Even Nancy Cabot, writing in the 1930's, thought this image old fashioned. The flat iron was heavy and cumbersome to work with — it had to be heated up on a triangular metal plate used for that purpose, set on top of a wood or coal stove (notice the fabric print with the heat of the iron steaming in the illustrations above. Cabot says:
"The old fashioned reliable flat-iron furnished the inspiration for today's quilt pattern, just as many other homely household articles have been represented in our early American examples of quilting. So numerous are the quilts of this pattern it has been impossible to trace its origin."
Yet the design is anything but commonplace. It demonstrates a very special perspective, envisioned in environmental philosophy. It is the idea of the one in the many and the many imaged in the one. FLATIRON is comparable in structure to A THOUSAND PYRAMIDS, except that here each diamond reflects potentially endless diamonds, like that Zen image of the moon and the stars reflected in a single dewdrop.
But never mind the wonders of the cosmos, Cabot happily returns us to Earth and carefully mentions that household items, like the flatiron, are common among quilt design names — but which titles did she have in mind? Just a few of such homebound designs available for use in quiltdom and illustrated at this site would include: