Sunday, March 22, 2020

The Beastly Y-Seam Block Has a Name: Cathedral Window by Nancy Cabot, 1933 Chicago Tribune

When I was recreating, resizing, recoloring and revising the Moda Modern Building Blocks Sampler in EQ8 Quilt Design Software, swapping out some of the blocks for others in my EQ Block Library, I didn't pay much attention to the information contained in the software "notecard" for each block.  After toiling away at all of these Y-seams, however, I was curious about where this block I'm making came from and I went back to my software to find out.

Cathedral Window by Nancy Cabot, Originally Published in 1933 Chicago Tribune

The 20" block I'm currently working on was designed by Loretta Leitner Rising (under the pen name Nancy Cabot) and it was originally published in the Chicago Tribune in 1933.  Per the newspaper column, she named the block Cathedral Window because it was inspired by the first cathedral built in Kentucky that year, and Cabot suggested "pastel pink or blue with white" as colorways.  I've recolored the block above using a reproduction 1930s fabric so you can see it as the pattern designer envisioned it.  

In Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns this block is given reference number 1953, and it's also in the EQ Blockbase program that can either tie into EQ8 software or be used alone to identify block patterns and/or print templates and foundation paper piecing patterns in whatever size you need.  

Cathedral Window is Reference No. 1953 in Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns
A lot of the quilt block patterns that were published early in the last century involved challenging construction methods such as curved piecing, Y-seams, and partial seams.  Most American quilters would have had strong needlework skills at that time, when sewing machine sales were just beginning to take off and readymade clothing was not yet affordable for most families.  Y-seam construction would not have been as intimidating to the Tribune's readers in 1933 as it is to quilters today.  

Sixteen Y-Seams!
Even so, I was not able to locate a single example of an entire quilt made from this block on the Internet -- but maybe the images are out there, just not associated with the pattern name or designer's name that I was using as keywords?  If anyone knows of a vintage quilt -- or ANY quilt -- made from this block pattern, please let me know in the comments so I can add that to this post.  I'm all about giving design credit where it's due.

Of course, my own color choices for this block are very different:

My Version of Nancy Cabot's Cathedral Window Block in Kona Solids
I love how the exact same block can look completely different in different fabrics, don't you? Here's as far as I got with this block yesterday:

My Cathedral Window Block In Progress
I have completed eight of the sixteen Y-seams in this block, and in case anyone is interested, I wrote a step-by-step tutorial for Y-seam patchwork in yesterday's post here.  

Dashed Yellow Lines Indicate Seams Remaining to be Sewn
Even so, I can't imagine making an entire bed sized quilt from this block, can you?!  I'm linking today's post with:

·       Oh Scrap! at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework
·       Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts  
·       Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt
·       BOMs Away Katie Mae Quilts  

·       Colour and Inspiration Tuesday at Clever Chameleon


Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

I don't remember this pattern any where - it is certainly different than any I have seen.

Mari said...

Beautiful block, and it looks great in your colors. This block could be redrafted to use hsts instead of y-seams to make it easier to piece, though. Then it would make a beautiful bed quilt. Have fun with yours!

Cynthia Brunz Designs said...

This block has everything except curves. I live it. Thanks for sharing with Oh Scrap!