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June 15, 2010

Underground Railroad Sampler

Heather and I attended our first class/workshop to complete the quilt Underground Railroad Sampler by Eleanor Burns & Sue Bouchard.  Our instructor was an older gentleman named Ken.  He has been quilting since the 90's and really seemed to know his stuff.  I definitely learned a few new things.  You may know a little history of  the Underground Railroad...how runaway slaves risked their lives for freedom and how other risked their lives helping them.  Did you know that quilts were used to relay hidden messages to runaways to get ready for escape and to guide them on the journey to freedom?  According to one woman's family history, there were ten quilts used to direct slaves.  There were also a few secondary patterns.  Each block has a different meaning and part to play in the code.  The quilts would be hung one at a time on a fence or cabin door, left to "air out" while communicating a specific action or step in the journey.   I didn't know this and find it very fascinating. This project is designed to complete fifteen blocks.
We only completed two blocks in class.  It took a little while for everyone to get going.  We'll have to pick up the pace at our next session.  I only completed one block and got a start on the second which I finished tonight.  I've been having a little trouble with my seam allowances......but I'll save that for another post.
As I progress on this quilt, I'd like to share the story with you.  Here's block one, Underground Railroad (aka Jacob's Ladder)
This block is used to symbolize the story of the Underground Railroad.

Block 2 Monkey Wrench - The monkey wrench turns the wagon wheel toward Canada.
Stay tuned for the next block in the story...the wagon wheel.  Oh what fun that block is going to be!!

6 comments:

Siobhan said...

Oh Carol, I love your blocks! I love the quilt connection to the Underground Railroad, too. I know I've read conflicting tales as to whether some of it is true or not, but I choose to believe it's all correct. Have you read any of the books by Jennifer Chiaverini, which are set around a group of quilters? They're good, some are better than others, but all very good. There is an older one that talks about quilts & runaway slaves, and then one of the more recent (I think there are now 13 books out) books revisits the story. I haven't read the last few books so am eager to catch up.

Siobhan said...

PS--love your fabric choices!

Anonymous said...

Your quilt squares are gorgeous! Love the fabrics you have selected!

Looking forward to seeing more of the blocks come to life.

Robin in Virginia

Sharlotte said...

I love these blocks Carol!! I , too, like Siobhan have heard conflicting tales, but I CHOOSE to believe!! LOL!

Jackie said...

I'm really looking forward to hearing about each block you make. The 2 you've done already are just gorgeous. Any tips about a perfect seam allowance? I've been plagued by this!

Valerie said...

I love the Underground Railroad quilt! I look forward to keeping up with the different blocks! The two that are done are gorgeous. I also like the history behind each block! Till next time...

A fellow Virginian stitcher,
Valerie