Palette Parade: Red and White

This is cheating.  Does one color plus white really equal a palette?  I don’t know, but I have always loved the classic red and white quilts, so I’m giving myself a pass.

image source:

What I love is that, a red and white quilt made 100 years ago looks just as fresh as one made this year- and it’s often hard to tell from photos if a red and white quilt is old or new.

Did you hear about the fabulous exhibit of red and white quilts that the American Folk Art Museum put on in NYC back in 2011?  These 650 quilts are all from the collection of Joanna Rose and, if I remember correctly, the exhibition was a gift from her husband to celebrate a milestone birthday, and was made free to the public.

I wish I could have seen that.  I’m sure it was a once in a lifetime chance.

At the PA National Quilt Extravaganza (held outside of Philadelphia) last year, there was an exhibit of small quilts inspired by the exhibit in New York.  I photographed a lot of them.  I don’t have info on the makers of all these, but they are all from members of the Olde Kent Quilters Repro Bee of Chestertown, MD.

(Many more red and white minis on my Flickr Page)

I have always wanted to own a solid red and white quilt, but I wasn’t sure I would have the patience to make it. I tend to get bored making the same block over and over.  Now as I am getting older I think maybe I would be able to do it.

Like the process might actually be soothing instead of mind-numbing.  I could keep it around for a while and work on it any time I wanted to sew, but not wanted to think.  That’s most nights these days, after the wild things are all tucked away 🙂

Lately I have been seeking out blocks like this one:

It seems so simple, but you can build up complex patterns by spinning them different ways as you assemble the quilt.  I think it would help to keep the construction process interesting, because as you complete more and more blocks, there is the fun of putting them together in different directions to see what patterns you can get.


Which layout do you like?  I’m partial to 2 and 3, myself.  2 especially, because I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.

10 thoughts on “Palette Parade: Red and White

  1. Ah, I LOVE these quilts! The red and white combo has always had this homey, comforting, and warm feeling for me. What a spectacular display that is of the exhibit! And the mini-quilts are so cute.

    As always, I find it difficult to make a decision on which of the designs is my favourite, because I like them all, but I think 2 is my favourite because of its wavy, relaxed pattern. And of course I always love in quilts the fact that you can focus your eyes on one feature and see the entire quilt differently than when you focus on something else. I love seeing the wavy lines of this one, but you can also see it as raised squares.

    My second favourite I think is 4, because I love the “growing diamond” shapes, and the fact that you can focus on the red ones or the white ones. I really do like the 3rd one as well.

  2. I like 2 and 4 best–because they are the least typical, and because you can see them so many different ways, depending on where you focus, which I have always loved. 2 could be almost disturbing to look at though, at least at first, until your eye finds the patterns, because when you first look at it, it seems kind of jagged and it makes you struggle to make sense of it. But there is a regularity there, and once you find it, it is more relaxing. I like 4 because it’s traditional, yet different–almost ‘echo-ey’, or something like that–again, depending on how you focus. Love designs like that, it can keep your brain busy for hours.

  3. NYC the Red and White Quilt show, I missed it too sadly but the people who went left a trail of stories and photos on the internet for us to drool over ever since and I for one am trying like you to find a design that will be my version. I have been working with hunter green and white and playing with my own designs enjoying a modern way of approaching the graphics. I wonder if you might have more fun doing a sort of original design too?
    I went straight to my book of design blocks when I saw this post. I was thinking that Ocean Waves or Lady of the lake might be more fun but then I got stuck in the zillions of traditional designs which are so hard to select that I came back bewildered. Maybe just making them and hanging on your design wall will show you the way. It has to be your favorite design in the end that gets made. I liked number three in the ones you showed and the two I mentioned above from my book. Birds in Air would work out nicely as well. I think Elle can help you with the half triangle squares if you really want to go for a whole quilt of them… remember her quick technique presented last fall at DCMQG?
    Maybe we should consider a DC Modern Quilt Guild project of making a red and white quilt for 2013!

    1. Dude, we really should do red and white quilts together- I am sure I will need support to keep me moving along! And you are right, I should make it more individual. I’m sure it’s something that I will only do once, so I need to make sure the design I choose is THE ONE.

      I even thought about applique, because I could carry it around with me. THose are the only kinds of projects I get done these days. Let’s think about this some more!

      BTW I have loved your hunter and white quilts. Make one more small one and they would look smashing grouped on the wall! On Thu, Feb 21, 2013 at 10:47 AM, Jessie Aller

  4. that photo of the American Folk Art show just knocked my socks off. do you think you’d do your red and white quilt in solids? i do like the layout #2, but i’m partial to samplers right now. i think a sampler of all sorts of HST blocks in red and white would be amazing.

    1. I do think I’d like to do the quilt in solids, because then it would be absolutely timeless. I saved off a bunch of red + white prints from Pink Chalk Fabrics and was going to use them but I think what I always liked about the antique red and whites was the utter simplicity. That said, I am considering using In The Beginning’s new cross-woven fabric for my red, just to give it a tiny bit more depth. I haven’t seen it in person yet though, so we’ll see.

      I have always loved samplers too, because every block is something new and interesting, but I think that’s why I am not in the mood for one right now- I want not to have to think 🙂

      On Thu, Feb 21, 2013 at 11:20 AM, Jessie Aller

      1. I’m in the process of manikg a full size nine-patch quilt for my daughter. My sisters (I have five) quilt, too. We love getting together to work on a quilt. Quilting is addictive, plus it makes for some great times with the sisters. Lots of laughs and lots of ideas come out.

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