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The Back Story

In 2015 I enjoyed designing the blocks for our local production of, The Quilters. Most of the blocks in this quilt are used to intertwine the stories of pioneer women. The play reveals their hardships, their celebrations, and their tragedies. I chose fabrics for the theatrical quilt to represent fabrics similar to fabrics that were from the pioneer days. The quilt shown here is the actual quilt from the show. It is presented horizontally because the stage was not large enough for it to be presented vertically.


Yardages needed for the quilt are not calculated. For those using commercial fabric, I suggest obtaining 4-5 yards of background fabric. Then, consider using coordinated scraps for the rest of the quilt to provide variety and remove any worry of running out of a particular fabric. If you run low on Blendables fabric, simply order more. Blendables will remain in stock, or we will dye more for you right away. You won’t run out of this special fabric.




Legacy Quilt (2015),  blocks are 15” finished.

Celebrating the 150th birthday of Laura Ingalls Wilder. (2016)

Click here to learn more about the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. 



Month Twenty


Crosses and Losses 

A big thank you to Connie Ryle Newmann for the dedication over 20 months of providing the wonderful Laura Ingalls Wilder information.

In the early days of settling their homestead in De Smet, South Dakota, the Ingalls' first corn crop was scavenged by black birds. Laura tried to chase them away and Pa resorted to shooting the pests, but there were too many.  The crop was devastated. Gathering as many ears of corn as they could, Pa encouraged Ma to make meals of the birds.  Ma answered, "There's no great loss without some small gain." The Ingalls enjoyed blackbird pie fit for a king that evening, just as in the nursery rhyme! 
 ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little Town on the Prairie, Ch. 9 "Blackbirds"   
Wilder referenced many proverbs and adages throughout her "Little House" books.  "Thair was never a grit loss without som small vantag." Old Scottish Proverb, 1641 D. Ferguson, #1408 Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs.
Blackbirds in the Corn
Illustration by Garth Williams
By the Shores of Silver Lake, 1953 edition

Month Nineteen


 Secret Drawer

"Laura and Carrie helped Ma pack clothes and dishes and books. It was then that Laura discovered a secret. She was on her knees, lifting winter underwear out of Ma's bottom bureau drawer, and under the red flannels she felt something hard. She put in her hand and drew out a book. It was a perfectly new book, beautifully bound in green cloth with a gilded pattern pressed into it. On the cover two curving scrolls of lovely, fancy letters made the words. TENNYSON'S POEMS."  
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little Town on the Prairie, Ch. 12 "Snug for Winter"

 Month Eighteen


Attic Window

"Upstairs there was a large attic, pleasant to play in when the rain drummed on the roof…. Often the wind howled outside with a cold and lonesome sound. But in the attic Laura and Mary played house with the squashes and pumpkins, and everything was snug and cozy."  
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House in the Big Woods, Ch. 1 "Little House in the Big Woods"     
"Softly Laura opened the middle door. She was surprised. Steeply up in front of her went a stair, just the width of the door. She looked up, and saw the underside of a slanting roof high overhead. She went up a few steps, and a big attic opened out on both sides of the stairs. It was twice as big as the large room downstairs. A window in each gable end lighted the whole empty place under the roof."  
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, By the Shores of Silver Lake, Ch. 14 "Surveyors' House"



Month Seventeen


 Tumbling Blocks

Everyone was laughing when Laura and Almanzo drove away.  They drove over the road they had traveled so many times…out on the road toward the new house on Almanzo's tree claim.  
It was a silent drive until almost the end, when for the first time that day Laura saw the horses.  She exclaimed, "Why, you are driving Prince and Lady!"  
"Prince and Lady started this," Almanzo said. "So I thought they'd like to bring us home.  And here we are."  
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, These Happy Golden Years, Ch. 33 "Little Gray Home in the West"                                                                                                            
Visit De Smet, South Dakota, and experience where the Ingalls family finally settled, where Laura and Almanzo met and married, and where the stars shine bright on the prairie.            
Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society (; 
Ingalls Homestead (

Month Sixteen


Tumbling Blocks

Pioneer children didn't have many toys - and Laura Ingalls Wilder knew she was a "Pioneer Girl" as she composed her memoir of the same name and later the "Little House" books. But, having a good watchdog was a pioneer essential and Jack, the brindle bulldog was Laura's first memory of a pet and protector.                                                 
"At milking time Ma was putting on her bonnet, when suddenly all Jack's hair stood up stiff on his neck and back, and he rushed out of the house. They heard a yell and scramble and a shout: 'Call off your dog! Call off your dog!'  Mr. Edwards was on top of the woodpile and Jack was climbing up after him.  'He's got me treed,' Mr. Edwards said, backing along the top of the woodpile. Ma could hardly make Jack come away. Jack grinned savagely and his eyes were red. He had to let Mr. Edwards come down from the woodpile, but he watched him every minute."  
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House on the Prairie Ch. 17 "Pa Goes to Town" 



