A Block of Time…Ocean Waves

Ocean Waves Circa 1910
Ocean Waves
Circa 1910

I love quilt history and I want to share some with you today.

A few years ago, I was given an old quilt top. I was ecstatic. I stared at it. I analyzed it. I wanted to finish it immediately.

To me, receiving a quilt top is like sitting on the sofa with a carton of ice cream and no one asking you for a bite.

Well, unfortunately, I never knew who made it. I never knew where it came from.


Ocean Waves Circa 1910
Ocean Waves
Circa 1910

But, I do know this much:

The quilt name is Ocean Waves.

Ocean Waves was a very popular pattern around the turn of the 20th century. It’s still being made today.

This quilt is also a 2-color quilt. Most 2-color quilts are red and white or blue and white, but sometimes pinks, greens, and yellows can still be found. The popularity of 2-color quilts was largest somewhere around 1880-1910. But, again, they are still being made today.

Each block has an outline stitch flower embroidered in the center.
Each block has an outline stitch flower embroidered in the center.




What’s really interesting on this quilt is the outline embroidery stitching that was done in the center of each Ocean Wave block.

Because of the embroidery, this quilt is considered a “Redwork” quilt. Outline stitch embroidery was made in all sorts of forms…like, flowers, animals, alphabets, or symbols. The blocks were usually muslin and between 6″- 9″.  Sometimes they were called “penny squares”.


Thirty triangles were replaced or repaired.
Thirty triangles were replaced or repaired.

Since this was a quilt top, I was able to look at the back and see that it was all sewn by hand.

Some of the triangles were torn.  Some just needed to be re-sewn back into it’s seam. I ended up locating an “old-fabric” dealer at Road2CA Quilt Show and I was able to buy 5 or 6 reds from that period of time. The fabrics matched up very well with the others and I replaced or repaired 30 triangles…very carefully.

The red border was tattered and was between 3″ and 5″ all around. I trimmed it down to 2 1/2″ and found a binding fabric that matched the tiny-white-stars print on the border.



Border with piano-keys stitching 1" apart.
Border with piano-keys stitching 1″ apart.

I put white muslin on the back and hand-quilted all of the triangles with a 1/4″ outline border. The center blocks with the embroidery was grid-stitched 1″ inch apart and the border was also stitched an inch apart in a piano keys pattern.

I hope that the woman (I’m assuming) who made this quilt is looking down and is happy to see that her quilt has been finished.

I know I am…and, I’m more than happy to be able to take care of it for her.

Until next time…enjoy your day…ttyl!

Jo Ann



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