Saturday, September 15, 2012

3. Union Square: Red for Rebellion

Union Square
by Georgann Eglinski

The NUWSS was considered the moderate arm of the
British Suffrage movement.

England's National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies was the largest group dedicated to obtaining the vote for British women. Note they call themselves "Law-Abiding" on the above banner, differentiating themselves from the WSPU, which often broke the law. The word Union in their name referred to a merger of organizations. Union was an optimistic term. The Union often fractured over politics, tactics and philosophy.

 NUWSS banners
In 1907 the NUWSS decided to show politicians and press the widespread sentiment for Votes For Women with a march though the streets of London. Despite February's mud more than forty groups marched from Hyde Park. From a newspaper account: 

 "A gay enough procession by most accounts, despite the weather. Little touches of red and white splashed its length with rosettes and favours, posies bound with red and white handkerchiefs, programmes and above the line white banners with vivid scarlet lettering."

The campaigners realized the effectiveness of taking it to the streets.
We take public marches for granted---
but when the NUWSS began marching in London
the tactic was not so obvious.
Above American women planning
 a "procession" 5 years later.
The ideas of a public parade with a unified color scheme took hold. In 1907 and 1908 NUWSS marchers wore white with accents of red, the color of rebellion. They later added green to a create a tricolor palette, echoing the colors of Garibaldi's Italian revolution.

Union Square in two versions by Becky Brown

Union Square was given that name by the Nancy Cabot quilt column in the Chicago Tribune, a good pattern to remember the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies and its dramatic marching colors.

Union Square is
BlockBase # 2417
A red and white color scheme for these blocks would also echo the popular palette for American quilts in the years 1880 to 1920. The quilt below was probably made in those decades.

Each week you'll have a suggestion for a two-color version of the block of the week.
Cutting an 8" Finished Block
A - Cut 4 squares 2-1/2"
B - Cut 4 squares 2-7/8". 

Cut each in half diagonally to make 2 triangles. You need 8 triangles.
C - Cut 9 squares 2-3/8".

I'm adding 12" blocks in 2020.

Millicent Garret Fawcett (1847-1929) was president of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies from 1890 until 1919. The NUWSS received less press and is remembered less vividly than the WSPU, but the group was far larger and more politically astute.
Read more about Fawcett and her sister here:
Union Square
Dustin Cecil


  1. Such an intersting read AND some great quilt eye candy! Can't wait to start sewing!

  2. Are there more directions for this block? I don't see any for the inner 9 patch, or for "C".

  3. gab--it's there--just in smaller type for some reason.

  4. What a great idea. My 24 year old daughter asked me to make her a quilt and I will be using these blocks to do it. My paternal grandmother was a member of England's WSPU and my daughter is very like her so in memory of Gran's endeavours for women in England I shall be making the quilt in their colours.

  5. Please give us the Button "translate" in the sidebar!

  6. I am having trouble with the blocks although I am an experienced quilter. Now this star block for child custody, Aunt Eliza's star. We are supposed to cut 3 of square B. No, we only need two, which are cut each into four triangles for the star points. Between the two star points we need triangles but I'll call these D because they have to befrom one much larger square (around 5 inches actually) which you cut into 4 triangles! Also the A triangles need not be as large as you have given.
    I have EQ6 but do not want to spend the money on Block Base for it just for this project. Would it be possible for you to please give directions that are a bit more correct? I wouldn't want to have to quit this project, but if things keep going on like this I might not want to continue!