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Petal shapes

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Orange Peel

Orange Peel

Named for an aristo-crat with a peel.
Orange Peel
Lafayette Orange Peel/Melon Patch/An Orange Peel Quilt/Save a Piece (Scraps)

A lovely story goes with this block. Lafayette, a French nobleman whose full name was about 40 miles long, was a close friend of George Washington and a major help to the Americans during the Revolutionary War.

Of course, he was a hero in America. At a party, he charmed everyone when he removed an orange's peel in a novel way, by cutting it into four pointed ovals. A young lady asked for the peel,* took it home, and the rest is history.

This block was first published, as Orange Peel, in 1897 as Ladies Art Company's block #107 (1897). It was resurrected twice with near-identical names in the Kansas City Star (1929, 1956), and Nancy Cabot of the Chicago Tribune called it "Melon Patch" in 1933. The same year, Holland's Magazine of Dallas, Texas called it Save a Piece (Scraps).

Lafayette Orange Peel
Joseph's Coat

Orange Peel is often called Lafayette Orange Peel. A similar block published in 1933 in the Cincinnati Enquirer was also named Lafayette Orange Peel, but the Enquirer's version lacked the quarter-block seam lines. Carrie Hall, that doyenne of quilt-block design, also stitched up an example without quarter-block seams in the 1930s. Still another was credited to Alice Brooks in 1934 under the name Joseph's Coat.

For this information we thank Jinny Beyer and her Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns.

*From a curatorial note on a quilt at the 2012 International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas.

Melon Patch
Melon Patch
Orange Peel

Melon Patch was published in the Chicago Tribune in 1934 under Nancy Cabot's byline. Cabot gave the block the alternative name Orange Peel.

Every last Melon Patch pattern we've seen on the web has the same proportions as an Orange Peel. Even Hall/Kretsinger, whose Romance of the Patchwork Quilt in America was published in 1935, thought that the Melon Patch was pretty much the same thing. In their photographs, however, the Melon Patch petals were considerably slimmer.

It does make a difference. Take a look at the whole-quilt mockups by clicking on a block on this page.

Our violet icon links to a diagram and, from there, to tutorials.

Rob Peter
to Pay Paul

Pin Cushion
Rob Peter to Pay Paul
Pin Cushion/Pincushion and Cucumbers/Pincushion Design/Dolly Madison's Workbox/Mary's Choice/Lafayette Orange Peel/Lemon Peels/Love Ring/Rob Peter and Pay Paul/Rob Peter to Pay Paul/Robbing Peter to Pay Paul/Sugar Bowl/Turn About Quilt/Turnabout/Dolly Madison's Workbasket

Rob Peter to Pay Paul is the name usually used for this block. It is only one of about a dozen blocks that goes by some variation of that name.

First published as Pin Cushion in the Ladies Art Company's 1897 catalog (#133), the block was rediscovered by the Kansas City Star's quilt columnist, Ruby McKim, in 1928 and named Rob Peter and Pay Paul.

The key characteristic of Rob Peter to Pay Paul is that the petals are split in half, with each block alternating in color. It's really a variation of Pin Cushion, in which colors do not alternate.

Another variation of this block, also called Pin Cushion, does have 1-piece petals. It is from Nancy Cabot, whose block appeared in a 1934 Chicago Tribune. Her block, like the LAC's, included 9 individual mini-blocks.

Space for Many Names

Space for Many Names

This block is a single unit of Rob Peter to Pay Paul with slightly wider points, published in the Kansas City Star in 1959. (We've traced the block from a photograph of the Star's pattern.) The name suggests that it be used in album quiltsquilts made by several people for a friend or honoree.

Our line drawing is posted; click on the violet "Make It!" icon at upper right. Click on the graphic at left to see a whole-quilt mockup.

Tea Leaf
Tea Leaf
Tealeaf/Lover's Knot/Circle upon Circle/True Lover's Knot/Linked Petals/Bay Leaf/Tea Leaves

Unlike Robbing Peter, above, Tea Leaf's pointed ovals are a single piece. We suspect that it was intended to be a continuous block looking much like a collection of Orange Peel blocks. However, the design as it was shown makes for an interesting design for a whole quilt. Click on the graphic at left to see.

Tea Leaf is Block #69 of the LAC catalog of 1897. The names Lover's Knot and Tealeaf came from a 1932 Grandmother Clark booklet (#19), Circle upon Circle from a 1934 Mrs. Danner's Quilts booklet, and True Lover's Knot and Linked Petals from newspaper designers (Cabot, 1933; Page, 1942). Researcher Carrie Hall called the block Bay Leaf and Tea Leaves in 1935.

