Sunflower Power

HI Folks,

As a group we often take inspiration from the quilts in the collection at Hallockville Museum Farm (our home of operation).

Last year we challenged ourselves to make English Paper Pieced sunflower items for an exhibit for our barn exhibit during the Country Fair in August.

Along the way one or two quilts spoke to us and remained as an idea in our memory until they just HAD to be listened to. The quilt below is one such quilt. Made in 1840 on Long Island (Riverhead/Southold area) by a Hallock family member, the fabrics are fun and the hand work is exceptional.

We often meet as a quilt study group to take a closer look at some of the quilts in the museum collection. The fabrics and the mystery of the pattern started a search through historical books and patterns for many of us. The Russian Sunflower pattern online was as close as we could get to a pattern for it., but the number of petals was intriguing. One would assume 12 or 16 points would be an the number of petals since they are mathematically divisible by 4 to piece, but this quilt has blocks with 14. Since drafting this out by hand or computer seemed daunting we searched for a more recent pattern. We found a 16 point pattern in a past magazine (Quilter's Newsletter Magazine July/August 2007/No.394) called Sunburst with Holly Leaves.

During our pattern research we found 12 or 16 point patterns in the software Block Base 2 by noted quilt historian Barbara Brackman indicating the pattern was published by at least five publications from 1932-1957 with many different names, as is often the case with traditional blocks across the country and throughout they years. Details below from the software notes the names of some of the periodicals which printed patterns almost 100 years later.

Where the pattern came from for the quilt below in the collection may never be known, but it's fun to note how many farming and ladies magazines were printing patterns and when.....

Russian Sunflower- KC Star 5/7/32 Oklahoma Sunburst -KC Star 1933 Brave Sunflower- KC Star 1951

The Kansas City Star. Patterns appeared in three periodicals (Kansas City Star, Weekly Kansas City Star and Weekly Star Farmer) from 1928 to 1960. Early patterns were McKim syndicated patterns but in the early 1930s began a unique column of traditional and new designs by staff members and readers. For more information on Kansas City Star Quilt patterns from the original source of the patterns contact:

Sunburst or Noonday - Shelburn Museum The catalog of the Shelburne's quilt collection was written by Lillian Baker Carlisle, Pieced Work and Applique Quilts at Shelburne Museum, Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, Vermont, 1957.

Rising Sun -Klara Stone Practical Needlework: Quilt Patterns, C.W. Calkins & Co., Boston, MA, 1906. Booklet that was one of a series on needlework. Stone had contributed patterns to Hearth and Home and this booklet included many published in the magazine.

Kansas Sunflower Household Magazine 1/15 Periodical published in Topeka by Capper's Publications. Since 1935 Capper's has offered various syndicated columns, Famous Features, Kansas Farmer, Capper's Farmer, Capper's Farm Press, The Mail & Breeze, and The Household Magazine.

Kansas Sunflower- Cappers A periodical from Capper Publications, which has published the weekly newspaper since 1879. From 1927 through 1935 they offered a unique column authored by staff member Louise Fowler Roote, who wrote under the name Kate Marchbanks (the fictitious editor of the women's page, titled In the Heart of the Home.) Since 1935 they have offered various syndicated columns, particularly Famous Features, which incorporated some of Roote's designs. Other Capper publications that printed quilt patterns were the Kansas Farmer, Capper's Farmer, Capper's Farm Press, The Mail & Breeze, and The Household Magazine.

Over the last year we have embarked on making the 16 point blocks. We experimented with hand piecing, machine piecing and English Paper Piecing and a few of us found hand piecing to be the most accurate and forgiving with this pattern. One can be pieced and applied to a background in around four evenings it so depending on how long your hands hold out... We had fun searching all over the Pennsylvania Lancaster area for fabrics similar to those in the 1840 quilt. Below are some of the results so far.

For March 2020 we planned a National Quilting Day event to study a few quilts, including the one above and the one below (loaned to us from Mattituck-Laurel Historical Society). We were interested in this top because it is so similar to the one we have at Hallockville Museum Farm and thought it might be fun to compare the two for fabric and construction similarities. Alas we were unable to hold our March event due to the virus outbreak, but we plan to do so when we can all get together again. So far we have dug through books we have at home looking for similar quilts and any information we can find about them to compare. We will have to wait to dig through our reference books at the museum until we are released from restrictions, but the investigation continues!

If you love this sort of mystery or research, consider joining us or the American Quilt Study Group to feed your curiosity and hone your sloothing skills!

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