It is my turn to read my library’s copy of The Giving Quilt and as I examined the end papers to look at all the blocks, one in particular caught my eye. I had never even heard of this block before. I know I would have remembered it if I had because it has my name! Gretchen.
Needless to say, I originally thought that maybe it was invented for the book because there is a character named Gretchen in the series. But that does not appear to be the case. Quilter’s Cache has directions for it here and Seven-Stitches has a tutorial here. Also, the Center for Virtual Appalachia at Morehead State University includes it on their Quilt Pattern Collection page. And, yes it shows up in my beloved The Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns: 4050 Pieced Blocks for Quilters by Jinny Beyer (yes, that’s an Amazon link). Apparently, it was designed or at least published by Eveline Foland in the the Kansas City Star on July 16, 1932. It was later printed in the Kansas City Star as A Feather Bone Block on November 15, 1950. Apparently, the 1932 printing was the block’s first appearance, since there is no asterisk after it in the book.
Apparently, Eveline Foland took over the Kansas City Star‘s designing duties from Ruby Short McKim in about 1931. She was apparently one of the first people to link the name Sue with the Sunbonnet Sue patterns according to An Illustrated History of Sunbonnet Sue. (The Quilt Index has a picture of a Sunbonnet Sue quilt made from one of her pattterns. Other quilts at the The Quilt Index made with her patterns can be found here.)
Eveline was a graphic designer, and I’ve found a reference to several children’s books she illustrated. There was at least one before she took the Kansas City Start job, but most of them seem to have been published in the early 1940s.
I’ve learned quite a bit about Eveline Foland. She designed several lovely applique quilts as well as the blocks. She is apparently responsible for calling the Wedding Ring pattern the Single Wedding Ring, probably to distinguish it from the Double Wedding Ring. But what I most wanted to know, I can’t seem to find out. Why did she call this gorgeous block Gretchen? Sigh. I will probably never know this.
But this I know. I think that is a beautiful block and I do see a quilt made only with Gretchen blocks in my future. Probably throw sized and made from batiks. Since I haven’t made one yet, I don’t have any pictures of the block, but the one at Quilter’s Cache (linked above) is quite pretty. I like the two color version better than the scrappier version. Just my opinion.