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Patchwork Pulse brings you the latest quilting news, tips, techniques and how-to information!

Patchwork Pulse, Issue #004
November 2009

In This Issue:


Red and White Quilt BlockIn my article "Friendship Quilts: A Sad Farewell," (below)
I posted a photo of a quilt made by Fanny Minard. The owner of this quilt wants to learn more about Fanny and her family who lived in the 1800s.

If anyone has information about Fanny Minard or the family name "Minard," please contact me, and I will forward your information. Thanks!

Pieces of the Past:
Friendship Quilts: A Sad Farewell

Pioneer Settlers
Pioneer Family Heading West
Imagine moving away from family and friends, with no guarantee you'll ever see them again. It's a horrid thought. But, this was a common occurrence in 19th century America.

In the 1840s and 1850s, many pioneer families moved westward. They were eager to find unsettled land on which to build their homesteads. Most of them were farmers, so fertile land was a priority.

Unfortunately, this meant moving away from loved ones, with little chance of a future reunion. The reality of this permanent separation was unbearable to most women. Not only that, but they had to contend with the uncertainty of their futures.

Loved ones did their best to console the departing families. But, at the same time, they were fearful of being forgotten. It was during this time of emotional distress and uprooting of families that friendship quilts became popular.

Friendship Quilt
Large Friendship Quilt
Friendship quilts, also known as signature quilts, were made and given to travelers as a symbol of comfort, love and remembrance.

They were made in abundance, partly because so many people were uprooting and partly because these special quilts were the only physical connection between migrating families and those left behind.

As families prepared for their trip, female friends and family gathered to sew the quilts. Each contributor sewed a quilt block using her own dressmaking fabrics.

Chimney Sweep Quilt Pattern
Popular Chimney Sweep Pattern
Sometimes she included fabric from a deceased friend or relative. In this way, the recipient received personal effects from all her loved ones.

As a crowning touch, the quiltmakers inscribed their names, the date, and sometimes their addresses onto their blocks. Others preferred to add personal messages, poems, bible verses or words of wisdom.

Friendship quilts brought comfort to grieving women as they journeyed west. And, I mean a LONG journey.

On average, wagons traveled about 12 miles a day. And, it took 6 months or more to reach western territories. You can imagine how many times friendship quilts brought sweet memories to sad and lonely pioneer women.

Inscription reads:

May God's mercy preserve thee
His power protect
His goodness upholds thee
His wisdom direct

Fanny Minard
March the 6, 1857

Domestic happiness oh thou gem
So often sought but seldom found

Photo Courtesy of
Karolyn Nubin Jensen

The settlers never lost contact with loved ones back home. In fact, the women continued to exchange letters. Often, they tucked in scraps of fabric from their latest sewing projects. They knew the recipients would happily use them in their next quilt.

How to Sew Accurate Seams

In quilting, we use 1/4" seam allowances. That's because it gives us secure seams without a lot of fabric bulk. Simple enough. But, I want to stress the importance of setting up an accurate seam allowance BEFORE you start to sew. This is important!

The size of your seam allowance affects how well your blocks fit together and the finished size of your quilt. Trust me, you don't want to get halfway through your project before you realize there's a problem.

Even if you're using a 1/4 foot, it's wise to double check. Here's a simple but accurate way of testing your seam allowance:

If you measured 3 1/2" across, congratulations! You're ready to sew. However, if your test piece measured larger or smaller than this, you'll have to make some adjustments. Here's a few suggestions:

  1. Adjust your needle position, if possible.
    Seams too large? Move your needle one notch to the right. Seams too small? Move your needle one notch to the left.

    Now, sew another test seam. Measure the seam with a clear quilting ruler. If it's accurate, perform the first test again. Keep testing until you achieve an accurate 1/4" seam allowance.

  2. Check the throat plate for a grooved 1/4" seam line.
    This would be located 1/4" to the right of your needle. If you have one, line up the right edge of your fabric with this line as you sew.

  3. Make your own seam guide. It's easy!

Now, go ahead and sew that quilt. Have fun!

