Monday, January 5, 2009

Going Crackers

There's a whole species of quilt patterns called strip-pieced or string-pieced. These patterns usually used strips of leftover fabric and were sewn over newspaper. The paper backings were torn away after the top was completed and just prior to quilting. One pattern called Cracker seems to have taken root in my area of the country, eastern coastal North Carolina.

Down the Atlantic coast of North Carolina, stretching from the Virginia border to just below where I live in Beaufort (that's under the 'o' in Morehead City on the map) is a string of islands known as the Outer Banks. And on one island, Ocracoke (see center of the map) the Cracker pattern has become the official quilt pattern. On Ocracoke, locals make the Cracker with four bars in the middle and one of the bars must always be red.

Quilt historians recently speculated on the Quilt History internet chat list that the title 'cracker' came about because the block somewhat resembles Christmas crackers, those old-fashioned party favors that pull apart with a bang! and out drops a little toy. Popularized in the late 19th century, Christmas crackers were a rage here in the States in the 20s and recently, as with all things paper, have come back into vogue.

In December I re-drafted the Cracker to resemble a real Christmas cracker and to also be a signature block. The writing is saying 'Merry Christmas' in different languages. I gave this Cracker block away at my quilt guild's Christmas party this year.


cadh 8 said...

This is very interesting. I have been looking at your blog and enjoying it...and funny enough I had just posted on my blog about discoverying the "String Quilt" at a class this weekend. My pattern was a bit different than yours though...just simple diagonal lines.
I love the Cracker square for Christmas. Very cool.
My blog is in case you are interested...

Pepper Cory said...

Very cool! String quilts are one of my favorite things to do. Lots of freedom to use various scraps and yet the pattern is controlled. Am working on another-A big Star-and will blog about it soon. PS-liked your blog(s) too.

brd said...

My daughter, Cadh8 pointed me to your site. Very interesting. We love to play Christmas games with crackers as prizes. I was very entertained by your description of the cracker quilts!

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