The Old-School Patchwork Quilts of Your Youth Have a Totally Modern Twist Now

published May 17, 2022
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Credit: Coyuchi

I have always loved the look of a traditional patchwork quilt, but lately, I’ve noticed that old-school quilts have gotten a bit of a modern makeover. Several home brands are now selling patchwork designs that feel super on-trend, so I dug into what makes this crop of quilts stand out. 

There are many modern quiltmakers (Denyse Schmidt, Victoria van der Laan) who have been making bright and bold fine-art quilts for decades. Likewise, major home brands have long sold “modern” quilts with large, abstract, geometric designs. A few things make the current crop of quilts different from these artisan quilts or the ones that might have been handed down in your family. There’s a truly traditional feeling to the patchwork patterns that feels fresh thanks to of-the-moment by color palette, subtle asymmetry with traditional patchwork designs, and the fact that you can buy them from mass (albeit higher-end) home brands.

Credit: Toast

The palette of these new quilts is distinctly muted — think neutrals, desert-inspired tones, quiet blush pinks, and the blues of your best-loved denim. The fabrics themselves are mostly solids or minimalist patterns — like an abstract blue and white pattern that appears in Toast’s Abstract Patchwork Cotton Quilt — there is nary a calico or floral in sight! 

Credit: Toast

With regards to the sewn patterns, the designs of the patchwork are often simple, humble patterns that the home quiltmaker could take on, but with a bit of quirk. “Our patchwork pieces are asymmetric and unrestrained,” says Judith Harris, the head of house and home for Toast, a home and clothing brand founded in the U.K. “They represent the idea of the artist creating their own unique composition.” For example, the brand’s Geo Patchwork Cotton Quilt subverts the traditional Nine Patch checkerboard pattern with patches that are arranged to make up diamonds of different colors. 

Credit: Coyuchi

Likewise, Coyuchi’s new Ashbury quilt is a simple checkerboard design in shades of cream, blush, and ginger, that coordinate with the brand’s signature bed sheets. Coyuchi has always offered handstitched quilts, but this is the brand’s first patchwork design. “Our first patchwork quilt, The Ashbury Quilt was inspired by the patchwork quilting we were seeing in fashion,” says design Director Whitney Thornburg. “The colors and textures were inspired by the fog-filtered hues of the Haigh-Ashbury neighborhood’s architecture in San Francisco (our home), mixed with the spirit of environmentalism and reuse found in the city.”

Garnet Hill and L. L. Bean, two brands that have sold quilts for years, have new patchwork designs that fit the trend, Garnet Hill’s Homestead Piece Quilt and Bean’s North Star Patchwork Quilt.

If you’re wondering how to work these quilts into your summer decor, New York-based interior designer Lucy Harris says she’s often used patchwork quilts in rooms where she wants to create an “undecorated” vibe. “My work is eclectic and influenced by modernism,” she says. “When a client wants their interior to not feel overdone, quilts are a great way to add some texture, a handmade quality, and a warm and cozy feeling. Harris that she especially likes quilts with some soft tones, similar to what I’m seeing trending in the market right now. “They make me think of the beautiful pale pink and white antique quilt that my mom would put on my bed every spring when the weather got warmer.” 

In a downtown loft Harris recently shared on Instagram, an heirloom-quality quilt by Thompson Street Studio adds depth and a handmade feeling to an otherwise sleek and modern room.