Sunday, April 3, 2016

Voices of the Past Quilt

I picked my Voices of the Past quilt as my first UFO on focus on.  I had three blocks done when I dug it out of the UFO section of my sewing room. Because of the historical significance of the women, for whom many of the blocks are named, in American history I selected the traditional colors of the American flag.  This quilt is representative of our countries history for me. I love history, and the stories that are associated with it.
Louisaa May Alcott
Louisa May Alcott was an author of several books, including one of my favorites, Little Women. She was also a caretaker of her mother and her father and also adopted the children of two of her sister's after their deaths. She referred to her books as her children. The stars in each corner of the block represent her sisters and the center star is for her mother. I think this my favorite bock in the quilt.

  Martha Washington(left)     Union Square (right)                                                   

Martha Washington was named after her grandmother.  She was married twice and had four children, all of whom passed before her, with her first husband Daniel Parke Custis. She married George Washington in 1759, and traveled with him during the Revolutionary War. She did not enjoy being the First Lady as she referred to this time as lost years, when she had to share her husband.  This block represents her humbleness, devotion to her husband, and love of America.

The Union Star represents the ending of the Civil War and the surrender of General Robert E. Lee on April 9, 1865. The restoration and preservation of the Union of states. It is "...named for the square on which Appomattox Courthouse is located." (p. 7) A Civil War Legacy.

Since I started working on finishing this UFO I have finished several more blocks and have three blocks to finish.  The blocks vary in size from 6" to 18" finished, several are 12" finished. After I finish the last three blocks I plan to play with the layout and determine if I want to make some small alternate blocks to fill in the empty spaces of make a few more blocks out of the three books/pamphlet series I am using.

Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge

Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge was a teacher of the deaf. She first saw her future husband through a window shaving. Her laughter caught his attention. She was a quiet woman who supported her husband and a loyal Boston Red Sox fan. This block represents her dignity and simplicity.
Carrie Nation (I have fixed the error, but need to take a new picture)

Abigail Quincy Smith Adams

Amelia Earhart and alternate block
 Carrie Nation was a leader of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union in Lodge, Kansas for almost ten years. She worked to support the Prohibition Amendment even though she could not vote for it. She went to jail several times because of her fervor and siege on drinking establishments.

Abigail Quincy Smith Adams she and her husband were married over 50 years. She raised five children, was a skilled farmer, business woman and abolitionist.  She was a First Lady and the mother of a president. She was a strong and determined woman.  She was the first First Lady to live in the White House and used the East Room to dry her laundry. The two stars are in recognition of the lives she inspired.

Amelia Earhart earned her pilots license in 1922. She loved adventure and even though she married George Putnam she asked that he not stop her from doing things she enjoyed and she in turn would not stop him. He supported her decision to circle the globe in 1937, an adventure from which she did not return. A light was installed on Howland Island as a memorial to her and it still burns today.
Christa McAuliffe
 Christa McAuliffe was a teacher and this block represents a woman I can relate to in many ways. She represented me and every other teacher they day that she stepped on the space shuttle. I will always remember January 18, 1986 as I stood in a classroom watching the shuttle launch with my students. I believe in her dream of improving the American education system. I also believe in her motto: "I touch the future. I teach."

Eastern Star

Harriet Tubman
 Harriet Tubman was born a slave, but rose above it. She always wanted to be free. She risked her life after escaping to help others escape as well. She is said to have helped over 300 slaves escape on her 19 journeys. She served as a nurse, a spy, and a cook during the Civil War. She was driven by her dreams and strong will and she changed the world. It was her persistence and determination that made her who she was.

The Eastern Star is a variation of the Ohio Star and there was not story just an antique quilt from around 1870 with Ohio stars.
Julia Ward Howe
Julia War Howe raised six children and published an abolitionist newspaper along with her husband.She also wrote verse and it was suggested that she write new words to the tune of John Brown's Body in 1861. It was in the early morning that she awoke with the words to the "Battle Hymn of the Republic"  in her head and quickly wrote them down. She was paid $5.00 for the poem.

Several of the blocks come from Kaye England's Voices of the Past pamphlets.  They include: Carrie Nation, Martha Washington, Harriet Tubman, Amelia Earhart, and Christa McAuliffe. I may do the alternate block for Christa McAuliffe also. I still need to complete the Mary Todd Lincoln block.

The two books I am using are both by Kay England also. The first is Voices of the Past Volume II. The blocks from this book include:  Abigail Quincy Smith Adams,Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge, Julia Ward Howe, Louisa May Alcott, and the Eastern Star. There are a couple of other blocks in this book that I may add if I need more blocks. I will say the Julia Ward Howe block caused me to a lot of frogging until I reworked part of the block and treated the center area as if I were setting a quilt on point.  This book does not have any real directions, there are two pictures of each block one completed and one partially pieced with the pieces labeled. It gives simple directions like cut in quarter square triangles but no step-by-step directions, though there is a section on construction tips and advice. I found it easy to piece the blocks except for the one mentioned above, and even it was not hard, just frustrating until I looked at it from a different angle.  If you are a beginner this book will be a challenge for you. There is a ton of wonderful history on the women and the reason for choosing each block.

The third and final book I am working from is titled A Civil War Legacy. I choose to do the Ohio Cluster, Yankee Puzzle, and Union Square blocks from this book, two of which I have yet to complete.

I have enjoyed learning about the history of the women whom the blocks are named after and am planning to include something related to that on my label.  My goal is to finish the last three blocks this week and post a picture of the lay out of the quilt before I head south to Tennessee to visit my mother and attend the Paducah Quilt Show.

Stay tuned for an update with the next three blocks and the final quilt top.


  1. Love this idea. I'm going to see about finding these books. Some years ago, my daughter and a friend of hers stopped here while on a trip with their daughters in July. The friend said to my daughter, "Oh, your mother decorated for the 4th of July!" DD just laughed and told her that my house is this way all the time. It's not the ENTIRE house, and it's not overwhelming, mostly the entry hall and the family room, though there is a star of some sort in every room except the bathrooms.

  2. This is awesome! I enjoyed reading all the stories. Great job!

  3. Hi Wanda, you made a comment on my blog, but, you are a no-reply blogger, so, this is the only way that I can reply to you.