A Quilt in an Afternoon

Good morning, my friends. I'm afraid it's Moanday again. We're not moaning here, though. There's not much on today's calendar. Mike has spent the past couple of weeks painting two of our bathrooms. The bathrooms look great, and he finished up yesterday. He's still doing some caulking in the main floor bathroom today, but he was happy to announce that the painting is finished. So we're both free to move about the cabin on this brisk Monday morning. It's 21°F outside, but the wind has stopped blowing. With the howling wind, it was bitterly cold here yesterday. It's colder today, but it feels warmer.

When I wrote yesterday's post, I completely forgot it was the day Project Quilting announced a new prompt. The prompt for PQ14.3 is "54-40 or Fight!" And somewhere in my feeble mind, I had an idea I'd heard that phrase before, but I had no idea what it meant. Do you? And if not, please allow me to enlighten you with this new-found knowledge of mine. For one thing, "54-50 or Fight!" is the name of a traditional quilt block. It looks like this one I found on Pinterest:

And there's a story behind this block. It goes like this.

It’s about land acquisition and the Oregon Territory during the Polk Administration. Here's a map of what the area looked like in those days:

In the 1840s many suggested the northern edge of the Oregon Territory should be drawn at the 54°40′ north line of latitude. And they were willing to go to war to make that happen. “Fifty-four Forty or Fight!” After much negotiation (but no war), eventually, the 49th parallel became the US-Canada border, and the phrase lives on in history books and quilt blocks. 

So, the prompt kind of left me cold. It's just a quilt block, right? But then, I kind of got stuck on that US-Canada border part of the story, and I remembered this fabric I picked up when we were in Canada some years back. We visited Keystone Quilts in Winnepeg, where I found this fabric to include in my first Shop Hop quilt.

When I remembered that, I was inspired to make my quilt to represent the border between the USA and Canada. It was one of those moments where I take both arms and sweep everything off my workspace onto the floor to make way for a new project. I pulled these fabrics:

There are lots of tutorials for this quilt block. There's one here at Quilter's Cache. I was following this one that makes a whole quilt from this block. Also, there was a page of references from Kim Lapacek that mentioned the Tri-Recs rulers. And I just happen to have the Tri-Recs rulers.

I've only used them once before when I made the "Whose Woods are These?" quilt.

So, this just kept getting better and better. I could use a long-time resident from my stash, AND I could use a long-neglected ruler from my drawer. So, I studied this ruler a little bit. In the image below, you can see the tiny corner cut off from the point. I wasn't sure if that was intentional or if the ruler had gotten broken.

Looking at it, it looked intentional. And so I went to work, and then realized that by cutting that little snip from my fabric, it was possible to line it up with the triangle piece perfectly.

Cool! And so I went to work making the triangular portions of the quilt block.

I needed four. I wanted the upper half to represent Canada, and the lower half to represent the United States.

You'll never find a more dedicated sewing cat than Smitty. He was right there providing support throughout the process. Sometimes his tail is the best tool.

Sometimes, his feet do the heavy lifting.

I needed five 4-patches. I used blue to represent the United States, and red for Canada.

And here, Mr. Whiskers had an urgent message for me. He tried to stop me, but I went right ahead and sewed the whole block together with the center 4-patch rotated 90 degrees. Aaaargh!

So, then I had to take the whole thing apart to turn that four patch. Geez. I hate it when I do something like that. But all's well that ends well, and nobody died. So here's the quilt block when it was sewn together properly.

From there, I was ready to sandwich it and quilt it. I chose this fabric for the back. It's more American than Canadian, but those hearts are intended to represent my genuine affection for our neighbors to the north. Canada, you rock!

I quilted it simply with just some straight lines, and then it was ready for a binding. Smitty held the ruler while I squared it up.

He was feeling purroud of his impurrtant contribution to this effort.

There it is all squared up for binding.

I had just a little bit of this red, white, and blue stripe left from another project.

From there, I hand-stitched the binding, and my little quilt was finished. I call it "North-South," and it finishes at 13 x 13 inches. Ta-Da!

And, Canada, I can't resist posting this meme I saw on Facebook this morning. As long as we're talking about north and south, feast your eyes on this image of the Canadian side of Mt. Rushmore.

Today I really will get on with the last section of Purrfectly Pieced. There's nothing else on the agenda, but sometimes our days change without warning here at the Three Cats Ranch. Maybe, just maybe, Big Bertha will come home today. Fingers crossed.


Barbara said...

Canada is like a loft apartment over a really great party. ~ Robin Williams

Violet Withey said...

Love the block. Once I've seen Mt. Rushmore from that side it can't be unseen.

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

Funny Mt. Rushmore, nice block.

piecefulwendy said...

Boy, you whipped that block up quick, and it's great! I'm still thinkin' on mine, but I have an idea. We'll see if it works. Mt. Rushmore funny - haha!

Quilting Babcia said...

You just can't unsee some things 😳

Christine said...

Brilliant quilting, well done.
The meme.. He!he!

Go-Go Kim said...

Wonderful block and adorable helper!

Susan said...

Love the block. Sort of reminds me of a butterfly. I hope Smitty got treats for all his hard work. I never gave a thought to the other side of Mt. Rushmore. Too bad I can't say that now :-).

Julierose said...

Just a lovely block--great idea!! Hugs, Julierose

Karen said...

That's what I love about this blog. History, scenic,quilts , flowers, cats!
I've made the 54-40 block, knew it was about fighting; thought it was about fighter planes. Learn something new every day.
Snort! About behind Mt Rushmore. Too funny. Love your block. Very pretty.

Vicki W said...

I don't have many specialty rulers but I love the Tri-Recs rulers. Your response to the prompt is perfect!

Vivian said...

Hi from your Canadian friends! Love the view of the Mount Rushmore side, its just too funny. Your little quilt is just delightful, helped along by your two quilting cat helpers no doubt. My kitty Luna is more of the destructive type, coming up on my project, and sweeping off wip that are not yet complete and sweeping them off with her tail. This is to indicate to me that its time to eat lunch, or a snack or something that requires the human touch.

PersimonDreams said...

LOVE this! THe two different fabric sets really create some drama in this block! Great work and great lessons!

doloresquilts said...

Thanks for sharing your process. I have those rulers too, but never use them. I found a free stype way to make the blocks that is easier but all the points are quiet the same. I may pull out my rulers. Love the block!.

Lyndsey said...

I love the little quilt and more than meets the prompt. I have a variety of rulers but I tend to forget I've got them. This year I want to start making use of them but first I need to finish some of my ongoing projects.

Magpie's Mumblings said...

Great interpretation on the prompt! And thank you for the posterior laugh...made my day.

Yvonne from Quilting Jetgirl said...

This is a really lovely version of the block; the striped binding is the perfect way to finish it off, too!

Carla said...

So clever and a great interpretation! SO good!

The Joyful Quilter said...

Your turned 4-Patch seemed to speak to the compromise of the times. Want to hear something funny, Barbara? I thought it was intentional. :P