My mom and her college roommate have kept in touch all these years through all of the laughter and tears sixty years of friendship can muster. My younger sister and I always enjoyed the trip to Litchfield, Kentucky to visit Ginny and her family and to spend time in the steamy summer heat. Ginny took great care of all of us, and it is in her house, that I first remember seeing the quilts that would inspire my love of fabric and quilting for all of these years. To me, they were the most beautiful handmade quilts. For hours I would look at the tiny bits of cotton sewn into the most striking of patterns!
On these trips, we would get to visit "something historical" or of cultural interest: Lincoln's Birthplace, My Old Kentucky Home, and eventually to see the Stephen Foster-The Musical. To my sister, these places lacked excitement. She was always wandering off chasing the wildlife; I was a bit more intrigued and studious; a question of patience, I suppose...
When we found the pattern for the traditional Susannah block, I was instanly inspired. The name, the time period, and the Stephen Foster Story all came flooding back! I knew we would need to update the block for rotary cutting, and that I wanted the quilt to reckon more of a pioneer quilt than a Civil War quilt. Research on the name led to stories of the California Gold Rush and the American composer Stephen Foster, who is credited with composing the music for his minstrel shows. For me the song, although steeped in its own history, is easily recognizable as very American; the tune itself sticks in the mind! With these things in mind we set out to create a quilt that had more of a pioneer feel, of covered wagons and gold rushes, of calico prairie dresses, rather than blues and grays of the North and South or the orderly quilts from "back East". After all, the song itself is colorful and lively...this quilt needed to be too.
We were able to put this pattern together with little or no trouble. The trickiest part arose when we discovered that the inside Rail Fence blocks would not finish the same size as the outer Susannah blocks! If the blocks had to finish the same size, we would have to cut very odd size strips...adjusting the Susannah block would be even trickier due to multiple seams and the center diamond. No one would ever want to cut a 7/8-inch, or worse yet 3/16ths! I decided to take a risk and make two different size blocks since they were separated by the Inner Border. After all was said and done, I think it is hard to notice the difference in size; the eye equals them out.
With the difference in size, we knew the Outer Border needed some adapting. It would be even harder to match the blocks all of the way around! We still wanted this quilt to be beginner friendly and wanted to steer clear of a pit-fall such that "perfect" sewing would create. So our "half pieced" border came to be...with plenty of leeway for the beginner. This idea will always work well when unsure of an "measurement outcome"!
In the end, we found this quilt easy, amusing, and even entertaining, a lot like the song itself when considered. Just like I had hoped for in the beginning. We hope you enjoyed it as well. We would love to see your rendition and hope you will send us your photos to share! Please participate in the contest, if you like!
Soon we will announce our next mystery quilt, and hope you will join in on the fun!
Click here to print a copy of Page 13, the last page of the instructions that includes backing and binding yardages->Download Craft pdf Template-Our Susannah! Quilt page 13
Click here to print a copy of the photograph of our sample quilt->Download Craft pdf Template-Our Susannah! Quilt page 14
Our Susannah! Quilt was photographed at the Toledo Botanical Gardens near the Navarre Cabin! The cabin was built in 1837...during Stephen Foster's lifetime!
We think this was a perfect place to photograph Our Susannah! Quilt!
If you would like to download and watch a 20 second video from Stephen Foster-The Musical, click here->Oh! Susanna! and click on the video clip. It is quick but lively! You will whistle the tune the rest of the day!
We will offer Our Susannah! Quilt pattern in CD form in the near future. Please stay tuned for more information on how you may purchase a copy.
This is the final post in the series to make Our Susannah! Quilt. If you need to print more copies of the instructions or are missing any of the instruction pages, click on the DON'T MISS A STEP Susannah Block photo button on the right side of our Main/Home Page. If you need help or further instruction, please contact Erik HOMEMADE(R)!
We will beginning a new mystery quilt soon! Stay tuned for an announcement and details!