Quilt Notes: Nancy Cabot's diagram, left, shows how intricate SPANISH SQUARES is geometrically, though not at all difficult to work out the piecing. In Barbara Brackman's ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PIECED QUILT PATTERNS (p. 207), she situates the block in her section titled "Asymmetrical Four Patch." The pattern actually does have bilateral symmetry, but only on the diagonal bias, so that here it appears to tilt to one side‚ producing a block with some exquisitely inventive geometry. Other designs at this site, which fit that same Brackman category, include SHADOW BOX and FLUTTERBYE, as well as ENIGMA SQUARE (also called DOMINO NET).
Jinny Beyer's QUILTER'S ALBUM OF PATCHWORK PATTERNS (#1384) aligns SPANISH SQUARES with patterns like CHIMNEY SWEEP, along with a beautiful set of 10 x 10 grid patterns. Beyer uses a slight variation in adding a diagonal change in color to the upper right and lower left sections of the block (lovely, and likewise maintained here!). Nancy Cabot's notes include the following in her column in the Chicago Tribune, published on December 1, 1937:
"SPANISH SQUARES is an old design which has been used as an all-over quilt pattern. The pattern was taken from an old Spanish tapestry and successfully worked out in a colonial coverlet. The squares are set together with like corners touching so that the design will form a part of a larger pattern."
For more quilt designs celebrating various countries and cultures, see:
AUNT MARY'S DOUBLE IRISH CHAIN
WONDER OF EGYPT