Tracking Today’s Trends in Quiltmaking, Part 2

This is Part 2 of  a Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning program give by Jean Ann Wright at The Textile Museum here in Washington, D.C.  on June 27, 2009  on the subject of “Tracking Today’s Trends in Quiltmaking.”

The program began with comments by Ms. Wright on a number of projected quilt images.  If you have not seen Part 1, it is located at the link below:

I had the advantage of attending this program and working on this virtual version of it with Dottie Reed, a friend and former work colleague, who is herself and experienced and active quilter.

So Part 1 includes, not only Ms. Wright’s descriptions of her projected quilts, but some elaborations and asides  by Dottie about some aspects of quilting.

The first quilt that Ms. Wright had brought “in the fabric” was the one below.


Brought in Quilt 1

No comment on Brought in Quilt 1.

Closer detail images of the pieces in the room were possible.  Here are those taken for Brought in Quilt 1.





The next piece was Brought in Quilt 2 below.


Brought in Quilt 2

No comments on Brought in Quilt 2.

Detail images of Brought in Quilt 2 follow.




The next piece shown was Brought in Quilt 3, below.


Brought in Quilt 3

No comments on Brought in Quilt 3.

Here are some closer detail images of this quilt.



The image below is of a corner of the back of Brought in Quilt 3.


The next piece was Brought in Quilt 4.


Brought in Quilt 4

No comment on Brought in Quilt 4.

Here, below, are some closer detail images of parts of Brought in Quilt 4.





Brought in Quilt 5

No comment on Brought in Quilt 5.

Here, below, are some closer details of parts of Brought in Quilt 5.



Again, below is a corner of the back of Brought in Quilt 5.



Bought in Quilt 6

No comment on Brought in Quilt 6.

Below are closer detail images of Brought in Quilt 6.



Here is the back of Brought in Quilt 6.


And here, below, is a closer detail of part of this same back.



Brought in Quilt 7

No comment on Brought in Quilt 7.

Detail images of Brought in Quilt 7.






Brought in Quilt 8

No comment on Brought in Quilt 8.

Detail images of Brought in Quilt 8.






Brought in Quilt 9

N0 comment on Brought in Quilt 9.

Details of Brought in Quilt 9 below.




Here, below, is the back of Brought in Quilt 9.


And, below, again is a closer detail of that back.



Brought in Quilt 10

No comment on Brought in Quilt 10.

Below are detail images of Brought in Quilt 10.





Below is the back of Brought in Quilt 10.


Here, below, is a closer detail of this back.



Brought in Quilt 11

No comment on Brought in Quilt 11.

Details on Brought in Quilt 11.




Below is the back of Brought in Quilt 11.


And, again, below, is a closer detail of that back.



Brought in Quilt 12

No comment on Brought in Quilt 12.


Brought in Quilt 13

No comment on Brought in Quilt 13.

Details on Brought in Quilt 13.




Brought in Quilt 15

No comment on Brought in Quilt 15.

Detail images on Brought in Quilt 15



The image below is a slightly turned corner of the back of Brought in Quilt 15.



Brought in Quilt 16

No comment on Brought in Quilt 16.

Detail images of Brought in Quilt 16.




Brought in Quilt 17

No comment on Brought in Quilt 17.

Detail images on Brought in Quilt 17.




The next items shown focused on pieces I had brought.  I mostly collect oriental rugs and textiles, but have a few “quilts.”

The first of these is the “penny rug” or “quilt” below.


Brought in Quilt 18

This piece was constructed by cutting pieces of felt in circles (the “pennies”) of three sized and then sewing them one on top of another to create the “stepped” circular forms in the field of this piece.  These “pennies” were then sewn onto a ground color in ways that follow particular color usages.  This particular penny quilt has red “tongue” forms (there are “tongue” rugs with tongue forms in their field) sharpened with black edges and applied to the edges of the field to create a dramatic effect.  We do not know the age of my “penny quilt,” but its usages suggest that it was made in New England.

I have previously published this penny quilt on the internet  and some folks have sometimes contacted me about it.  One of of these was a California quilter, one Jeri Pollock, who asked me if she could use my penny quilt as her inspiration on a variation she was going to do for a “challenge” event her quilting group was holding.  She needed my agreement because the inspiration sources and the results of the “challenge” would be published in a catalog.

I agreed and a few months passed.  Then one day the challenge catalog appeared in the mail.

Metamorposis Catalog Cover

So I had brought it to this event and opened it to the appropriate page and placed it next to my inspiring penny quilt.


Here is a scan of the relevant page so that you can read Ms. Pollock’s strategy and assess the results.


I was not familiar with the “challenge” device, but Dottie Reed explained to me that it is a familiar one used by quilting groups to stimulate creativity.

Jerri Pollock has sent along a second catalog with the results of a different challenge, this one based on instances of “urban decay.”  Here is that catalog cover.



There are a number of interesting quilts in this catalog inspired by this challenge theme, but both Dottie and I were particularly taken with this one.



The use of scale in this quilt is remarkable.

We have included comment here about the challenge device because it seems likely another way that one could track the “trends” that are going on in quilting nowadays.  What interests and preoccupations are visible in the various kinds of quilting challenges being mounted?

A second piece I had brought was a doll’s quilt done in the more tradition quilt making mode.


Brought in Quilt 19.

This little quilt has a version of the traditional “nine-patch” design we referred to earlier.

Here is a closer detail of once corner.


