sad-iron quilt

paulah_gardenerMay 8, 2008

A friend asked if I had ever heard of a quilt pattern called sad-iron. I haven't, but now I'm a little obsessed with trying to find out what it looks like. I,ve not been successful with my search. Can anyone point me in the right direction. paula

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Where did your friend come across it? Is she sure it is a block name and not a quilter's name for her quilt? The way quilter's rename designs, it could be an individual occurence. I love the name. I'm already starting to imagine what a design called "sad iron" could look like. Carole

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 11:34AM
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Called the gal and she said it lookes like a triangle with the top cut off and another cut off triangle reversed and placed on top looks like a hour-glass to me. She said maby it was called flat-iron, she couldn't remember. Does this help? paula

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 12:10PM
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I'm not familiar with this quilt pattern, but a sad iron was what the old irons that people heated on a stove and ironed with before they had electric irons were called. I never actually used one but my mom still had one or two when I was growing up. They are popular antiques.
Now why were they "sad irons" I'm going to look for that but if that is the way I had to iron I'd be sad.

They were made in a triangular shape. If you butted two together it sounds like what you described in the pattern.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 12:32PM
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There are several for sale on ebay. The only explaination I could find of the name suggested that in their time sad also meant heavy and they were heavy. It also said the first ones were all made of metal (that is the kind mother had) and the whole thing got hot. Women tried wrapping the handle in a piece of cloth but still sometimes burned their hands. Then a woman came up with the idea of making a removable wooden handle. Women were indebted to her.

There are all kinds of related things like little stoves just for warning the iron. I'd never heard of that. It must have been helpful in the summer. :)


    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 12:53PM
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I found one on page 69 of Maggie Malone's "5500 Quilt Block Designs" called "Hourglass" that seems to be like your description. Barbara Brackman's "Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns" shows two blocks that could be what you're looking for: 4081 and 4215.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 1:05PM
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damascusannie could you post us a couple of pictures? Both books you mention are not in my local library and I'd like to see this pattern out of curiosity. Thank you. budster

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 3:49PM
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Where's Sandra Ferguson when you need her? Isn't she our resident quilting historian?

My great-grandmother took in laundry for people. We had her iron, like the one described by Sally. My father used it as a work-out weight.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2008 at 3:22AM
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Here's a photo of some actual antique sad irons:

A Wheel of Mystery quilt gives you that "pointy" oval shape, with 6 patches making up each "sad iron", if you think of each Wheel of Mystery block as 4 half Sad Irons, all pointing to the center of the block (hope that makes sense):

Wheel of Mystery quilt, multi-color


    Bookmark   May 10, 2008 at 1:04AM
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CMC: Those look like the kind you put hot coals inside. I have read of them. They must have been convenient.
When I was growing up, all we had were two sad irons (my grandmother called them that) that seemed to be of iron cast all in one piece, a thick iron-shaped bottom, and a curved iron handle growing up out of it, which, as someone mentioned, required you to use thick pot holders to avoid being burned. We heated them on the kitchen range and gauging their temperature was hard. I remember that my poor grandmother, trying to help my newly-married cousin with her laundry, burned an iron-shaped hole in a lovely satin slip she had in her trousseau. (Do people ever have "trousseaux" anymore?)

    Bookmark   May 11, 2008 at 6:54PM
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My mother told me not to buy any beautiful nightgowns until I got married--then I would have a reason for them. When I got engaged, I went nightgown shopping--and some satin lingerie. That's as close as I got to a trouseau.

I remember we had a true icebox, but we never had a sad iron. Actually, I have only known them as flat irons.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2008 at 9:26PM
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We called them sad irons. I had one of those all metal ones, and I think I gave it to either my DD or my DIL, and one with a wooden handle to the other. I kept the iron part of another, and still need to pick up the wooden clutched handle. You can still get them at an Amish store near here. My all metal one was actually rather pretty. Even though it was heavy as sin, the handle was thin and graceful and the iron was slimmer and smaller. Like said, you just clutched the handle with a pot holder. All of mine were heated atop a wood stove. Yes, it's hard to gauge the heat on one, but no harder than gauging the heat of an oven with no thermostat and trying to bake a cake in it. Been there and done that.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2008 at 11:11PM
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thanks annie I'll try to locate these books and look at them. paula

    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 8:07AM
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I realize this post is over a year old, but thought this info might help. I think the pattern you are talking about is also called "Smoothing Iron". I have a book by Better Homes and Gardens called Creative American Quilting and there is a photo on page 126 and templates/instructions on 144. I tried making this years ago, but am clueless with templates and so gave up. Recently I thought I'd try again and have been searching for a paper foundation pattern, but none seems to exist. While searching for it though, I saw a photo of a quilt called "Sad Iron" and it is the same pattern. If anyone knows how to make a paper pattern from templates or has one for this quilt I'd sure appreciate it!

    Bookmark   August 7, 2009 at 10:40AM
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The pattern is indeed called "smoothing iron". I own one, which was made in 1940, when fabric was 12 cents a yard, wages were $1.00 and hour and a whole week's rent was $14.00. My quilt was quilted by my mother 6 years before I was born. The stitches are very fine and it was filled with cotton batting, as that was all that was readily available at the time. I remember looking up from under the quilt and thinking it looked like a church window, stained glass. It is very worn and not really worth all the effort it would take to replace the shredded pieces. If all it needed was a binding, then I may attempt it, but we will probably just keep it as a pet. It would be wonderful to find a pattern for another quilt, made as much like the original as possible. Does anyone have such a pattern or know where I could get one?

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 11:00PM
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Donna, could you take a picture of your quilt and post it?

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 11:19PM
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Check out this link.

3rd pic from the top.

Here is a link that might be useful: smoothing iron

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 2:39PM
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That is a gorgeous qult!!!!!

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 3:38PM
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