Saturday, March 26, 2011

Red and White House Quilt

1910 Red House Quilt

I saw a red and white house quilt in The Ultimate Quilting Book by Maggi McCormick Gordon.  The quilt was made in NY or Pennsylvania around 1910. I decided to draft the blocks in a small size for a wall hanging.  The quilt will finish

31" by 29".  Feel free to use my sketch to make any size you like. 

This block is partly strip pieced
Use 1/4" seam allowances, press to the red
Cut strips across the width of fabric at least 43" wide.

First, make 2 full strip sets and one 1/2 strip set from these strips:
          1 1/4" white
          3/4" red, folded wrong sides together
          1 3/8" white
          1 1/2" red

The folded red strip is sandwiched between the 2 whie strips sort of like you would add piping.  The lower strip of white is 1/8" wider than the upper white strip.  This will make the finished window panes apear to be the same size after the folded red flap is pressed toward the wider white strip, forming a window pane.  Press.


Cut a 15" section off the 1/2 strip set, (save the 2 long sets) and to the red edge add  15" long strips:
          2 7/8" white
          3/4" red

Press.  Trim the end, cut 9 (nine)   1 1/2" sections.  Set aside for later.


Sew 2 long strip sets together, white to red.  Cut the left over short strip set  in half and sew them together the same way.  Trim and cut 18    1 1/2" window sections.  Use the short strip set first as the leftovers from the long set are needed  in the next step for the house end.  Tip:  Keep the sections true by squaring up the strip set evey few cuts.  Set these window sections and the door sections aside untill the ends are made.  We will complete them when we know the exact measurment of the ends.


Add a 1" red strip to the white edge of the remaining strip set. Press, trim and cut 9   1 1/2" sections.

Sew 1 1/4" red strips to each side of the window sections that are a bit longer at each end.  Press and trim even with the window sections.  This is a way to help keep the blocks even.  Place the ruler with a line on one of the seam lines to keep the ends square. 


Assemble the fronts by sewing sections as follows.  (Be careful not to flip one of the window sections upside down.)  Sew a red 1 1/4" strip to each side of  the window/door section that is a bit longer than needed at both ends.  Square up and trim with a ruler, being careful to keep the lines of the ruler paralell to the stitching lines.

  Add a window section to each side.

 Add a 1 1/4" red strip to each side, leaving it a bit long and trimming as before.

It is more important that blocks be uniform sizes than that they match the sketch.  I did a SMALL amount of trimming on some of mine.

Now the red and white section above the windows.  If all went well, at this point the house ends should be 1/2" taller than the house fronts.  If so, make 2 strip sets of 3/4" white and 3/4" red strips.  Press.
If the house ends are more than 1/2" taller than the fronts, cut the red strip wider by that much.  If the house ends are less than 1/2" taller, cut the red strip narrower by that much.  It is better to make this adjustment on the red strips, not the white.

Tip:  You may want to pair up sides and fronts so the sets are closer to 1/2" different in size.

 Sew the strip set to the top of the house front with the white to the outside, leaving a bit extra on the ends and trimming as before.  Press.

Sew a 3/4" white strip to the left edge of the house front.

Sew a house end to the front. 

Tip:  I used the left edge of my presser foot to make an even 1/4"  wide white "trim" strip, sewing with the white on top.


Cut 9  10" x 1 3/4" red strips.  These are longer than the block, but will be trimmed later.

On the original quilt the peak of the roof does not line up exactly above the center of the windows on the house end.  Placing a ruler on the photo in the book shows that the tip if the peak is actualy above the window to the right of center.

 I chose to make my quilt with the peak centered, but if you want to stay true to the original, cut the angle of the roof this way:

 Make a mark 2" from the left end along the top of the red roof strip.  Make a mark 3 1/2"  from the left on the bottom.    Cut from mark to mark.

If you want to keep the peak centered, make a mark 1 3/4" from the upper left corner, and a mark 3 1/2"  from the lower left corner.  Cut from mark to mark.  (45 deg angle)

Sew a 3/4" white strip along the cut edge of the larger roof piece, leaving it a bit longer and trimming. Press.  Sew the peak part of the roof to the white strip, being careful that the strip is straight when pressed open.  Press to the red.


To help in matching points, draw a light pencil line 1/4"  from the lower edge of the roof section along the white "trim".  Draw a light pencil line 1/4" from the top edge of the house block on the vertical white "trim".  Place the roof  section on the house section, right sides together.  Use a pin to match the edges of the left seams of the white "trim" strips.

 The seam to the right on the roof "trim" will not line up with the seam to the right on the house "trim" because of the angle of the roof "trim".  (I like to leave the pin in place sticking straight up, then add a pin on each side to secure, then remove the first pin.)   Sew the roof to the house.  Sewing on the white will help to keep the white strip an even width as before.   Press well, try to keep the block square.  Trim the roof ends.

On the back of the block make a light pencil mark 1/4" from the edge at each end of the seam connecting the roof to the house.  Also make a mark 1/4" from the top edge where the "trim" meets the place where the peak of the roof will be.  Be careful to make this mark at the peak, not on the other edge of the "trim".  I messed up a few of my blocks.  Also a mark 1 3/4" from the upper corner on the other end of the roof.  Draw  sewing lines from mark to mark.

Place a 2" white square (2 1/2" if you moved the peak) under the corner of the block.  This square is a bit larger than needed, but we will trim.  Sew on the line.  Press the square upward.  Trim even with the background, then cut away the extra layer, leaving a seam allowance. 

Make a light pencil mark 1/4" from the top edge at both ends of the red roof.  Use these when adding the chimney/sky section.


Cut 15" strips for the chimney/sky section.  If all your cutting and sewing was totaly acurate, cut the strips in the following sizes.

          Red      1  1/4"
          White   5 1/4"
          Red      1 1/4"
          White   1 3/4"

The reality is your blocks are probably not 9 1/4" wide.  (mine were not)  They may not even be alike.  Pick one that is an average size to take measurements.  Take measurements 1/4" below the top edge to get acurate numbers due to the sloped seams.

          White       from the edge to the roof top plus 1/4"
          Red          1 1/4"
          White        tip to tip of roof minus 1"  (this alows for the chimneys and seams)
          Red          1 1/4"
          White        peak to edge plus 1/4"

Assemble strip set, press, trim and cut 9   1 1/2" strips.

When sewing chimney strip to the house, be careful to place the strip  so the white ends are on the correct end if those parts were not the same size.  Use a pin to line up points as before.  This is the most tricky part of the block.  You may want to baste the areas where the chimneys meet the roof, check the alingment, then sew the entire seam.  It may save some "unsewing".  Press.


Cut sahing strips 1  1/2" wide.  Use red for the binding.


  1. A house quilt is always a hit with me. And in red & white makes it even better.

  2. Such a beautiful quilt. It looks like a lot of work but now you have a fabulous house quilt.

  3. atruebrit writes: Hi I was looking at instructions, couple of ?, you state 7yds and 7 1/2yds of each color, is this right? also when are you going to put up part 2, reason I am asking is in a couple weeks, I have to go back north, and I will not have internet , so i would love to get rest of instructions before I leave. Thanks for taking time to post the instructions, I love the quilt.

  4. Sorry above comment, was meant for the Vortex quilt

  5. This is really great! Thank you for sharing your pattern and tutorial!
    I pinned it!