Thursday, June 30, 2016

Modern Roots:Today's Quilts from Yesterday's Inspiration by Bill Volckening

Note the vintage quilt on the wall and the
modern interpretation on the chair
In the introduction to Modern Roots, Bill Volckening quotes Jonathan Holstein's 1973 book The Pieced Quilt: An American Design Tradition noting that antique and vintage quilts sometimes appear to be uncannily modern in design. Bill expanded on this concept in his 2014 lecture Masterpiece Quilts: Modernism in American Patchwork--or, "There's Something Modern About that Quilt."

When Jacqueline Sava reproduced a 1870s Crossroads quilt it confirmed Bill's thinking that "Old quilts were rich with information and inspiration for today's quilters."

Drawing from his extensive private collection of American quilts he selected twelve, dating from 1840 to 1970, to explore the characteristics of modernism including minimalism,importance of negative space, use of solid colors and limited palette, and geometric design.

The quilts are varied: scrappy or showing controlled color use; flamboyant or with large areas of negative space; familiar patterns with a twist and the rare and unusual.

 A simple 1840 medallion quilt has multiple borders of alternating red and white with a circular central block of appliquéd "Sprigs of Photinia." There are three Log Cabin variations. A Lone Star quilt has broken stars in the corners. Pieced blocks include Indiana Puzzle, Shadow Box, and an unusual New York Beauty variation. Radiating Fans create a secondary pattern. Airplane blocks with sashing is representational. Stacked Bars is scrappy and primitive.

There is a full page color photograph of each quilt with its source, date, and materials and an article addressing the quilt's design and background.

The detailed instructions include a material list, cutting and construction directions, and color illustrations showing the steps of construction. Smaller versions of the full size quilts are offered as are photographs of newly made quilts based on the instructions.

Volckening has replicated the original construction methods for the quilts. Several patterns are good for those with some piecing experience, but some are better for those with advanced skills.

Volkening is an award-winning photographer, quiltmaker, and blogger. The Volckening Collection of quilts include impressive examples from all time periods and styles.

Learn more about Crossroads to Bachelor Hall by reading Volckening's article to learn more about this quilt at
and on his blog at

I received a free book from C&T Publications in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

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