Monday, April 27, 2020

Fifties Style for Love of Quilting

Album quilt top dated 1953, Texas

I have a short article in the new issue of Fons & Porter's Love of Quilting magazine comparing quilt style in the past to quilt style "Then & Now." To celebrate their 20th anniversary this year we are going backwards in time. The May/June 2020 feature focuses on the 1950s.
"The 'Fifties Quilt' might be recalled as a low point in quilt history when enthusiasm for modern design, faith in industrial production and novel sewing machine technology combined to cast old-fashioned handwork into a dark age. Yet quilters soldiered on amid synthetic fabrics, clashing new shades and a fashion for large-scale prints rather unsuitable for precision patchwork."

You can buy the magazine at your quilt shop or order an online digital copy:

We do these short histories in two pages so I have lots of pictures that didn't fit. Here are photos of some quilts dated in the 1950s to give you an idea of the era.

One problem in working at the time was finding fabric suitable for patchwork.


The scale was too large and the color range too wide.

Each piece of fabric was a little composition in itself

Combining all those compositions into one whole was often a challenge


1957 for Mrs. Ball, a 3rd grade teacher

Dye technology improved to the point when mills could
produce any color and combine any colors into the same print.


The idea seems to have developed that any color went with any other color.

And more was better.

Probably not a bad idea.

Crossroads by Sujata Shah
An idea contemporary quiltmakers like Sujata Shah
have embraced.


  1. Thank you for showing some more fab 50s quilts! LOQ magazine reallyreallyreally needs to give you more space - 2 pages just isn't enough. As I was reading the article, I kept thinking of a saying I've seen quilters use about large prints, something to the effect that if you can't figure out what to use it with, or still don't like it, chop it up smaller. I was also thinking of many wonderful quilts in of late that use so many color and pattern combinations (like Sujata Shah's) I'd never think about looking only at the fabric. I think I need to be a bit more adventurous in my choices...

  2. Hey, Gail. I don't want to write any more than 2 pages. I'm supposed to be retired. But I'm glad you liked the article.

  3. I love the fabrics and quilts from this era. Many of them clash-y and blend-y at the same time. Talk about u conventional and unexpected, right? My friend has one made entirely of polyester double-knits. Gaudy, heavy, and super warm!

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