Quilt made from the Mountain Mist Sunflower pattern
Marie Webster's design for her Sunflower appeared in the
Ladies' Home Journal in 1912.
Mountain Mist began publishing a similar pattern in 1931, using Webster's solid colors and medallion format but further abstracting her naturalistic rendering of the plant.
As I noted in a recent post Marie Webster was an important influence on 20th century quilts but her ideas had to wait until the technology for dyeing solid color cottons caught up. It isn't until the late 1920s that we start to see more reliable and more diverse solid cottons. Soon we also see more applique in the Webster style. Many pattern companies and kit companies sold interpretations of her designs, defining the "thirties quilt."
In the decades before the innovative dyes, Webster and others encouraged quiltmakers to use lighter colored fabrics, particularly solids, but where would the customer get new shades?
Quilt dated 1911
In pencil it says
Quilt made by Grandma Robertson
Grandma may have been born when Monroe was President
but she knew what was fashionable in 1911.
Quilt dated 1912 and 1913
Chambray was one answer.
Chambray is a yarn-dyed fabric with a white warp and a colored weft.
The darker yarns crossing the white yarn appear to be paler, one way to get a color-fast pastel.
Chambray shirts today
The blue in this log cabin dated 1921 is a chambray. The pale peach is a solid and there is no way to know what color it once was. Solid pastels tended to fade. Chambrays held their color better.
See this quilt at Rocky Mountain Quilts:
Blue chambray quilt, this one from
Historic American Quilts' online catalog.
Another popular option: yarn-dyed stripes and plaids,
which held their color in the same way chambrays did.
Even if they fade chambrays and other yarn-dyed patterns tend to fade true to their original color rather than to a dun-colored tan, so they were a popular fabric in the teens and twenties. Not only functional but modern.
Quilt dated 1911-1912
They may not look so modern to us but
these were cutting edge 100 years ago.