Alabama Beauty
Alabama Beauty

Nancy Cabot's 1933 petal block, published in the Chicago Tribune, was called Alabama Beauty. Click on the violet icon for a diagram and basic instructions for making it.

The Kansas Beauty
The Kansas Beauty

The Kansas City Star published this variation of the Alabama Beauty block in 1936, along with instructions specifying a white center and alternating light and dark colors arranged as they are in the example at left.

In the Star, the Kansas Beauty quilt has a scalloped edge (right) rather than the straight edge you'll see in our mockup (click on the block graphic at left).

The Whale Block
The Whale Block

We don't know why the Ladies Art Company named this block as it did, but we're guessing that the design originated in New England, the center of the whaling business in the United States.

Wherever it came from, it was published in the LAC's 1922 catalog as #490.

Rose Dream

The Rain Drop
Quilt Block
Rose Dream
The Broken Square/The Rose Dream/Hollows & Squares/Martha/Endless Chain/True Lover's Knot/Lover's Knot

Kansas journalists can't seem to remember this block: It was published in the Kansas City Star no fewer than 5 times. It was re-drafted each time.

The original design, published in 1930, was by Star designer Eveline Foland. It was called Rose Dream. The Star republished it in 1938 (with slightly more slender proportions) as The Broken Square, in 1947 as The Rose Dream, and in 1949 as Hollows & Squares.

The Rain Drop Quilt Block

Finally, the Star published the single quarter-block from Rose Dream in 1960 as The Rain Drop Quilt Block.

As for the other names for Rose Dream, Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Blocks tells us that Lover's Knot is from Capper's magazine (1930), Martha is from the Oklahoma Farmer Stockman (1932), Endless Chain is from Nancy Cabot (1933), and True Lover's Knot from a Mrs. Danner booklet (1934). Lover's Bowtie is credited to "Frank," meaning the booklet E-Z Patterns for Patchwork and Applique Quilts from the Robert Frank Needlework Supply Co. of Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Job's Tears
Job's Tears
The Slave Chain/Texas Tears/The Rocky Road to Kansas/Kansas Troubles/Endless Chain

We have Ruth Finley's Old Patchwork Quilts (1929) to thank for the history of this curious block, which was named before 1800 for a bean plant called Job's Tears.

The block picked up the name The Slave Chain around 1820, when Missouri and Maine became states in what was known as the Missouri Compromise (the Compromise kept the number of free and slave states equal). By 1840 it picked up the name Texas Tears, followed by The Rocky Road to Kansas and Kansas Troubles. Around 1880, it was being called Endless Chain.

Not even with the aid of the inimitable Jinny Beyer's Quilter's Album were we able to figure out a way to draft this block. We wound up drawing it by eyeball from Finley's book.

We like to think that we're following in the footsteps of our pioneer sisters.

Friendship Dahlia

Friendship Dahlia

Our graphic at left is three blocks in one: You'll see some faint lettering in the lower right and left corners, both showing the location of stems in each of the three variations of the block.

Nancy Cabot presented the block without a stem in 1937; Carrie Hall published one with a straight stem in 1935; and one with a curved stem appeared in a booklet called Prize Winning Designs in 1931. This information we owe to Jinny Beyers' Quilters' Album of Patchwork Patterns (2009). We don't know how the colors were arranged in any of the blocks.

The block is drawn on a 7x7 grid. If you're interested in making it, you'll find a diagram with all three variations when you click on the "Make It!" icon above.

Star Sapphire
Star Sapphire

The Kansas City Star thought that Star Sapphire was just the thing for birthstone colors, but we've shown it in the sapphire's traditional blue. We've included the dark outer circle just as the Star published it in March 1936.

The block is laid out on a four-by-four-square grid, but to get those rounded, tesselated-looking pieces in the center diamond, you will need to find a segment of a circle.

We started with a six inch square and found that the arc in the Star's diagram was a 6" segment of a circle with a diameter of just about 7-3/4" inches. That is, to draw a 12-inch block, you'll have to draw a 15-1/2" circle and use the part of the circle between the points where it touches a straight 12-inch line.

There are mathematical terms for the arc involving a radius and degrees, but we bet you don't remember them either.

Click on the graphic to see a full-quilt mockup.