Pink and Brown Quilts

I like to think I choose from a large color palette, but there are some distinct color combinations I’ve used multiple times. For example, I’ve made three different quilts from red and white. Another combination that appeals to me is pink and brown. Whether pink and brown reminds you of chocolate-covered cherries, or strawberry ice cream with chocolate syrup, or some other sweet treat, it’s a duo with a long history together. And I do love quilt history. ๐Ÿ™‚

Pink and brown quilts were especially popular in the mid-1800s. The pink prints used at the time were often called “double pink.” What is double pink? From the Quilt Index Wiki page:

Double pinks, sometimes called โ€˜cinnamonโ€™ pinks, feature tiny prints in a dark, cinnamon-like pink, on a light rosy pink ground. Both of these hues have warmer undertone than bubblegum pink, which emerged as a quilt fabric, often as a solid rather than a print, in the twentieth century. Double pinks were most popular in the 1860s, โ€˜70s, and โ€˜80s, though double pinks are common in quilts through the 1920s. At the height of their popularity in the mid-nineteenth century, double pinks were often paired with madder or chocolate browns in quilts.

At the same time double pink and brown was most popular, medallion quilts were on their way out of favor. Medallions in the early 1800s included whole cloth such as whitework,ย  broderie perse, and pieced quilts with both regular and irregular border forms. Delectable Mountains quilts might be an example of “regular” borders, with some uniformity of style, color, and value from the center to the outside edge. As the medallion quilts lost popularity, block quilts became the dominant style.

In the last few years I’ve made three different pink and brown quilts. The colors appeal to me partly because the double pink is very strong — while it is feminine, it is not timid, but boldly shows itself.

The first pink and brown quilt I made was a block quilt for a family friend, for her college graduation in 2011. I love the Ohio Stars with chain blocks, and the border stripe fabric framed them perfectly.

College graduation quilt for a friend — still one of my favorites. It’s about 81″x81″. 2011.

My other two pink and brown quilts were both made last year. One was the Delectable Mountains quilt from early in the year.

Delectable Mountains. 61″ x 61″. Finished spring 2017. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

And the other was Union, which I showed you a few days ago.

Union. Finished December 2017. Photo by Jim Ruebush.

When I finished piecing Union, I was still enjoying working with the pinks and browns. Since I still had them out, I began a new quilt featuring them. The new one, however, will expand its palette by including reds, olive greens, and teals. After it is finished, I’ll probably be done with the double pinks for a while.

Do you have color combinations you use repeatedly? Do you have a reputation for using particular colors? (I’ve seen that happen!) If you were limited to four colors of quilting for the rest of your life, what colors would you choose?


32 thoughts on “Pink and Brown Quilts

  1. audrey

    I really love both your Ohio Stars quilt {fabulous border fabric!} and the Delectable Mt. quilt. This is one of my favorite color palettes. I tend to work over and over in the same colorways too. It used to really annoy me and even make me somewhat question my creativity! Now I realize that i’m just trying to ‘perfect’ a look that is simmering way back in the back of my brain. It can take a long, long time to appear in the form that makes us most happy. Tweak, tweak, tweak till we get it right!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Ah, you get it completely. When I finished the Delectable Mountains quilt early this year, I was a bit disappointed. It just didn’t match my vision, or my vision was cloudy, or … I needed to do it again. I needed to work with the pinks and browns again and feel like I’d done a better job with it. In truth, neither of them is the perfect quilt, but they were both necessary. lol! Thanks for the Ohio Stars compliment. It’s on my list of favorites, and one of the few block quilts I would make again.

  2. tierneycreates

    I would be scared to use a pink and brown palette for quilt but you use it brilliantly! You have an excellent sense of color and design from what I have seen on your blog!
    Color combinations I seem to use repeatedly is some color with burnt orange or some variation. I am looking around my living room right now and see there is a lot of orange and blue and organ and other colors, etc.

  3. Ann Cummings

    My go to colors change all the time. I have made many red, white, and blue (have a large tote to hold tbem), as I make them for military and veterans. I like white and/or beige in almost all my quilts. When I first started quilting I read something about using as many fabrics as possible (to me it meant as many colors LOL ).
    My stash has a lot of green, and neutrals. I went through a stage of collecting reds.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I have a lot of greens, too! And orange. Probably more green and orange than anything else. I do buy greens on purpose, but I only buy oranges to replenish, so I’m not sure how it’s become such a big part of my stash.

      Thanks for making quilts for active duty and veterans. My son is in the military. He is an officer and often comments about how much more difficult life is for the enlisted personnel. They work so hard for so little.

