September 23, 2008

Hi there!
Well, here it is: my first block based on Canadian themes. I call this the Tipi block, which is, of course, a Native Canadian thing. It is similar to the kaleidoscope block. The colouring is grass yellow or grass/tree green for the background and almost any colour for the tipi itself. The corner at the top of the tipi represents the sun, so should be yellow. As you can see, however, I've also just used it in various colourings including using red to represent camp fires.
Here's the block:

Here it is using yellow and green for the background and red representing the campfire. When I group the tipis in fours I call it Circle of Tipis.

This pattern has nothing to do with tipis. I've called it Blackbirds and ice cream. The red is the cherry on top of the ice cream cones.

And this one could be called Planes and ice cream.

This is the Circle of Tipis in "traditional" colouring - green and yellow background for the grass and trees around the brown tipis with red for the communal fires.

It can be used in the same way the kaleidoscope block is used and more!

I hope you like it.

Keep you foot on the dogs

September 13, 2008

Hello everyone!

One thing that has interested me for a few years now is the possibility of creating a body of quilt block patterns that are Canadian themed/Canadian invented. There are so many blocks named for American places, people and ideas, but I haven't come across many, if any, that are named for Canadian places, people, and things - that's crazy! So for the next while my blog is going to be primarily focused on Canadian quilt blocks.
I was lucky enough to receive EQ6 last year and I began designing blocks that had their basis in things Canadian. I also picked up a couple books about the history of Canadian quilts, and slowly, slowly, I'm learning and creating.

One block that is considered to be Canadian is the maple leaf block

In Quilts and Other Bed Coverings in the Canadian Tradition, Ruth McKendry includes a photograph of a green and white quilt that uses this block (4 blocks across and 5 down on the diagonal facing each other), stating that it is "... considered to be of Canadian origin". It was made somewhere between 1875 - 1900. I created a mock-up of it on EQ:

In Pieced Quilts of Ontario, Dorothy Burnham includes a quilt made in 1840 in Ontario that uses the same block placed in the same way (4 across, 5 down, facing each other), but with an appliqued vine border. She claims the block is derived from the "Delectable Mountains" block, but has been altered to represent a maple leaf, and she states, "... Perhaps here we have a very rare thing, a genuinely Canadian quilt design".

This is a great block and can be manipulated in so many ways to make exciting, beautiful quilts. Here are a few examples

In traditional Canadian colours

Using prints from the 30s


And a few others

with sashing

It's also really nice with a dark November-sky background

Or as a Christmas quilt

Like all good block designs, it can be used to create beautiful simple or complex quilt designs.

In Ontario's Heritage Quilts by Marilyn Walker, she shows an example of another Canadian-created maple leaf block design. She states that it is from Quebec and was taught to young women in convent schools in the late 1800s. She names it, Madame's Maple Leaf. Unfortunately, the photograph she has of the quilt is quite small, but she states that the leaves are appliqued onto the white background and set on the diagonal. In the intervening squares, the quilt-maker appliqued realistic maple leaves in a lighter colour. Here's the one I mocked-up on EQ:

And here's the block itself

I think it's quite lovely.

Next time, I'll share a block I've designed, but until then

keep your foot on the dogs