Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Stars in a Time Warp 4: Chrome Orange or Cheddar

Becky Brown
Reproduction block with Chrome orange plain
 and chrome yellow print

Vintage mid-19th century applique

Chrome orange is a color familiar to every collector of antique quilts.

Vintage quilt about 1870, photo from the Quilt Complex
Chrome orange in the stars and the stripes.
Read more about this quilt here:

Vintage quilt, probably Pennsylvania, end of the 19th century

After 1840 or so chrome orange in prints and plains was popular for piecing and a favorite accent to the reds and greens of appliqué florals. Towards the end of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, quiltmakers in parts of Pennsylvania and the Southern United States considered the color the perfect background for appliqué and pieced designs.

Hexagon quilt mid-19th-century
Chrome yellow at the top and chrome orange at the bottom 
were closely related in chemistry.

Reproduction block by Bettina Havig

We'll make chrome orange stars this week, to use a name the dyers and printers used. 

William Crookes captioned this printed plaid "Chrome Orange Light and Dark"
in his Practical Handbook of Dyeing and Calico Printing,
published in 1874, 

Chrome dyes are mineral dyes, rather than vegetable dyes.

Doll quilt about 1850

Flying Geese quilt about 1840-1860

We call it cheddar today.

Vintage quilt about 1880
Polka dots (circular figures set in a diagonal grid)
were popular on chrome orange. The prints
are often quite simple.

Vintage Quilt, late 19th-century

Detail of an album sampler dated 1857.
It's called the Odd Lady Quilt, perhaps a
reference to the Odd Fellows or to the style where every block is different.

Vintage quilt, about 1880-1900
When shaded like this the Evening Star block loses its starry qualities.

You occasionally run across a complex chrome orange print,
here combined with chrome yellow.

Vintage quilt about 1880-1910

Kathlyn Sullivan collects Cheddar or Chrome Orange
quilts; many of them from North Carolina.

After the Civil War, Southerners opened fabric mills, some specializing in solid colors and plaids. Chrome orange plains dyed with the mineral dye were colorfast and inexpensive leading to a Southern regional style of solid color quilts featuring chrome orange.


Antique Diva Pyramids (detail) by Diana Petterson from History Repeated

Using a lot of chrome orange creates a certain look,
style often seen in the quilts of the 19th-century Patchwork Divas group.

The color is so strong it's sometimes hard to find. Yellows don't sell
as well as blues or greens.

Repro Quilt Lover recommends Moda's Bella Solid
9900-152 called Cheddar.
See why she has two bolts here:

Reproduction quilt by Marcie at PatchaLot

Rosemary Youngs, Macaroni and Cheese reproduction, 2011

There are a variety of cheddary colors out there. Rosemary
seems to have a lot of this solid in her stash.

I think she used 4" blocks so she probably still
has a lot of chrome orange reproduction left.

Three chrome orange prints from Nancy Gere's Colonies: Cheddar and Poison Green

The PolkaDotChicken blog used a Moda dot from an old collection called Rooftop Garden.
That particular dot is probably tough to find now, but the point of this QuiltAlong is to teach you what to look for---bright orange background with white or brown/black dots.

Also look for bright cheesey-backgrounds with spaced-out figures.

Mercer County Star by Jean Stanclift used a chrome orange
and a chrome yellow from some of my early collections.

Star Puzzle by Jean Stanclift.
When we had our Sunflower Pattern Co-op
we were on a cheddar and blue roll.

Reproduction Star by Bettina Havig

Reproduction Star by Becky Brown

If the authentic cheddar colors are too much for
you remember you can use toned-down shades for
an interpretation of an antique quilt rather than a copy.
Go towards the pumpkin color or a brownish-gold.

Jo Morton's Spice Market

But even if you aren't comfortable with a true cheddary chrome orange
you should try it. As Becky says:

 "Cheddar/Orange is my least favorite color - until now - I have [the block at the top of the page] pinned up and can't stop looking at it, and loving it."

Setting Idea for Your Stack of Star Blocks
Alternate Plain Blocks on Point

Reproduction quilt by Carol Hopkins, 
Tribute to Judie [Rothermel]

Set the blocks on point with an alternate unpieced square for a very traditional look. Carol's used a few of Judie's 19th-century yellow-orange prints to move our eye around this composition.

Vintage quilt from first half of the 19th century,
Holstein Collection, International Quilt Study Center & Museum.

Reproduction quilt by Claire McKarns
Claire used a similar set for her 2010
AQSG Star Study quilt.

Reproduction quilt by the Women Who Run With Scissors
Years ago our sewing group made this star quilt
with two borders to benefit our guild. Same set:
pieced and appliqued borders with an updated
border repeat.

One More Thing about Chrome Orange

A spill stained the white and damaged the chrome orange

The mineral dye chrome orange is quite colorfast, resisting light so it doesn't fade. But like Prussian blue it reacts to the acid/alkalai balance in laundering. Acids in the water or in a spill can draw out the orange leaving a pale yellow green as in the above quilt. We don't use chromes anymore for dyeing. The minerals are too dangerous to workers.

More posts on chrome orange:


WoolenSails said...

On some I would have thought it was cheddar, love how it contrasts with the other fabrics.


Amy said...

Going to be making many stars this week --- I'm a cheddar fanatic!

Jacque Wright said...

Love love love cheddar! I try to use at least a bit of it in everything I make.

Jeanne said...

Hooray -- it's star day! I love cheddar, and your examples with orangey backgrounds make me want to start **yet another** quilt.

Forgot to ask the other week: is there a Bella (or Kona or other) solid that we could use as Prussian Blue?

Vic in NH said...

What a glorious expose on cheddars and chrome yellows! Thank you for the breadth and depth of all the different examples you have shown; I always learn so much here.

Anonymous said...

Not my favorite color, so I'll have to dig to find some - or visit the local shop with repros! Thanks for an interesting variety of blocks and quilts, though.

Chantal said...

Hmmmm so many eye candy in this post. I think I love every single one of them. I ♥ Cheddar. I have many Chrome Orange so I will do some stars hopefully this week. Thanks.

Dorothy said...

Your blog on 'blue' was good on your 'reds' lovely but the Cheddar wins hands down. Such a wonderful colour.

Sue in Marion said...

I just love those antique applique quilts with cheddar backgrounds! One of these days......meanwhile, I have a bunch of Judie Rothermel repros for my stars- need to go get them out & pet them!

Anonymous said...

Orange had never been a color I liked but in recent years it has grown on me. It's a good pop color.

carol fun said...

Great article! While I don't make quilts with CW repro fabrics I do LOVE cheddar. And thanks for the mention of my blog with the picture of the block using modern Cheddar fabric. It made my day! In fact, I did a post on it and included info on a quilt I made which was inspired by a CW quilt a friend was making, but I did it in a very different palette. Lots of fun.

here's a link if you are interested -

Patt said...

I've noticed in many antique quilts that all or almost all the fabrics are prints, except the cheddar fabric, which is a solid. Is there a reason why the cheddars are solid fabrics?

Rosemary Youngs said...

Thank you so much for featuring my star quilt, I just love cheddar, I think it works so well with Civil War fabrics.

Sally said...

Love cheddar and usually use it with green (poison or over-dyed) and indigo with a touch of chrome yellow. I have lots of cheddar and chrome yellow in my stash and the 'Civil War' group in my guild often come egging!