The challenge catalogs sent by Jeri Pollock contain several quilts that took the “nine-patch” device as their inspiration.

The “quilt-ness” of the third piece I brought might be questioned.  It is a small piece described as a “yo-yo”.


Brought in “Quilt” 20

This piece does not have the three layers that proper quilts are said to have.  Instead, circles of cloth of various color and designs are cut.  The each circle is gathered and sewn together on one face to create a textured surface on that side.  Then these textured piece are sewn together edge to edge to create textiles of various sizes.

Yo-yos are made in a wide variety of sizes.  Some as large as bed spreads (the sewn circles on such pieces are larger too).  And they are still be made with some frequency.  What charms me about this one is its fresh colors, its diminutive size (11 x 15 inches) and the invisible sewing that connects its elements at their edges.

Yo-yos seem to be seen, by at least some quilters, as worthy of their attention since (again in the Jerry Pollock-provided challenge catalogs) several pieces took yo-yos as their inspiration.

A third piece I brought looked like a quilt, had stitching, but lacked one element: the batting.


Brought in Quilt 21

This piece is even smaller (at 8″ X 6.5″) than the yo-yo.  It is another doll quilt.

It is an example of the use of a “cheater” to create the design for the entire face side of a quilt.  In this case all of the school houses in its field of this doll’s quilt and its three layer of simple border devices are printed, not pieced together or appliqued onto a background material.

Here is a look at its back.



There is a backing level distinctive from the front.

A closer detail of this back.


The hand stitching was estimated by the quilters to be quite fine.

Perhaps it was too little to pick on, because the quilters in the room seemed willing to accept this humble piece as a quilt.


Note 4 for the VERY interested.

Dottie Reed wrote a little more about “cheater” quilts.  First, she was kind about mine above, saying that “it has fine stitching…appears to be antique…” and for that might be “valuable.”

She said that “cheater” quilts have their place in the quilting world because they are used by many people, but there is absolutely nothing original or creative about them.

So, except for the except for the historical or emotional significance they might have, they have no real value other than the cost of the materials.

Cheater material is very cheap to buy, usually about $3-4 per yard, where as good quilting material runs about $10 per yard.

As we have noted above, “cheater quilts” are made from printed fabric “panels.”  The design on the panel may be that of a completed patchwork (pieced) quilt side (such as the “log cabin” design on mine above).

Dottie: “…The patchwork design seems to be most common in panels for doll quilts, and I’ve seen panels with little matching pillows.  Cheater baby quilts come in receiving blanket and crib sizes are printed with all sorts of cute “baby” designs.  I’ve seen a Noah’s ark theme, police and fireman designs, Sunbonnet Sue or Sam (sometimes both), angels, fairies, etc.  Depending on the size of the panel it may also include enough fabric for a matching back, decorated with the same or another print, or with a solid color.”

“In addition to saving the time it takes to cut and piece the fabric together or to design, cut, and applique a quilt top, the cheater quilt is less expensive to make, as it takes less fabric.  Your little doll quilt above probably took 1-2 hours to make by hand (it would have taken less than 30 minutes by machine). But it would have taken several hours (I’m guessing 6-8) to cut all the tiny pieces for the little houses, to either machine sew them together as a patchwork quilt, or to applique them and then to quilt it.”

“Some people like to make miniature quilts, but I find that, for me, its a lot harder to work with patchwork pieces that small (although I wouldn’t have trouble appliqueing pieces of that size).  A receiving blanket from a cheater panel would take 1-2 hours to machine quilt, whereas it would take 4-7 hours to piece a patchwork top and machine quilt it, and several days to make an applique top.  A crib size will take about 6 hours to machine quilt.”

“[Note:  Some batting is held together with machine stitching placed up to 4-6 inches apart, but they look saggy – sloppy – especially after washing and I think (as many quilters do) that the end result is a waste.  Traditional quilting is stitching 1 inch or less apart.  It appears a lot nicer, and looks “new” after many washings.]”

“Cheater panels for pillows come with designs that someone like me might like to use to decorate their home.  I have 4 pillows on my couch – the panel came with 4 different cat pictures, so I could make 2 or 4 pillows depending on whether I wanted to buy  additional backing fabric.  Cheater panels also exist for ‘rag’ -fabric – dolls, stuffed toys, aprons, vests, etc.”


A fourth piece I had brought was an interesting application of the quilt.


It is a quilted post card that Dottie Reed had made and sent to me.

Here is a closer look at its front.


Brought in Quilt 22

And here is the back with its message and stamp.


It was remarkable to me that this pretty little thing came successfully through the mail.  No one “stole” it.  Dottie says that they are great fun to make and send and that they go through without mishap.

Ms. Williams said that there are kits available that let you make quilted cards, but Dottie’s are made, individually, without recourse to that.

The next brought in piece was one by one of Ms. Wright’s friends.


I think this is likely Debby Kratovil from the quilt design team group.

Here is the first quilt she had brought.


Brought in Quilt 23

No comment on Brought in Quilt 23

Detail images on Brought in Quilt 23.



Here is the back of this piece.


And below is a detail of this back.


This same lady had brought, and perhaps made, the next quilt, which was the last of this “quilt morning.”



Here are some closer details of this piece.



Ms. Wright answered questions


and the program was adjourned.

Dottie Reed and I want to thank Ms. Wright for permitting us to produce this virtual version of her interesting “quilt trends” program.  And I thank Dottie for her very considerable assistance throughout.


Dottie Reed and John Howe

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