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 Sawtooth & variations

 

Sawtooth has been around since 1884. It's a four-patch, meaning the number of mini-blocks in a block grid is always a multiple of four. That in turn means that a seam can go through the center of the star. A classic Sawtooth has a plain center patch, but some variations don't.

Sawtooth

Ribbon Block
Joining Star

Star in a Star

8 Hands Around

Eight Hands Around
Free Trade Block

 

Sawtooth Pinwheels:
Solitaire
Sarah's Choice
Anna's Choice Quilt
Pin Wheel



Sawtooth

Sawtooth
Ladies Art Co. #1
1897


Evening Star/Ann's Doll Quilt/Cluster of Stars/Square & Points/8-pointed Star/Nameless Star/Saw Tooth/Variable Star

This venerable star's name dates back to an 1884 issue of a magazine called Farm & Fireside, according to Jinny Beyer's Quilter's Album. More than a dozen years later, the Ladies Art Company called it Evening Star (Block #5, 1897). Despite collecting seven more names, the block still usually goes by Sawtooth. 




Sawtooth

Ribbon Star

Ribbon Star
LAC, #268
1897
The Ladies Art Company's Ribbon Star (#268) was published exactly as we show it at left. The drawing left quilters all at sea about whether they should make those oddly shaped pieces (dark pink in our graphic at left) as a four individual pieces or by sewing three quarter-square triangles together for each one. A curious quilter practically had to order a diagram (5 cents in 1928) or a pattern (15 cents in 1928). That's marketing for ya.

We tend to think that each of the funny-shaped pieces was made of three quarter-square triangles. Otherwise the block would be in some category other than Sawtooth.

A near-identical block — but with seams that kick it entirely out of the Sawtooth family — is one of at least three blocks known as the Odd Fellows Cross: We'll post a link when the page is up.
Ribbon Star

Joining Star

Joining Star
Page
1934
Cog Block/Eight Pointed Star 

Joining Star was a tiny part of a quilt called "Quilt of Many Stars," designed by Nancy Page. It was published in 1934 by the St. Louis Star-Times as part of the Nancy Page Quilt Club series.

The quilt is a windowpane style, with "sashing" of contrasting fabric separating each block. This sweet little star was in the intersections of the sashing pieces, joining them together.

When it was first published, Joining Star was identical to Ribbon Star except for the seams. It was published in just two colors, like Ribbon Star. We've branched out here because — why not?
Joining Star

Star in a Star

Star in a Star
LAC #11
1897
Stars & Squares/Rising Star/Double Star

This block is a Sawtooth within another Sawtooth, a point that probably explains its popular name, Star in a Star.

Its earliest published name was Stars and Squares. It was in #11 in the Ladies Art Company's 1897 catalog. Jane Alan named it Double Star in the Illinois State Register (1933). The name Rising Star is from Ruth Finley's 1929 Old Patchwork Quilts. 

We thank Jinny Beyer and her Quilter's Album for the Illinois State Register citation.

For the Stars & Square pattern by the Bulgarian designer Rumi, click here: 
Star in a Star

8 Hands Around


8 Hands Around

LAC #149
1897
8 Hands Round

Another LAC block from 1897, this time #149.

"Eight hands around" is a basic square dance "call," or instruction, to the four couples in a square dance grouping. It tells the eight dancers to hold hands and walk in a circle while they await the next call.

There are at least four other blocks named 8 Hands Around, but only one resembles the LAC's, and that is designer Nancy Cabot's, below.
8 Hands Around

Eight Hands Around


Eight Hands Around

Cabot
1937
Castle Garden

Designer Nancy Cabot's version of Eight Hands Around was published in the Chicago Tribune in 1936, and again in 1937 as Castle Garden.

Castle Garden was the U.S. immigrant intake center in New York City from 1855 until 1890, when Ellis Island opened. The walls of Castle Garden are in Battery Park and a must-see for tourists on their way to Liberty Island.

Our whole-quilt mockup of the block, because it has 16 blocks, approaches Op Art in its demands on the eyes. In fact, the block is complex enough that a single block could make a respectable whole quilt for those short-notice baby shower gifts and such.

Eight Hands Around (Cabot)

Free Trade Block

Free Trade Block
Finley
1929
Free Trade Patch/Coronation

Until the income tax came along in 1913, tariffs paid up to 90 percent of the U.S. budget. In 1861, the Republican party decided that tariffs should be higher, a position they maintained for 60-odd years.

The quilter who invented this block apparently disagreed, but we don't know when — just that it could have been before the Civil War, when the country imposed tariffs on Britain that hurt the South's economy (because the South provided raw materials, mainly cotton, to British fabric makers).
Free Trade Block
Free trade was a Democratic cause, and most southerners were Democrats. If we were weaving a tale, we'd lay the block design at the feet of a furious cotton-grower's wife, but we don't know the facts.

The name Free Trade Block is from Ruth Finley (1929); Free Trade Patch is from Carrie Hall (1935). 

It was columnist Nancy Page who came up with the name Coronation in 1937. That was the year Britain's George VI was crowned, taking the place of Edward VIII, who had abdicated to marry the American divorceé Wallis Simpson. George's wife came to be known as the Queen Mother and was Britain's morale-booster-in-chief during World War II.

Quilters and painters alike took the news of the new monarch in stride. According the UK's Daily Mail (January 3, 2012), at least one artist adapted by painting George's head over Edward's in a coronation portrait.


Solitaire

Solitaire
Stone
1906
Solitaire, a variation on Sawtooth, is based on a 8x8 grid. It was Clara Stone's No. 146 in her Practical Needlework(1906).

Those four thingies in the middle are called quarter-square triangles.

Sawtooth



Quarter-square Triangles
Solitaire

Sarah's Choice

Sarah's Choice
Stone
1906
Clara Stone included Sarah's Choice as No. 142 in her 1906 booklet. Like Solitaire, it's a Sawtooth variation. It's based on a 4x4 grid.

We call that four-piece square in the middle a windmill after another block of that name. You might also hear it called pinwheel square. It has no definitive name.

 

Sarah's Choice
Anna's Choice Quilt

Anna's Choice Quilt

Anna's Choice
Stone
1906
Structurally, Anna's Choice Quilt is identical to Sarah's Choice except for four not-so-insignificant seams: The corner squares in Anna's Choice have diagonal seams from corner to corner.

The right triangles that make up the corner squares are called half-square triangles, and you can see the difference they make in the whole-quilt mockup. Anna's Choice, in two colors, can easily be used as a scrap quilt without any loss to the busy pattern of the quilt top.

The block's colors make it look identical to Pin Wheel and Polk Ohio, but Anna "chose" to split those single-color diamond-shaped pieces that, in Sarah's Choice, are two colors. That makes Anna's Choice a Sawtooth in our book.
Anna's Choice Quilt
Anna's Choice Quilt