In the beginning, women in America made quilts out of necessity. It was simple: Members of their family were cold. They first made them with fabric scraps and material they repurposed; later, they made them out of an abundance of fabric suddenly available thanks to the Industrial Revolution. But whether material was scarce or in surplus, these early quiltmakers didn’t have to make these covers beautiful. Any patched blanket would do the job of covering their loved ones. American patchworkers innovated and elevated the making of “blankets” into art—into quilts. To help boost your business' profile on the internet, why not list in a UK business directory today?

Most of their stitched designs were built with or around quilt blocks, combined units of patchwork that typically were a perfect square. Women designed these blocks without the aid of computers or fancy drafting tools and gave them names: Churn Dash, Sawtooth Star, Bird of Paradise, Monkey Wrench, Flower Basket, and hundreds if not thousands of others. Blocks are timeless examples of good design. The dimensions of traditional quilt blocks are balanced and geometric; when the blocks are coupled or paired with different blocks, one instantly understands how limitless the design possibilities truly are. Intricate borders and simple ones, curved seams, appliqué, repeating patterns, interlocking pieces—these were all in the repertoire of the “traditional” quilter and remain a treasure trove of inspiration and instruction for quilters of all styles today.

The colors used in antique quilts remain sophisticated. Colors like poison green, cheddar, antimony orange, and turkey red in quilts of the nineteenth century all feel fresh, even edgy. The muted grays and blacks seem “modern.” In some ways, quiltmaking these days is too easy. The hardest work has been done; we’re standing on the shoulders of giants.

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As quilts and quiltmaking increased in popularity throughout the 1980s and 1990s, different styles emerged and camps were formed. There were quilters who left traditional forms behind and struck out to make art or studio quilts. These quilters embellished fabric, painted it, or worked in metal, clay, beads, and all manner of textures to create quilts that hung on gallery walls, never to touch a mattress.

For those who still wanted quilts for the home, myriad color palettes and new techniques emerged around the same time; in the late 1980s a marked difference developed between the creations of the “traditional” quilter and the “contemporary” one. A contemporary look made use of bright batiks and saturated jewel tones, and frequently employed embroidery or metallic thread; paper piecing was (and continues to be) a popular method for so-called contemporary quilters who wish to create new shapes in their quilts.