Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Going out on a limb

Have you seen the adorable spring Bonpoint childrenswear collection? I just love the smocking and the sweet, delicate calico-type prints they're using. Jacadi also has some cute prints in their spring line, but I can't find any photos on the website. Here are a few similar prints that I found on the equilter site:

(In the textile business the first three prints are called ditsy prints and the last three are called scatter prints, just because of the way the flowers are arranged on the fabric. Just a little side note for anyone who wants to know the terminology...)

Do you remember back in the 1970s when calicos were all the rage in quilting? I think those calicos are, in large part, why so many quilting fabric trends frighten me: so often, you can date a quilt by the prints that are used in it. I find myself steering far clear of the batiks and the Japanese prints right now because they scream "quilt trend" at me. Not that all quilt trends are necessarily bad or entirely avoidable, but if you're going to make a quilt, you probably don't want someone to look at it and say, "Oh, you made that quilt in 1984," right? Chances are, you'll be really tired of that quilt in a few years. And after all that work, it would be nice if you continued to enjoy your quilt for many, many years instead.

Anyway, I've been thinking lately that it's probably about time for the calicos to come back into quilting vogue. They feel fresh and clean again, and if they're mixed with some crisp yarn-dye stripes and cheerful polka dots they could be really pretty. How about a really clear, happy pastel palette like the creamsicle orange, raspberry pink, and lawn green in the last print above, adding lots of antique white, and doing a classic patchwork pattern like stars or pinwheels? I'd love to see a quilt like that finished with tying instead of stitching. I love tied quilts; they feel so antique.

Clearly, I've got quilting on my mind these days. Purl Patchwork opened today, and I will be visiting it tomorrow because I can't wait to see what fabrics they'll be carrying. I promise to report back, hopefully with photos. And maybe with a few fabric cuttings, if I just can't help myself.


  1. I envy your fabric knowledge! I just choose things I like the look of - I don't know an antique white from a yarn dyed stripe. Hopeless! I am your willing student.

    But I'll share something I learned about tying quilts reading the Modern Quilt Workshop. Now I've always tied my quilts - I like the look but also, to be honest, I don't really know about proper quilting and I'm sure my low rent machine couldn't handle anything complicated even if I could. But the authors make the point that tied quilts are not very durable - the holes around the ties wear and get bigger, leading the batting to beard and holes to form. They give an appropriately heartbreaking story about trying to restore a worn tied quilt from someone's childhood that made me think I might leave tying for strictly decorative endeavors. And since I only really make quilts that I intend to be used I guess that means I tie no more and I need to learn how to machine quilt and fast!

    But perhaps I could do both? Machine quilt for durability and tie for decoration?

  2. Hi Suzie. I was thinking about the tying/stitching thing last night when I got into bed. I've never seen a quilt that had both, but it might be really pretty. Perhaps someone with more experience can tell us if it's ever done.

    Also, I meant to say in my post that I think a lot of the Bonpoint fabrics are Liberty prints, which are all amazingly pretty and the fabric is terrific quality.

  3. Those fabrics you posted are so fresh and springy - I just love them. I never seem to find things like that when I'm shopping around. Everything to me looks too harsh, dated, or just plain stupid.

    I'm in the process of making my first quilt - baby sized. After machine quilting it I wished that I had tied it (I used random 5" squares), but maybe machine quilting it was a good idea since I plan to get a lot of use out if it?

  4. I love your blog! It was so wonderful to have you at Purl Patchwork today... I'm glad you seemed to enjoy it! I can't believe we're finally open - whew!

    ps. We will be putting our fabrics on our website, but not immediately. We're hoping to get it going over the summer.