Monday, February 24, 2014

what makes it Vintage?

What makes a vintage quilt look vintage?

Last week while writing a lesson on fabric genre for Color Intensive, I described vintage-style fabrics as having small scale prints, often designed to look realistic with a fair number of details.  Does that sound right?  Then I received a book from Stash Books by Kathy Doughty called Adding Layers.

Adding Layers by Kathy Doughty


The colorful cover caught my attention.  That and the idea of "layering".  I know I like layers of interest in my quilts.

Vintage Spin


Inside, most of the quilt designs don't actually grab me, but this Vintage Spin definitely has my attention.  It's funny because the colors and design are not really "me", but I'm totally intrigued by this quilt.

Vintage Spin from Adding Layers


I was trying to figure out what was speaking to me when  I read, "Make a pile of your "old"-looking fabrics. The fabrics are just part of the look - the trick to making quilts that look old is to try not to match!  There are subtle links in all the pairs used in each block, but they don't necessarily look like they came from the same fabric line" (pg 22).

Aha!  I think that's it. This quilt does feel vintage to me (even before I read the quilt's title).  The fabrics don't match, but they do. That seems to reflect how a quilter might actually behave when working with a very limited selection of scraps.   She might make connections as best as possible in places, but the overall quilt would not have a color scheme.  It would not be fabric-designed, just construction-designed.  And, yes, many vintage quilts use value to define a design. 



Musing things over reminded me of this quilt, a long-loved pin that inspired my first Penny Patch quilt.  Small scale fabrics, repetitive construction, no color scheme (though feels somewhat soft, overall).  This quilt has always felt vintage to me.

What do you think?  What makes a quilt feel vintage?

Dream Catcher


p.s.  There is one quilt in the book that absolutely captures me - colors, design and all.  Isn't this gorgeous?  "Dream Catcher" indeed!

Disclosure:  I received this book free from the publisher.  My review is my honest opinion, as my relationship with my readers is far more important than receiving free books!  The book link is an affiliate link to Amazon.

17 comments:

  1. Hi,
    Thanks for reviewing my book. I think one of the nicest things about vintage fabrics is the authenticity. Rarely does one find a "collection" designed to go together so each choice is special and personal. It is like op shopping for clothes, they look so special because there is only one, in one size and when it is gone, it is gone! Kathy Doughty

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  2. I love your inspiration Penny Patch Quilt. Vintage to me is the patterned quilt out of the "Old Looking" fabrics for sure. I inherited several with my new "old" house. Can't wait for you to see my new Penny Patch Quilt I'm making for a friend out of her daughter's clothes. Fun Fun

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  3. I adore that Country Home magazine swipe and might have pinned it myself at one time. I have a small collection of vintage quilts that I've been buying at antique malls and I agree with you, there is just something about them.

    I was going to recreate one of them using FMF; which to me reads "vintage"; but obviously is a whole collection. Maybe I should pop in something else here and there to break it up.

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  4. What makes it vintage looking? The unexpected....like the reds that don't quite match, or a shirting style print thrown into a mix of floral fabrics. And the stronger attention to value. Most quilts are really first viewed at a distance, we notice the pattern because of the values used, then we see the actual fabrics. So there is that wonderful blend of what is on hand to be used, and some how it all works together with out all the matchy bit.

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  5. I like when vintage meets modern..... When somehow you see a little bit of both in a quilt......

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  6. There are certain more traditional blocks that often feel vintage to me, like bow-tie blocks. Also, vintage sometimes means faded, to me, so nothing super bright feels vintage to me (even if it's age is decades older than me, and actually a vintage piece)

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  7. there are two qualities I have noticed in the vintage quilts that I love: I like when there is a definite planned order for color and/or value placement, but there are 'rule breaker' blocks in the top that don't follow the same value or color plan as the rest of the blocks. Also, when you can tell that a similar fabric was substituted when there wasn't enough of the main fabric to finish the design. I think both these attributes add visual interest to a quilt.

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    Replies
    1. Excellent additions, Allison! Interestingly, the things that you included feel both vintage and "modern" to me. I think in the vintage case the idea is mostly to blend in, while in the modern case the idea is to make the different part stand out?

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  8. Can't wait to see this book in person - I have just requested it from my library.I think to more muted colours and prints, not today's brights make a quilt feel vintage.

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  9. Funny, I just know you from the blog but I think Vintage Spin looks A LOT like you! Dream Catcher is beyond my level, but I would like to see what you do with it.

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  10. I have no idea, vut I truely enjoyed this post! The vintage items I am drawn to have strong solid colours, especially reds and mustard. I'm thinking of the dishes and furnishings. I have an antique quilt that my great grandmother made that is full of cheddar.

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  11. Rachael, Amazing group of fabrics and textures. It certainly has the vintage style it's really gorgeous. Whether you got a free book or not your work is so inspiring congratulations love it. Can't wait to read your next blog. Julie Beard Adelaide Australia.

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  12. Lots of different small scale prints used in a quilt ... that feels vintage to me :)

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  13. I just love Katy Doughty ~ so much that I bought the book! Thanks for the review.
    My favorite in the book is the first photo you shared ~ can't wait to get the book and start this lovely quilt!
    I love vintage!

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  14. When I think of vintage quilts, I think "well loved". I think there's a certain beauty in a well-loved quilt, faded and sometimes a little tattered. I know, of course, that many vintage quilts are in pristine condition, but that's what pops up in my mind first. And while I love modern fabric collections, I like that vintage quilts aren't all matchy-matchy. xoxo

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    Replies
    1. That's so true. When old and tattered can equal love, it's a whole different kind of appreciation for beauty.

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