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Pyrotechnics Quilt Pattern

by Glynice

My Mother was a avid quilter and she had a magazine called Quilting Today (1989) featuring a KY quilter, Donna Duncan, of Eminence, KY. She made a quilt pattern that won an award.

The magazine makes reference to a pattern called Pyrotechnics. The block I am interested in is referenced at #176. Do you know anything about this pattern or this quilter or where I can look for further information. Thank you.


Good News to report!

I was able to locate Donna and received the nicest and most informative of replies. Below are her words...


Wow! 1989! - that was a lo-o-ong time ago!

The pattern to which your inquirer refers is a very old pattern, "Pyrotechnics," which was first published by the Ladies Art Company (LAC), credited as the first mail-order pattern company. The number 176 was assigned to it by LAC; all patterns numbered 1-272 were in print by 1895, and may go back as far as 1889. The same pattern, with the name "Wheel," was also published by Farm Journal. It was also published, with the name "Wheel of Fortune," in the book American Quilts, by Elizabeth Wells Robertson, in 1948. Carrie A. Hall and Rose G. Kretsinger, in their book The Romance of the Patchwork Quilt in America, 1935, also called this pattern Pyrotechnics. (The preceding documentation is from the book Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, by Barbara Brackman, 1993. Brackman's Encyclopedia is also available in software, under the title BlockBase, by Electric Quilt. Brackman's work is quite comprehensive, and is a valuable tool for quilt historians and quiltmakers.)

I taught this design as a drafting class many years ago. This pattern was a useful pattern to use in drafting a circular design that did not have a bazillion little points meeting in the center (as a Mariner's Compass does!). Instead, the center is a small circle (such as you would find in the center of a Dresden Plates). Still, the design has some of the elegance and "feel" of a compass design. I instructed and encouraged my students to draft their own patterns; however, I provided a pattern for those who were not satisfied with their own drafting skills.

I am still teaching locally. I do not have a website.

If this lady has access to BlockBase, she may find the pattern via a Name Search (search for "Pyrotechnics" under Search by Name), or via a Number Search (search for 3461 under Search by Number), and print the pattern out in any size she desires. (Brackman's reference number for this block is 3461; Pyrotechnics can be found in both Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns as number 3461, as well as in BlockBase as number 3461.)

I hope this is helpful. (And I hope it was not too much information!)

It certainly pleases me to know that a piece of my work from so long ago has inspired another quiltmaker.


Donna A. Duncan

Aren't quilters just the nicest people!

Donna provided such a very informative and helpful answer...and so quickly, too. I had sent an email last night. This morning when I woke up her response was in my email's INBOX. Amazing!

Donna, I thank you for your wonderful response and assistance.

Glynice, I hope this is just what you were looking for!


Julie Baird

Comments for Pyrotechnics Quilt Pattern

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How I would do it
by: Anonymous

Find a paper pieced pattern for the whirligig pattern. All you would have to add is the little circular shapes at the edge of circle. I would applique those. Easy. I am doing a whirligig now.

Pyrotechnics block
by: Debbie

I saw a really gorgeous quilt in the October 2006 issues of Country Living, a pyrotechnics block with a green background. I can't find the pattern anywhere for it (even Jinny Beyer's book tome) so will have to draft it for myself. Good luck to myself.

The Pyrotechnics Quilt Block
by: Julie Baird, Editor

I was able to find a picture of the Pyrotechnics quilt block, and here it is!

Pyrotechnics Quilt Block

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