Many early quilts told a story. Think about the Underground Railroad quilts, Baltimore quilts, and Family Tree quilts. They provide maps or stories about our journey, family or place. For example, the Underground Railroad quilts provided a map to freedom. Family quilts represent members of a family tree. That is one of the reasons the blocks within the quilt have their unique names. They mean something.
That is not to say that all quilts have a message. Some are repetitions of the same pretty or intricate blocks with gorgeous fabrics.
Some quilts have both a message and are stunning with design, fabric and quilts. Many designers have a message, feeling or image they are trying to portray. Like most artists, quilters don’t always make that clear and like to let the audience figure it out for themselves.
I want my messages to be clear – so I am sharing what inspired “For the Ladies.” October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a topic near and dear to my own heart. So I decided to design a quilt to commemorate the subject by choosing historical blocks representing a woman’s birthright in the family. The quilt has two borders (the outer one is solid and the inner one is pieced) and a nine patch center design. The corners and center of the nine patch feature blocks set on point. Pictures of the individual blocks are shown in the gallery below. Could you find them all in the quilt?
- The nine patch is a block called “Mother’s Dream,” by Prize Winning Design, ca 1931.
- The center of the nine patch is “Sister’s Choice,” by Nancy Page, Birmingham News, Nov 6, 1934 set on point.
- “Miller’s Daughter,” by Nancy Cabot, Chicago Tribune, Sept 9, 1937, is set in each corner of the center patch (the patch is cut in half on the diagonal to fit in the corners).
- The upper left corner of the nine patch is “Aunt Sukey’s Choice,” Hall 1935.
- The upper right corner of the nine patch is “Aunt Vina’s Favorite,” Aunt Martha series, The Quilt Fair Comes to You, ca. 1933.
- The lower right corner of the nine patch is “Aunt Anna’s Album,” by Clara Stone, Practical Needlework, ca. 1906.
- The lower left corner of the nine patch is “Aunt Eliza’s Star,” Grandmother Clark’s Patchwork Quilts, Book 19, 1932
- The border contains the following four blocks repeated, starting from the upper left corner: “Grandma’s Favorite” (Clara Stone, Practical Needlework, ca 1906), “Grandmother’s Favorite” (Eveline Foland, Kansas City Star, Nov 5, 1930), “Grandmother’s Choice” (Ladies’ Art Company, 1897), and “Mother’s Choice” (Clara Stone, Practical Needlework ca 1906).
The placement of these blocks was purposeful. A mother and grandmother’s love surrounds them all. The mother structure was important for order. The combination of daughter and sister blocks creates the stage for the four aunt blocks surrounding it.
The color choices represent the ribbons for cancer awareness: pink for breast cancer, teal for ovarian cancer and teal/white for cervical cancer. Pink/teal is thyroid cancer. The purple ribbons are often worn for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Leiomyosarcoma, esophageal cancer, pancreatic cancer, and stomach cancer. Black represents melanoma and skin cancer. White is for lung cancer. Thank you to Healthline for this color summary. Not all of these cancers affect women, but they also aren’t restricted to women. Men can have breast cancer, just like women.
I will be publishing the instructions for this quilt pattern in the near future via Etsy. If you think this would be a good option for a block of the month project, please let me know. I would be willing to assemble kits if there is enough interest. There are enough blocks so that it could be done next October!