Monday, June 7, 2021

Inspiration and Conversational Prints

 Sometimes you get tired of a particular type of fabric.  Both Beth and I mused about this during the past year.  We had gotten tired of our 19th century reproduction fabrics.  The one exception was that we still adored shirting fabrics.

I love 19th century conversational prints.  They were a style of shirtings popular from about 1880 into the 20th century.  I bought a lot of reproduction fat quarters of the prints at the Lancaster Quilt Show about 17 or 18 years ago.

Excuse the color or lack thereof.  I photographed these early in the morning!

I use these fabrics sparingly because I really love them!

I read that they were often used for men's shirts in particular.  It makes sense because some of the prints seem more masculine.  I couldn't imagine a woman wearing a shirt with baseball players, crickets playing pool or fishing rods:

But of all the ways that I have seen these prints used, I have never seen anyone use them the way that Wendy Caton Reed used them in a quilt called Happy Hexagons.  I've mentioned Wendy before.  She has a blog called The Constant Quilter and her work is currently on display at the New England Quilt Museum.  I know I mentioned that before as well.  But you need to SEE more of Wendy's quilts.  

I saw the Happy Hexagon quilt on a post at the GladiQuilts blog and I have to say I am crazy about this quilt and the way Wendy used her conversational prints.  You can see it on Gladi's blog here.  I must have looked at this quilt 5 times this week.  But I want you to see more of Gladi's photos of Wendy's work here and here (check out the Esther's Cheddar Casserole Quilt!) and here .  

I really think of Wendy as an artist.  She's made me re-evaluate my stash and I'm taking a fresh look at my 19th century reproduction fabrics.  Thanks for the inspiration Wendy!  I'm also super grateful for Gladi's blog this week!  You should also check out the photographs she posted from the Pilgrim/Roy Collection as well!  

Have a safe and happy day!


  1. I agree about Wendy's quilts, and it's been fun to see other bloggers' posts about her exhibit. If you've had your conversation prints for 18 years then they're close to vintage themselves! (What I'm on the lookout for are shirting prints with white/cream but not tan background. Too many contemporary versions are too tan, almost like tea-dyed.)

  2. Amazing quilts by Wendy Caton Reed. Thanks for sharing the information.

  3. Like you, I've tired of my repros but still love the shirtings. Thanks for sharing the info on Wendy's quilt(s).

  4. I still love my civil war fabrics. I love doing genealogy and learning about what my ancestors in Indiana, Kentucky, and North Carolina were doing and what kinds of fabrics were in their dresses and quilts I have some of those quilts and treasure them.

  5. Thanks for another great shout out! As you can see by my Happy Hexagons quilt, I do have quite a collection of conversationals. One of my all time favorites is the cricket playing pool. I smile ever time I see it. If you e-mail me your address I would be happy to send you some squares of ones I don't see in your photos. wreedquiltsATgmailDotcom.

  6. Hi Michelle. I've been enjoying your blog since I first noticed it when Wendy added it to her list of blogs she follows. Thanks so much for the "shout out" to my blog and I'm glad you liked my photos of Wendy's great exhibit. Her use of "conversationals" in that hexagon quilt was amazing and I should have thought to mention it!!