I can easily spend hours poring over books of mid-century modern textiles, furniture, and other decorative arts. And as a quilter, what I see often leads to quilt ideas. For the Spring 2013 issue of Modern Patchwork (out now!), I wrote an article on taking inspiration from 1950s “Contemporary” pattern designs to develop new free-motion quilting motifs—because when I look at a Lucienne Day print, my eye starts immediately following the lines, asking, "How would I quilt that?"
The article is full of tips on how to translate these retro designs into quilting patterns. I hope you'll be inspired to come up with some of your own, but there are detailed sequence diagrams for two sample blocks (shown above made up into potholders) as well as the four blocks of my Lucienne table runner, which is all patterned up in the same magazine.
The type of design that lends itself so readily to conversion into quilting was popular from the early 1950s, with the great Lucienne Day leading the charge with spindly, interconnected lines reminiscent of both kinetic sculpture and skeletal plant forms. But that dry description lacks the liveliness and playfulness of these designs, which were everywhere by the end of the decade. Below is a tray the Other and I found at an antique store—no designer’s name on it, sadly.
To see more authentic MCM designs to inspire your quilting, take a look at the Pinterest board I put together.
The more I absorb mid-century styles, the more quilt ideas I get, so stay tuned for more projects and techniques with an MCM feel.