Dear Quilts, you get a bad rap, but i like you.

I quilted my first quilt at 10, i think.  I remember going to the fabric store and picking out every single pink and blue calico that existed (if you aren’t familiar with calico its the printed cotton that has a lot of small scale patterns on them – used A LOT for quilting)  this stuff:

Not awesome, but can be adorable – especially for a 10 year old.  I wish i had the quilt to show you – its up in Portland and next time I go i’ll take a pic of this baby pink thing. I can’t wait to force it on my daughter.  She will like it, oh yes she will, just like she will play with the dollhouse,YES SHE WILL!!!!

What if i turn into some crazy crafting mommy dearest who martyrs herself constantly by making ‘MEANINGFUL’ things for my kids, only for them to want to play ‘World of Stupidcraft or god forbid sports - UGH, oh the horror…..(kidding)  It’s like some weird Martha Stewart version of Flowers in the Attic, where if they are good I let them out to go to Michaels and maybe on their birthday i take them to the fabric district to splurge on ball fringe to trim out their drapes that open to non-existent windows….otherwise they are forced to play with mommy’s pretty things she crafted for them.  

It’s kinda going in that direction i think.  

Anyway, I have a potential new client who has a BEAUTIFUL  modern farmhouse in L.A.  It’s an insanely awesome renovation job (yes i’ll show pics at some point soon) full of a ton of real reclaimed wood, hand-blown lighting, and just really, really good taste all around.  So i’m brainstorming for what would look appropriate in a farmhouse but feel really modern, fresh and young.  

ANd i love me some modern quilts (not so much the one above, but i love that too).  Now i think that quilts get a bad rap…much like dollhouses. People associate them with being really really granny, but they don’t have to be.  

I love the romance of them – the time and effort and love that goes into them, and how they really can last so long if done right.  They become pieces of art, just as much as functional blankets.  So here we go:


This was is a typical more ‘granny’ style quilt, but its styled to look pretty great in my book.  Here’s why i love using quilts as a piece of art -

1. they are handmade and have a ton of detail, like a piece of art. But,

2, they are kinda cheap because people discard them because they are ‘old’.  So as far as ‘art’ goes they are really good bang for your buck.  yes i just said ‘bang for your buck’.  deal with it. 

And 3. they can be used as upholstery for a custom headboard, ottoman, pillow or best as artwork.  

To prove this, i went on Etsy and Ebay and found a ton that are absolutely affordable as large scale pieces of art. And you don’t even have to frame them. You could build out a simple wood frame like i did with my flag, or just hang them on the wall with maybe some rope and bolts.

Alright here are a bunch that i now want to own:

This one is from Etsy, for $129.99  I’m VERY VERY tempted to get this because it is quite cheap, i only wish it was vintage:

I know.  This technique is called ‘Bargello’ and its refreshingly different.  Link HERE. 

Then there is this one, forget about it.  

Seriously? I love it and want it in my kids room (or the attic where i’ll keep them). Link, Here It’s $800, which isn’t nothing, obviously, but its really beautiful. C Collier, the etsy artist from Portland also did this one:

Right?

Then there is this one that is super cute, kinda  modern take on the traditional quilt, but feels  a little ‘kid’ to me, not quite right for my client.  But you can buy HERE.   It’s $150 and pretty big (3×4 feet).  So great for a kids room.

But then i love a traditional quilt like this one above.  It has to be styled right, in the right environment, but its undeniably beautiful – it just needs the right space.  But i’m looking for something with more age to it or else with less ‘calico’, more solids.  This feels a bit too ‘new trying to be old’ for this house.  

Now this one was made in 1860′s and it’s kind of ideal. It has some age and its 100% authentic, BUT it has a really modern color palette (just navy and ivory) and modern graphic.  It’s unfortunately a museum  piece so i can’t buy it, but its more what i’m looking for.

 This one is cute and modern, but again, not right for us.  

This one above is intense and awesome.  It’s MASSIVE and definitely not your grandma’s quilt.  I might be able to swing this.  It’s $1500, but it’s an 8×10 (well they listed it in centimeters which is annoying so i’m guestimating).  I LOVE this and so far the best fit.  Those colors are so saturated and it feels modern, but since its a quilt it could still work really well in this modern farmhouse.  See link here

This is undeniably adorable.  I mean, give me a kid right now and i’ll put this in their bedroom.  

