by Mary Beth Krapil

I was amazed at the beautiful collection of red and white quilts from Linda Pumphrey’s new book, Red and White Quilting, An Iconic Tradition on 40 Blocks. It was on display recently at the Original Sewing and Quilting Expo in Raleigh, NC.  The sign introducing the display says it all.

“Bold, graphic, stunning and versatile describes this iconic collection of quilts. They are original designs based on traditional blocks, rearranged to be contemporary with high-contrast appeal. Classic yet contemporary, red and white is one of the most iconic color combinations in quilting, inspiring designers, collectors and major exhibits. The vibrant contrasts of red and white quilts has enticed quilters for 3 centuries and been a staple since the mid-nineteenth century.”

I was able to take some photos to share with you. The text after each photo comes from the placard that accompanied each quilt. Enjoy!

Simply Touching Stars

“Dreams are like stars. You may never touch them, but if you follow them they may lead you to your destiny” – Anonymous

The simple arrangement of four blocks placed together is made a little more intricate by adding pieced or appliqued setting blocks. Four-block quilts were popular in quiltmaking between 1850 and 1900. The same motif repeated created the overall design.


Duck, Duck, Goose

Duck, duck, goose was a favorite schoolyard game of mine growing up, so I decided to borrow the name for this quilt. Although the game goes by different names depending on where you live, according to one legend, the original was invented in the 1700’s. Sadly the game’s inventor was playing in the mountains one day and fell off of the cliff while chasing the “goose.” Fortunately you will have a much happier ending when you complete this quilt.


Balancing Act

In literature, Courthouse Steps has been used to represent social equality, while the Hourglass has symbolized the need to rethink your thoughts and actions once in a while, or always been drawn to the other side. The symbolic meaning of these two blocks compliments each other as does the appeal of their bold design.


Drinking Party


detail of Drinking Party

At one time, quilters had a myth that if you slept under a quilt made with Drunkard’s Path blocks you would develop a liking for drink just a little too much. The construction of this unusual quilt is simple but looks complex.


X Marks the Spot


detail of X Marks the Spot

According to the Oxford Dictionary, the expression “X marks the spot” dates back to the early 1800’s. In pirate lore, the phrase is used to indicate where buried treasure might lie. Hopefully the quilt you make will be your treasure.


Winter Time


detail of Winter Time

Do you love quilts where the blocks create a secondary design once they are put together? Then this Winter Time quilt pattern is for you. The two blocks, Cactus Flower and Snowflake, are inspired by an album quilt in the International Quilt Study Center and Museum’s collection, that was made in Boston, MA, and dated from 1850. Both blocks are interesting ad striking on their own. Paired together, they create an eye-catching secondary design.


Childhood Games


detail of Childhood Games

Just like the poem “Snowball” by Shel Silverstein, you too can make a snowball as perfect as it can be. And let it sleep with you. Snowballs bring visions of childhood memories of snowy winter days when snowball fights just happen. Combine it with another childhood memory of playing checkers on a cold winter evening by the fireplace to create this unique combination, a quilt full of fun and memories and graphic appeal.


Ring Around the Rosy

The nursery rhyme and game, Ring Around the Rosy, is thought to be a child’s version of a ring dance. Reel dances or ring dances trace their history back to the Druids, who danced in religious rituals honoring the oak tree. It seems fitting in this quilt the Oak Reel blocks are dancing around the circular Wagon Wheel block. When looking at this quilt you can almost hear the children singing.


Starry Flower Garden


detail of Starry Flower Garden

This quilt reminds me of Victor Hugo’s quote from Les Miserables, “A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in – what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars.”


Heart Handkerchief

Cloth handkerchiefs are thought to have been first used by King Richard II of England when he used plain pieces of cloth. Since that time, handkerchiefs have become very decorative, with all sorts of designs. The heart shapes on the Handkerchief blocks give a romantic feel to the quilt.


So there you have it! Isn’t it fun and interesting to read the quiltmaker’s own comments? It brings a new and deeper dimension to the experience of the quilts. I hope that you get to see these quilts at a show in person some day, they are really fantastic. Thanks Linda and well done!