SPINNING TOPS debuted in the Nancy Cabot's quilt column in the Chicago Tribune on December 7, 1937 (illustrated left). Girls love to play with spinning tops too, of course, but Cabot was always alert to the more unusual design name, which might be appropriate for a boy's room, and thus she notes the following, drawing attention also to the all-over pattern (see tiling below):
"SPINNING TOPS was a favorite pieced block for boys' rooms when it first was made during the period from 1872 to 1878, and it still has the same appeal. Boys enjoy the enigmatic design presented when the pieced blocs are set together to form an all-over pattern. Red and white formed the original combination, but soft green and white, blue and white, tan and brown, and navy and light blue are a few of the popular present day combinations. The block is not difficult to set together and measures 10 inches square when finished. The pieced squares are surrounded by a nine inch border and bound with a one half inch bias binding."
Notice the design name is plural — there are four SPINNING TOPS in Cabot's drawing rotating the four corners of the block.
Compare with an actual brushed, stainless steel top, illustrated left, borrowed from amazon.com. For more quilt designs at this site inspired by children's toys and games, see, for example:
ANN'S DOLL QUILT
BIRDS AND KITES
TIC TAC TOE
KALEIDOSCOPE (more »)