London Roads x 3 and an Oops

The sketch from several days ago has become three blocks. First the block like the one in my 1980s Sampler.

London Roads

15 1/2 x 15 1/2

This block amused me so much with its dead ends. And it may be named “London,” but it could be any city with one way streets.  I’m guessing I’m not the only one who has driven in a strange city and found  intersections of one way streets forcing me to go a different direction than I had intended.(I don’t recall the dead-end problem, though.) ETA: I do remember one time when I was an hour late because a freeway had been built in Baltimore. I was visiting after a few years; I had refused directions because I  “knew” how to get there; I could see the house across the freeway. I passed the same man mowing his lawn several times. He kept trying to tell me how to get across, but I kept missing one of the turns.

I found this block in copies I had made of an old catalog. In the 70s we didn’t have all the pattern books that are available now. We had books that taught how to draft patterns and The Romance of the Patchwork Quilt by Carrie Hall, who had set out to make a block from every pattern she knew. Between the two, I could make many blocks. I also had thumbnail size diagrams in catalogs I’d copied–one was dated 1900. But it was the only title page I had copied.  I copied pages from three different catalogs as blocks appealed to me. We could get photocopies at the library (no Kinkos yet) for a quarter per page,so at that rate, one skipped title pages. (That was before I was interested in quilt history.) I don’t remember if any of the companies of the catalogs were still in existence, but I doubt it. If the were, I think the quilters who shared them would have told how to order a new copy. Quilters kept old catalogs for reference. The “London Roads” block came from one of those dateless, titleless catalogs.

When I got Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, I looked to see if I could get more information. She listed two blocks named “London Roads,” but neither was exactly like mine. This one was close.

#1677b

It had one less dead end than the one I’d made before.  Brackman identifies blocks by number, and this one is 1677b. Its source was the Ladies Art Company of St Louis. LAC numbered their blocks, and the numbers convey the dates patterns were available. This block was #238, which means it was in the 1895 catalog. Brackman identifies LAC as the first mail-order quilt pattern company, in business till the 70s.

Here is Brackman’s second London Roads.

#1658,

This “London Roads” is attributed to “Nancy Page,” a syndicated quilter’s column  written by Florence LaGanke Harris from 1928-1940s. (The block also appeared in LAC as “Mosaic,” #336 in the 1897 catalog.) Brackman notes that “Page” gave it with an all over setting. One wonders if “Page” renamed “Mosaic,” reworked the old “London Roads,” missing the old joke and seeking to be more logical, or if she created what she thought was a new block that reminded her of traffic circles.

It is a two color block, but I added the third because I didn’t like the arrow completely disappearing into the background. Keeping the value the same seemed enough of a nod to tradition.

So those are the three blocks–I plan to make 8 from those three designs, alternating them with the building fabric; each block is 15 1/2 inchs square.

And the Oops.

Like you, I know that one should make one block before cutting everything. Although it is given as a way to test if a pattern is correct, it makes sense to do it when working from one’s own math (especially my math). But I was in a hurry and didn’t this time. So the three-bar square that forms the shafts of the arrows ended up 4 1/2 inches one way instead of 5 1/2 inches square. Since the shafts really needed to be centered, I added 1-inch strips to each side.  (I guess I could have trimmed everything and ended up with a 12-inch block. But I wanted 15.) So not only do I have to make a bunch of strips before I continue making blocks, I’ll have to buy more brown (or improvise).

Maybe the message is that I should be binding that other quilt.

Linking with Needle and Thread Thursday.

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6 Comments

Filed under design, quilting

6 responses to “London Roads x 3 and an Oops

  1. I agree with you that 3 colors works much better than 2. I am quite sure ending up forced to go a different way than you intended because of road signs and unexpected dead ends must be a universal experience in the modern age! Sorry about the miscalculation and resulting extra piecing. At least it was a fairly easy mistake to fix!

  2. I enjoyed this post. Can’t wait to see how you use the blocks. Thanks for the history lesson.

  3. Cher

    I too enjoyed your post. I agree, at least you can correct it to end up the way you wanted it to be. good luck finding more brown!

  4. Imagine the puzzlement of future quilt historians, as they examine your quilt and wonder why on earth you went to all that extra trouble…

  5. Love the London Roads block! And I recently re-learned that lesson about making a sample block, too. Ouch.

  6. dezertsuz

    Loved your historical documentation. I remember the times of getting catalogs in the mail and saving them, or newspaper and magazine articles about quilting. I didn’t have enough quarters in those days to photocopy much, but I drew a lot of patterns from Carrie Hall’s book – thank goodness graph paper was readily available! I still do that from time to time. Love your block variations.

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