Mini-Quilts Inspired by a 1940s Tally Card

I have always loved the use of Scotties in 1930s-40s designs and have a large collection of all sorts of things.  Among the items I collect are tally cards from that era and I found a really nice one for only 25 cents at an antique mall recently.  I thought the design would work well as a fused applique for my mini-quilt rack.  The card measures about 3×3 inches and the little spot above the man’s hat is a tiny ink blot on the card.

Update:  I’ve had a few questions about what a tally card is.  In the 1930s-40s, card games in the home were very popular, especially bridge for the ladies (followed by a light lunch and a rich dessert). Hostesses liked to provide cute tally cards which were kept as souvenirs.

I scanned the card and printed it out in a 6×6 inch size, leaving ¼ inch borders for the seam.   I flipped the picture when printing so it would face in the same direction as the original card when appliquéd.  I like Lite Steam-a-Seam 2 sheets for fusing.

On my first version of the piece, I omitted the gentleman and added another tree.  The pieces were fused onto a pale peach 6-½ x 6-½ inch background and secured with a zigzag stitch using invisible thread.  I used a fine line permanent marker to add a few of the features such as the bark on the tree and the dog leash.

Then, I added fabric to finish out the piece and border to measure approximately 12 x 15 inches.

I liked the piece, but it didn’t have the airy spring look that I wanted, so I made another fused center, this time keeping the gentleman and changing the position of the tree.

I used 3-½ inch blocks called Right and Left from my Electric Quilt software  to complete the quilt.  This time, it had the springtime appearance I wanted.

I’ll have to look through my collection to see if there are any more designs I can use for my mini-quilts.

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Lillian Applegate Westfelt was a mother of 4, grandmother of 6, and great-grandmother of 3. She was an 86-year-old widow living in a nice little bungalow with her oldest daughter and a beagle-dachsund named Addie. She passed away in November, 2018.

11 thoughts on “Mini-Quilts Inspired by a 1940s Tally Card”

  1. Beautiful Lillian! I love the design and yes, the second one is very “Spring-y”! I have finally found somewhere here in Australia that sells the mini quilt stands, so I’ve ordered one for myself. I just love the idea of having a mini quilt on the hall table or dining table to reflect the seasons.
    Have a lovely day,

    1. I’m so glad you were able to find a mini quilt stand. I love designing quilts for mine and, as you said, having different ones to reflect the seasons. Lillian

  2. What a wonderful idea! And I love the mini quilts you made… great job!

    (Do you think anyone knows what a tally is anymore?)

    1. I’ve already gotten one message asking what a tally card is, so I’m going to go back and add an explanation. I guess we are quite a few generations from the days of ladies’ card clubs and cute little tally cards.

      Thank you for your comments. Lillian

  3. Oh, I love your little quilts. Both are lovely but I like the “Springy” one better too. I have never heard of tally cards. Were they dance cards or game cards or what??? Thanks for sharing. I have ordered the little quilt stand like you have but haven’t gotten it yet. I can’t wait to get it. I want to make some little quilts to go on mine too.

    1. The tally cards were for playing cards – bridge mostly. Weekly card parties in homes were popular in that era and apparently a lot of people supplied cute tally cards for keeping score. I think I had better add this to my post – a lot of people might not know what they are.

      You’re going to love your quilt rack. It’s so nice to make something that displays so well but doesn’t take too long to make.

      Thank you for your comments. Lillian

  4. Your did a great job of recreating your Tally card. I just ordered a stand after seeing yours and seeing Madame Samm’s Mini TableTopper hop going on now. Great ideas.

    1. Since you also like to make small quilts, you’re going to love the quilt stand. I’m also a fan of Madame Samm. Lillian

  5. Those are just adorable! Thank you for sharing the pictures. I don’t know much about Tally cards, but I’ll have to look at those on line.

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