Over the years we’ve seen a lot of double prints – double “cinnamon” pink, double “Lancaster” blue, and more rarely double cheddar. These favorites in the Pennsylvania German quilter’s palette span a time from the mid 19th century into the 1920’s, and are characterized by a printed pattern in a deeper shade on a background of a lighter shade of the same color, giving them a brilliance and clarity that could not be achieved with one shade alone.
Quilts using Lancaster blue seem to all have Pennsylvania origins, though perhaps some are found from closely neighboring areas. There are so few of the double cheddars found that it’s difficult to make any general observations. But the double pinks abound! For years, the conventional wisdom in our area was that quilts with double pink (a large number, to be sure!) were unsaleable – known as “The curse of Hattie Brunner” after a well-known Lancaster County dealer and folk-artist.
Since Hattie’s passing in 1982, aesthetic sensibilities with regard to quilts have changed somewhat, and double pink is better appreciated for its role in the design of so many Pennsylvania quilts. And certainly, in the late 19th century, double pink must have been very popular in the area. In fact, in the 22 19th century quilts currently being offered in our quilt department, half have at least some double pink, and most of those feature it prominently. Double pink’s popularity may also be attested to by the sheer variety of different prints that were available. In my archives, I find that we’ve offered no fewer than a dozen different ones on our antique fabric page.
Just a few examples of double pink are shown above; we’ve found many other different ones. In contrast, Lancaster blue and double cheddar seem to occur in very few variations. The photo below from one of our quilts shows blue and cheddar in a similar pattern (as well as 2 different double pinks).
If you browse the quilt gallery along the right sidebar of this blog, you’ll see many examples of the pink in quilts, most with different prints. There are 6 examples of quilts with Lancaster blue, and almost all are variations on one of two patterns – the one I call double-dot as shown in the picture above and this one:
The second pattern that accounts for much of the Lancaster blue is one I call bellflower, as seen here:
I’ve seen perhaps 5 or six other double blue prints, though the two above and their variations seem to account for the grest majority. Similarly, the even scarcer double cheddar occurs in double dot prints as shown above, and perhaps a handful of others. I know of no reason why the variety of blue or cheddar prints should not be as great as those of the double pink, but in our experience there is a vastly greater number of patterns of pink than of either of the other two. If anyone else knows why, I hope they’ll let me know.