The Beauty of Patchwork Quilts

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Thrifty and imaginative, practical and artistic.

That’s how I imagine the makers of vintage patchwork quilts, reusing scraps of clothing and other fabric to construct beautiful, scrappy patchwork quilts. The fabrics don’t match, the colors don’t “go”. But somehow it all works, resulting in cozy bits of practical textile art.

My new hobby seems to be finding old unfinished scrap quilts and finishing them.

This vintage Dresden Plate quilt top caught my eye in my local consignment store. The Dresden plate quilt requires some fancy cutting and sewing, so even though the colors and fabrics weren’t what I would have chosen, I snatched it up anyway. Unwittingly used a very dense quilting pattern around the “plates”, and it’s become quite a pretty little quilt.

I almost left this vintage Courthouse Steps quilt top at the shop. Hated the fabric that they chose as a border (not pictured here), which TOTALLY clashed with the rest of the quilt. However, LOVED the red center blocks and bold fabrics that made this quilt stand out from the usual vintage palette of whites and pastels. I could just see the little boys whose plaid shirts went into the makings of this quilt. Loved the random width pieces … obviously a scrap quilt of the highest scrappy order.

And today, I finished binding the latest quilt rescue, a bag of quilt blocks that my dad found in his local thrift shop. Interestingly, some of the blocks were hand-sewn, others machine pieced, making me wonder how many quilters these blocks had passed through.

Again, the use of many random fabrics of differing style, color, pattern and age. No discernible pattern, but stitched together with a white/yellow polka-dot backing fabric and a sunshine yellow custom-made binding. it looks like a million dollars. Or maybe fifty. :-)

Who needs matchy-matchy, perfectly coordinated accessories when you can surround yourself with color this fun?

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9 responses »

  1. My favorite consignment shop in the area is Tables to Teapots in West Acton. I try to stop by every weekend to see what’s new, but my current problem is that the rate of stuff coming into the house is being exceeded by stuff LEAVING the house.

    We have to apply a little correction, before we accumulate any more STUFF. :-)

  2. I went there last weekend, and found some really nice linens with fireman themes. I didn’t post on my blog for fear the receiver of the linens would see them. My friend bought a set of candy molds, I think they were Wilton, but they were cast iron, and HEAVY!

  3. Um, I think you have that the wrong way round…

    It should be the rate of stuff coming into the house is EXCEEDING THE RATE OF stuff leaving the house. :-)

  4. Wow! Love how you rescue and carefully hand finish all these thrift shop quilts. Though I do wonder what kind of people take these kinds of lovely heirlooms to thrift stores in the first place. Would love to see your version of a crumb quilt!

  5. I make all my quilts out of reclaimed fabric. I refuse to buy expensive new fabrics because that is not what quilting is all about. I gather my bits of fabrics from secondhand shops, charity shops and friends donate cotton clothes they have finished with. This is surely what quilting is all about, not buying designer fabrics and defeating the whole patchwork object. My quilts come out looking very much like yours and are much nicer and have a wonderful old, countrified feel about them – real heirlooms.

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