Bowmansville star quilt

I’ve heard a lot about “bucket lists” lately–a list of things that people want to do or places they want to visit before they die.  Well I’m here to tell you, I’m probably not the only quilter with a bucket list of my own–quilts that I’d like to make before I leave this earth.  Since no one knows when their time will come, I’d better get busy!

One of the quilts on my bucket list is a Bowmansville star quilt.  These quilts are made entirely of tiny squares, arranged in color to make the design.  Not all Bowmansville quilts are stars, but those are my favorite.


“Image courtesy of and Conestoga Auction Co.”

Bowmansville in a small town in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  This area is widely known for its Amish quilts, but for whatever reason this small area developed its own quilt design in the late 1800s-early 1900s.  Bowmansville quilts are few in number, and sell for high prices–another good reason to make your own!


“Image courtesy of and Conestoga Auction Co.”

Here’s a close-up view:  pretty amazing!  I count 65 squares across this quilt, and it measures 83-84″ square, so my estimation is that the squares are about 1 1/4 inches.

This looks like quite the process!  Instead of making a sample block, maybe I should start with just one of the corners outside the star, and see how well that goes.  A design wall will be a definite must, because this quilt is all about contrast.

Hope you enjoyed this bit of history for today!


An International Baby Quilt!

I recently had the pleasure of making another special quilt for a special baby, but this one had a long journey to get to its destination!  This special baby was born in New Zealand, as his parents are working to grow the Lord’s church in that location.


I have a thing about stripes–you can blame it on my mother.  She loved stripes–see previous post for one of her striped dresses!  Anyhow, I had lots of shirting stripe scraps, and decided to use them as the background of this quilt.  The backing is a sweet vintage print of nautical boys and girls.


I also wanted to give recognition to the unusual circumstances around his birth, so I appliqued red/white stars from the New Zealand flag, and white/blue stars from the Tennessee flag.  Now he’ll be sure to find his way back home when it’s time.

Brownie points to the US Postal Service for not losing my package along the way–8500 miles is a long way! (as the crow flies on my Google map)

Best wishes for a sweet baby boy, and his precious parents!

Family Quilts – part 5


Today’s family quilt belonged to my grandmother, and it was apparently a gift to her from her church family.  She was a preacher’s wife in the little town of Megargel, Texas from 1929-1935.  Similar to another signature quilt, this quilt features signatures of various women friends which were lovingly hand-embroidered.  Before my aunt passed away, I had a wonderful conversation with her about the quilt, and read the names to her.  She confirmed that they were members of the church in Megargel.  It is interesting to note how many of them wrote “Mrs. So-and-so” instead of using their first and last names.  It is also very interesting that one block has my grandmother’s name on it!  Why would she sign a block for her own quilt?  All I can guess is that they didn’t tell her it was intended as a gift for her until it was done–that way they didn’t have to hide it.  But that’s just my speculation.  Her block is special–it is signed “Sister Smith.”  If this was a going-away gift, the quilt would be about 79 years old.


I’d love to know the name of this block–it reminds of one called “cross and crown” but is not the same.  The condition of the quilt is rather poor–it is stained, and many of the fabrics used have faded or worn away.  Here is a photo of a good block (notice how they ran out of one fabric and had to substitute another):


Thanks for stopping by to see my old family quilts!

For the sake of genealogical internet research, I will list the names here.  I did my best with reading them, but some of them are not embroidered very well:

Clara Shelley

Mrs E. W. Shelley

J. M. Selph

Bertha Selph

Alma Ragle

Leona Ragle

Mrs. Freeman

Nonnie Lovern

Lucy Lovern

Mrs. G.E. Vickers

Mrs. J.R. Vickers

Mrs. Holmes

Mrs. J. I. B.

Mrs. T.V. Carr

Mrs. J. L. Smith

Mrs. Jenkins

Mrs. C.B. Carler

Annie Sims

Pat Hardegras

Sister Smith

The secret is out!

Maybe you’re wondering why I haven’t posted a quilt project in awhile.  What you didn’t know is that a secret quilt was in the works, which took the cooperation of 70+ people!

I have been working on a signature quilt, a gift for a special couple who are leaving our congregation.  We wanted to send them off with our best wishes and encouragement, so this gave everyone an opportunity to be an active part.  It was great fun to see what people would write, all the different handwriting styles, and making sure we got as many names as we could!  The signature which traveled the farthest came from Huntington Beach, CA.


I don’t have a specific name for this pattern–I was simply working from a internet photo.  The white fabric strips had freezer paper templates ironed on the back, and the fabric triangles were slightly oversized, so that the blocks could be trimmed down before assembling the quilt.


The quilt was presented to our friends last Sunday, and I think they really appreciated it.  I am glad to not have to keep this a secret anymore :-)

The Family Quilts – Part 4

Today’s quilt is quite a treasure–not only does it tell who made it and when, but also who it was for!  This is unusual in old quilts, and this one is 80 years old.


My sweet grandmother made this quilt, and presented it to my daddy on the occasion of his 12th birthday.   They were living in Megargel, Texas at the time, and she was a busy preacher’s wife with three children.  But somewhere in the midst of it all, she found time to make this quilt.

Grandfather & Grandmother Smith




While piecing this quilt, apparently Grandmother ran out of her pink and blue fabric, and had to substitute a different shade.  Quilters today would be horrified to do such a thing, but in those days you made do with what you had.


This quilt has a mixture of machine and hand piecing, and is quilted by hand.  The backing is plain muslin, and it appears that the backing was brought to the front to form a binding, which has not survived the years very well.

There is an unusual feature to this quilt that I’ve never seen before.  A gauzy piece of fabric was sewn across the top part of the quilt after it was finished, and it is embroidered with the words “Presented to Bassil Smith By Mother July 20, 1934”. Isn’t that the neatest thing?  That part of the quilt is in terrible shape, and I hope to restore it by gently tacking it onto a similar backing fabric.



Thanks for joining me for this step back into the past!