Thursday, August 22, 2013

Scale in Vintage Quilts

A change in scale makes a quilt look quite modern,
as in this early 20th-century four-block quilt.

Four Blocks have a lot of modern appeal.  The relative size of the blocks to the composition looks quite fresh.

Here's another out-of-scale quilt
with wonderful effect. A crazy quilt from
about 1930 in the collection of Jan Masenthin.

The bright colors, the solid fabrics (cotton sateen)
make it look modern but so does the relative scale of the pieces
to the whole composition.
Many crazy quilts are full of small patterned pieces,
far more romantic than modern.

from the Kentucky Museum collection

Potted Strawberries?
End of the 19th century?

It must be the contrast between fussy and plain that makes
this mid-20th-century quilt look modern in scale.

Here it's the contrast in image to the scale of the block,
to say nothing of the high-contrast plain fabrics.

This mid-19th century applique
 has an impressive scale, possibly again the size of the image
filling out the block, but also the unusual abstraction..

This quilt was shown at the Bush House Museum in Oregon.

Those giant tulip-shaped florals
can make for perfect compositions.
This one was the cover quilt on the Georgia Quilt Project book.

Sometimes the scale is only visible with
a figure in the photo to show how big it actually is.

There's just something about a lot of solid color
that looks big.
Ruby McKim's Pansy pattern
from about 1930.

Here's one from eBay recently.
Someone following her own muse?


  1. The third quilt is really speaking to me! :)

  2. LeeAnn (Nifty Quilts) successfully reinterpreted the Georgian giant tulip quilt.
    I love tulips in quilts, their shape matches both modern and ancient flairs!

  3. Do you happen to have any information about the date or origin of the pattern for the "tulip" quilt with the green sashing, 4th image from the bottom? The block is a duplicate of a family quilt about which little is known and the identity of the maker in dispute.

  4. That large-scale tulip block was a popular pattern from 1880-1930. There are two similar designs in my Encyclopedia of Applique, both from the book North Carolina Quilts (#28.33 and 28.34). Commercial pattern sources published numerous similar patterns with the tulips at an angle or straight, all pieced, all appliqued or a combination. The simplicity of the design appealed to seamstresses who didn't have the skills their mothers did and there is something modern about the look.