Summer of '51 Tablecloth from A Simple Life

Summer of '51 Tablecloth from A Simple Life

Posted by Deirdre Quirk on May 25th 2017

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

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