One of the things that I love about quilting is the mixture between the precise and the improvised. There’s nothing that gives me more satisfaction than when my corners nestle perfectly when I’m chain-piecing a quilt top together, but I also rebel against repetitive quilt blocks. I suppose that is one reason why I would be considered a “modern” quilter.
But it turns out my “classical training” has influenced my designs a bit more than I thought.
I wrote a blog post a year ago about a quilt I made for a dear friend who was moving in which I used the friendship star block. I just love how the shape of the star reminds me of a person walking forward with their head held high in a posture of self-assuredness. So this year, when my friend Annabel asked me to make a quilt using her stunning new fabric line for Windham, Maribel, the confident friendship star automatically popped into my head. It seems I just can’t shake this wonderful block.
Well what do you know... upon further research, I discovered that this was a favorite quilt among Pioneer women who made their journeys West.
Allow me to quote from the National Park Service website:
“The quilts the homesteaders brought with them were a comfort to these women who traded their home, family and friends in the East, for the uncertainty of traveling through vast prairies in the West. A quilt that held special value to the pioneer women was the Friendship Quilt.
Often it was done is secret, and then given to the woman as a going away gift. It usually was a group effort, with each block being sewn by a friend or relative with their name embroidered in the center. Putting a Friendship quilt on the bed, gave a woman a sense of connection with her former way of life. It kept alive the memory of family and friends, providing comfort and company during the difficult days of homesteading.
One woman homesteader said, "When I get lonely, I read the names on my quilt. "It was like putting her arms around someone and giving them a hug.”
Aw shoot, as a woman who herself journeyed from East to West… it’s NO WONDER I feel an affinity for this block! Not only does the star represent a strong, independent friend, but it evokes a warm embrace from said friend, and others. It's just perfect.
So from my homestead to yours, here’s my quilt, “Maribel’s Friends,” a variation on the block that is a simple combination between the half-square triangle and the simple square, chain-pieced together. Of course, the only things missing are the names of Maribel’s friends embroidered in the center:)
I'm so grateful to Annabel of Little Pincushion Studio for the opportunity to work with her lovely fabric. Have a peek at the look book here, and ask for Maribel by Annabel Wrigley at your local quilt shop!
Here's another little item I made with Maribel fabrics, modeled here by my friend Anne, who, by the way, is one hell of a quilt-holder-upper. And she also gives really wonderful hugs. :)
Pattern for reversible sun hat found on Creativebug.
Maribel's Friends: Mini Quilt Pattern:
Finished squares measure 3”, finished border measures 1 1/2".
-16 half square triangle blocks (See tutorial below)
-21 squares varying prints from the Maribel collection, cut to 3 ½”
-4 squares of white fabric, cut to 3 ½" for the center of each friendship star
- 2 strips for border, cut to 2" x 40"
Arrange your squares on a design wall or floor, following the photo. Chain-piece your squares together, saving the pressing for the end. (If you are looking for a tutorial on how to chain-piece, might I suggest my class on Creativebug, in which I talk you through the whole process.) Add border strips. Back, baste, quilt, and bind!
Feel free to adjust the size, or add more blocks. Just adopt that Pioneer spirit... sky's the limit!
Cut 8 squares to 3 ⅞” (4 colors and 2 low volume white prints, 2 solid white) and follow tutorial to make HSTs. Pair colors with low volume whites or solid whites!