Saturday, December 15, 2012

Snow Storm

Kansas Dust Storm Block by Carrie Hall
About 1935
Dust Storm? Snow Storm.
When I started making quilts back in the 1960s we were surrounded by them. They had a certain look.
Quilt Dated 1933
Here's a pair of classics from the 1930s. These were the kinds of quilts everybody had on their beds in the college dorms.

Quilt dated 1939

Here's a pair from the 1960s---
New colors, new fabrics, few sewing skills.

I didn't have any family quilts but I decided to make some. There was a book at the library.

The Romance of the Patchwork Quilt
by Carrie Hall and Rose Kretsinger
full of black and white photos of quilt patterns
And amazingly enough, these blocks were in the collection of the Art Museum at the University of Kansas, where I was a student. I looked at all of them.  Each one had a background of plain white. I was inspired.
I had dress scraps and a Penney's store with calicoes for 39 cents a yard and bolts of white cotton.
One day my friend Laurie gave me some aesthetic advice, "You know you don't have to use white in every block."
She was right.
I looked around.
Artists were abandoning white as a background neutral.
Molly Upton
Forest Fire

Nancy Halpern
If they used white at all it was off-white and it was a color----not the background.
There were new books at the library.
So I abandoned white.
Forty years later, however, people seem to feel white-deprived.
Rebecca Silbaugh on the Moda Bake Shop site.

Elizabeth Dackson

Cathy Victor

Ann McKinney
From looking at the Moda Bake Shop I have to guess that times have changed. I've been using EQ to sketch out some white quilts using my Morris Apprentice reproductions from Moda. Next post: a white quilt.



  1. Glad you put this trend in perspective. I have noticed how contemporary quilts use a lot of 'negative'white space.

  2. Add me to the "thank you for this post" column - Nancy said it so well!

  3. Thanks for this from me too. I remember when almost every quilt had a white background; what goes around comes around, I guess. Have you noticed how people are referring to "Modern Quilts"? Can we point out that's what people said about quilts in the 1950's too!

  4. Some of my "mature" quilting friends criticize the "modern" quilters for things such as points that don't match, too much grey, too much white, too much quilting, no borders . . . I wasn't aware of what they "mature" quilters were saying about US back in the 70s, but somehow I hear an echo.

  5. I do like the white quilts, that I have seen, but I usually go with tans, I tend to like things on the dark side. Maybe because it hides all of my mistakes, lol.


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  7. Very true, Barbara! I remember when I started quilting in 1984, sampler quilts were the big thing and the background was ALWAYS white ! The first big quilt I made was a blue and MAUVE sampler. Somehow I doubt my daughters will ever want to use it !! It's folded up in my pie safe.
    These new "Modern" quilters do seem to be white-deprived, but also suffering from GRAY overload ! I have to laugh when I read about "THEIR designs" - most are just squares and triangles that have been around for 150+ years !! LOL

  8. I just made my first ever quilt - clearly I have a long way to go! Inspiring pictures though. I have the Carrie Hall book and love it. xCathy