The Two-Color Quilt

Quilts are all about color. Sometimes those colors are bold, sometimes they are subtle, but they always tell a story. Quilts speak to the viewer with a story expressed through the piecing and placement of those colors. Many of us think of a multitude of colors brought together to create that story, but there is another genre of quilts: the two-color quilt. When were they first created and why? Let’s take a deeper dive and learn about a style that found it’s place in American patchwork – the Two-Color quilt.

Paradise Wedding Quilt By Colleen Tauke

Paradise Wedding Quilt By Colleen Tauke

I love color! I love using the entire rainbow of fabrics available in our local quilt shops and various hobby and crafting stores here in the United States and beyond. I’ve purchased gorgeous fabrics in Bali and Germany, as well as my adventures across the U.S. I enjoy purchasing pieces that remind me of the places I’ve been, reminding me of those adventures. Today we have access to so many choices and an endless amount of those fabrics. But in years past, getting large amounts of any one fabric was much more limited.

In my research I found that for Americans, the term “two-color” quilt was coined nearly two centuries ago. Described as “made using pieces of a single solid-color fabric (or one featuring a tiny design) sewn onto a white background, such quilts were highly graphic, emphasizing pattern rather than a pleasing mix of color”. —- credited (Dolph Briscoe Center for American History)

This becomes something to consider – a challenge of sorts. Quilters are artists of fabric, and we use color, shape, texture and placement as our tools when creating our patchwork. What if we focus more on contrast? Let’s look at the drama created when two fabrics have a starker contrast in color, or the number of colors used is reduced. Using just two “colors” poses a new genre, a new adventure, and a new challenge. Or at least maybe a “new to us” color option to explore.

College Salute Colleen Tauke

College Salute Colleen Tauke

These highly graphic quilts came on the scene in the 1840’s once commercially produced cottons were something the average household could afford. This opened up a whole new adventure that before was unheard of – purchasing a large number of yards of one fabric. The hours and skill put forth in creating the beloved-scrap quilt will forever be a part of the history of quilting, but now a new area of design was emerging, the two-color quilt.

Hat’s off to those who boldly created those designs and added even more excitement to quilting – focusing on the design of shapes and movement with a more limited palette. You gave us additional areas of design to explore and fall in love with, more ideas to bring to life in fabric.

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One Response to “The Two-Color Quilt”

  1. Laurie

    These quilts are so beautiful. Thanks for sharing so freely of your time and experience!