Really and truly, my worst nightmare as a designer would be to overhear someone say, “All of their stuff looks the same. When are they going to try something different?” Bill and I both felt, when we began Quilts Made Modern (to be released November 2010) we did not merely want to reproduce Modern Quilt Workshop, as much as we adore that book and for all of the success that we’ve had with it. We really wanted to get people to rethink their assumptions about modern quilts and certain associations with fabrics.
So I knew I was on the right path when I walked into a quilt shop and purchased a whole bunch of feedsack prints. “Is this for you?” asked the sales clerk who knew who I was and what kind of quilts we make. “Yes. It’s for a quilt that will appear in our next book,” I answered. “I’m surprised to see you buying this kind of old-fashioned fabric…” she said with a little disdain in her voice. “Bingo!” I thought. “Trust me. It won’t be Sunbonnet Sue,” I assured her. Not that there’s anything wrong with Sunbonnet Sue…(although I will admit to laughing when I see a “Death to Sunbonnet Sue” or “Bad Sue” quilt with Sunbonnet Sue engaging in questionable activities.)
The truth is that I love feedsack prints. They are so sweet and homey to me. I love the simplicity of the colorwork and most of all I love the history of them. I love that feed manufacturers used their packaging so smartly. Wouldn’t it be great if we could make nice clothes from the packaging that our food comes in?
Anyway, I wanted to make a modern quilt using as many feedsack prints as I could find that would work well together. The tricky thing, I think, about working with feedsack prints is that they all have lots of white in them so I decided that I’d introduce a soft red band as a graphic element which would unify all of the different colors of the various prints. Double Dutch is made from a compound, or two-block combination which lends itself really well to a scrappy quilt.
One of the other things we wanted to put in the book was a section on pieced backs. My friend Mary Beth is the queen of pieced backs and she shows up at our Quilters’ Exchange meetings with these unbelievably charming quilt backs that are as lovely as the fronts. (For more on pieced backs, see one of my very first Craft Nectar posts on Beautiful Backsides here. You’ll see the same cute handmade doll as well!) So we used some of the scraps leftover from the front and made a fun backing.
It’s a sweet quilt with the feedsack prints but this very-flexible pattern could easily be transformed into a boy’s quilt with a bunch of plaids or a very graphic quilt with a huge array of solids. It’s super fast to piece so it’s a great option for a bed-size quilt.
We actually shot this quilt in our guest room. We live in a classic 1914 Craftsman Bungalow so the almost 100 years of patina on the woodwork on the windows added to the homey feel we thought. I could also see it in a super modern, white interior though. The Chicago Tribune design critic once referred to our quilts as “Neo-Retro.” I can live with that.