Serial Newspaper Quilt Blocks

Some years ago a friend of mine gifted me some of her mother’s crafting supplies and patterns. As I was carefully going through these riches, I came across three blocks from a quilt called “The Oregonian Modernistic Flower Quilt” designed by “Mullen” (I have not been able to find anything about this designer). After a very short while of poking at the inter-webs I found a blog by Louise that had a list of designers of serial quilt blocks. Reading the list felt like a challenge to collect all the blocks in each series (Nancy Page being my favorite). I quickly got to work doing just that, collecting all the blocks. I found many of them easily. I found many more through a membership to Newspapers.com. Still the blocks of the Modernistic Flower Quilt were allusive. It wasn’t exactly helpful that the word “Modernistic” is not one that is in current use. Google kept changing it for me. :-/ This journey started over four years ago. Fast forward to June 2021…

I stumbled on a link to an article by Laurie Monahan in “Online Quilt Magazine.com”, Vol. 4 No. 11 (page 12) about a quilt that her great grandmother made starting in 1933. It was THE elusive quilt! This brought the quilt back to the forefront of my brain. There were no pictures, but I was able to find pictures of the finished quilt on https://fliphtml5.com/ggdr/niqv/basic.

I went back to Newspapers.com and searched again for the quilt blocks. There were multiple different Oregonian papers. None of them contained the blocks that I was searching for. At some point, while searching the webs, I found out that The Oregonian had their own archives. There was a small fee for a one day pass with limited amount of searches. Now I was getting excited. In one search I hit the jackpot! The Sunday Oregonian, July 23, 1933.

Once I found the first one, it was easy-peasy to find each block in the series by just jumping forward to the next week. There were 25 blocks in the series. There was also supposed to be a quilting design published at the end, but I was unable to locate where that might have been published. I figured that I could freehand that though.


Today The Oregonian presents the layout of the newest, most sophisticated of coverlets – the modernistic flower quilt. The 25 flower blocks and the pattern of the quilting block will appear successively one week apart.

In this quilt the most persistently popular subject of the art of quilting – the flower – is ultra-modernized. The completed quilt, if recommendations in method and material are followed or improved upon, will be rick in coloring and altogether unusual and striking in appearance.

This all-over pattern gives a black-and-white idea of how the quilt will appear when completed and shows an arrangement designed to balance the vivid colors of the individual blocks when they are finally assembled. It and this article should be be cut out and kept for reference.

Of the following general suggestions for procedure, only the first is a “must.” Aside from the rule given in the paragraph next below the maker’s own preferences and skill are given widest scope. This is the “must”:

The small circles, which will appear as solid spots of color, must be of the same material as their corresponding colors in flower or leaf or stem. They are not scattered haphazardly, but are a means of color balance and part of the design. Their colors in the individual blocks will be included in the directions.

The blocks will be nine inches square, making the quilt approximately 63 by 31 inches.

The designs have been worked out for reproduction in applique. If this method is used, half an inch should be allowed for turning under on the blocks and one-quarter inch on the flower petals, leaves, stems and so on. Except for the smallest dots. a buttonhole stitch, which eliminates turning under, is not recommended. Where it is used, it should be in the color of the piece being attached. Otherwise use an invisible hemming stitch.

Now something out of the ordinary: A black background for the flower blocks is not only suggested but strongly recommended. Startling perhaps; but it will not give a somber effect. On the contrary, it will make the colors more vivid, as stars seem brighter in a black sky.

In that case buff would be a good color for the quilting blocks, with the design stitched in black. If the checkerboard effect does not appeal to you, the background should be buff and the quilting blocks the same color, dark enough to allow contrast between background and a few flowers which will be cream, lavender or white. It is partially to emphasize contrast that use of a black flower block is urged.

If a bedroom is modernistic or exotic enough to warrant the rather bizarre effect, quilting blocks as well as flower blocks might be black. The quilting block design would then be in light colored stitching.

Except on the quilting block pattern, stitching is indicated on the designs by broken lines, and on leaves and stems invariably is yellow, to break up the green masses.

The question of black and buff, buff and buff or black and black for flower and quilting blocks respectively must be decided before the first flower block is begun, of course.

The material used for appliqueing the flowers should be of solid colors, not figured goods. Choice of material, aside from this, is optional, except that uniformity is suggested. Satin, sateen, percale and gingham are among the possibilities. The embroidery thread used should correspond with the finish of the material selected.

Estimate of materials required: Each side of the quilt will require about five yards of yard-wide material. If the top of patterned blocks, is to be done all in one color this may be all alike. For the checkered effect, there should be two and a half yards of black, or some other contrasting color for the flower block backgrounds

The first flower block, to appear next week, will be the tulip. (The Sunday Oregonian – July 23, 1933)

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