Friday, June 6, 2014

Vintage Series IX: Improved (Glorified) Nine-Patch

We return to the Carriage House... to talk about the Improved Nine-Patch quilt.  The Nine-Patch shown in this post is one made by my paternal Grandmother, which I inherited through a series of family events. But mainly my cousin had far too many heirloom quilts than she could store, and I became the blessed recipient.

On to a more general history - a place we've visited before on '30's quilts but let's review: Quiltmaking experienced a huge surge in the 1930s. In her book Treasures from the ’30s, prolific designer Nancy Mahoney explains why: 

“During the thirties, times were hard and ‘waste not, want not’ was a common mantra. Bragging rights were often based on the clever use of a discarded item. Women prided themselves on their resolve to make do with less."

"The national quilt revival of the 1930s provided many with a creative way to do just that. Beyond creating something practical, quilting also provided a means for women to contribute to the household’s shrinking income. Many women saw an increasing demand for their needle arts and started their own home-based businesses, enjoying success and even financial independence."

"By 1934 most metropolitan newspapers featured articles on quiltmaking, with the quilt article as the most popular Sunday feature. Some newspapers featured a quilt block with templates that could be clipped and saved; others featured a block drawing and offered a full-size pattern for 10 or 15 cents.” 

On February 28, 1933, Nancy Cabot introduced the Improved (or Glorified) Nine Patch quilt block to her readers in the Chicago Tribune. 

The nine patch block is "improved" by stretching the four corners and adding "melon shaped pieces at two opposite sides," she explained.  When pieced with the melon shapes at each side, a ring pattern emerges.  

Other names people have suggested for the pattern are Wedding Ring Nine Patch and Glorified Nine Patch.  A more circular version of this quilt is found in Brackman's book, "The Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns". She gives it the following names; Improved Nine Patch, Circle Upon Circle, Four Leaf Clover, Nine Patch Variation and Bailey Nine Patch. 
On, there were ways suggested to make this quilt today.  Though the pattern has been changed slightly so that it would be easier to make using a sewing machine, there is really no quick way to do it.  But by dividing the pattern into blocks with the two halves of the curved block edges sewn together it will be easier to piece.  You will be cutting your fabric piece by piece using templates just like our ancestors did. 
You will find the templates for a 12 inch version of this quilt at Hanna's Quilt (  

If you decide to do this quilt by hand you might want to use the full biconvex shape like Hanna did. Find the template here:

Even if you don't create a historical masterpiece, I hope you enjoyed taking a step back into time by reading this post!  You're always welcome to post a comment or contact me (See "Contact Me" tab).