Month Fifteen


 Four Doves in a Window

"With Ma's help, Laura packed her trunk.... Laura brought her Dove-in-the-Window quilt that she had pieced as a little girl while Mary pieced a nine-patch. It had been kept carefully all the years since then. Ma laid it, folded, on the sheet, and upon it she placed two large, plump pillows." ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, These Happy Golden Years Ch. 32 "Haste to the Wedding"     

Visit De Smet, South Dakota, and experience where the Ingalls finally settled, where Laura and Almanzo met and married, and where the stars shine bright on the prairie.    
Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society (  
Ingalls Homestead (
Versions of Laura's quilt Dove-in-the-Window have been debated: some think it is like Bear's Paw as seen on a pillow at Rocky Ridge, others think a more intricate four flying doves in a star pattern. 
photo by Connie Ryle Newmann

Month Fourteen

  Kansas Dugout

"Laura went under those singing flowers into the dugout. It was one room, all white. The earth walls had been smoothed and whitewashed. The earth floor was smooth and hard…. There was a small greased-paper window beside the door.  But the wall was so thick that the light from the window stayed near the window."  
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, On the Banks of Plum Creek, Ch. 2 "The House in the Ground" 
Sod house from inside. Photo by Connie Ryle Neumann


Month Thirteen

  Lone Star Block

Almanzo said, "Let's go home the long way, it is such a nice night for a drive."  He turned Barnum to the road that crossed the western end of the Big Slough. The wind blew softly in the prairie grass, and above the dark land hung myriads of large stars quivering with light.  On and on Barnum trotted, gently now as if he, too, were enjoying the quietness of the night and the brilliant stars.  Almanzo spoke quietly. "I don't know when I ever saw the stars so bright."  Then Laura began to sing softly, "In the startlight, in the starlight...."  
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, These Happy Golden Years, Ch. 22 "Singing School" 

Month Twelve


   Schoolhouse Block

"Then Laura saw the schoolhouse. It was out on the prairie beyond the end of the dusty road…. A bell rang. A young lady stood in the schoolhouse doorway, swinging the bell in her hand. All the boys and girls hurried by her into the schoolhouse."

~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, On the Banks of Plum Creek, Ch. 20 "School"

Tallgrass Prairie School, Kansas

Photo by Connie Ryle Neumann


Month Eleven


Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

Laura not only wrote about her own pioneer childhood experiences, she devoted a whole novel to the ninth year of her future husband Almanzo Wilder as he grew up on a prosperous farm in Upstate New York. Young Almanzo learned at an early age to bargain for the value of his labor. After a liveryman paid two dollars per bale of good hay, he wondered why Almanzo settled on the price.

"Well," Almanzo said, "I asked two and a quarter because if I'd asked two, you wouldn't have paid but one seventy-five." The liveryman laughed, and said to Father, "That's a smart boy of yours." Father did not take the money for the hay; he let Almanzo take it and count it to make sure it was sixty dollars.

~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farmer Boy, Ch. 28 "Mr. Thompson's Pocketbook"

The Wilder Homestead is a historic home and farm today near Malone, NY.  Photo by Connie Ryle Neumann


Month Ten


"Whoa!" said Pa, suddenly. "Now which way?" he muttered to himself. The road divided here, and you could not tell which was the more-traveled way. Both of them were faint wheel tracks in the grass. One went toward the west, the other sloped downward a little, toward the south. Both soon vanished in the tall, blowing grass.
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie, Ch. 2 "Crossing the Creek"



Month Nine



"Laura and Mary went over the top of their (dugout) house and down along the path where Pa led the oxen to water. There along the creek rushes were growling, and blue flags.... The flat creek bank was warm, soft mud. Little pale-yellow and pale-blue butterflies hovered there, and alighted and sipped."
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, On the Banks of Plum Creek, Ch. 3 "Rushes and Flags"


 Month Eight


Windmill (aka Pinwheel)

This month we highlight Laura Ingalls Wilder's 1894 journal when she and Almanzo and Rose moved by covered wagon from burned-out South Dakota to the "Land of the Big Red Apple" in southwest Missouri. The little journal she kept was published just a few short years after she died in 1957, and is a fascinating account of sorrow and loss, hope and determination to rise above hard circumstances. Here is her observant eye along the trail: "We watered the teams at a public well with windmill, by the side of the road. The water is good all through McCook County [SD]. Wells are 120 feet deep on the average and nearly every well has a windmill.  This is a good county." ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, On the Way Home; the Diary of a trip from South Dakota to Mansfield, Missouri, in 1894, July 20 entry. Harper & Row, 1962.  



