This year I am once again chairing the Raffle Quilt Committee for the Baltimore Heritage Quilt Guild, which is my local quilt guild. We have decided to make a quilt based on the pattern of Elizabeth Hartman called "Aviatrix Medallion". It is bright and colorful and made of oh so many tiny pieces! What most struck me about this pattern is that it incorporates several traditional quilt blocks in a contemporary layout using a unique and modern approach. So...I decided to do some research. The center medallion dates back to the 1880's and has been called various names, but most likely "Doves in the Window" is most accurate. I discovered when researching this block that there were several different but similar blocks with the same or similar names. Nancy Cabot published this identical quilt block in July, 1933 in her quilt article featured in the Chicago Daily Tribune.
July 8, 1933
Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Block Patterns also cites a number of blocks with this name. The block by the identical name in her book is attributed to Capper's, 1930. When I checked this, I actually found a different block called "Swallows at Window".
Ruby Mc Kim and Nancy Page also published a similar, but not identical block. In their versions, the bird's "torso" is one complete piece, rather than the four tiny diamond shapes used here. They call it "Four Doves".
Just to add to the confusion, Jinny Beyer cites a completely different block in her Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns, published two years later by Nancy Cabot in the March 14, 1935 edition of the Chicago Tribune, which was also called “Doves in the Window”.
It was so interesting to explore the heritage of this block. But most of all, I began to realize that in the art of quilting, traditions were largely passed on by word of mouth. Depending upon your source, you might find different interpretations of the same theme. Maybe that's what makes quilting so interesting!
Fellow Guild Members Stephanie, Amy, Nancy and Casey hard at work!