Lost Ship Block-Sampler Quilt


I found this block pattern in Barbara Brackman’s book, America’s Printed Fabrics 1770-1890.   The block pattern is called Lost Ship.


It is a pattern that shows up in quilts from the 1870’s and 1880’s.  It was given the name Lost Ships by Ladies Art Co. catalog  block #318 in 1898.  You can see the dark ship and then the ghost ship below it.


The block is an 8 1/2 inches unfinished block but I just added half square blocks on the other 2 sides to make it into a 12 1/2 inches unfinished block for the sampler quilt.


To make this block you will need:

Six 4 inches square dark print fabric.

Six 4 inches square light print fabric.

One 7 inches square dark fabric and light.  You are only going to use one half square of each cut from corner to corner.  I just put right sides together and drew a line.  This was faster then hunting down my ruler to cut a 7 inches triangle. Plus, if you sew them a quarter inch from the center line on one side, you won’t be in danger of stretching the bias and ending with a wonky block.  But if you do have a ruler template for cutting triangles by all means cut a 7 inch triangle from both light and dark fabric.   I actually made two of these blocks.  One for another quilt.


When you sew your center half square block from the 7 inch cut fabrics you will need to square it up to 6 1/2 inches square.  I used a 6 1/2 square up ruler for this.  Having different sizes of small square rulers really helps to make things move along faster.


Put your 6 light and dark 4 inches squares right sides together and draw a line.  Then sew a quarter inch seam from the center line on both sides.  Cut on center line to make two half square blocks.


Press open with the seam to the dark side.  Then square up to 3 1/2 inches square.


Lay out block like the picture above.   Sew them together in strips.  The center strip you will have to sew the 2 on the top and bottom first together then sew them to the center block.   Sew all three strips being careful to pin the points and seams into place first.  Press in one direction as you sew to make flat seams.

This is really an easy block to do and very forgiving with the points.  I had no trouble lining up the points and everything seemed to fit nicely together with out having to go back and adjusting seams again.  I did not have to use the seam ripper on this one.   I really like this block and will use it again for a scrappy quilt.

12 Comments Add yours

  1. KerryCan says:

    “Forgiving with the points”–that’s high on my list! And I like that it’s all half-square triangles


    1. trkingmomoe says:

      I picked this block for a sampler quilt along that I am hosting at another web site. So this block turned out great for my new quilters. I try to have something for every level. I am doing another one from Brackman;s book that I have cut out. It looks easy and is very pretty. Thanks for the comment.


  2. quiltykanuck says:

    I just adore those fabrics! I love the ultra small prints. They have such a visual impact. Great job!


    1. trkingmomoe says:

      The majority of them are reproduction fabrics from about 15 years ago. They are not as common today in the fabric stores around here. I haven’t fallen in love with the new trend of prints in fabric. So I am working with my stash mostly these days.

      Thank you for your comment .


  3. Nice tutorial!! Love making HST !! This is a great use of those “scrap” fabrics too; just “light vs dark”….In the book the colors tend to the red, your sample looks like blues. Either way it makes a nice quilt. The small HST would make a good “leader ender” project (aka Bonnie Hunter/Quiltville style). Love a scrappy quilt.


    1. trkingmomoe says:

      My camera didn’t pick up the browns in the book very well. The quilt in Barbara Brackman’s book was done in madder reds and browns that was in fashion during the last quarter of the 19th century.I chose indigo blues mostly for the darks because it would work well with the blocks I have made so far for this quilt. I don’t have many madder reds and browns left in my stash. It is really a great scrap quilt block from that period of time.

      Thanks for stopping by.


  4. Deborah says:

    This looks like a block I’d like to try sometime. I love the way the blocks look when assembled together. Great on the eye!


  5. trkingmomoe says:

    In the picture it looks like it would make a great scrap quilt. It is really easy to make.

    Thanks you for stopping in and making a comment..


  6. Suzanne M. Walsh says:

    I work for a small museum and have been working on a grant to catalogue all the antique quilts in the museum’s collection since a devastating flood caused chaos with our artifacts. I found a beautiful specimen of a ‘Lost Ships’ quilt with documentation citing that the young girl who made it was 13 years old when she began and 14 when she finished in 1893. The stitching is lovely, the fabrics are fascinating and astonishingly, the documentation cites that the quilt was constructed with 8,640 pieces. I’m writing because I love this quilt, but for the life of me, I can’t make out the ‘ships’ part of the quilt block, and feel like I’m missing out. I just don’t see ships! The ‘dark and light’ part of your description helped a lot to zero in, but I still can’t make out what I’m supposed to be seeing. Can you help me?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. trkingmomoe says:

      First off, that is a lot of little pieces in a quilt. The dark pieces are a stylized ships with sails. The light pieces are the ghost ship. Another way of looking at it is, there is a reflection of a ship that is dark in the water but you don’t see the ship in the white background pieces.

      The history of Ladies Art Co. can give you a clue why you may not be seeing the ships. The catalog of quilt blocks that this family business collected was named by family members. The kids would hand color the drawn blocks that was printed for the patterns at the kitchen table. This catalog business quickly grew out of a family’s kitchen, that was started in the late 1890’s. Only a few quilt patterns had names before Ladies Art Co. started naming them. This business came about because collecting quilt patterns was done by a women who’s family had a dry goods business and travelled for wholesale purchase and sales. This was just something she enjoyed collecting and out of necessity turned it into a family business.

      If your information is correct, and you can date it by it’s newest fabric in it, it would have not followed the light and dark colored placement because the Ladies Art Co. came later. Instead it was just a center half square block with 12 smaller half square blocks around it using up small scraps. She wasn’t thinking about ships in a light and dark patterns. She was just making a very pretty quilt that was wonderful to look at. This is a easy way to arrange half square blocks. Collectors and quilt appraisers refer to this pattern as Lost Ships. The maker was just enjoying the process of piecing a quilt.

      Thanks for your question.


    1. trkingmomoe says:

      There has been a lot of interest in this quilt block recently with many visiting this post in the last 2 weeks. Thanks for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

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