This month we have the privilege to welcome Evonne Cook, founder of Clothesline Quilts, to the Textile Design Lab as our guest expert. She’ll be speaking to our members about vintage textiles and how she turned her passion for vintage quilts into a thriving business.
Evonne’s journey into the reproduction world began over 25 years ago when she opened a quilt shop. While running her quilt shop, Evonne began to design her own quilting patterns, and then began designing her own fabric collections which consist of reproductions of vintage fabrics and are produced in partnership with P&B Textiles.
It was an exciting opportunity to get to ask Evonne a few questions.
How did you become interested in vintage fabrics and in reproducing them for today’s consumer?
Antique quilts have always intrigued me, especially the fabrics within those quilts. And then there are the quilt patterns and how the quilters from the past were able to design and sew them without all the tools we have today.
In the beginning, I was not at all interested in reproducing vintage fabrics because I believed one would have to be an artist & be able to actually draw the designs. My interest in this process was piqued when Mr. Roby, an authority on old fabrics, called me about working with him. A Clothesline Quilts pattern design of mine had caught his eye and he explained how I could reproduce these vintage fabrics that I am so passionate about with the help of other artists and designers.
What period of vintage fabric are you most drawn to? Why?
At this time I am concentrating on cottons (often of English and French origin) from quilts from the time period of approximately 1830-1890, an era that includes the Civil War. I have been very interested in the history of the Civil War and have designed two series of patterns, one based on 12 battles of the war and one on 8 generals of the Civil War.
What items other than quilts have you seen reproduction prints used for?
Reproductions are used for a lot of home décor, including curtains, dust ruffles, chair pads, table toppers/runners, tablecloths, appliqué on towels, etc. They are also used to sew all kinds and sizes of totes, purses, billfolds, cosmetic bags, luggage bags, kleenex covers, etc. The fabrics are also sold for clothing sewn for people who do reenactments of the battles and events of the Civil War. These reenactments are especially popular at the historical parks of the battle sites.
For students interested in the reproduction of vintage American fabric, do you have any advice?
My journey into the reproduction world began over 25 years ago by opening a quilt shop; basically, this happened because I love the fabric and the art of quilting. From the quilt shop I began to design and write my own pattern line Clothesline Quilts. Again, this was because of my love of the fabric and quilting. So I believe you have to have a feel for and love of the fabric of that era. I’m sure that many students of textiles find that path in their educational studies; they do not have to go the long way as I did. So I say to nurture that love and keep on studying the textiles.
Throughout the years of owning and operating a quilt shop I attended many quilt markets held every spring and fall where we shopped for the fabric that we would eventually receive and sell at our shop. At these markets we were offered the opportunity to attend marketing workshops that helped us find ways to market the fabric and everything that went into quilt making. These markets were our inspiration—and, of course, the fabric itself was wonderful inspiration! So I think that attendance at such markets would be a very good opportunity for students to see how it all works and comes together.
Also, do visit the fabulous museums where old fabrics and quilts are displayed. The Shelburne in Vermont is one such museum and The Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in Golden, Colorado is another. Really, there are many others throughout the US and overseas, as well.
Want to learn more about reproduction prints and collections? Join us for Evonne’s presentation in the Textile Design Lab on Tuesday, September 26. Join us here.