Read an Excerpt
THE STANDARD BOOK OF QUILT MAKING AND COLLECTING
By MARGUERITE ICKIS
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 1949 Marguerite Ickis
All rights reserved.
Planning Your Quilt
YOU HAVE MADE UP YOUR MIND to make a quilt. But what kind will it be? Take a good look at your bed, and that will help you decide the whole matter. The kind of bed you have will determine the size of the quilt, the preferable number and size of its blocks, and the best-looking pattern for it.
THE BED, LARGE OR SMALL
If the bed is large, the quilt must be of generous proportions—perhaps the old-fashioned kind, but long enough to tuck up over the pillows—and it can show off to advantage the larger blocks with a design that is bold and lusty.
You may have a narrower, modern twin-size bed. Then a quilt with a smaller-scale design, smaller blocks and a slender border will be more appropriate. The motif should never be so emphatic in size and color as to dwarf the bed. There are so many ways to combine blocks, strips and borders, that it is easy to pick the right grouping to get the best relative effect for the shape of the bed.
Consider the Period
The period of your furniture must be considered, too. If your suite is French Provençal the bed would not look right covered with a sharp geometric Pennsylvania Dutch design. One of the softly wreathed figures with smaller blocks would be more suitable. And if you have a slender, carved-stem poster bed, you will not select a sturdy, "crazy-quilt," but a dainty applique pattern instead.
Not Too Dramatic
The quilt should take its proper place in the whole decorative scene of the room. It should accent but never drown out the other beauty spots about it. As a covering for the bed, it plays a dramatic role, but must harmonize in color and refinement with the color and proportions of the bedroom. In other words, your quilt must blend into its surroundings.
THE IMPORTANCE OF COLORS
Select your quilt colors carefully. You will use and live with this piece of your handiwork for a long time. It even pays to choose colors which you will enjoy sewing on, for colors do have their influence upon us, though they work quietly and subtly. Haven't you heard of colors affecting our emotions—by irritating or soothing, depressing or cheering us?
A color scheme works out in any one of these four ways:
1. The principles of color harmony in relation to other colors in the room.
2. According to the exposure of the room. A dark room needs light or warm colors.
3. Colors should harmonize with the period and the wood colors of the furniture.
4. Colors should repeat or blend with colors and designs of wallpaper and other decorations.
After making a study of the colors in your room, you may have decided what will best harmonize with them. But what will be the proportion of the colors which you will introduce with your new quilt? A good plan is to have: (1) one dominant color, (2) one subordinate color, (3) one or more accent colors. In order to carry this out, you will like to have some knowledge of the color spectrum.
The Color Wheel (page 6) helps us to understand the relations of the various colors and how to combine them to best advantage. On the outer edge of the wheel we find standard colors arranged in order as they occur in the spectrum, and the more grayed ones as we approach the center which is neutral gray.
We see the order of the colors on the wheel. Red, yellow and blue are the primary or basic colors, and from them all others are made. The secondary colors stand between the primary colors on the wheel. Orange falls between red and yellow because it is a combination of the two; violet is a combination of red and blue, and green of blue and yellow. The secondary colors then combine to produce tertiary colors.
ROSE AND OAK LEAF QUILT
A modern setting is enhanced by the beauty of this quilt, owned by Gertrude Lawrence. The simple appliquéd pattern of red roses and green leaves on the white background is striking when displayed against the red leather upholstery of the head board. The famous Rose and Oak Leaf originated in the Ohio Valley, and is one of the most popular patterns copied today by modern quilt makers.
Going from red to orange on the wheel, we have orange-red until the half-way point is reached; then approaching orange we find red-orange. Thus, the predominating element of the color is named last.
WARM AND COOL COLORS
Warm. Red, orange, yellow and their variations. They are also known as the advancing colors.
Cool. Violet, blue and green. They are also called the receding colors.
Warm colors are more cheerful and stimulating than the cool colors, which, in turn, are calm and restful. It is possible to combine warm and cool colors, as long as the principles of harmony are employed. This may be done by choosing a pale shade of one of the primary colors—light blue, pink or yellow—for the background of the quilt and making the design of more striking colors.
The old appliquéd coverlets were usually made on a white background, and that simplified things, but this was because materials were scarce and the stores did not have the beautiful pastel shades we find today. We are really unlimited now in the possible play on color combinations.
