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

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Block 32: Ladies’ Wreath for Elizabeth Bridges Knight

Block 32: Ladies’ Wreath for Elizabeth Bridges Knight, 
Jane’s Sister-in-Law by Bettina Havig

Elizabeth Bridges Knight (1773-1808)

Jane Austen’s brother Edward Austen Knight lived a fairy-tale life. His rise in society after his adoption by rich relatives is reflected in his advantageous marriage in 1791. He married the Hon. Elizabeth Bridges, daughter of a baronet. Evidence of the warm relationship between Edward and Elizabeth is their eleven children.

A 19th-century view of woman’s passage through life 

Whether daughter of a baronet, a tinker or a tailor, women were confined in a biological and societal progression…

…with far too many lives cut off by childbirth.

Ladies' Wreath by Dustin Cecil

Elizabeth died at the age of 35 following the birth of her eleventh child in 17 years. The Austen family lost several sisters-in-law to motherhood. Frank’s first wife also died after the eleventh baby, Charles’s wife after the fourth.

With little access to information about birth control, sex meant that wives were continually pregnant. The reliable way to avoid pregnancy was abstinence, as Jane phrased it: “the simple regimen of separate rooms."

Mourning photograph, about 1860

In Jane Austen’s England a woman had an 80% chance of surviving childbirth. For each individual birth the overall maternal mortality rate (number of women dying in childbirth) is estimated to have been 7.5 per 1,000 births. Today in the U.K. the maternal mortality rate has been reduced by about 99% to 8.2 deaths in 100,000 live births.

Ladies' Wreath by Becky Brown

Ladies’ Wreath can represent the mourning wreath on a young family’s door. The block was given the name in the early 20th century by the Ladies’ Art Company.

BlockBase #1131

Cutting a 12" Finished Block

A - Cut 12 squares 3-7/8".
Cut each in half diagonally to make 2 triangles. You need 24 triangles.

B - Cut 4 squares 3-1/2".

Ladies' Wreath by Becky Brown

Read more about the causes of maternal mortality by clicking here:

“British maternal mortality in the 19th and early 20th centuries,” by Geoffrey Chamberlain, Journal of the British Medical Society
And see the statistics on the rate today at The Guardian:

Ladies' Wreath by Georgann Eglinski

I also used this block in my 2012 block-of-the-month on women's rights. See the post at Grandmother's Choice by clicking here:


  1. Barbra will you be publishing a book with all the stories and blocks next year?

    1. No plans for a book right now, but it could happen.