Friday, September 1, 2017

Strips, Strings & Fine Lines Between Roman Stripes

Basket Weave & Chinese Coins
Both Roman Stripe Patterns

This weekend was a perfect time to wander about town looking for examples of lines. I am curious how the things we see influence the things we make. Elements of our lives and everyday world find their way into our work naturally. 

Tobacco Stick Fence

Throughout our village of Gnadenhutten we have signs in front of many properties with information pertaining to early buildings. The one above is for the Jacob Good house built in 1812. The current owners added a primitive tobacco stick fence to the property after buying, and I love its rustic appearance. It gives us a good visual of improvisational lines.

I wanted to create something that gave me the same rustic feeling as the tobacco stick fence. My kitchen table is covered with my string scraps, and I pieced throughout the morning.

The lighter strips seem to jump out while the plaid receded.

I played with all kinds of patterns.

Finally I settled on a basket weave arrangement. It seemed to play into the rustic theme, and felt like a fall pattern. I still had pieces leftover from constructing these improv blocks so I added another border of Chinese coins. 

There will be no shortage of hand quilting projects in this house for many months. Doesn't it make you crave a pumpkin latte?


In my first post about Roman stripes, "What Is a Roman Stripe," Rebecca Grace from Cheeky Cognoscenti  asked a question about what determines a Roman stripe. "What if you make a Lemoyne star using scrap strips? Is that still a Roman stripe?" It is an interesting question I have also asked myself while researching Roman stripes. Let's break it down into two parts.

What patterns are traditionally considered Roman stripes?

When do blocks made from stripes become 
something else?

I am not an authority on patterns and learning just as you are, so I spend a lot of time researching. I cannot say enough about The Quilt Index, and what a wonderful resource it is. Searching for Roman stripe or Chinese coin there gives us dozens of examples in these categories. 

Common Names

You will find patterns under the term Roman stripe commonly referred to as basket weave (above), rail fence, zig zag, and Chinese coin. 

Chinese Coin Variations:
The Fine Line

I have seen many variations of strings and blocks called Chinese coins. My example above has no separating bars, and the individual strips or blocks vary in size. 

It is more common to have bars between the stacked rows of coins. Here I used bars, but my coins are not stacked in the traditional way, but in stacked horizontal units instead. We can see variation upon variation when we look for it. Also, it is one small step to cross the fine line to becoming a bar quilt.

Any arrangement or pattern imaginable made from a block using two half square triangles where one is made up of stripes or strings and the other solid is a Roman stripe.

A multiple patch quilt (one composed of more than one kind of blocks) may be made of alternating string blocks with another block, and still referred to as a Roman stripe pattern.

I have seen antique quilts constructed of a triangle block alternating with a solid referred to as Roman stripe. This is an early quilt I made, and therefore would classify as a Roman stripe.

So why not this star as Rebecca asked?

I am almost embarrassed to say this question had me awake at 2 a.m. last week at the kitchen table piecing away, and debating about how block classifications cross over each other.

In the dead of the night, it dawned on me that this is far from an exact science. (insert giggle) There is no hard and fast taxonomy of quilt block names! Years ago a block published under one name in a magazine was commonly republished by another magazine under a new name. Quilters became furious with the magazines for changing the well-known and loved block names, but it did happen. Therefore, the same block called Roman stripe in one area was Chinese coin in another. Both were accepted and correct.

In the cases named up above, the striped unit composed a half square triangle and a triangle. If half this star (a parallelogram) was made using a solid piece of fabric, could we fairly call it a Roman stripe star?

 We commonly call this block a string star around here.
Maybe because we put stars in a separate category
all their own the star shape takes precedence.

What do they call it where you quilt?

I am completely open for discussion on the subject.
Please give us your thoughts.

Come on, Doxie girls.
Let's go sew.

Linking up with~


Kate said...

I like you basket weave quilt. It does have the autumn vibe going on. Enjoy the hand stitching you have planned for it. The history of quilting is so interesting, so much depends on where you are in the world as to what you call a given block.

Quilting Babcia said...

This is such an interesting series. A lot of food for thought, along with some fabulous examples. Thank you for sharing!

Sharon - IN said...

What lovely examples of all the striped quilt variations! Fun tobacco stick fence interpretation too!

KaHolly said...

As always, an interesting, thought provoking read. Your newest design is magnificent! I like the tobacco stick fence influence.