January 18, 2016

Chart 29: Kansas City Star & Grandmother, Block 40 in the Farmer's Wife Sew Along

Everyone who sees this block says, “Where is the handle?” or “Are you going to applique the handle?” In fact, this block was called Grandmother’s Basket and published in the Kansas City Star quilt pattern series in 1935 just like this – no handle.

As I say on the PDF printout, I am leaving the block in halves for end-of-row sections if I use the layout in the book. I will use the empty half to sign and date the quilt. 

About the Kansas City Star Patterns

In addition to serving the Kansas City area as a daily newspaper, the company produced several regional weekly newspapers in at least four Midwestern states. The quilt patterns appeared from September 1928 through May 1961. Patterns were both reader-contributed and created by Kansas City Star staff.

In the 1980s Harold and Dorothymae Groves of Kansas City, MO, started collecting actual newsprint copies of Kansas City Star patterns and with the permission of the Kansas City Star, reprinted the entire 34-year collection of patterns in 1988. The reprinted collection fills 11 comb-bound books -- 10 of patterns and 1 index. The two books I have seen have 100 pages each. If you love the 1930s Sampler and historic things, watch on Ebay, etc. for The Kansas City Star Classic Quilt Patterns. Be forewarned that the patterns may or may not be accurate but are certainly inspiring. Here is a glimpse of what you will see.

Some Stories Never End

When I flipped this borrowed book open to take a picture of the pages, my jaw dropped! We own a 1930s quilt made from the pattern on the right page. I have never seen another quilt like it nor did I know anyone who could identify the pattern. We lovingly call the quilt “Princess Radishes” —but that is another story. Here you can see a picture of our quilt in a book I wrote called Collector Scrap Quilts and How to Make Them, Vol. II, published by ASN Publishing in 1992 and now out of print. I daresay more people know this pattern as Princess Radishes than A Young Man’s Invention -- and that is one example of why so many blocks have different names.

Click on the image to see a larger version of Princess Radishes.

My Grandmother Block

Click on the image for a larger view. Click the link to download the Template Conversion Chart for Grandmother:

From Marti Michell Template Conversion Chart #29

for Grandmother, Block #40
In addition to our template conversion PDF download, you will want to read Gnome Angel's tutorials for these blocks.


  1. Marti, that antique quilt is a beauty. That's fun to hear how you found the original name of the block. I so enjoy you sharing personal stories. Thank you for giving the history of the Grandmother block. I saw somewhere the block we called Cat was something like Cat's Cradle, but I could be wrong. Thanks for all you do for us!!

  2. Hi Marti,
    I am inquiring about the template instructions. If you are using the HST ruler, piece 40G would be cut using the 6 1/2" markings??? The instructions don't say and I just wanted to make sure I was correct.

    1. Hi Mindy, If you are using the From Marti Michell Half-Square Triangle Ruler, the 40G triangle is the full size of the HST ruler. (Isn't that great!) The strip width to cut is 6-1/2 inches when you have engineered corners. Thanks for asking. :)