  4. allisonreidnem

    My colour palette would be golds, brown, sage greens with a splash of orange – Autumn every time! Although my quilts don’t seem to be following my tastes at all! My stash and scrap bins are overflowing with my favourite colours though!

  5. snarkyquilter

    Why don’t I just list my least favorite colors: beige, brown, olive green, dusty blue, most pastels (peach, pink, mint green, etc.) That said, I’ve used brown and olive in small doses to good effect in quilts. I resonate to blue-greens, cobalt blue, red, and dashes of strong yellow. And I do like to use grays the way some use beiges and browns. I confess the pink/brown palette isn’t one I’d willingly work with, but you have the touch for it.

  6. KerryCan

    I still like Delectable Mountains best! I think it’s because it really looks so antique to me. I could be happy working with solids in red, navy, and a deep, rich green, with slightly off-white fabric to combine them with.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I know you would make beautiful quilts with even a limited palette. Thanks again for the nice comments about the Delectable Mountains. It does have a very antique feel to it.

  7. Cindy Anderson

    I enjoy working with and am known for bright colors! If I had to choose only 4, which would be unheard of, probably lime green, orange, yellow and red. Of course then I would want to add purples and blues… ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. katechiconi

    I’d hate to be artificially limited, even if there are colours I use so rarely it almost qualifies as never. I don’t care much for yellow or brown, or greyed or ‘dirty’ shades of almost any colour. I like pure tones and mostly fairly saturated colours, although I love the pastels I worked with just recently. I do like your pink and brown quilts, especially Union, but it would not appeal to me at all to use that colour palette. Good that we’re all different!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      It is good that we’re different! ๐Ÿ™‚ Muddied or dingy colors don’t appeal to me much, either. As my eyes get older, I find my taste runs more to really strong, saturated colors, too. But now and then subtlety attracts me!

  9. Kerry

    I love Ohio stars – my first quilt top (yes that UFO that I am still ashamed to say is unfinished) is mainly Ohio stars – with a salmon pink, cream and dark green. They tie in with a floral with matching colours on a black background and I’ve used my daughter’s dress fabric remnants when she was little (I still have the little dress) which were lots of little teddy bears – mainly brown shades with the matching pinky colour! There is a large medallion star in the centre that I drew on graph paper – I can’t remember what kind of star it is but it did involve Y seams!
    My favourite colour is green but usually only appears in odd little scrappy parts. I love colours in general but I’d like to do a turquoise/ aqua quilt one day.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Turquoises, teals, aquas, oh my! I do love them! They show up in a good portion of my quilts, one way or another. Keep on with that old UFO. I think you need to finish it, one way or another!

  10. jeanswenson

    I thoroughly agree with knitnkwilt – being limited to only four colors for the rest of my life, strikes fear in my heart! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ
    I do get though the ‘gravitating’ toward certain colors, or color-combos. I really like pink and black, and teal and candy apple green combos, but pretty much love playing with colors in general. I enjoy looking at quilt images in Google search to see all the interpretations of not only design, but of color use.
    I have been deep in contemplation this past few weeks in the comparison of how fabric to a quilter is like paint to a painter. In painting, you have all your standard colors that you then blend on your palette to create the colors and color-combos to use in your artwork. In quilting, it seems we face a bigger challenge: it is not only the standard colors that we have to choose from, but then the patterns and colors within a piece of fabric that we must coerce and cajole into our final artwork. Unless we are dying our own fabrics, which could lend a bit more ease (not sure this is the right word here) in color use and make it more similar to the painter, this sounds like an even bigger challenge than choosing it from the fabric store! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Oh yes, I’ve often seen the comparison of a quilter’s stash to a painter’s palette. We need more, simply because we can’t mix colors the way they can! Thanks.

  11. Paula Hedges

    I don’t seem to have one color I prefer, but if I had to choose 4 colors for the rest of my life, I might have to stop quilting – LOL! Just kidding. Pink, brown, lime(or yellow) and purple (or teal). I’m with you on grey. Small amount, and I mean small, in a scrappy quilt, but no large areas. I find it dull most the time, although I bought the silver Kona and it is beautiful! But it is silver, not really grey, right?

    Have a great weekend, Melanie.

  12. knitnkwilt

    Oh may I never be limited to four colors for the rest of my life! I seem never to have settled on one or two favorites. Whatever I am currently working with is my favorite.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Oh agreed! I want my full spectrum of colors. I would say, though, the color I might use least is grey. I’ve made a couple of quilts with grey and … it has its uses! ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Created by Bella

    Red. For some reason I always gravitate towards red. I have to actually stop myself and put fabric back on the shelf, because It is usually red. With that said, I have to admit I am not a red type of person at all. Never even liked the color, except in my quilts, LOL.


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