Quilt Notes: OLD MAID'S RAMBLER is dated back to Orange Judd Farmer, 1903, according to Brackman's ENCYCLOPEDIA (#2159). It's also illustrated in Maggie Malone's 5,500 QUILT BLOCK DESIGNS (#1588). There are a number of traditional blocks named OLD MAID in addition to this one, including OLD MAID'S PUZZLE and OLD MAID'S RAMBLE, along with OLD MAID'S PATIENCE.
A rambler is a type of flower, for instance a rambling' petunia or rose, whereas a ramble is a walk, often alone for pleasure, usually in the countryside. Interestingly, these are very positive characterizations for older, unmarried women, being rather mysterious (= Puzzle), independent (= Ramble), attractive (= Rambler, or flower like) and accommodating (= Patience). Even Nancy Cabot, writing during the 1930's depression, described all six of her "old maid" quilt designs, as representative of working women, that is, presumably without the time to raise a family.
The long bar quadrangle with small triangles attached, highly unusual for a quilt block, was the cornerstone in great variation of the Bauhaus textile designer, Anni Albers, her "dazzling" Knoll upholstery designs called "Éclat." See illustration left in black and earth colors (also available in greens, reds and oranges), from the Josef & Anni Albers Foundation.
After much experimentation, the fabrics that worked best for the tiling pattern below seemed to be brightly colored, tightly packed, prints (along with the earth colors and black as an accent, chosen for the Albers designs).
More patterns at this site patched with a wide variety of scraps, would include, for example:
OLD MAID'S PUZZLE
BIRDS IN THE AIR
PATIENCE CORNERS (2)
« « Photos left:
Anni Albers, 1920's,
with samples of her exquisite, geometric 1974 Éclat collection (Uphostery Fabric)