36 free quilt blocks, one a week with a guide to Jane Austen's England and posts about the people in her life.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Block 5: Village Square for James Austen

Village Square for James Austen, Jane's eldest brother.
Block # 5 by Dustin Cecil in Dupioni silk.

James Austen (1765-1819)
Being the eldest, the heir, was a position of power.
(And his mother always thought he was the family’s best writer.)

Despite their barely adequate living, the Austen family saw to it that eldest son James had the advantages. Primogeniture meant inheriting position and favor as well as wealth.

View of Oxford University about 1814

James went to Oxford on a Founder's Scholarship (Mrs. Austen was descended from a founder) and was ordained when sister Jane was about 12. He was sent on the Grand Tour of Europe and he eventually inherited his father's parishes Deane and Steventon. 

Village Square by Bettina Havig
Bettina found this scenic print in her scrap bag.
It can represent James's Grand Tour.

Steventon (yellow star) and Deane (blue star) 

His mother's family money eventually benefited James's eldest son James Edward Austen-Leigh who added his great-uncle's name when he inherited the Leigh estate and became a wealthy gentleman.

Fashion plate, 1797
The elder James Austen, born in 1767, powdered his hair and 
wore the breeches, stockings and shoes of
the 18th century.

St. Nicholas at Steventon 

After James died his brother Henry took over the
living there followed by a nephew William.

Illustration of the Steventon Rectory from
James Edward Austen-Leigh's memoir of his aunt.
The house was flooded and torn down in the 1820s.

James's first wife Anne died suddenly after three years of marriage.
Each of Jane's brothers outlived his first wife by many years. 
(One brother was developmentally disabled and never married.)

James's tomb at Steventon. 
He is buried with his second wife Mary.

He seemed quite content to live most of his life in the villages of Steventon/Deane.

Blockbase #2403

We can recall his life in Village Square, given the name in the Nancy Cabot quilt column of the Chicago Tribune in the 1930s. James followed in his father's footsteps, so the block echoes his father's Block #3.  

Cutting a 12" Finished Block

A - Cut 4 squares 3-1/2" x 3-1/2".  

B - Cut 4 squares 3-7/8"x 3-7/8".

Cut each in half diagonally to make 2 triangles. You need 8 triangles.

C - Cut 1 square 9" x 9".

If you are new to patchwork don't even look below this line:

Village Square by Becky Brown

Uh-oh! Becky's fussy-cutting again.
Here's one way to cut the stripes.
Center square C, which finishes to 8-1/2" x 8-1/2":
Cut squares 9-3/4".

Cut into 4 triangles with 2 diagonal cuts.
You need to cut 2 squares and reassemble 4 triangles to get that look.

Village Square by Becky Brown

She cut up the center block in a different way
for the Ladies' Album version.


Jacque says this doesn't work and she's right. You cut the center the
same way for both or her blocks.

For this variation:

Cut 2 squares 9-3/8"
Cut each in half diagonally to make 2 triangles. You need 4 triangles.
If you cut it this way the triangles would be too big. So don't.

The culprit!


  1. Great blocks! So nice to finally "meet" Becky!

  2. Becky's fussy cuts are awesome! Thank you for sharing it. Maybe I have to try it on my own block too;o)

  3. Could you get Becky Brown to appear as a guest someday and tell us how she figures out how to cut the pieces so those curves in the blue-centeted block mesh and match so perfectly? Does she have a way of auditioning the cuts without actually cutting up her fabric and then proceeding "trial & error"? I've been puzzling over this beautiful block for quite a while -- no answers have come to mind. . . . From an admirer of Becky's very special fussy cuts.

  4. Merci pour ce 5ème bloc.
    Il est déjà monté et publié sur mon bloc.
    Bonne semaine
    Thank you for this bloc.
    It's now finished and on my blog
    Good week

  5. In the last version that Becky made, I think those large squares need to be cut twice on the diagonal instead of just once. If you cut just once, the resulting triangles are way too big and the outside edges would be on the bias. I've cut my pieces but haven't sewn the block together yet.

  6. Jacque---you are right. I think I'll say that on the post. Thanks

  7. I am loving this & kudos to Becky! Thanks

  8. Okay I am a little confused. If I wish to make the center block with two fabrics what size do I cut the squares? Thanks. I am enjoying this blog and making the blocks.

  9. rsb - You have to cut two 9-3/4" squares, then cut them twice on the diagonals. You'll need only two triangles from each fabric.