Part Twelve of the PP forum Block of the Month - Underground Railroad
Quilts have many layers of fabric. One technique for fastening these layers is still used today. This method is sewing a string or heavy thread through all the layers and tying it off with knots. In most cases one or two knots would be sufficient to secure a quilt, and yet in some older quilts unusual knot patterns were found, some with as many as five knots. This was much more than would be needed.
Could this have been a way of signalling escaping slaves of the distance to travel between safe houses or hiding places? The more knots, the greater the distance.
Taking that into consideration and then needing to add the trajectory of travel, we now come to this month's block. It is in fact another directional pattern, similar to that of the Flying Geese and yet very distinctive. The Flying Geese pattern used one set of geese within a single block to show direction. Our new block pattern, ‘Birds in the Air’, uses several blocks within the full quilt to show the path. It is suggested that by looking at a completed quilt top, several blocks of lighter shades and colours would stand out amongst the darker patterns creating an arrow, thus indicating the direction of travel.
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