FieldGuidetoQuilts.com

Priscilla

Email us for permission if you want to use anything on this site.

Copyright
© 2017 by

The earliest block of this kind dates back to 1860, and it has been published under a score of names. As a result, quilters use the names Priscilla, Amethyst, Kaleidoscope, and World Without End almost interchangeably. Originally, Priscilla and World Without End were in 2 colors, and World Without End's colors were reversed in every other block. Amethyst and Kaleidoscope had 3 colors; kaleidoscope's 3rd color was in only half the block.

By any name, this design is among the most versatile for creating patterns across a quilt top. For a whole-quilt mockup of the blocks on this page, click on a graphic below.

The Priscilla (1893)


The Priscilla (1897)
The Priscilla

The Priscilla was first published in Ladies World Magazine in 1893, according to Jinny Beyer's Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns. It was also in the Ladies Art Company catalog of 1897 (#199). Both are pictured at left.

Do the blocks look the same to you? They're not quite. The 1893 block was laid out on a grid of 14 squares by 14; the 1897, 16 by 16, Beyer says.

Such accuracy would have been out of reach for the turn-of-the-century home quilter. She could buy patterns from the LAC (15 cents each; 12 for $1 in 1928). Or she could buy the LAC's colored cardboard diagram (5 cents; 35 for $1). But quilting then was still the work of thrifty wives. Many would have measured the block illustration and drawn up a template for each patch.

Nancy Cabot's 1933 block World Without End (not pictured) was drawn up on a 14 x 14 grid, just like the one in the LAC's first catalog. Still, from the 1920s on, Priscilla variations tended to fall into 2 categories: wide-point stars laid out on a 4 x 4 grid and narrow point stars laid out on a 10 x 10 grid.



Kaleidoscopic
Patch (1897)



Kaleidoscopic
Patch (1934)


Diamond & Star
Kaleidoscopic Patch

The LAC's Kaleidoscopic Patch (#386, 1897) was 9 Priscillas in a single block. Each of those mini-Priscillas was drawn up on a 10 x 10 grid.


Kaleidoscopic Patch

In 1934, Nancy Cabot used the 9-star design in her Chicago Tribune column, but she simplified it by drafting each star as a 4-patch (4 x 4). Tippecanoe and Sugar Cone (Gutcheon, James) were also drawn on 4 x 4 grids, but we haven't seen the originals, so we don't know how many colors they had or how many stars were in 1 block.


Diamond & Star
Frontier Fiesta


In its 1922 catalog, the LAC published another 9-star block as its #481. Diamond & Star looked like a Kaleidoscopic Patch, but according to Jinny Beyer, it was based on a star grid.

Perhaps the design's complexity encouraged more quilters to buy an LAC pattern. If the diamond shapes were split lengthwise, Diamond & Star could be a square block. They're not, and the result is a continuous design with a strong familial resemblance to the Priscilla.

Columnist Nancy Page followed up in 1937 with the identical Frontier Fiesta block (Birmingham News).

Priscilla




Amethyst (1931)




World Without End (1938)
Wide-point variations

These blocks are laid out on an easy-to-draft 4 x 4 grid.


Priscilla

World Without End/Tippecanoe/Sugar Cone

A single 4-patch star goes by Priscilla and World Without End, names it picked up from Hall's and Kretsinger's The Romance of the Patchwork Quilt in America (1935). The names Tippecanoe and Sugar Cone came along much later (Gutcheon, 1973; James, 1978).

Carrie Hall's goal was to find and stitch up an example of as many quilt block patterns as she could find. It seems likely that she encountered a quilt based on the older, published blocks described at the top of this page, and that the block was already simplified when she found it.


Amethyst
Golden Wedding Quilt/Diamond Star/Crazy Quilt Star/Crazy Star Quilt/Windmill Star

When the Kansas City Star published Amethyst in 1931, each star had a 3rd color for the center patch. The KCS block is pictured at center left.


World Without End

Diamond Star/Golden Wedding Ring/Priscilla

The oldest block with the name World Without End was this one with alternating colors, first published by Ruth Finley in her 1929 book Old Patchwork Quilts: And the Women Who Made Them.

Geometrical Star


Geometric Star
Geometrical Star

The sole difference between Clara Stone's 1906 Geometrical Star and Prize Winning Designs' 1931 Geometric Star is a pair of seams. Geometric Star has them; Geometrical Star doesn't. Read on.


Geometric Star

The booklet Prize Winning Designs (ca. 1931) added a vertical and a horizontal seam to Clara Stone's Geometrical Star, dividing the 4-star block into 4 separate 1-star blocks. The whole can be pieced in alternate colors like a World Without End block, although we're not entirely sure how the original Geometric Star was colored. Click on a block to see a whole-quilt design based on the block at left.Carrie Hall also published a variation of Geometric Star in 1935. It had only one 4-pointed star, which, like Stone's 1906 star, had a light background and center. However, its proportions made the center larger and the ring smaller than those of the blocks at left.


Kaleidoscope



Hobby Nook

Narrow-point variations

These blocks are based on 10 by 10 grids*.


Kaleidoscope


The Star's Kaleidoscope's half-dark, half-light edges make it an even more versatile block than Priscilla for creating whole-quilt patterns. It was published in 1930.

Another block, also named Kaleidoscope, looks like a propeller but is similar to a 4-point star when it is laid out as a whole quilt. Click on this icon to see it:

Hobby Nook


The Hobby Nook block (KCS, 1955) mimics Kaleidoscope in its proportions and Amethyst in its coloring. A similar block with more dramatic coloration is The Dragon Fly, which is kin to the block Crossed Canoes. Click here to see:


*Beyer says that the Kansas City Star's Kaleidoscope was drawn on a 30 x 30 grid, but we tend to think that the Star's drafting was a tad less precise.