When my new friend Judy saw my Underground Railroad wall quilt, she knew at once that she wanted to give a similar quilt to her daughter-in-law for Christmas. “Sandy loves history and red, white and blue.”
My quilt is the result of an exchange of blocks with 9 quilting friends. We were inspired by and obtained the patterns from Eleanor Burns’ and Sue Bouchard’s excellent book Underground Railroad Sampler. The book, published by Quilt in a Day, Inc., contains instructions for 15 patchwork blocks in 6″ as well as 12″ sizes. Quiltmakers pictured are Lori, Alicia, Marie, Anita, Kathy and Aby.
A quotation of the quilt code as told by Ozella McDaniel Williams, great-granddaughter of slaves in South Carolina:
The monkey wrench turns the wagon wheel toward Canada on a bear’s paw trail to the crossroads. Once they got to the crossroads, they dug a log cabin on the ground. Shoofly told them to dress up in cotton and satin bow ties, go to the cathedral church, get married and exchange double wedding rings. Flying geese stay on the drunkard’s path and follow the stars.
Did you notice names of traditional quilt block designs in the quotation? If you would like to read more about the possibility of quilt blocks being used as a code to guide slaves to freedom, find Tobin and Dobard’s book Hidden in Plain View.