These blocks have character, or were they made by characters?

character

I couldn’t wait to show you all these blocks!They have such character! In my family, if we say something has character (or likewise, that someone is a character), it usually means that it, or they, might be just a tad odd. I use the term as a compliment.

They’re a fairly recent eBay find, and I’ve not yet done any research on them, but they already give a lot of information. There are 21 in the set, and they are in very good condition. Sadly, they were never made into a quilt. I’m still debating what I want to do with them, but I wanted you all to see them anyway. Enjoy the photos!

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May Robinson’s block is one of the plainer of the group. She is one of only three that were not in Viroqu, Wisconsin.

 

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Anna L’s block may have been taken from a transfer. I’m so glad she thought to embroider the date!

 

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This block, by Georgia Wolverton, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, came from the farthest away.

 

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What was Nell Mason commemorating with her block? Check out that suit…and the bathing caps!

 

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Bess Carter’s block is pretty, she was obviously Miss Matchy-Matchy.

 

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We don’t know who embroidered this block of the “Estelane,” but she obviously enjoyed doing it!

 

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Close-up of The “Estelane,” with “Good Luck” stitched on the boat’s hull.

 

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Dorothy E’s block indicates that the So & Sew’s were a 4H group. Although she embroidered the date in the clover leaves, she also wrote it in pencil on her block.

 

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Frances Robinson’s block is among the plainer blocks, but she alternated the corner fabrics, as did some of the others.

 

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A sweet and simple block with the club’s name.

 

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Ethel Hill, obviously some character, colored her block with crayons and embroidered a little verse. I can’t quite figure out what the animal is, maybe a mole?

 

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Close-up view of Ethel’s block lets us read: “Ef yo evah stop bein mah friend Is goin out in de garden and eat worms.” This puts me in mind of the “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me…” song, for which I’ve yet to find an original source.

 

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Ruby Tobias made her block bold and graphic and included both the location (Viroqua, Wisconsin) and the date.

 

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Anna M. Danielson, of Lynxville, Wisconsin, kept her block pretty plain, except for mixing up the corner colors.

 

These are interesting for a number of reasons, but here is what I know just from looking at them. Of the 21 blocks, nine of them have no location noted, eight note Viroqua, Wisconsin; one is from Tulsa, Oklahoma; one, Lynxville, Wisconsin (about 30 miles from Viroqua); and one from Timber Lake, South Dakota. All but two include the name of the maker, or at least a first name and an initial for the last name. One that has no name at all is stitched with the group name, “The So and Sew Club.” One block indicates that the So and Sew Club was a 4H group. Several bear dates indicating that they were created in the summer of 1931.

The block pattern is one that crops up a lot in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. That doesn’t mean that we don’t see it in other places, but those states are where most of them I’ve seen have originated. You might argue that since I live in the Midwest, those states are nearby. That’s true, but I had formed that hypothesis even when I lived in Florida. Marcia Kaylakie, an appraiser in Texas, has done quite a bit of research on the pattern. Her hypothesis is that the block originated in Texas. Unfortunately, none of us has done definitive research to prove anything.

They are all of cotton, of course, and are hand-appliqued, and hand-embroidered. And what embroidery it is! Many of the motifs show the lines from a transfer pattern, but some are clearly right out of the maker’s imagination. I can’t tell you how much I love that.

I can’t help but wonder what kind of characters these women were who made these blocks. Many of them are rather plain, but those that aren’t, really aren’t. They were obviously having fun, and isn’t that what we make things for?

Do you allow your joy to show through in your quilts?

 

  • Wendy Tuma

    What a fascinating group of blocks. Glad that you are giving them a caring home; it always makes me sad to see blocks like this just abandoned, so to speak. Sure would be fun to know the story behind them.

    • Aren’t they great? I honestly got better than I expected when these came in the mail. I knew there were some interesting things, but wow! What fun!

      It really would be fun to know more…I have a hunch that whoever these women were, they were all in for fun. The blocks just feel so happy! Maybe one day I will chase their story down. That is its own rabbit trail, though, and I can get lost for days in that hunt. I love it, but I become consumed by it.

      Anyway, glad to know that you liked them!

  • shelly

    These are fabulous! I love the diver, and the one of “The Estelene”. How funny some of them are!

    • Lori East

      It just looks to me like this was a group of women who had fun. I’ll bet they could clean up a plate of biscuits too.

  • Teddy Pruett

    What a hoot! The diver looks like the logo from Catalina bathing suits. Lots of personality in this group – I know they had a blast together.

    • I thought so too! Such personality in them.

  • Patti Tappel

    I would start by searching for obituaries. I’ve done that with the antique sewing machines I’ve bought. It always pleases me when I see they were Quilters

    • I can do that. I do have a subscription to Ancestry since I tend to go off on these rabbit-hole searches every so often. 😉

  • I don’t know why, but I think it’s an elephant… and I wonder if these were made by younger women than you think? Like you say, there is a joyfulness and naivety to the stitching. I absolutely love them. What a great find and so wonderful that they have found their way to you after all this time! I look forward to hearing what you find out about them.

    • I thought it was an elephant too, except that, when I thought about it, I thought that moles eat worms. Maybe…? Still, it’s fun, and yes, there is definite joy in the blocks. I’ll be sure to update what I learn!

      • It’s a nonsense rhyme! I don’t think it matters – it’s just saying you know, I’ll go stick my head in a bucket, so there! 😉

        • Heh. Yes! But do you know that children’s song, “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I’ll go eat worms…”?

          • Erm… no: but I did find this – can you see it?! Guess what I’ll be humming over the kids porridge tomorrow morning…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SiBe2_xvZRk

          • Bahahaha!! Perfect! Yes, that’s the song!

          • Isn’t it great?! Those kids look so innocent don’t they… Ahh. The Eighties.

          • I wish I could find one from the 5os for you. Hilarious!