Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Pieces From The Past - A Sew Along

Welcome to Melva Loves Scraps and the Pieces from the Past sew along!
I am beyond excited that you have chosen to join me in this journey to the past as I share the Kansas City Star quilt patterns that were collected and saved by my Grandma Schleich, as well as the letters that former German Officers that had been held at the Prisoner of War camp located near Trinidad, CO.

It is with a deep appreciation to C&T Publishing for granting permission for me to scan and share these patterns at no cost to you.  Details of the pattern and letter release dates can be found at the end of this post.  I recommend that you sign up to receive notifications via email by signing up in the right sidebar to guarantee that you don't miss a single post.  You can also follow along on bloglovin', facebook and instagram.  

Over the years, here on my blog, I have shared some brief details and snippets of info with you about my Grandparents.  But to lay a historical background I offer a brief synopsis of the lives of my Grandma and Grandpa and how and why they came to America...

Cue the song by Neil Diamond from The Jazz Singer - America!

My Paternal Grandparents (Phillip and Katherine {Bohl} Schleich) came to America as children with their families as German Immigrants - more specifically, Germans from Russia. If you are interested in the why they were considered German's from Russia you can read the next little bit.  If you want to skip the history lesson, feel free to scroll past it... I'll never even know. 😉 

"During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries Germany had become the scene of bitter and prolonged religious conflicts.  The underlying causes were social and political injustices and religious abuses.

When Martin Luther broke with the Catholic Church, he touched off a series of devastating events.  With religious issues absorbing the energies of the people, social and political progress came to a standstill.  You can read more on this by looking up Martin Luther.

The Seven Year War took place from 1756 to 1763.  This war was considered the crucial one which helped the colonists decide to move to Russia.

In 1763 Catherine the Great offered the Germans villages of their own role and 120 acres to every son born along the Volga River.  The villages were formed by people who came from the same general neighborhood but Catherine wanted those of the same religious convictions to settle in the same villages.  Thus the Schleich and Bohl families moved to Huck, Russia.

Years later the Germans left Russia for the same reason they left Germany - Catherine didn't live up to all she had promised and  the settlers became unhappy.  It was in the late 1800s they started their emigration to the United States."

Short story... they were not Russia citizens, rather, they were still German citizens.  The route they made in order to make the journey had them leaving Huck, Russia by train to Bremen, Germany before they could emigrate to the US on the Hanover, arriving in Galveston, Texas.

The two families lived in the same village (Huck Russia) and Phillip and Katie knew each other as children.  

Phillip Schleich, (Dad's Dad) was born August 18, 1897 in Huck, Russia.  He traveled to the US in 1907 with his parents in 1907.  He was 9 years old when they made the journey.  The first birthday he celebrated in the US was his 10th.

Katherine Bohl, my Dad's Mom, was born August 23, 1899 in Huck, Russia came to the US with her parents in 1912.  She was 13.

While living in Russia, Katie was a young girl when she had a grandparent that was near death.  Her mother sent her to retrieve a bucket of water, an act on her mother's part so that she was not present when the grandparent took their last breath.  Phillip saw her and being an ornery little boy he threw a handful of mud in the bucket.  

I have never heard the outcome of the story or Katie's reaction to the mud in the bucket.  No doubt she had to get a fresh bucket of drinking water... but can you imagine the devastation of learning upon her return that her grandparent had died... and the potential for her blaming herself for taking too long to get the fresh water???  If you follow the link in the previous paragraph {the highlighted word Russia} you will see some pictures of some underground springs in Huck... I cannot help but wonder if this is where Grandma was sent to get water as a child.  

I suspect that Grandpa did regret his action... just the fact that the story stuck with him for years and stood out as one of the stories from his childhood that he felt  worthy to share when my Mom asked him about his life in Russia as a kid in 1980.

Phillip attended school for two years in Russia, and for one winter in Kansas after their move to America.  When the Schleich's left Kansas (where their sponsor lived) they moved to Swink, CO.  Phillip went to school through 6th grade, completing both 2nd and 3rd grade in one year. 

Phillip and Katie were married at ages 19 and 18 on January 24, 1918.

They had 5 children...

Clara, Edward William (Bill), Leroy, Melvin (my dad) and Howard.  Howard passed away at just 4 days old of bronchial pneumonia and influenza.

Phillip and Katie lived  first in the lower Arkansas Valley area (La Junta, Swink, Rocky Ford).  It was in the late 30s that a gentleman by the name of Mr. O'Brian hired them to farm land located East of Trinidad, near a tiny little community called Model.  It was while they were farming near Model in the early 1940's that the WWII Prisoners held at Camp Trinidad were "hired" to assist with the sugar beet harvest.  You can learn more details and see pictures of the camp  at "Westword." 

Now that you know just enough detail of my family history I will move onto the details of this sew along.

I will publish one pattern and letter every three weeks, beginning January 23, 2020. 

(You may be wondering, "why every three weeks?"  Well, I have 20 letters and patterns that coordinate with each other and if it were a monthly release it would take nearly 2 full years to complete and I didn't want stretch it out that long.  And I thought that 3 weeks gives ample time to complete the blocks.  I know that life can be busy and I don't want anyone to feel too pressured by publishing weekly or even bi-weekly.)