Free Pattern of the Month:
Isn't Christmas Jolly?

Isn't Christmas Jolly?
Isn't Christmas Jolly?

Finished Size 54" x 58"
Since Christmas is around the corner, I decided to publish another cute holiday pattern.

It's always a good idea to start your projects early. This way, you avoid that "mad-dash-to-the-finish-line" syndrome. Quilting should be fun and relaxing, not stressful and rushed.

Mary Engelbeirt created this delightful pattern for Moda fabrics. You can buy the same fabric shown in the photo. They're from the Isn't Christmas Jolly fabrics collection.

I don't know about you, but I'm getting into the Christmas spirit already! Have fun sewing this most charming quilt!

Quilter of the Month

By: Rae Williams, Tipton, Iowa USA

I don't want to nominate myself, but my sister-in-law. She and my brother were married five (5) years ago and have a blended family. They also have custody of and are raising my neice, who just turned 13 years old.

My sister-in-law, Tami, in just 5 years has become a grandmother and has 2 more grandchildren on the way early in 2010. My brother had bought her a harley davidson motorcycle, which she tries hard to accompany him on trips that seem to occur more frequently than she seems to have time for.

Tami gardens, helps with planting and harvesting of the field crops along with everything else involved with farming. She babysits for her daughter, (the first grandchild), her brother couldn't get proper financing for a home he was looking to buy, and then her brother Erick moved in with them along with his dog.

She recently completed a quilt and sent it off to the long arm quilter to be done. Tami then entered her quilt into the local county fair and was disappointed when her quilt won only second (2nd) place because of the binding.

Tami was determined to try again and removed all of the binding. She drove from east central Iowa to the Illinois/Indiana border to visit her Aunt. When Tami got to her Aunt's home, she begged her Aunt to show her how to redo the binding so that her corners were "square". Tami then redid the binding and entered the exact same quilt into another fair quilt judging and was pleasantly surprised.

When the quilting judge was looking over the quilts, (all 11 of them in one category), the judge never really inspected Tami's quilt like she did the rest. Tami started to cry when she won the Blue ribbon, first (1st) place.

Tami then went outside to call her Aunt in Illinois and couldn't reach her. After several other unsuccessful phone calls, Tami returned to watch the judging of the four (4) quilts that won blue ribbons. Again the judge never appeared to "inspect" Tami's quilt.

Instead, the judge looked over the other three (3) quilts and then slapped her hand on Tami's quilt and said "This quilt is the purple ribbon". Tami was so happy the tears were rolling down her face from joy at that time.

Tami was so thrilled that on her first (1st) try at entering a quilt into that particular fair and winning the best of show that she really didn't "come down from cloud nine" for about 3 days.

Tami usually makes quilts to give to family members and said that since she put so much time and energy into this quilt that "this one isn't going anywhere, I'm keeping it for myself". My mother and I are so proud of Tami for wanting to continue trying with the same quilt and not getting discouraged like most would have done.

With everything that Tami has going on in her life, along with driving school bus during school time, I often wonder where and when Tami finds time to do any sewing at all.

Are You Our Next Quilter of the Month?
To enter, please fill out this Short Submission Form.

November Quilt Shows!

November 5-7, 2009
Quilt, Craft & Sewing Festival, Pomona, CA

November 6-7, 2009
Pryor Patchers "Pieces of our Lives" Quilt Show, Pryor, OK

November 8-12, 2009
Art Quilt Tahoe, Lake Tahoe Region, CA

November 12-14, 2009
Original Sewing & Quilt Expo, Chicago, IL

November 12-14, 2009
Puyallup Quilt, Craft and Sewing Festival, Puyallup, WA

November 19-21, 2009
Vancouver Quilt, Craft & Sewing Festival, Ridgefield, WA

Patchwork Quilting Made Easy!

Just a reminder to my new subscribers. My home study course, "Patchwork Quilting Made Easy" is still available. Learn to sew a sampler quilt in the comfort of your own home, at your own pace.


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