This quilt pattern is sometimes called the North Star pattern. I’m more familiar with the name Sawtooth Star for this block. This was simply a reminder to the slaves that they needed to follow the North Star. It would lead them north on the trail where they needed to go to find a place where they would be free to vote, have jobs and live their lives with their families. They would no longer be owned like chattel.
Click here to go to the site where you can watch a video with instructions for making the North Star block. (In the video, it has a different name.)
The Flying Geese Block is often used as a filler block along with other blocks.
In this case it reminded slaves to follow the geese. Depending on the time of year, they might be required to go south or north..
The Flying Geese Block is often used as a filler in quilts as well as being the main design. Once you see it, you will realize how often you have seen it both as part of a quilt as well as the main part of one. It is laid out in all sorts of ways as well. Some quilts will have them all the same size and will group them in long lines. Others will put them together in a square with the triangles facing different directions. I linked the how-to page with one simple quilt with all the blocks in a long line and being the only ones on the quilt. But the same website has a variety of other quilts with a variety of settings.
Just as the North Star quilt was used to help the slaves know which direction to go, so this one was used for the same reason. In winter, geese were flying south so the slaves would want to go the opposite direction as the geese. But often, they were escaping in early spring when the geese were flying north to go back home. This way, the (slaves) passengers and their conductors on the Underground Railroad knew to follow the geese flying north.
Click here to see how to make the Flying Geese quilt block in one of its many settings. Take a browse on this same website to see other tutorial of other settings of Flying Geese Blocks.
NEXT WEEK: Our final week of QUILTS ON THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD. The quilts next week will be Bowtie and Log Cabin. I also hope to talk a bit about Harriet Tubman. If I don’t get to her next week, I will do it the following week. I would love to talk about some other characters, so may overlap into March.