The blocks will vary in size from 9" finished to 16" finished.  There will be a variety of techniques  - pieced, foundation and English paper pieced, as well as varying skill levels from easy to more challenging.  However, to avoid any frustrations with the most difficult blocks I am offering some "alternative" blocks that are much easier.  Something for everyone!

January 23 - Signature Block
February 13 - Lost Goslin' Block
March 5 - Mayflower Block
March 26 - Flower Garden Block
April 16 - Our Country Block
May 7 - Basket of Diamonds Block
May 28 - Modern Broken Dishes Block
June 18 - Friendship Block
July 9 - Dragon Fly Block
July 30 -  Russian Sunflower - Optional star Block 
August 20 - Indian Star Block
September 10 - Pine Burr Block
October 1 - Rolling Stone Block
October 22 - Owl Quilt Block
November 12 - Maple Leaf Block
December 3 - Corner Star Block
December 24 - Double Cross Block
January 14, 2021 - Double T Block
February 4 - The Blockade Block
February 25 - Pride of Ohio Block

Fabric requirements:

The quilt will finish at approximately 66 inches by 81 inches.  
I have used a variety of fabrics - prints and solids from assorted fat quarters - approximately 20 total. 

An additional 4 yards of muslin or background fabric will be needed for the background of the 20 blocks, sashing strips and one border.  

A second border will require 1/2 yard and the final border requires 1 yard.  Binding will require 3/4 yard and backing 5 yards of standard width fabric.  

When your block is complete share on instagram, tag me (@MelvaLovesScraps) and use hashtag #PiecesFromThePastSewAlong or post on my fb page - Melva Loves Scraps.  Each completed block photo shared before the next published block will be entered in a random drawing for a chance to win a fat quarter.

Those that complete all 20 blocks are not only eligible for the tri-weekly drawings but will also be entered into a random drawing for one of five C&T Publications Kansas City Star Quilts Sampler pattern book.

I think that covers all of the necessary details... but tell me...

Have you researched your family?  
What is your heritage?  

Interested in documenting stories of your parents or grandparents?  I have a .pdf file that you can access in my payhip "store".... Priceless Conversations.  This will be the same place that you will find the patterns in the coming months.
Happy Quilting!


Join me for a fun sew along that will feature vintage Kansas City Star quilt blocks and letters from former WWII German POWs that worked on my Grandparent's farm.


  1. what an interesting story I wish I had some from my family history - I know some of it but not the details. I have a DVD with all the Kansas City Star patterns - it is wonderful- but then i got a new computer and it has no DVD tray! I have to get a portable one to hook to my computer to get the info off of it!

  2. Melva, you have a very interesting story to tell. I enjoyed reading it and seeing your pictures. I am looking forward to the sew along.
    I have done research on my family. Actually I was lucky enough to find where my cousin had traced our family and I could get his info. I know that my dad's side (my great grandfather back 5 generations) came from England. They settled in Virginia at the time when they arrived then some migrated to Texas.But I don't know the full History. I wish I knew a lot more. Both sets of my grandparents passed away before I was born so I never knew them. It would be wonderful if I could talk to them and learn from them.

  3. My mom and Great-Aunt did an extensive search on my Irish/Scottish/Canadian side of the family, and my dad's cousin did some of his. My heritage is Finnish on both sides of my dad's family. I am glad to have that. My husband 's family is not so lucky; his grandparents were Armenians who left Turkey as the pogroms started there, and there are only a few memories of family earlier. I look forward to this QAL!

  4. I'm fortunate to have quite a bit of information about both my father's and my mother's families. I'm looking forward to this quilt-along!

  5. Hi Melva! I am so excited to read this update and have the schedule. I'm ready to go . . . ~smile~ Roseanne

  6. Hello Melva, I began following your blog after reading about your plans on Home Sewn By Us. Reading your post today was very interesting and I enjoyed it very much. I look forward to reading all of the information that you share while also making the patterns! Thank you.

  7. I found your family's story of coming to America to be fascinating! My husband's father's family moved from Germany to Russia...promised free farm land...and they ended up in Washington (the eastern side, where the is lots of farming). Your parent's story parallels theirs in so many ways. Because of that, I'm going to try to keep up with you and create this quilt. I like the three week happens that changed trajectories!

  8. This is going to be fabulous! I wish I had the time, but I might just sneak in a few blocks!

  9. My Dad traced our family back to the 1400's, really intetesting! In your email you asked for people to test blocks for you. I would love to!! I've been making potholders and bowl cozies, about 40 of them to have in my stash for a quick gift for someone, Next I will be making skillet handle covers. I
    Now that my stash is looking good I have free time to test your block patterns. Once again ,I would love to!!

  10. I have researched my family and my adopted family, which is my actual aunt and her husband's family, going broad to include all the families married into, and my husband's family, doing the same. There are many dead ends in my own maternal family, but my uncle's (from Germany in 1851, two brothers came) and husband's families seem to go on forever! I'm back 800 years or more in some lines, and still there are more. I love the pioneer era family because many of them either wrote letters or kept diaries and I've learned amazing things. In some of the other lines, I've been fortunate to find records in newspapers, class yearbooks, church records, and other unusual places where people might be mentioned. Military records have been good, too, because almost all the family lines were involved in the military.