Sunday, July 26, 2009


I found this little lovely in an antique mall many months back. Somehow it never made it into a post, but I have had the most FUN playing with this thing!!

Quilter's Blocks! Each side of the wooden cube has either a red, white, yellow or blue solid, or a half square triangle. What a boon this would have been to a quilter of yesterday before computers.

What I really like about them is that you play with design, without really spending too much time on color because your choices are limited in the blocks. It's more like just designing in "gray scale" which allows your mind to put your own colors where you want them, without the colors themselves clogging up your design process. At least that is how it works for me!

I'm not sure when this little ditty was manufactured, but if you ever come across one, pick it up..FAST!

I found THIS SET on Ebay. It is set number 14, manufactured in the 1920s. Mine is set number 34 so maybe mine are from the 30s,40s. I didn't pay near what the set on ebay was running for!

Just a sweet piece of Quilt-nostalgia that I wanted to share with you....as I get back to drafting patterns in EQ to the point where I would do ANYTHING to get away from the computer and just go SEW SOMETHING!!


  1. My sister-in-law in Alaska has one of these! She inherited it from her mother and uses it in her second grade classroom as a 'free time' activity when kids get to pick from games etc. I watched a non-verbal little 7 year old of Tlingit (Alaskan Indian) descent play with it and she just loved it! I'd noticed that this same little girl, while almost culturaly and socially mute, had an intrinsic ability with patterns and complex memory processes. I sew kuspuks (native cloth parkas) every year with the classroom and each child learns to use the sewing machine and sew most of their garment with my help. Now, I know about this 'color cubes' I'll have to keep an eye out for a set of my own. I never saw the box lid as I was too busy keeping kids hands on the fabric and not under the needle and feet off of the zooming pedal.

  2. A friend of mine designed a free site that does this online. You need to register - registration info is used only to create an account - not sold. It's a fun tool, I wish he would develop it further - it uses drag and drop - so it's easy to get the pieces where you want them. www.qbdt.com
    Note: it does not work in IE - you will need Firefox or Netscape browser to operate it.

  3. I have one of those, too! It is set No. 44, and I would guess it dates to about 1950. I don't know where it came from, but I guess my parents bought it for me about that time. Little did they know they were raising a quilter. Bonnie, did you notice that your set has 7 x 7 cubes while the set on ebay has only 6 x 6? My set has 9 x 9 cubes, thus making much more complex patterns possible. There are many more patterns on the inside of the box lid. Does yours also have patterns there? I wonder where these toys were made. My set says only "Made in U.S.A."

  4. What a great find! I'll have to keep my eyes out for these...

  5. My Mom used to tell about a set she had that must have been similar. My sister had a set that was only 1 in high blocks, with 2 in squares, but also included kite shapes.

    We had lots of fun with it.

  6. I hope I do find one of these sets one day. I found a smaller set but instead of making quilt shapes, it makes six different animal pictures. I think I'll have DH cut some cubes from wood and I'll paint the squares. It will be fun to use until I'm lucky enough to find the real thing. I love antiques that can be used.

  7. Wow, that is the most darling thing. I know I'd have trouble actually getting to the quilting, I'd want to play with it all the time.

  8. When my children were younger they had a game with a similar concept as yours. It was great for teaching them how to recreate shapes and identifying how many different ways to accomplish it. Thanks for the memory.

  9. Anonymous9:46 PM EDT

    If I can't find one, I wonder if a carpenter could make some blocks for me.
    What a fabulous toy!
    Judy B

  10. What a great find! Low-tech is always a good option and a great way to introduce young ones to design.
    Cheers - Shari

  11. Bonnie,
    What a fabulous find- you do find the coolest toys - I can see why you would want to play with it so much.
    I have some pattern blocks that I play with at school but not quite so quilt like- there are diamonds and triangles and squares and hexagons and half hexagons - not quite so conducive to making a quilt pattern but still fun. My kindergarten kids enjoy them too.
    We make animals and flowers and lots of interesting patterns with them- Some of their creations are quite inspiring.
    Enjoy your blocks..

  12. What a fabulous piece of memorabilia, you're so lucky to have found it.

  13. This is the neatest thing. I'm sure my DD has one someplace. Thanks for sharing.

  14. A while ago, I took a bunch of cogninitive tests; one of them involved using blocks like those to replicate shapes. As a quilter, I found that particular test very easy–the doctor didn't understand when I laughed and told him, of course this is easy for me, I'm a quilter. ANY quilter would find it easy to recreate "quilt blocks."

  15. When I was a kid in the 50's...I had something like that...I think I brought it home when we cleaned out my parent's home...Have to look for it! It was a toy, colored blocks, sheets of paper where you laid the blocks on it according to the paper grid below. I would do my own designs. Maybe that was where I caught the beginning of Quilt Fever germ???

  16. those are so awesome I can hardly believe it! what a find!

  17. Have you ever seen "The Magnetic Quilt"? My brother in law found an ad and sent it to me. It's a 12" square magnetic board and 1000 variously colored triangular magnets that you can arrange in various patterns and make squares and rectangles with them. I would love to know if anyone has one of these an what they think. I guess I'll stick with EQ6. I can't lose the pieces with it!


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