A room's exposure is a factor in deciding between a warm or cool effect in any decorating plans. North rooms have no direct sunlight, hence are said to have cool exposure: also northeast rooms because they have sun only during early morning hours. South and southwest are warm exposures. Rooms with both north and west windows have warm and cool light together; hence there is less need of definite attention to warm and cool effect.
Rooms on the north, and those on any side of the house which are deprived of light by shade trees or porch roofs can be helped immeasurably by throwing the emphasis on a cheerful, warm note in your decorative colors. It is surprising to see what the warm or cool colors can accomplish, and the colors of your quilt should be chosen accordingly.
Woods and Woodwork
The color tones in a room's furniture and woodwork are important. Maple, cherry and mahogany reflect warmer shades of color than oak and thus require a different selection of decorating colors. A modern bed of the new blond-wood finish looks better with a covering of deep colors rather than with neutral. If the woodwork is too definitely striking in appearance for a becoming background to the furnishings, it may be put in its place by the use of deep, rich colors splashed about the room, particularly in the quilts. On the other hand if the woods are subdued or dark, then a buff, peach or green looks well.
If you are planning quilts for adjoining rooms, it is desirable to avoid sharp contrasts, yet have enough variety for interest. A good way to achieve an easy transition from one to the other is to see that they have one color in common. It is clever sometimes to utilize the identical color combinations but in different patterns in the quilts.
QUILTS FOR ROOMS ALREADY DECORATED
For the room which has definite motifs in the wallpaper or upholstery, a quilt with a contrasting elaborate pattern would add great confusion. You can decide between two answers to the problem: carry out the same motif in the quilt pattern, or use a very simple design with one or more of the same colors.
If you want to incorporate your wallpaper motif, you need not follow out its minute details. It can be simplified by using the general outline and employing only one color; or it can be enlarged and used just once as the center design on the quilt.
You may also want to consider contrast in light and dark colors. For instance, if the wallpaper is light green and yellow, your quilt could be of dark green with a design of deep yellow or orange. A quilt of deep rich colors enriches a room with pale tinted walls and light woodwork.
If your furniture is decorated with flowers or provincial patterns you can use a quilted white bedspread, or design a quilt that fits the decorations or period. For instance, if you have Pennsylvania Dutch furniture—either decorated or plain dark wood of that period, it immediately suggests a quilt of strong bright colors in red, yellow, blue or green.
The designs found on old chests, cabinets and quilts include hearts, birds, tulips, roses and quaint figures dressed in native costume. All these combine attractively in one design. Your quilt can be gay and elaborate as you like and still blend with the room, for that is the great charm of a Pennsylvania quilt.
A modern interpretation of one of these quilts is shown in Fig. 5, and there are quite a few of the Pennsylvania designs in Chapter 4, along with the directions for making them. Many of the old quilts were divided into squares with a different motif or scene in each block. The finished result was pleasing because each square included the same colors which blended them all together as a whole.
PERSONAL COLOR PREFERENCES
Color preferences of the individual are a large factor in deciding upon bedroom color schemes. One for a girl will be more or less feminine in taste according to her personality. For a boy, a more virile, masculine atmosphere is established. The "Necktie Pattern" is a popular one with boys. The room for parents usually shows some concessions to the tastes of each.CHAPTER 2
How To Make Your Quilt
AMONG THE FOLK ARTS, QUILTING is centuries old and yet it lives today with great vitality. That is because it is useful, economical and decorative. Any woman can make a quilt. All she needs is the ability to sew an ordinary seam, just a plain running stitch, done neatly and accurately. Even though you may be a beginner you will find it easy to make your first quilt. From then on you will constantly be on the lookout for new patterns and will have started saving your pieces for the next adventure.
Here are the most common terms used in quilt making:
Comforter. A quilt of one-color material. It consists of three layers of cover, fluffy wool or cotton inner lining and the back. The three are quilt-stitched together, in a simple or elaborate design.
Appliqué. This is sometimes called a "laid-on" quilt because the pieces in the design are cut out of different materials and laid on the plain background. They are secured in place with a fine hemming stitch, such as is used in hemming a skirt, and sometimes with the buttonhole stitch.
Patchwork. This usually refers to a "pieced" quilt, with the pieces cut in squares, triangles or diamonds and sewed together to form a design in a larger block.
Quilting stitch. This stitch serves to hold firmly together the three parts of the quilt—cover, lining and back (as in the comforter). It is made decorative by stitching in various patterns.
