Figure 1: Block construction and finished block
Figure 1: Block construction and finished block
Uncle Sam’s Favourite is a five patch block with a cross of sashing. Five patch blocks can be divided into those with sashing and those without. It is possible to combine many different blocks with sashing to create interesting effects.
 
The construction of this block is slightly complicated as whichever way it is subdivided there will be inset seams at some point. Figure 1 shows one method; make all the half-square triangle units and join to the larger triangle and trapezium. The cross of five squares in the centre will have the inset seams.
 
Figure 2: Edge to edge
arrangement
Figure 2: Edge to edge arrangement
 
When four or more blocks are joined edge-to-edge, flying geese units appear if the fabrics are the same as in Figure 2. At a first glance it is not clear which is the block and which the sashing.
 
Clever use of colour could add to the slightly 3D effect shown here with the cross floating over the sashing which in turn floats over the large blue triangle.
 
We have provided the templates for a 12in block.
 
Figure 3: Uncle Samís
Hourglass
Figure 3: Uncle Sam’s Hourglass
Figure 3 shows another block, Uncle Sam’s Hourglass. A widely held belief is that the original Uncle Sam was Sam Wilson, a meat packer in Troy, New York, who supplied rations to the US military during the War of 1812. Wilson was a subcontractor to Elbert Anderson, and the letters “E.A.--U.S.” were stamped on all the pair’s army-bound grub. On being asked what the letters stood for, one of Sam’s workers joked that it stood for “Elbert Anderson and Uncle Sam,” meaning Wilson himself.
 
The joke was quickly picked up by Wilson’s other employees. Many of these men later served in the army during the war, and the story spread from there. This tale appears to have first found its way into print in 1842. But is it true? Nobody knows for sure, but it’s likely there was never an actual Uncle Sam; instead the name was just a wise guy expansion of the initials US. It was obviously in common usage by the time both these blocks were designed in the early 1900s. The people of Troy however maintain their claim as the home of Uncle Sam. The single most famous portrait of Uncle Sam is the “I WANT YOU” army recruiting poster from World War I. The poster was painted by James Montgomery Flagg in 1916-1917