Link Here. 

So here are some vintage ones from EBAY that i love:

 Picture grey walls, indigo accents and a modern brass mushroom lamp? Hello, beautiful.  Bid here.  

OOOH, and this one might be the winner:

It has a ton of age, the color palette is perfect and its really graphic so it feels modern even though its over 100 years old.  I will be bidding, so i’m not sharing the link. Lo siento.

And don’t forget these guys:

Always winners, but more predictable than a ‘quilt turned modern’.  I actually worked on this shoot, it was for Domino when i worked for Cindy DiPrima, shot by the master Roland Bello, in Dara Caponigro’s house.  How is something shot 6 years ago so timeless?

This one has more age to it, which i like.  

Then finally there are the ‘yo yo’ style quilts that i secretly love when done right and styled right:

 

I actually really like this for the right space, but how beautiful would this be if it was done as a gradient of colors, or if it was mainly one color with a contrasting color moving through it, fluidly.  Or even something as simple as all white with a huge graphic circle or rectangle or diamond in the middle that is navy or hot pink.  
This is the one i’m hoarding:
I got it at the rose bowl for $50 and it hangs on a rod, which i want to someday use in a doorway or behind a bed.  Its my crazy cat lady inside me, but it makes me happy. 
But this one is my all time favorite quilt that i’m hoarding, its the ‘pine cone’ method and its beautiful:
It will be framed in my apartment someday, but i need the wall space first.  It has a lot of satin in it, so its really reflective in a good way, too.  
So can you guys get on board with the right quilts? Do you have any all hoarded away waiting for the right space for them? Wanna sell them to me? 

 

 

  1. Jessi

    Yes yes and yes! I love quilts too! Got one on my guest bed right now. There are a ton of vintage quilts floating around in my family, and I switch around every now and then when my moods change. My favorite is a tattered red americana looking one in a bowtie pattern that is so old and worn it doesn't have that stiff quilt-like body anymore…it's soft almost like a sheet. Love to snuggle in it on the couch. Also, I'm hoarding a small Dutch Doll quilt from God knows when for my future baby's crib. It will launch the whole nursery color scheme and style…. vintagey pale yellows, pinks, purples and green. I better have a girl is all I'm saying. And that massive ROYGBIV quilt is AMAZING!

  2. Love that you posted about quilts! I'm a huge modern quilt fan and did you know that there are even Modern Quilting Guilds? I go to the one in Portland, and it's amazing as everything you know in pdx is! ;) I'm glad to know that you love quilts too! They do get such a bad rap, when I tell people I quilt, I feel like I have to justify it and show them how cool it can be! :)

  3. Debby

    When do you have to have the quilt done for your client? I am volunteering my quilting services, you pay for the fabric (and if you come to Phoenix I'll go shopping with you), pick a pattern, I will do all assembly and sewing, then my mom can do the long arm quilting on it (she has one of those $15,000 long arming bad boys). I can do a version of that colorful $1500 quilt, but I can do it for probably 1/5 of the price- only because you will have to pay for batting and backing (but I can get my mom to do the long arming for free). Email me if you would like to see some pictures of my work. I have been so averse to calling myself a quilter because I didn't want anyone to think I was some 65 year old calico using granny. I tend toward Amy Butler type fabric, and do those fresh, modern quilts. And, when you are in the market, I also do baby clothes and t-shirt quilts, which you can see on Etsy…

    Debby

  4. Casey

    What about Denyse Schmidt quilts? I adore her work:

  5. casey

    I love quilts and grew up with them. My mom is a quilter, even has her own blog (at 60+) and does a lot of modern type art quilts. The bees in her ring all call it Textile Art instead of quilting. She may even be up for doing a custom quilt for you. http://www.fiberliscious.blogspot.com/

  6. Kayt

    I love quilts! I'm currently debating whether I'm talented or brave enough to make my own king sized chevron quilt. I want one so bad, and I love crafting.