Month Seven


Log Cabin

"Once upon a time…a little girl lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, in a little gray house made of logs." ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House in the Big Woods, Ch. 1 "Little House in the Big Woods" 
"Laura lay awake a little while, listening to Pa's fiddle softly playing and to the lonely sound of the wind in the Big Woods.... She thought to herself, 'This is now.'   She was glad that the cosy house, and Pa and Ma and the fire-light and the music, were now.  They could not be forgotten, she thought because now is now.  It can never be a long time ago." ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House in the Big Woods, Ch. 13 "Deer in the Woods"

Little House On the Prairie - Replica - Independence, KS - Photo by Connie Ryle Neumann


Month Six


Crazy Patch (aka Rebel Patch)

Laura's daughter, Rose Wilder Lane was a prolific author and journalist, and both women were accomplished with the needle and in handwork.  Several Ingalls-Wilder handmade crazy quilts are displayed at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home & Museum in Mansfield, MO, where the "Little House" books were written. (                                                                                                                                
In 1961 Rose wrote a childhood memory of crazy quilts:                                                                                                                     "Crazy quilt," my grandmothers called the hap-hazard mosaic, with slight respect, but my young aunts (Laura's sisters Carrie and Grace) made 'crazy-quilt throws' of scraps of silk and velvet, embroidering them and feather stitching the seams. These elegant "throws" were draped on pianos to Queen Victoria's taste. Today they are quaintly interesting; I wouldn't throw one away, but I would not call it patchwork. True patchwork is designed; it has meaning in every line.  ~ Rose Wilder Lane, Woman's Day Book of American Needlework, Ch. 5 "Patchwork"
A sampling of Laura's Crazy Quilt that traveled with the young Wilder family as they moved from South Dakota to Missouri in 1894.  
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, On the Way Home 
(Photo by Connie R. Neumann) 




Month Five


Flower Basket

"Laura and Mary picked flowers from the weeds, and they took the flowers to Ma.... She admired equally the flowers that Laura gave her and the flowers that Mary gave her, and she put them together in a tin cup full of water."
-- Laura Ingalls Wilder, Ch. 4 "Prairie Day," Little House on the Prairie

"Ma laughed when Laura and Mary...brought her bouquets of the blue flags and she put them on the table to make it pretty."
-- Laura Ingalls Wilder, Ch. 3 "Rushes and Flags," On the Banks of Plum Creek




Month Four


Diamond Star

Here is a stunning passage about stars.

"Softly Pa's fiddle sang in the starlight. The large, bright stars hung down from the sky. Lower and lower they came, quivering with music. The night was full of music, and Laura was sure that part of it came from the great, bright stars swinging so low above the prairie."
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie, Ch. 4 "Prairie Day"







Month Three


Rocky Road

Considering that the Ingalls journeyed by covered wagon almost 2000 miles by the time Laura was 12, there is very little in the terms of rocky roads in the Little House books. But there are muddy wheels, river crossings, and tall grasses.    

"Day after day they traveled in Kansas, and saw nothing but the rippling grass and enormous sky. In a perfect circle the sky curved down to the level land and the wagon was in the circle's exact middle....The wagon kept on jolting, the canvas top snapped in the wind. Two faint wagon wheel tracks kept going away behind the wagon, always the same." ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie, Ch. 1 "Going West"

"The only noise was the horses' feet clop-clopping and the little creaking sounds of the wagon. One little jolt is nothing at all...but all the little jolts from sunrise to noon, and then all the little jolts from noon to sunset, are tiring." ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder, By the Shores of Silver Lake, Ch. 5 "Railroad Camp"





Month Two




Tree of Life

"A wee dark blob between [the Twin Lakes] was the Lone Tree. Pa said it was a big cottonwood, the only tree to be seen between the Big Sioux River and the Jim." - Laura Ingalls Wilder, By The Shores of Silver Lake Ch. 7 "West Begins"

Toward the end of the book, Pa plants little saplings from the Lone Tree near their homestead shanty, one for each of the four girls and Ma. Those cottonwoods are still growing today near De Smet, SD, on the Ingalls' homestead land. This photo shows "Pa's Trees" as they today. 

Photo by Connie Ryle Neumann






Month One 


Flying Geese


The weather grew colder and the sky was full of wings and great birds flying.
— Laura Ingalls Wilder, From By the Shores of Silver Lake, Ch. 12 Wings Over Silver Lake

Pa said, "We've got the world to ourselves! I saw only one flock of wilde geese today, flying high and fast. They weren't stopping at any lakes; not they! They were hurrying South."
— Laura Ingalls Wilder, From By the Shores of Silver Lake, Ch. 14 Surveyor’s House



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