Do you ever wonder about the origins of some of the phrases we use in the English language? My youngest son and I dove into that rabbit hole the other day when I said, “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” He responded that he understood the meaning to be grateful but was curious about the origins of a rather strange phrase. If you think about it, people are much less familiar with horses today than they were a century ago. I explained to him that you could tell the age and health of a horse by looking at their teeth. So, the phrase meant be grateful for a gift and don’t question the quality. Quilters understand this all too well. We hope people are grateful for the warm gifts we make and do our best to ensure the quality. It is rude for the receiver to complain about the love and kindness we sew into each quilt.
One of my latest designs is “All Squared Away.” Most of us know that it means everything is in order. Many quilters like order in their quilts, which is why geometric patterns are so popular. Note, I referenced the quilts being in order, not necessarily the quilting areas. What are the origins of the term all squared away? It is not from quilting or sewing. What other activities use squares? Construction, architecture and engineering use squares and angles. Angles are a key to the origin, particularly right angles (a quilters favorite). The term originated in sailing. Often, a sailing vessel tacks, or travels at angles to catch the wind. There are times though, when the ship doesn’t tack to catch the wind. The wind is in line with the keel (length) of the ship. In this case, the sails must be perpendicular to the keel to catch the wind. When the sails are perpendicular, at right angles to the keel, they are squared away.
“All Squared Away” appears to be on-point (or tacking), but actually consists of blocks set in traditional row layout. Two alternating blocks use Square in Square variations to make this optical illusion. Strip piecing and chain piecing make assembly relatively quick and easy. What really makes this pattern shine are the metallic fabrics from Hoffman’s “Sparkle and Fade” Collection.
The pattern is available in our shop for retail and wholesale.