Thursday, November 2, 2023

Grandmother Clark's Log Cabin


Good morning and happy Thursday!

It seems strange that we are already in the second day of November, more so because it was so warm last weekend her in eastern Pennsylvania.

Memory is so important as we grow older.  I see the struggles my mother has and even more so, my sister-in-law who recently had a stroke and has multiple health issues.  I'm intent on trying to continue learning as I grow old to battle memory loss but let's be honest...there were things I forgot even when I was in my 20s, 30s, and 40s.  Mainly, my memory always failed me (or blocked) names of men I dated during the 17 years between marriages.  What's even worse, I didn't even date that much but usually after one date, I'd learned what I needed to and didn't want to go on a second.  

So it's interesting to me that I can recall quilts so well.  Especially the ones that got away.  And one of those quilts I thought a lot about when I reviewed a 1931 catalog of Grandmother Clark's quilt patterns.

I saw a soft wool quilt in an unusual style years ago.  Now this was the early 2000s, or maybe even before.  Translation:  before the advent of this century's modern quilt patterns and even before quilting became popular on the new fangled thing called the internet.

As I said the quilt was wool and solid colors.  It had a soft look about it and I liked it despite it had a lot of orange and grey in it (two colors I don't care for).  I would now date the quilt circa 1910.  The pattern was different and not one I had seen before although it was simple in it's construction.  The block was concentric squares.  I suspect the blocks were 6 inches in diameter.  I admired and visited the quilt at a local flea market for months.  It was a little too pricey for me and I was very regretful when it got sold.

The quilt pattern was actually featured in Grandmother Clark's catalog.  The company called "Log Cabin" although it's not like the log cabin quilts we imagine.

Commonly known layout

 Most historians suggest that the commonly known pattern of log cabin (an ancient pattern going back to ancient Egypt) was frequently made after Lincoln's assassination and his humble childhood and log cabin home.  One of the more interesting tales I read was in a 1945 Anne Cabot marketing piece:

"Abraham Lincoln slept under such a log cabin quilt made of scraps of woolen and worsteds."   

I believe this to be very unlikely and part of the romantic marketing schemes prevalent in the 20th century.  In fact, Barbara Brackman cited that the earliest log cabin quilt she had seen was dated 1874 (see here to read the article).

Circa 1880s Log Cabin in commonly known layout

Today's modern quilter might use Grandmother Clark's block but place it on the diagonal.

Someday I may try to recreated the lovely grey and orange quilt I saw years ago.  Who knows?

Wishing you a safe and happy day!


  1. Trouble with that pattern is it would require a partial seam on every round. Still, it could be stunniing.

  2. I saw the partial seam right away. A PITA back then and now. I've wondered what the log cabin design (quilted or a design in other media) was called in cultures that did not have log cabins as dwellings.

  3. I wish I could blot out the names of some of my dates. (ha!) The memory is a funny thing. It's interesting how a quilt you didn't love the colors of would be such a vivid memory.