  7. I love quilts!!! Maybe it is because we grew up in that same small town of crafty women constantly making things for us to play with!? Ha! I've recent;y been tempted to retire the vintage quilt on my bed for a more fluffy modern comforter, but i;m sure I wont. :)

  8. Woohoo, thanks for the quilt love! I'm a fanatic, die-hard quilter and have been for years. There are so many old quilts that are stunning and inspirational. Glad to see other folks pointing out the whole Modern Quilt Guild. Lots of quilters out there making fabulous quilts that would look great in any setting. definitely lots of great one pinned in Pinterest!

  9. Kit

    Since I'm a quilter (of contemporary quilts and textile art) I can TOTALLY get down with quilts. ;) And there are people (don't know who those people might be) who would totally work with you to make you a quilt to your specification!

  10. Yes, with the right quilts I can get on board. Its taken some time for me to not think of them as granny, that is fo sho. But I've found a couple really modern patterns that I might be making for my daughter's room, large pieces with very geometric prints.

  11. Carolyn

    About 15 years ago, my grandmother made a GORGEOUS yo-yo quilt. I thought it was really cool (still do), and it ended up being gifted to me….I just never knew how to make it look cool in a room design. And so, it still sits folded up in a closet at my parent's house….maybe it is time to take it and see what I can do with it!

  12. Trista

    Totally mixed on quilts. Not because of their look, but because I've never had one that cuddled well. I like a lot of the one's you've shown.

    On another note…the movie "Flowers in the Attic" completely freaked me out the first time I saw it. I still don't like frosting or sugar coated cookies, because of that movie.

  13. Lydia

    I'm enamored with modern quilts – both making them and reading all about them on the internet. Flickr is my go-to source for great quilt images. There are so many younger women getting into quilting and putting their own design aesthetics into the making of them. Not all quilts are your old-lady quilts anymore!

  14. Donna

    I have a number of special quilts I display in my Grandparents china cabinet. I have one my Grandma made when I was a little girl, one my Aunt Ruth made when I got married (she used pieces from the dresses my sister and I wore growing up), and a quilt made by my Grandma in 1910 with her name on it……so, so special!!!!!!

  15. Cathy

    Oh my word, I knew your taste spoke to me and now I recognize a picture from a magazine I have kept for years because it spoke to me. Fourth photo from the bottom (iron steel bed, gray tones, mattress ticking on the walls, pink magenta and gold tones on the quilt. It is so fun for me to check your blog. I have not circled my wagons enough to work on the doll house. Please keep posting the inspirational pictures. Hope you have a book percolating. Happiest of thoughts.

  16. Lauren

    My grandmother decided that when she last downsized homes after my grandfather passed away that she wanted all of the family to come over to take everything she wanted to pass on She wanted to know who was getting what instead of waiting until she died (she is honestly hysterically controlling, but totally in a good way). She made notes of who gave/made what for Everything so we all knew the history of each piece. I came away from that day with a few of the coolest quilts. Cool mostly because they were all made by my grandfather's aunt, and so having that family history means so much to me. I love having them stacked up in my living room in a pretty, folded pile, and now that we almost into November in NYC, they will return to my snuggle-up-on-the-couch-with-the-dog routine most nights. My mission this winter (once it's cold and I can no longer use power tools and paint furniture on our terrace) is to teach myself how to quilt!

  17. Jolene

    Just wanted to point out that if you were serious about the $1500 rainbow quilt, you could commission one like it for a lot less money, just guessing… Love that you're highlighting quilts. It's something that I've been exposed to since the beginning of my existence, and how can you not appreciate a great quilt? My mom made us a bargello quilt for our wedding – it's still on my bed, 15 years later.

  18. max

    The pine cone quilt has such a lovely warm, worn quality, it reminds me of those beautiful old braided/rag rugs. We have an antique Tivaevae, an appliqued quilt from Cook Islands, which even though it's in pink and blue looks summery rather than childish. I'm planning on making a mini yoyo quilt for my doll house, if it works out I might have to have a go at a maxi version…

  19. Erin

    I love old quilts…passed up a red and white one (in the same "double irish chain" pattern as the one you're bidding on) a few months ago because even though it was only $100, it was only a twin size. But later I realized it would be perfect as an extra blanket, or layered on the end of a bed…

    Alas, when I went back for it, it was gone. Won't make the same mistake again!

