Friday, April 6, 2018

I Love a Fight

Block from about 1850

Quilts feature pattern in both patchwork and the fabric. Most of us consider patchwork the main design element with the fabric in a supporting role. 

Quilt from about 1900

But then again there are those quilters who like to start a fight.

Patchwork or Print
Who's the boss?

 You may ask:
Why go to all that trouble to piece a complex patchwork design
and then set up a battle between the fabric and the patchwork?

Some people just like a fight.

You see a lot of these battle quilts in the mid-20th-century.

The aesthetic seems to be anything goes with anything.

Or it may just be that there were few prints available at the proper scale to assume a supporting role.

People thought of patchwork as a frugal hobby. You were not going
to buy new fabric but use what you had.

Or what you could find cheaply.

Ollie Maude Simons made this quilt in Dunlap, Georgia.
Her family told the Western Pennsylvania project that she
used scraps from a shirt factory. One source, one print style.

Factory cutaways as fabric source may explain why
there are so many Southern examples like this
one from the North Carolina project and the Quilt Index.
The textile mills with their cheap leftovers were in the South.

Frugality, fashion or just the love of a fight...

The design dynamic has a lot of appeal.


  1. I love these type of quilts because they pull me in to really "look" at the quilt. I don't see a fight, I see a maze of individual surprises. Sue

  2. I remember my gramma, who lived in Arkansas and St. Louis for most of her life, and who was always poor, getting cutaways in the late 1960's. She lived in northern Indiana at the time, but "sent away for them" (I don't know from where). They were mostly the same print in different colors, in very odd but regular shapes. She made quilts like this; ANYthing was put together. She started me on my first quilt (9 patch) when I was 11. Thanks for this post, Barbara; made me think of her! Ginny from Harrisburg, PA

  3. I love these 'wild woman' quilts. Even though textile mills were eventually a Southern thing, garment factories producing cuts for quilts were all over. My aunts worked in the "pajama factory" in McMechen WV mid-century. Morgan Shirt operated in Morgantown, WV, Best Inc. in Terra Alta, WV (where I worked awhile), also locally, Grantsville, MD and a few others whose names I do not know. It's fun to see a quilt and guess from the relation of the fabrics that it was made from cut aways. I found a couple of unquilted tops in a box of rags in Somerset Co. PA and recognized them right away as scrap from the local shirt factory.
    What fun to pass by the cutting table after working hours where layer after layer of goods were topped with a carefully arranged pattern ready to be cut through by the big blade. The stacked waste pieces were as small as possible and the unusual shapes challenged the quiltmaker.

  4. I'm guessing they would have been quilted on the back side to keep from going cross-eyed.

  5. this is your brain on quilts...

  6. Laughed right out loud at Sandy's comment. Love these quilts.

  7. Your state of Kansas had it's own shirtwaist dress and apron factories which had cut aways available. I have a dresden plate quilt from these fabrics.

  8. I love these quilts. So much more creative and exciting than anything I have seen lately produced here. Thanks for showing these, I wish I could see them in better detail.

  9. I like that too, "This is your brain on quilts."
    Scrappy nirvana for sure.
    I think they're amazing.