Sunday, August 13, 2023


 I have a friend who is selling off most of her antique quilt collection. A few years ago I told her she had one I wanted so if she was ever ready to sell it, to let me know.

Now it's mine: 

76" square

It is well-loved and very worn in spots. But I still love it so. The hand quilting is inspiring, 10 stitches/inch, so tiny and even. The soft colors appeal to me, as do all the various shirting fabrics used as backgrounds.

 I like that sometimes there are several fabrics in the same position. Maybe this block was one of the last to be made and the original quiltmaker was determined to use up the pieces she had already cut. I do that with scrap quilts: 

Sometimes all the fabrics in each position are the same or very close. The pink/white stripe is used quite a lot and it adds movement.:

Red/cheddar with indigo blue: 

Pink and green, with a red center: 

The hand quilting is wonderfully small and even. There are lots of straight lines, and a beautiful feathered wreath in the large blocks. The outer borders have a lovely feather vine too. I LOVE FEATHERS! I will do my best to replicate the hand quilting when my reproduction quilt is finished:

The back because the shirtings on the front make it hard to see the quilting

You might be able to see the Feathered Wreath in this large block

There are quite a few yellows too, and a few plaids, always good for movement in a quilt. Here you can clearly see the damage on the outer pink border: 

As I often do, it is my plan to reproduce this quilt to honor the original maker, sadly "anonymous" to us. The seller tells me it came from Indiana, that is all we know about it. PLEASE label your quilts with the who, what, why, when and where!!

The block is called Goose Tracks or Cross and Crown. They are 7.5" finished. First, I pulled fabrics from my substantial stash that resemble the original fabrics. I did the math for a 9" block, cut a few blocks out, and got to work. Here are the first two:

Expecting to use this as a new class sample, once I made these two blocks I thought long and hard about that plan. The points are 45 degree diamonds, and the background squares and triangles are "set-in" with Y seams. Most people don't want to fiddle with a pattern they consider "difficult". 

I often say about a pattern like this: "It's not hard, it's just not fast". And that is very true. It doesn't bother me to make such a block if just to prove that I can. But not everyone feels that way.

So I selected another, "easier" block that feels like Goose Tracks. It has several names: Duck and Ducklings, Hen and Chickens, Wild Goose Chase, Fox and Geese, Corn and Beans. 

I did the math for a 7.5" finished block--the cutting measurements are very easy at that size and it replicates the feel of the original quilt. 

They sew up quickly--especially because I use a really fast technique taught by Debbie Caffery in her book SCRAPS TO YOU, TOO.   It makes two Bird in the Air blocks at once and four are needed for each block. Cut two sets and you have them ready to go. They are sometimes referred to as "Mary's Triangles" though I don't know who Mary was. 

Here are the first four: 

So, now, apparently, I am making BOTH of these quilts. One to replicate the antique and one to teach. 

UPDATE: A brilliant friend reminded me of the Carolina Lily block that has a similar feel to Goose Tracks but is much easier to make. Amazing! How did I forget about that?! I love making Flying Geese, four at a time (see Tutorial for my method above in TUTORIALS) and this method uses 8 Flying Geese per block. Thanks, Ellen!

Now I can make 7.5" blocks as a tribute to the original quilt: 

I have already made 4 blocks 9" using the set-in seams Diamonds method--they will become a small wallhanging. The reproduction quilt will be made from these "Goose Tracks Variation" blocks, 7.5":

Two Flying Geese and a Half Square Triangle and Viola! The look is the same and from any distance will look exactly like the original: 

Here is the current "Fabric Pull" I am working with. If I get bored, I'll open the closet and add some more. What is the point of having all this fabric if I don't use it?

What do you think? Is the original block too hard or fiddily for you? Which do you prefer? Do you ever reproduce a beloved quilt just to save it? 

The value of an antique quilt is based on several factors but condition is very important. I did not pay a lot for this quilt but it is precious to me. In pristine condition it would have been out of my price range. Now I get to love and care for it until it goes to live with someone else someday.

Let's quilt.



  1. It really is beautiful. Almost dainty

  2. I love the antique quilt and like both of your blocks. I'm currently in the hand quilting stage of reproducing a quilt I inherited made by my great-great aunt in 1860-64. The old one is in rough shape, but it is a brilliant example of techniques I've rarely seen from that era.

  3. The old quilt is wonderful, enjoy it. I love that you are going to make your own version of this lovely quilt!!

  4. I think you're right about today's quilters, they don't want a difficult block. You're fabrics look good. I inherited 5 quilts from my paternal grandmother. My mom thinks the maker was my great-grandmother.

  5. The quilt is lovely. I think you're right about today's quilters, they like quick & easy methods.

  6. I love the quilt. Both blocks are great BUT I love the original block (Goose Tracks or Cross and Crown)! Edita from Laundry Basket Quilts has a easy way to do Y seams.

  7. I love the original and don't mind that it's slow, it's sooo pretty.

  8. Fiddly would be the way to go for me. . .even though I like the second block too!--TerryK@OnGoingProjects

  9. The original is a treasure. Sad your friend has to break up her collection but so lovely for you. The reds in these old quilts are just so pretty I think. I would want to remake the original the fiddly way. Have fun!!

  10. That quilt is lovely, it's easy to see why you like it so much! I'm an odd duck and don't mind y-seams because they can make such fascinating blocks. I do like the easier one that you chose as well. Good luck, I'm sure that both quilts will be amazing!

  11. Check with Sally Schneider about the origin of “Mary’s Triangles.” I think the short-cut technique was developed for the piecing “Mary” was doing for a quilt and named after her as a reference.

  12. So interesting! Love your explanations. The original block delights me.

  13. I love the idea of replicating antique quilts. I love your blocks. Your striped fabric is perfect!

  14. Love the vintage quilt and your blocks look great! it' a good teacing block.

  15. beautiful blocks. is there a pattern you can share?

    1. Not yet. When my sample is done it will be a class I offer to guilds and shops.

    2. Barbara, that is beautiful. Yes to Y seams, slow, but nice. Would you, could you write a pattern? Or even an online 'class', for those of us at a distance (I'm in Germany).

    3. I am writing a pattern that will be available for sale at It will be for the new version, with flying geese points instead of Y-seams.
      There might be a sew-along in the future with both block instructions.