Tag Archives: Delectable Mountains

Mountain Top

Well, my Delectable Mountains quilt top, in  pink and brown, is done.

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Delectable Mountains design, most popular in the 1840s – 1870s. Color combination of double pink and brown popular during same years. Unquilted top. Approximately 61″ square.

My purpose in making it was to learn how to make it, having been inspired by photos of antique quilts in similar designs. I think it is very pretty, and will be more so once quilted and edged with a brown binding.

I do not, though, think it is very interesting. My original plan was to make this version as a lesson, and then make it again in red and white. Now I’m not sure if I want to do that.

Honest opinions? If you had done it, would you have done things differently? As long as you’re not mean (and I trust you won’t be,) you won’t hurt my feelings.

Mountains Coming Into View

My Delectable Mountains quilt is coming along well. I have the “mountains” pieced for the second set. Next is trimming those half-blocks and filling outside of them with the double pink setting fabric. Then I can trim the center to size and attach the DM borders with corner blocks.

What is “double pink”? From the Quilt Index Wiki page:

Double pinks, sometimes called ‘cinnamon’ pinks, feature tiny prints in a dark, cinnamon-like pink, on a light rosy pink ground. Both of these hues have warmer undertone than bubblegum pink, which emerged as a quilt fabric, often as a solid rather than a print, in the twentieth century. Double pinks were most popular in the 1860s, ‘70s, and ‘80s, though double pinks are common in quilts through the 1920s. At the height of their popularity in the mid-nineteenth century, double pinks were often paired with madder or chocolate browns in quilts.

In the image below, the dark pink triangles on the outside edge are double pink. The center of the center block also is considered a double pink, even with its more complex pattern.

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Half blocks set in place but not sewn on yet. They need their double pink setting fabric first, as well as corner blocks.

The color combination, as it says above, was most popular in the mid-1800s. Most of the images of Delectable Mountains medallion quilts in the International Quilt Study Center & Museum index are from before 1850. So the colors are slightly anachronistic, but I think they still suit.

Delectable Mountains, Old School

If you love medallion quilts and you love triangles, you just about have to love Delectable Mountains medallion quilts.

screen-shot-2017-01-29-at-3-55-30-pmA couple of weeks ago I was paging through medallion quilts at the International Quilt Study Center & Museum. You can search the collections using a number of different variables, including keywords, primary pattern, quiltmaker, origin, and more. At the time I used the keyword “medallion” and found 181 examples. Within that set there are a number of glorious DM medallions.

You can also use “Delectable Mountains” or “Delectable Mountains variation” to look specifically at these. Some are medallions and some are block or row quilts. I’d love to show you images here. However the legal permissions information is confusing and I choose not to risk it. You can find them this way:

I was inspired by the simplicity and high contrast of the design, and decided to make it as a red and white quilt for my guild’s June show.

There are two basic ways to create a Delectable Mountains block. One is the way I made my DM quilt last year. It uses large half-square triangles that are sliced into segments. Once the segments are rearranged, they created a jagged block.

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Still Climbing Mountains. 57″ x 64″. August 2016. Made from stash. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

I thought I would use this block style to create a medallion. I thought it would be “fast” and “easy,” as the block quilt above was. However, the block is not square (in mine it finishes at 8″ x 9.5″.) The non-square block creates some math issues for the outer borders, making it neither fast nor easy.

Yesterday while I cleaned extensively in my studio, I rethought my plan. The other option for a DM block is very old-school, with multiple small half-square triangles to make the points. Here is one link that shows how. (I haven’t reviewed it for accuracy or readability.) And here is a picture to give you an idea of the method:

I also checked a few of my books, to see if any had a good pattern I could pull from. One does, but it’s a badly written book with a badly written pattern. In the end I decided to do what I usually do: make it up as I go along.

Because it’s an uncertain process, I chose to make it first in pinks and browns, rather than red and white. If it all goes well, I might make it again. 🙂

This project falls squarely in the set I’d call a challenge and an opportunity. Realizing that my first plan wasn’t workable as considered created a barrier. Choosing to go old-school with construction provides the opportunity.

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Before realizing I want a bigger block…

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A center block using a few old favorites, and new brown fabric. The block is an odd size, finishing at about 11.5″.

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Now you can see some mountains. The next border will have more of them.

So far this actually has been easy. The center block is a variable star. It is set on point with brown. Then the brown is bordered by a row of brown half-square triangles, creating the mountains. Finally, the whole center (everything made so far) was put on point again. See my post about putting blocks on point.

Next comes a border of brown mountains with double pink background. This is the one with a little trouble on the math side. But I’m confident I’ll find a way to make it work.

Still Climbing Mountains

Last year I had fun making a medallion using big prints. (If you click on the photo, it will open in a new tab.)

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The Mountain. 60″ square. November 2015. Made from stash. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

It was a challenge for me, because big prints tend to mute contrast. I like strong contrast and the sharp edges it reveals. I named the quilt “The Mountain.” In the linked post, I said this about the name, “I am not sure why the name came to me, other than that I have been climbing and climbing, mentally and physically and emotionally and artistically, and now I feel like I’m finally getting somewhere, though of course I’ll never reach the peak.” To see more about the design process, click here.

Early this year I saw a quilt top on this site that also merged big prints, but in a completely different way. (I didn’t link the quilt top itself, because the photos disappear when she has sold the tops. And I won’t copy her picture, because it is her picture. However, as of writing this, the top appears in the set of tops over $100.)

I thought about how to make a similar quilt and make it my own. This was the result:

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Still Climbing Mountains. 57″ x 64″. August 2016. Made from stash. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

The name, “Still Climbing Mountains,” is for three reasons. First and most importantly, the block style used is called “Delectable Mountains.” Second, I am still climbing! And third, it reminds me of The Mountain because of the big prints.

In truth, though, there are all kinds of fabrics in this quilt. They range from solids and tone-on-tone, to very large prints. There are batiks and traditionally printed fabrics, ethnic-ish designs and geometrics and Civil War repros. The fabrics were purchased over many years from local quilt shops and large retailers. Browns, teals, rusts, olives, and tans, I just kept pulling fabrics from stash until I had enough.

There are 48 blocks in a 6 x 8 layout. If you look at the photo above, they are arranged by value. The first column (left to right) is very dark and medium dark. Column 2 is medium dark and medium light. Column 3 is medium light and medium dark. Columns 4-6 reverse the order to finish with very dark.

Construction was amazingly simple. I began by making 48 half-square triangles that would finish at 9.5″. That is a weird number, but the unfinished size is 10″. (I cut squares of fabric at 10 3/8″. I cut them on the diagonal and then stitched HST from them. If you cut oversized and then trim, you would trim to 10″, so a finished HST would be 9.5″.)

Each HST then was sliced into 4 segments of 2.5″ by 10″. The segments are rearranged and sewn back together. The new block finishes at 8″ x 9.5″.

hst sliced rearranged

The coolest thing was how each block transformed as it was rearranged.
Del Mtn blocks in process

Assembling the top was easy, too. I assembled each of the six columns, being careful to match them in the one place where the jags fit together. When sewing the columns together, you only need to match the block corners, because that is the only place where contrast shows. In fact, though I’m usually pretty careful in my construction, this was a really forgiving quilt top! My blocks were not all exactly sized and my within-block seams didn’t match up, and believe me, there is no way to see any of that! It was fun and fast — the hardest part was picking the fabrics, and I’m not kidding.

This is one of four quilts I finished in August. September will be a lot lower output for me, so it was nice to mark some finishes.