The paper piecing method is not a new art form of making quilt blocks. My grandmothers used it.

There was a very important book that was delivered, by mail, to every household. It was the Sears and Roebuck Catalogue, and we always received one. You could order, by mail, everything under the sun from this catalogue, and we would receive a new one every year. The first catalogue was printed in 1893; the last big book catalogue went out in 1993.

My grandmothers would use pages from the catalogue to piece their Crazy Quilt blocks to assure the blocks would all be the same size. This made them easy to sew together, with all the seams matching up when finished.

I remember watching my Grandma Byrd piecing Crazy Quilt blocks. When she had covered the catalogue page, she just trimmed away the excess pieces of fabric from around the page. When she finished all the blocks she needed for the size quilt she wanted, she would lay them all out on the bed to place her colors the way she wanted them.

Since my grandmother’s days of paper piecing, the method has evolved. The term “paper piecing” became popular, because many of the templates used to sew a quilt are printed onto paper. “Flip and sew” and “sew and flip” are two more terms often associated with paper piecing. A couple of new quilt piecing terms that use this technique are Moda Cake Mix and Cupcake Mix Recipe 2, both quilt block patterns.

Yes, the Sears Catalogue was used for lots of things. While Grandma was busy quilting, I was busy cutting paper dolls out of the catalogue. Wonderful, happy memories of days with my grandmothers.

— Pauline Hoover, Brown County Historical Society

Upcoming events

At the Brown County Historical Society, History Center & Pioneer Village, 90 E. Gould St.:

  • Thursday, Sept. 14: Hands On History Day. Information: 812-988-2899.
  • Friday to Sunday, Sept. 22-24: Brown County Historical Society Quilt Show presented by the Pioneer Women. Information: 812-988-7106 or
  • Saturday, Sept. 30 and Sunday, Oct. 1: Rock and mineral show. Information: 812-320-6237.
  • Saturday, Sept. 30: Fall Gathering and Old Settlers Reunion. Fall Gathering information: 812-988-2377. Old Settlers information: 812-597-4932.