Red and White Quilts, Part 1

My quilts are done. I am ready for the quilt show. That’s good, because it begins today!

Our show will feature more than 200 quilts, exhibited in the beautiful First United Methodist Church of Iowa City. Small wall-hangings to large bed covers, quilts of every size and color will be a feast for the eyes. The most prominent color will be RED, with our special exhibit of red and white quilts.

I have six quilts entered in the show, including two red and white ones. Both of these quilts are new this year. In 2012 I made one other red and white quilt. Believe me when I say I doubt I will make another.

Here are the three quilts.

Fire & Ice
This quilt was inspired by a photo I found in the archives of the International Quilt Study Center & Museum. You can find out more about the inspiration and my process here and here. My quilting process is described here. This quilt will be part of the special red and white display.

Fire & Ice. Approx 68″ x 68″. Based on IQSC Object Number 1997.007.0797 from the International Quilt Study Center & Museum, a quilt from 1800-1820. May 2017. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

Hibiscus Mountain
The other red and white quilt I made this year was easier and more fun. In some ways that makes it more satisfying, and in some ways it makes me “like” it more. However, I will be happy to give this quilt to a loved one. I won’t be giving Fire & Ice away.

You can read about this quilt’s process here. The design is called “Delectable Mountains,” and it is an old design, too. In the US, quilts in this style have been made since the early 1800s. I’ve also seen pictures of a red and white Delectable Mountains quilt in the Welsh tradition.

Hibiscus Mountain. 73″ x 73″. Delectable Mountains format. Finished spring 2017. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

Hibiscus Mountain won’t technically be in the red and white display, because of the colors in the hibiscus print. However, we will have the “other” red and white quilts, such as this, grouped together adjacent to the display. I’m not sure the general viewer will discern them as different.

Circles of Love
My guild has an annual challenge, and in 2012 it was to create a red and white quilt, using only red and white. I entered this quilt, which uses a wedding ring block. While the block is traditional, I designed the setting. If you look at the “points” of the large center, you can see they are shaped as hearts, to emphasize the wedding or love theme.

When I finished the top on April 15 that year, I posted in Facebook about it: “I never cried on finishing a top before. This was not fun… I don’t like the rigidity in color format. Once a block was done, it was pretty, but every other block was just the same. So there was no joy in execution… 1521 pieces. More than any quilt I’ve made. Almost all of them were triangles…”

Circles of Love, also known as the hunger quilt. A friend “purchased” it from me, giving the price to a local food pantry. It’s about 70″ square. 2012. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

As now, I declared then I’d never make another red and white quilt. I could change my mind again, as I did this spring. The strong contrast, both of color and value, make red and white quilts exciting to see. However, I really don’t like using white. It gets grimy, and it shows varicose veins, the stray threads that are unavoidably trapped when quilting. Fire & Ice seemed to take forever to complete, with one character-building challenge after another. And the quilt show drama about the red and white issue took a lot of the fun out of completing it. Whatever. It fer sure won’t be any day soon that I’ll make another.

Still, I’m thrilled with how these turned out, and I’m proud to enter them in our show. And now, on to the next challenges and opportunities.

29 thoughts on “Red and White Quilts, Part 1

  1. katechiconi

    I understand now. But I’m surprised, to put it mildly, at such exceptional strictness about colour. Hibiscus Mountain is an overwhelmingly, unmistakably red and white quilt. Ah well. I love it very much, and feel it carries a strong flavour of the fun you had creating it. Fire and Ice is superb, full of technical fireworks and exquisite execution, but it doesn’t speak to me so strongly of fun, but of achievement and a passion for order and beauty. I can quite see why you value it so much.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I think the two quilts have completely different personalities, and I mean that in a way that means something more than different styles. Like ones children or pets or best friends, they can be completely different and fulfill different needs and be loved just as much as each other. Thanks very much.

  2. Thread crazy

    All of the quilts are beautifully done. While the Hibiscus Mountain quilt stands out as a beautiful red and white, my favorite is the Fire and Ice. If it were me, I too would cherish that quilt. Your choice of design for the borders is exquisite and shows your strongly craftsmanship beautiful. The wedding ring design shows the red blocks off beautifully against the white background. You always anaze with your setting designs. All three are exquisite quilts: ones to be proud of.

  3. Alice

    Wow, what stunning quilts! I wouldn´t be able to choose between the 3. Each is quite different in spite of the red and white theme. Well done! your craftsmanship is amazing.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks, Alice. Our show is set up and almost ready to open. Each of the red and white quilts in it are very different from all the others. It is fun to see.

  4. piecefulwendy

    They are all beautiful, Melanie! Had to chuckle at your description of “character-building quilt” since I just finished one of those! Ha! I hope your show goes smoothly and is well attended!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks, Tierney. Six quilts in the show is because I offered 6 — they are not juried in! The church is full and beautiful with an amazing array of quilts, each one so different from the next. Thanks again.

  5. shoreacres

    The extra vibrancy of the color in the hibiscus is lovely, but Fire and Ice is a special one. The Circles of Love may have met their requirements, but it’s not one that stirs my soul like the other two. Still, as you say, all are different, and all have their special characteristics. It’s beyond me why Hibiscus Mountain wouldn’t qualify as red and white, even though you explained it. 🙂

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks for your comments, Linda. Circles of Love certainly did meet the requirements. I was told that the assumption was that the quilts displayed this weekend would be ones that were made for the 2012 challenge. I pointed out some problems with the assumption, but the decision didn’t change. 🙂 I think they are all lovely (not just my own,) but they certainly do have different personalities.

  6. KerryCan

    And I like the Circles of Love best–isn’t it funny how we all have such different thoughts and preferences? I think I would’ve liked making the Circles quilt–I like repetition and half-square triangles and solids and red and white! All three are stunning. Will you post some photos from the guild show, and let us see some of the other red/white quilts?

  7. Shasta

    These are all beautiful quilts. I can’t pick a favorite either! I wouldn’t worry so much about the red/white issue. Some people like to categorize and put things in strict boxes, but I like to blur the lines, mix different genres and categories, etc. Maybe the quilts that are “not quite red/white” will be a bigger hit than the rule-following red/white ones.

  8. knitnkwilt

    I like all three. I do understand how medallion quilts are more satisfying than repeating block quilts. I too like some variety. But I also like to look at some repeating block quilts.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks, Lois. It went very well. We did not intend it as a fundraiser, but boy were there a lot of people through, and we actually made some bucks. 😉

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks, Mary. I like “complex.” (And I like simple, too!) I don’t like working with white. If you look at any of my other quilts, you’ll see that any white is incidental, part of a print, usually, not white for white’s sake. (OTOH, I have a dear cousin who has longed for a blue and white, 2-color quilt. Someday I may indulge her…)

  9. Mary E Mockaitis

    Stunning work, Melanie! Have you had a problem with the red bleeding onto the white when washed? Do color catchers do the trick?

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Hi Mary. Thanks for the kind comments. I always wash my fabrics before cutting, so most of the bleed is dealt with that way. After that … Washing with cold water and color catchers is my best recommendation. Then check the WET quilt before drying to see if there is any bleed. If there is, don’t put it in the dryer! I have heard that Dawn liquid used in the washer helps keep the dye from resettling on the fabric. Here is a link I just found.


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