This dynamic quilt was plucked from a pile in the Friends Boutique and Bargain Corner at the 21st Airing of the quilts two weeks ago. It is mostly silk with some satin, and is from the first half of the 20th century, most likely in the 1920 to 1940 period. Dimensions are 64" x 80", blocks are pieced on cloth foundation with appliquéd, central circles, and the condition is fair with some silk deterioration. There was no additional information with the quilt, but the design was familiar.
One name for it is Thrifty Wife, a 1939 pattern by the Kansas City Star, but the silk quilt and this wool and velvet example from Wisconsin could have been made before that pattern was published.
A more precisely pieced, two-color version of the design was made around 1900, before the publication of the Kansas City Star pattern. The quilt was once part of my collection and is now in the collection of the International Quilt Study Center and Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska. It has almost 800 embroidered names, references to the Spanish American War, and it is currently on display at the museum as part of the "Covering the War" exhibition.
Another quilt in the collection uses its own method of construction, with similar results. Four fan blocks form central circles in each complete grouping. Along three edges are pairs of blocks forming half-circles, with single blocks and quarter-circles in two corners.
Quilts with fan blocks are very intriguing. There are so many variations. The quilt I found yesterday on eBay came from an unknown maker. The seller, Ruth Childress of Longview Texas, sells antique and vintage quilts on eBay and finds a lot of her quilts locally. This quilt is 68" x 74" and includes blocks set on point in a diagonal grid.
This Victorian period quilt includes fan blocks configured in another clever design, often called snake trails. The solid background fabric creates negative space between the snake trails, a great blank canvas for the wonderful embroidered motifs.
The most unusual fan quilt in my collection is an original design made of velvets, c. 1920 from New York. This quilt is well known for appearing on the cover of the first edition of "American Quilts, The Democratic Art, 1780-2007" by Robert Shaw. It came from Laura Fisher in New York.
Tim Latimer of Lansing, Michigan made this quilt with vintage fan blocks and sashing made of coordinating reproduction fabric. His process is documented in his blog. The quilt uses the New York Beauty as inspiration for the overall design, and is one of many interconnected variants in my new book, New York Beauty, Quilts from the Volckening Collection.
When you see the book, you may understand why I'm such a fan of fans. They are related to the New York Beauty and other designs with curved shapes and radiating patchwork. It's always fun to see how these designs are related, and how they blend together. To get the book, click here.