  20. Wow – I've become the mother you described who makes precious hand-crafted objects for her child to only have them discarded. But who are we kidding, making fun crafts for children is just an excuse to make fun crafts for ourselves.

  21. Rick James

    "I mean, give me a kid right now and i'll put this in their bedroom."

    Seriously? I mean…Won't your husband be upset? OK then, brace yourself.

    j/k

  22. Kit Anderson

    have you heard of the quilts of Gee's Bend. So beautiful and with a great story.

  23. I love quilts! Two days ago on Etsy, I started listing quilt blocks. Someone messaged me before I even got to the third listing that they wanted ALL the blocks – over 230 – to make a quilt with.

    Friday I'm listing more blocks. The blocks are wonderful to use for so many things.

    I love vintage, farm, country, primitive…

    You should drop by my Etsy shop http://www.theoldblockhouse.blogspot.com and give a look around. If you're looking for farmhouse, we've got tons. If you don't see what you want, just shoot me a message (theoldblockhouse@hotmail.com) and I can find it.

  24. mika

    emily, i love love love this post! my grandma is a quilter and when we were kids she made each of us a couple of quilts of our own… i got to choose the fabric and pattern for my full size one when i was in high school, so it has a lot of purple and royal blue japanese style prints with a fan pattern (i've done japanese dance almost all my life). i have another i made in middle school and still love….as basic as it is and even though i chose the fabrics when i was like 13. anyway, i've always loved my quilts and in college, my friends loved hanging out in my room mainly because they said it felt so comfortable and home-like which i attribute to my quilts and massive amounts of pictures of friends and family on the walls. someday, i would love to make another quilt or maybe many… and like you, i somewhat fear (?) becoming a crazy mom who only makes "meaningful" gifts for her children….kidding…sort of… :)

    ps. this post reminds me of a post on the Anthology blog a while ago full of gorgeous quilts http://anthologymag.com/blog3/2011/01/10/the-season-for-quilts/

  25. There's is NOTHING like curlin' up under a warm quilt (granny or otherwise) on a freezin' cold day with a thick book…

  26. kt

    Have you seen Siddi quilts? I saw an exhibit of them and they are *stunning* in a very non-granny way. Love all the bright colors and the fact that the fabric is recycled from old saris (tres eco).

    Do a Google image search:
    http://tinyurl.com/43a3jyn

  27. I'm curled up in a quilt that was a gift from my mother-in-law who made it- there is just something about a quilt that is so comforting and homey.

  28. I really love quilts – both beautiful and warm! I would love a new take on one and really like some of your more modern inspired ones above! Maybe if you get back into quilt making I'll buy one off you :)

  29. Lila

    I LOVE quilts as well. I finally finished my first one! I'm hoping to post pictures soon. It has been a long time coming!

  30. My mom quilts; nothing feels more homey than quilts everywhere! My tastes tend much more modern than hers, so I'll never have as many around as she does, but she loves making them, and has them hanging in several rooms, gracing every bed and several sofas. She made my husband and I a gorgeous queen-size quilt for our wedding, and I love it. It's not quite as modern as something I could buy, but it is so much more beautiful and personal. I love that quilt. Besides, in a few years, I'll talk her into making me a more modern one :-)

  31. Mary

    just so happens I have a blue and white antique quilt in a similar pattern, as well as several other simple designs. let me know if you don't win the bid. and i also make art quilts if you are in the market for large floral pictorials, as well as geometrics

  32. Emily,
    You need to check out Haptic Lab out of Brooklyn. The artist, Emily Fischer makes these amazing quilts that are maps of different cities. info@hapticlab.com

  33. KatyB

    The oh so predictable pendulum was bound to swing back one day. I think we are going to see even more "country" in time. We have already seen a return of floral chintz, handmade ethnic textiles (not far from good old native textiles…aka quilts), and worn chippy finishes.
    I am thinking Regency will soon be dead. Oh sad day. But, in a really messed up way… I am ready to say goodbye. I can hang with the pendulum as long as he doesn't swing some floral wreaths and indoor birdhouses my way.
    This brings me to a question I have been wondering about for awhile…what will be the new big thing? Scandinavian design is growing, but it too might have already peaked. Any predictions? My ever angonizing, ever redecorating, heart would love to know.

