Friday, March 6, 2015


I spent last weekend in bed with a cold.  Which got me thinking about quilts (and about how shitty my current bedding is, but let's go with the "half-full" side of my musings).

Sarah Richardson, via

Hamish Bowles in Vogue, via

Urban Outfitters

Since my mother loves quilts, as soon as I had a dorm room I defaulted to disliking quilts and bought duvets and down inserts for my dorm rooms.  I chose the best RL chintz ever produced, also known as the Brooke, which has a weird cultish following for those of us enamored by its perfect Dijon mustard yellow.  

The Brooke via Ebay
While I am looking for ways to slip some chintz into my house, I'm seeking a little more order and calm in my bedroom.  My duvet always looks crazy and unkept, so I'm turning to the bedspread for its nice neat appearance, and possibly a quilt for some texture.

via House of Turquoise

What exactly makes a quilt a quilt, versus a quilted bedspread?  My internet research yields spotty results.  Obviously a pieced fabric top is only for quilts, but I could not find anything definitive in the whole cloth quilts vs. quilted comforter distinction.    

While the term "patchwork quilt" still brings some bad, Holly Hobby images to mind, there are some pretty swell quilts out there.  Some quilts are amazing for their handiwork, but I wouldn't necessarily want them on my bed (sort of like my fascination with French lace).

What separates the good from the bad and adds a splash of useability?

I think it is primarily about color use, and keeping it graphic and geometric.

Louise Bourgeois, via
My practical search has been in the Target and West Elm territory.  But this post and some previous research revealed some interesting hand made options.  For a good handmade/homemade quilt, the maker has to have an incredible level of taste, because the epic journey of creating a quilt can easily lead to questionable, more-is-more wormholes that remind us that just because we can doesn't mean we should (btw, I want to refer to this as the human ear on a mouse conundrum--did anybody else's science textbooks have a photo of the mouse with a human ear growing on its back on the same pages as square tomatoes? Like every year you had a "life science"?  I can't decide if this is universal enough to coin a conundrum).  Google modern quilt and you'll see the good, the bad and the "why?".

I also think the actual quilting (the stitching through both layers of fabric and batting) is super important.  It creates some texture, and a nice "hand" to the piece at one end of the spectrum and amazing refinement at the other.  When I was little and made a patchwork quilt [Editor's Note:  I made made 15% of that quilt and my mother made the rest], I was all about the piecing--quick gratification, little sewing skill needed if you keep the pattern simple.  And then when you are finally done with the squares (because it stops being interesting halfway through), there is a ton of epically boring stitching work to do.  For years I was convinced it was a total waste of time, but much like stirrup pants I called it wrong back then.  That stitching work totally makes the end product.

Clockwise: 1 & 2,  3 , 4
The practice of law (or my particular practice) and a little bit of age has made my tolerance for tedious tasks almost super human.  Its not everyone who can read/write/opine on the tiny 4 pt terms and conditions or Code of Federal Register provisions, much like not everyone will sit for hours and cut 600 feet of papel picado flags with an exacto knife.  But sadly the quilting above requires some mad, mad skills along with such a tolerance...and I lack those skills.  Not to mention that when combined with reading tiny text all day, I might go blind.  So internet shopping it is!  (PS--bottom two are hand quilted: the right side is mid 1800s and the other contemporary).

So what do you think--cold medicine delirium, or can quilts seamlessly integrate into a stylish house? Or at least be non-offensive in my house?  No need to decide right away--like I said, I'm in the Target to West Elm price range for now so nothing will be done that can't be undone.  And since there is always more internet to do, here are some samples and links for your edification.

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8

1 / 2 / 3 

All images here.  

PS:  Gee's Bend is key cocktail party information, because knowledge of outsider art charms in any crowd--Wiki and Smithsonian will get you started. 


  • The Victoria and Albert museum will help you turn a photo into a patchwork pattern.   SaaS to the rescue.  
  • Design Milk did an article on the modern quilt guild
  • Cool Mom Picks' round-up of modern baby quilts


  1. I am quilt crazy. I have always had such reverence for them I thought I shouldn't use them on my actual bed. I opted for the duvet and once I spent A LOT of money on a duvet from Anthropolgie (that looked like a quilt) and then my dog ate the entire thing, bit by bit, insert and all, one day when she was crated in my bedroom. This winter I have several quilts on my bed and it's so nice. There is also a great book I read a long time ago called Lying in Bed by J.D. Landis and one of the characters is an antique quilt dealer, maybe you could read that in your spare time?

  2. I love quilts. I can't be objective. So beautiful on so many levels and so many levels of formality.

  3. I can't decide if it is the color or the pattern that are most important to me. I think the stitching is beautiful on your examples but I am not a formal quilt fan. I love the color- bold color. Quilts are happy. Always a lot of work. When I try to be 'normal' I get a bland quilt that people like. I feel certain that your move to Brooke was justified. However, I was admiring your circus quilt and I still love it. kmo