January 11, 2017

Buckeye Beauty - A Quilt and A Story

Quilt blocks with this geometry combining half-square triangles and 4-patches go by many names depending on the placement of the colors and the arrangement of the blocks.  This arrangement is called Buckeye Beauty.  (The quilt is way too big (13 x 13 blocks) for me photograph the whole thing!)

The quilt's owner tells this story:

The quilt was a Christmas present to me from my grandmother, Lillian Faatz, in December 1982. I was 25 years old and had just finished grad school and had my first apartment. I believe my grandmother made all of the blocks that make up the quilt. She was a member of a quilting group at the First United Methodist Church of Carbondale, PA for many years. As long as I can remember she would make quilt blocks for the group. Generally, they made quilts which they donated to people who needed but could not afford them. It is possible that some of the blocks were made by other members of the group, but I don't think that is likely.

My grandmother was born in 1896, so when she made the blocks for this quilt she was in her mid 80s. Once she had assembled all the blocks, the end product was hand-quilted by the members of the quilt group.

I used the quilt from January 1983 through 1997 when my wife and I upgraded from a queen bed to a king. At that point we stored the quilt in a closet. The resulting damage was a result of mice getting into the closet. At the time, we had two indoor-outdoor cats. While normally people have cats to catch mice in the house and destroy them, we had the opposite problem. Our cats would bring mice in from outside and let them go in the house. Then they would hunt the mice in the house ... Unfortunately - the cats didn't always catch all their mice - and hence the damage to the quilt.

It's great to have this story about Lillian Faatz and her longtime love of quiltmaking, and the good work of the women of the Carbondale, PA, church.  The quilt is clearly made from a collection of scraps from several decades. 

There are probably 4 decades represented here.  The orange and blue print at the top of this photo looks to be 1940s, the purple and white calico is likely 1970s, and the other prints fall in the decades in between.

But the fabric that made me look twice is this one:
A ducks and strawberries print!?  Yup!  This fabric just makes me giggle.

Lilian made her Buckeye Beauty as a scrap quilt.  At first glance, I thought this was a two block quilt, one block with half-square triangles making a square on point, and one block with four-patches making an X.  But the color placement made me realize that this is actually just one 4-patch block.  It has two each half square triangles and smaller 4-patches of each fabric with white.  Then, half the blocks were rotated 90-degrees, to create the overall pattern that fooled me into seeing two different blocks!

To finish the quilt, Lilian pieced half blocks as borders around the quilt, and in doing so, finished the shapes created where the blocks join together.   So clever!

And another fun little note.  I have almost exactly this white on green floral in my stash.  I bought it in my early quilting years, which began in 1978.  You have to look really, really closely to see that it's a bit different.  This fabric was in fine shape everywhere, so I didn't get to actually use my (almost) perfect match.

Here are several more shots showing the range of colors and prints on the quilt:


Thanks to the quilt owner for writing and sharing his grandmother's story!

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