  34. amyks

    Love quilts!!! my favorite of the ones you posted is the "pine cone" quilt, I love that one, no "granny" in that one at all. It is gorgeous!

  35. Totally on board with the quilty love! My faves are the old Southern "slave quilts" and story quilts which are frickin gorgeous and so full of everything historical. For my own house I'm sort of lusting over simple one-color-plus-white ones. There was a show in NYC recently featuring one person's crazy-huge red and white quilt collection. You can see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ty_XgIbH1hQ

  36. Love this post.
    And first I have to say that I worked with Roland Bellow for a spell back in his Real Simple days before he took the leap and went pro with his photography, and now I always love seeing his work out in the world, not just because it's so good, but also because I know he's living his dream. (Okay, that sounds like I am quoting Tangled.) But true.

    Also, I am a big fan of quilts. I occasionally do a "Living with heirlooms" thing on my blog, and it was really fun to round up more modern versions and then do some design boards built around quilts, going simple and modern in one and maximalist in another. They are so much more versatile than people think.

    Rock on.

    Heather

  37. ooh, so timely. I am just starting to make a quilt for our bed! It's going to be mainly shades of grey (solids & patterns) with a pop here and there of pool blue, yellow and peacock blue. And I'm going to embroider on a few of the squares just to make it more personal…I've never attempted such a feat before ;)

  38. Love this post! Your pinecone style quilt is gorgeous, but I think my favorites were the ones by ccollier on etsy. Whoa beautiful! I recently bought an antique table cloth that is handwoven and has a very quilt-y feel to it. It is soft pink and cream and I love it. And I am that weird girl that after a few months decided to flip it onto its wrong side so more of the pink threads would show. So it's inverted and a little odd looking but not a single person has said, "Hey is that tablecloth upside down?" :)

  39. Holly G

    I actually love them. I have one on my bed right now that is a dark pink and red. Somewhat sentimental as my great grandmother made it but totally cute.

  40. HEY I MAKE QUILTS! I DO! I DO! and i am wicked excited that someone is acknowledging that us quilters are not all amish style old ladies with no electricity! i am a modern quilter, in love with color! those were some great quilts, a wide variety of styles… check out my etsy store… i can also make anything anyone wants, baby, big, whatevs!

    etsy.com/shop/ashkyt

    QUILTS!!!!!!!!

    ashley

  41. When I was 10 or so, I had a conversation with my dad in which he casually mentioned that he wouldugg boots sale almost certainly not live past 70, because his dad didn’t and most of the men in his family seemed to succumb to something or other at around that age. The women of his line all lived until 100, even while their spines crumbled and their brains turned to custard, but the men (who were probably like my dad—amiable, didn’t want to be a bother to anyone) up and died at relatively early ages. At the time of this conversation, I was none too pleased at this news, but at the same time I thought, well, 70 is cheap ugg bootsexceedingly old, after all, and by then it will be The Future, and we’ll all be living on the moon. And then I wandered off to play with my Atari 2600 or whatever the hell I was doing at 10.

  42. Thanks so much for doing a post on quilts! I am a quilt artist (working on my second book currently). Quilts are art whether they are on beds or on a wall. You are awesome!

  43. We are a fan of anything that can use this much color in one location! All of these quits are absolutely stunning.

  44. So glad you love quilts! For fantastic modern quilts, you should check out Barbara Perrino on Etsy (http://www.etsy.com/shop/bperrino) – no relationship, just a huge fan. I'm a modern quilter and I love her work. If you'd like to see some of my work, I'm also on Etsy as EschHouseQuilts.

  45. Commissioning someone to copy another artists' work just feels wrong, wrong, wrong to me. "Hey, I can paint you that Picasso for $50!" Really?

    The original artist was from the Netherlands. I've been to Europe, and fabric there is about $40/yard if you do the conversion. By extension, I'm estimating that the fabric for a quilt that size cost probably upwards of $800. Relatively speaking, charging $1500 for something that cost you $800 in materials alone isn't that out of the realm of possibility.

    But mostly, I think we shouldn't devalue artists because we think we can do what they do for cheaper.

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