Block. Quilts are usually divided in parts to simplify sewing. The exception is the comforter. There may be four units or blocks, or many more. The block is a square, rectangle or hexagon. It is sometimes called a "patch" in a pieced quilt.
Blocking. This is simply pressing the quilt or its parts before and after its "setting."
The amount of material you will need depends on the size of the bed. Old quilts were often square in shape —not easily adapted to a modern bed —and not made to pull up over the pillows. (If you have an old quilt, you may lengthen it by adding border strips to the top and bottom edges.)
There must be enough material for the design pieces and the background of the cover and enough for the back of the quilt. Beds today are of standard size and the measuring can be done scientifically. In general, the decorated area comes to the edge of the bed on each side. It should be long enough to cover the pillows and hang down over the foot the same distance as it does on the sides. The width of the border will be according to taste. It can be very deep, medium or narrow, depending on the style of the quilt's design.
Not only the size of the bed but also the width of the material will govern the amount needed. Beds of standard sizes come in the following widths:
Double bed 54 inches Three-quarter 49 inches Twin bed 39 inches Single bed 36 inches
Almost all materials suitable for making quilts come in a width of 36 inches. (Occasionally you find muslin that is 39 inches wide, and if you buy sheeting by the yard, you can get it as wide as 72 inches.)
As for the width of the border, three factors must be considered to determine the best measurement. The border should be wide enough but not too wide to "balance" or look suitable with the quilt's design. You will need a wider border if the springs and mattress of the bed are deep. Also the most economical use of your material is desirable.
Now let us see, having stated the problem, if we can get an estimate of material required. As a start, we might begin with the standard length of a sheet, which is usually 108 inches, and figure on a border 18 inches wide. Suppose the quilt is to be divided into blocks each 14 inches square. This is a good size for distributing the blocks in a quilt designed for any type of bed.
Double bed. Four squares will be needed to fit across the quilt and five to cover its length, making 20 in all.
Three-quarter bed. The same measurements as for the double bed's quilt will fit this size, for the extra 3-inch drop over the sides will make little difference in its appearance.
Twin bed. A good division for this bed is 3 blocks across and 5 for the length, making 15 in all.
Single bed. The same measurements as for the twin bed will approximately fit this size. After determining in the manner just explained how many blocks it will take to cover the bed, you can estimate the amount of background material you will need.
Double or three-quarter bed. 4¼ yards to cut 20 squares. (There will be an 8-inch waste on one side.)
3 yards to cut an 18-inch border for each side, and an additional 54 inches for the border on the two ends.
This makes a total of 8¾ yards plus 2 inches. To allow for seams, you will need 9 yards.
Twin or single bed. 3 1/8 yards to cut 15 squares. (There will be an 8-inch waste on one side.)
3 yards to cut an 18-inch border for each side, and an additional 39 inches for the border on the two ends. This makes a total of 7¼ yards needed, allowing several inches for seams.
In computing the amount of material needed in any quilt, you must first divide it into units as we did above and estimate the number of yards it will take to cut each size block. This is because there is usually a certain amount of waste in order to cut the blocks to proper size.
To estimate the amount of material needed for each color in the design, take the following steps:
1. Make a paper pattern of each unit of the block design, allowing ¼ inch for seams.
2. Divide patterns according to the colors in the design.
3. After the colors are separated, take a piece of paper a yard wide and trace as close together as possible the number of pieces of one color you need for one block. Trace in the same way the pieces for the other colors, each on a separate piece of paper.
4. Measure the space it takes for each color and multiply by the number of blocks in the quilt.
KINDS OF MATERIALS
The first rule to observe in selecting material for a quilt is to combine the same kinds of fabrics together on any one design. For instance, linens and cottons go together, silks and satins, and so on, to achieve an over-all effect of regularity. If you choose a fabric that can be laundered, be sure that it is pre-shrunk and all the colors are fast. If you are in doubt, test a small piece in the tub.
For your convenience in sewing, select a soft material, not too closely woven, both for the background and for the design part of your quilt. Closely woven cloth makes the needlework more difficult and is no stronger than thinner goods. There are more threads in each inch of cloth but the threads are of equal strength. Materials that are stiff because of being "treated" with a dressing are also difficult to work on.
Excerpted from THE STANDARD BOOK OF QUILT MAKING AND COLLECTING by MARGUERITE ICKIS. Copyright © 1949 Marguerite Ickis. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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