Monday, December 16, 2013

Vintage Baby Bowtie Quilt: Part Two

While Wild Kat was working her magic with needle and floss on the center embroidery, I grabbed my stack of quilt books to find directions on how to assemble the classic bowtie block.  This block is a mainstay in the quilt world, hitting peak popularity in the 1930s and 40s.
c. 1930s source

c. 1930s source

c. 1930-40s source
c. 1960s source
Unfortunately none of my quilt books were useful so off to the internet I went.  I was annoyed, and honestly very surprised, to find that most quilters reproducing this block were not using the traditional method.  When Grandma was piecing her bowties, the center of the bow or the "knot" was typically constructed out of one piece of square fabric.  Today's quilters cheat and use "connector corners" instead.  This results in a pieced center knot. 

modern reproduction source
Connector corners are used in several quilt blocks today.  First the tiny triangles are pieced onto the white squares (in the corner, hence the name) and then the four squares are sewn together to form one bowtie.  I admit that this is much easier than the traditional method.  But being the historic-detail-OCD person that I am, I wanted a one piece center knot, dammit!

Unable to find adequate directions online, I sat down with some scrap fabric and started playing.  Soon I had a technique that resulted in slightly wonky bowties.
*** Warning!  If you are a quilter, please take a deep breath before viewing the next photo.  Hometown Victory Girls is not responsible should you blast coffee onto your keyboard when you witness the atrocity of my piecing.  ***

I know that somewhere, right now, my mother is denying that she knows me.  But in my defense, let me say that this is by far is my worst block.  Honestly.  I wanted to show this one to impress upon you my complete lack of training as a child.  No, not really (just kidding, Mom).  But as all good quilters know, many sins of the sewing machine can be fixed with a rotary cutter.  And once in awhile, it's okay to loosen up your standards just a bit (or a lotta bit).

After a quick trim, I had a nice squared block that measured 6 1/2".

After repeating this process sixteen more times, I had enough blocks to coordinate with Wild Kat's embroidery.  I used all my scraps.  We wanted a two-color quilt, so the rule applies, red is red.  I used vintage 1940s florals, 1950s ginghams and cherries, a bit of Kansas Troubles, and a few Depression reproductions.  When the blocks are all side by side, they blend beautifully.  But I'm going to leave you hanging there.  Check in next time for the big reveal!

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