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Section V: Broken Dishes – Patterns

January 27, 2012

Please note: The downloadable pattern previously available here has been removed, due to unauthorized usage, but is available upon request. I apologize for the inconvenience but unfortunately cannot afford to have my work used illegally by others for their own profit.

Needles and pins, needles and pins
When a man marries his trouble begins

Section V of Alias Grace is called “Broken Dishes” and deals with the story Grace tells of growing up poor in a large, troubled family in Ireland and the subsequent boat voyage across the ocean to Canada. The trip itself was an adventure in filth, suffering, fear, and death – but also of kindness, and the strength of faith and relationships. The section closes with the Marks family’s first challenges in Canada and Grace’s leaving her family to go into service at Mrs. Alderman Parkinson’s, and a letter from Dr. Jordan to his recently-engaged buddy. “Broken Dishes” would accurately describe the turmoil, arguments, and despair of this section.

Broken Dishes Quilt Block (photo ©2012 by Michelle Southern)

Broken Dishes Quilt Block (photo ©2012 by Michelle Southern)

The “Broken Dishes” quilt pattern illustrated in the book is scrappy, with lights and darks of various prints used, but you can create yours with just two fabrics if you prefer. It is a Nine Patch block – 3 sections by 3 sections in equal parts – and is also known by the names “Paddlewheel” and “Pinwheel” among others. It is created with half-square triangles and is easy enough for a first-time quilter to create while giving more experienced quilters the variety and quick piecing that results in an (almost) instant gratification that we crave.

This block is easily and quickly stitched up using quick-piecing methods (using a rotary cutter and sewing machine) but the scrappy block shown in the book is a chance for you to practice some low-tech, old-fashioned hand piecing and gain experience using templates. Considering that some quilt blocks use much more complicated templates, if this is your first go at using them it’s worth trying out. Personally I am eager to use the same methods my quilter great-grandmother used. I started out hand-piecing because I didn’t have a sewing machine, but prefer the quicker piecing methods of today. I will provide both here for you to choose – or you can try both. My advice is to use one method per block, though.
For the “Broken Dishes” block, you will need:

  • Five light-coloured and five dark-coloured fabrics, each fabric piece at least 5″ square
  • Needle (or sewing machine), thread, rotary cutter and mat or scissors, pencil, quilting ruler, iron

Finished size of Broken Dishes quilt block is 9″ square
» Contact me for info on availability of my original “Broken Dishes” quilt block pattern

Note: We have made every effort to ensure that these instructions are accurate and complete. However, we cannot be responsible for human error, typographical mistakes, or variations in individual work. Patterns may be photocopied and used for PERSONAL USE ONLY; they may not be used elsewhere, packaged, or sold, in whole or in part.

  1. Kitty Pearl permalink
    January 30, 2012 8:12 pm

    Great blog! Now I have to read that book 🙂


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