Summer of '51 Tablecloth from A Simple Life

Posted by

Please enjoy this free project from A Simple Life by Shelly Pagliai! A Simple Life was inspired by the little red diary of Shelly's mother, Hazel, which she kept while growing up in Missouri in the 1950s.

Finished size: 47” x 47”

Pieced and appliquéd by Katy Kitchen

Quilted by Shelly Pagliai

The summer of 1951 saw the Great Flood of Kansas City. Although Hazel witnessed the flood herself while visiting with family, she spent most of her summer at home on the farm, helping with gardening and household chores, attending the Bevier (Missouri) Homecoming, eating homemade ice cream, and spending time with friends and family.

It seemed for the most part to be a simple, pleasant summer, filled with normal summertime activities. One of my favorite diary entries from the Summer of ’51 is this one, where she tells a funny story about her little brother Larry, aka Puz:

Aug. 20, 1951

Ira’s folks is at Grandma’s house. It stormed this morning & this evening. I ironed & cleaned house today. Donald was at Ruby’s most all day & Momma worked.

Today I made some popcicles & tonite me & buck got one while puz was in bathtub. Puz got in a hurry to get one & was in tub only 2 min. Mom asked him if he took a bath & he said “I washed my face.”

Summertime is a time for picnics, and this little tablecloth, inspired by table linens from the 1950s, would put a nice touch on any summer picnic. It features the Summer of ’51 appliqué from the Hazel’s Diary quilt. Choose your favorite retro color for your border background to make it all your own.


• 1 1/4 yards white solid for background

• 1 1/2 yards aqua solid for borders and binding

For appliqué:

• Red scraps for flower petals

• Yellow scraps for flower centers 

• Green scraps for leaves

• Gray for vines


For the appliqué:

For the vines, from the green print, cut:

• 8 strips on the bias (45° angle) 5/8” wide x 10”long

Or make eight 10” long pieces of 1/4” finished bias tape using your favorite method.

From assorted flower petal prints, cut:

• 24 pieces using template B

From assorted flower center prints, cut:

• 4 pieces using template C

From green prints for large leaves, cut:

• 16 pieces using template A

From assorted small leaf prints, cut:

• 56 pieces using template D

From white background fabric, cut:

• 1 – 38 1/2” square

From border fabric, cut:

• 5 – 5 “ x WOF strips


Trim two 5” border strips to 38 ½”. Sew to the sides of the large background square. Press seams toward the border strips.

Piece together the remaining three 5” border strips. From this, cut two lengths 47 ½”. Sew to the top and bottom of the background square. Press the seams toward the border strips.

Use the Summer of ’51 appliqué templates (download here), refer to the placement diagram, and using your preferred method of appliqué, attach the appliqué pieces to the block, beginning with the vines, and then proceeding with the pieces in alphabetical order. Appliqué the design in each corner of the background, letting the design overlap the seam in the borders. Refer to the photo below.

When the appliqué is complete, press the piece gently from the back side.

Hazel’s youngest brother Larry, aka Puz, with a sparkling clean face. Larry turned 10 in the summer of ’51.

Layer the quilt top with the backing and batting, and quilt with the design of your choice. Use the aqua solid fabric for the binding.

Web extra: For the quilting design for the Summer of ’51 Tablecloth, go to

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

  • A Simple Life
  • Shelly Pagliai
  • free project

View Comments

Half & Half Block Video Demo with Tricia Lynn Maloney

Let author Tricia Lynn Maloney, author of I Love Precut Quilts, show you how to make the Half & Half Block! Link to Checkmate quilt pattern, referenced in video: Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Read More »

Interview with Jennifer Heynen

We're super excited to share this interview with Jennifer Heynen! She's the author of Stitch Kitsch and Sew Small—19 Little Bags, as well as the pattern and craft kit designer behind Jennifer Jangles. What is the one tool or notion you can’t live without?  My Oliso iron. It has saved my neck and shoulder because I don't have to [...]

Read More »

Make Your First Quilt with Alex Anderson Video

Let Alex Anderson show you the many possibilities of the Arkansas Crossroad block in the video above and in her new book, Make Your First Quilt with Alex Anderson! Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Read More »

Free-Motion Square Motif from Shape by Shape, Collection 2

This design, from my book Shape by Shape, Collection 2, is all about the echoing, making it a really forgiving design. When in doubt, just add more echo lines. The dense quilting is perfect for drawing your eyes to the blocks you want to highlight. It doesn't matter if you are quilting larger or smaller blocks; [...]

Read More »

Interview with Emily Breclaw

Please welcome Emily Breclaw to the blog! She's the amazing author behind Adventures in Hexagons, and we're so excited to share her interview answers with you. Where do you find your quilting inspiration? I'm inspired and challenged by Japanese and Australian quiltmakers. Their attention to detail and willingness to tackle challenging quilt blocks amazes me. Who has inspired [...]

Read More »

How to Make a Rosette

Rosettes are such a versatile embellishment, and now you can learn to make your own in this incredible video with Christen Brown. Christen also shows you all the amazing features of her book, Ribbonwork Flowers! Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Read More »

Free Project: Round Bowl from Favorite Fabric Bowls, Boxes & Vases

This wonderful project is great for a novice to learn satin stitching and machine quilting. Get ready—sharp-looking curves ahead! What You’ll Need • 2 fat quarters of complementary fabrics • 5˝ scraps for bases (optional) • 1 yard of fusible web • 1/2 yard of unwashed heavyweight canvas • Thread to match or contrast with fabrics • Round dinner plate • Compass • Basting [...]

Read More »

Peek Inside Fantastic Stash Quilts in this Video!

Watch Joyce Dean Gieszler share what inspired her to write Fantastic Stash Quilts in this video! Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Read More »

On Finding Inspiration

I find inspiration everywhere. Since all my work begins with a photograph (almost always my own) I carry my camera around and snap whatever interests me. For every shot I get, there are five I didn’t snap fast enough, and the image is lost to me. I am a very visual person; if I don’t [...]

Read More »