June 9, 2014

Scrappy Bow Tie Quilt

Here's a 1950s era Bow Tie quilt.  I'm getting in a lot of quilts from the 50s and 60s now.  I guess that's a data point on the longevity of cotton fabrics.  The colors are still quite bright and happy.

There were a couple of fabrics that had really fallen apart, like this solid brown.  

I basted the frayed edges down so they wouldn't poof up the patches, and then patched over them and requilted.  The techniques for the patching can be found on the Amazing Stars post.  The quilting is a style sometimes called Baptist Fan.  The background I've heard on the origins of this pattern is that the concentric arcs make for very easy frame quilting.  The needle can always move in the same direction, and the arm can stay comfortably at the same extension.  The quilter doesn't ever need to bend and twist herself around.  

The quilt dates to the 1950s/1960s era, maybe at the end of the 50s and heading into the 60s. I'm not sure I could actually date it that closely, but that is my sense of it.  Here are some of the fabrics.  You can see a fair amount of turquoise, which was a popular color in 50s fabrics, and also some olive-y green.  You can also see several fabrics with the print style that I like to call "men's pajama prints"- geometrically organized designs.

Here, the block on the right has both a blue and daisy print which to me harkens back to the 40s and an orange and purple floral which looks forward to the 60s.  This is gut feeling fabric dating.

Here are two really fun prints:  

A William Tell apple print.  (You can see this in place up above, next to the brown bow tie in the repair photos.)

 A kitchen utensil print.

And on the back, there is a bold red and white hibiscus print.

At any rate, this is a fun quilt, very typical I'd say of the fabrics and styles of the 1950s decade.  It's a very cozy, quilt-y quilt.


  1. Hi Ann, my childhood quilt my Grandma made had a red, black, and white kitchen utensil print on the back. That was in the sixties. I had thought, oh, they were just trying to use up a "mistake" fabric, but now I see that this was a "thing." This is a beautiful quilt! I love those "pajama prints". As a kid, the first patchwork I tried was in the "bow tie" pattern, with my grandmas supervising.Thanks always for your engaging site!

    1. Thanks for sharing about the kitchen utensil fabric on your Grandma's quilt and your memories of learning to quilt with this pattern! Prints with actual items on them, instead of florals or geometrics, are called conversation prints. You can see more of them in other posts by searching via the link in the righthand column, in the "History" section.