House & Home

The Star’s 2015 quilt project takes a trip back to the ’50s

It’s a new year and a new Kansas City Star quilt. Welcome to the first installment of “Hazel’s Diary,” which introduces not only the quilt — a 1950s look, with appliquéd wildflowers over pieced blocks — but also its inspiration, real diary entries written by a Missouri farm girl.

Shelly Pagliai of Wien, Mo., designed the quilt, which tells the story of her mother, Hazel Ilene Hyde, born Sept. 19, 1936, to Lavern and Mildred (Rector) Hyde.

On Christmas Eve 1950, Hazel received a diary from her parents. She faithfully wrote in the book every day for the next few years.

Follow along for a peek into the life of a 1950s teenager.

Look for a new block the third Sunday of each month here in H+H.

Our story begins with Hazel’s very first diary entry …

Jan. 1, 1951

Shirley Jones visited school. Got out at 2:30. Ernest Perrin moved to Macon. We went to Charles and Helen Deckers and they were having a Wearever party.

The early 1950s were the days of visiting friends and family (Shirley was a cousin), handwritten letters, walking instead of driving, hard work and good old-fashioned fun. Card parties, movies, school and church events were social highlights.

Most rural homes had had electricity for a short time, though some didn’t have it yet. In-home telephones, if you had one, operated on a party line. Folks listened to battery-powered radios. Television sets were a rarity.

April 6, 1951

Stayed home tonite. Mom’s still got her job. She gets over $30 per week. Robert is working for Roy. Daddy got us after school today. Got out at 3:00 o’clock. Ervin was at garage. Shirley was at town. Shirley got her hair cut tonite, real short.

Mildred, Hazel’s mother, had a job outside the home, working at a factory. Minimum wage in 1951 was 75 cents per hour. Gas was 27 cents a gallon. And it cost Hazel 3 cents for every letter she mailed.

To read the complete transcript of the diary, including more stories and pictures, plus recipes and additional quilt patterns, visit


7 yards solid white for background

3 1/2 yards solid red

1 2/3 yards solid gray

1 1/4 yards assorted greens, including prints, polka dots and a solid or two

1 1/4 yards assorted reds, including prints, polka dots, checks and a solid

1 yard assorted yellows, including prints and a solid

1 yard assorted blue prints, ranging from navy to turquoise to pale blue

1 fat eighth assorted black prints, including polka dots

1/8 yard assorted gray prints

Save your leftover scraps for the outer border.


Block size: 18 inches finished

Supply list

1 (8-inch by 13-inch) strip and 1 (8-inch by width-of-fabric) strip white background fabric

1 (4 1/2-inch by 8 1/2-inch) strip green polka dot on white

1 (5-inch by 9 1/2-inch) strip red print

1 (5-inch by 9 1/2-inch) strip navy print

1 (7-inch) square yellow print

1 (6-inch) square green print

1 (2-inch) square black print

1 (20-inch) square solid red

Cutting instructions, pieced block

From the white background fabric, cut:

1 (7 1/4-inch) square. Cut the square from corner to corner twice on the diagonal to make 4 triangles. (A1)

1 (4 3/4-inch) square (A2)

4 (3 1/2-inch) squares (A3)

2 (3 1/2-inch by

12 1/2-inch) strips (A4)

2 (3 1/2-inch by

18 1/2-inch) strips (A5)

From the green polka dot fabric, cut:

2 (3 7/8-inch) squares. Cut the squares in half on the diagonal to make 4 triangles. (B1)

From the red print, cut:

2 (4 1/4-inch) squares. Cut the squares from corner to corner twice on the diagonal to make 8 triangles. (C1)

From the navy print, cut:

2 (4 1/4-inch) squares. Cut the squares from corner to corner twice on the diagonal to make 8 triangles. (D1)

Cutting instructions, appliqué elements

From the yellow print, cut:

1 each using templates B, C, D, E and F

From the green print, cut:

4 pieces using template A

From the black print, cut:

1 piece using template G

From the solid red, cut:

1 frame using the template provided


Sew a green polka dot triangle (B1) to two opposite sides of the A2 background square. Press the seams toward the triangles. Sew the two remaining B1 triangles to the other two sides of the square, again pressing seams toward the triangles. The unit should measure 6 1/2 inches square. See Fig. 1.

Sew a red C1 triangle to a navy D1 triangle along the short sides. Press seams toward the darker fabric. Make 4 with the red triangle on the left, and 4 with the red triangle on the right.

Sew the units to the A1 triangles as shown. Press the seams away from the A1 triangle. Make 4. See Fig. 2.

Refer to the diagram and sew the units into rows. Join the rows to complete the block. It should measure 12 1/2 inches. See Fig. 3.

Sew the A4 strips to two opposite sides of the block. Press the seams toward the strips.

Sew the A5 strips to the top and bottom of the block. Press the seams toward the strips. It should now measure 181/2 inches. See Fig. 4.

Referring to the placement diagram, and using your preferred method of appliqué, stitch the appliqué pieces to the block in alphabetical order. The red solid block frame is appliquéd in place. If you use fusible web for the frame, cut on the solid line on the inner edge but include the seam allowance on the outer edge.

Look for Block 2 of “Hazel’s Diary” in H+H on Feb. 15.