the same, even though they aren't. I guess I just find it too structured compared to some of your other work.
    It's sad that you haven't found people that sew. Why is that do you think?

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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