Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Stars in a Time Warp 26: Pillar Prints

Reproduction star by Becky Brown
featuring a pillar print.

Vintage Pillar Print with a yellow ground

The early nineteenth-century mania for stripes created a vogue for a pattern variation that textile historians today call pillar prints. Design echoes the classical architecture of ancient Greece and Rome with stripes assuming the form of fluted, rounded columns interrupted by ornate capitals and garlands of flowers. 

Blue blotch ground behind a pillar print
Other names for the designs are “architectural prints” or "columnar prints."

Pillar prints were a specialty of England's textile mills. The French, the Dutch, and the Swiss had no interest in printing or using them. A major market was Americans who were styling their new nation on the ideals of ancient Greece.

Two pillar prints for the American market

Americans infatuated with all forms of classical design favored large-scale pillar print between 1800 and 1840. The designs were not only printed in full-chintz colors but as monochrome toiles.

Early-19th-century quilt from an ad in The Clarion,
Summer, 1989. Pillar print in the border.

 Florence McConnell's reproduction of the Borden Family Quilt at the 
New England Quilt Museum below.
Florence interpreted the original at smaller scale for the
American Quilt Study Group's Star Study, 2010.

Detail of Florence's with repro pillar print.

Another quilt with the same pillar print border (?) from the 
New England Quilt Museum.

Pillar prints seem to have been quite popular with New England quilters in the 1810-1840 years.

Sarah's Nine Patch reproduction,
using the copy of the antique print below.

Lorie sez in the comments:
"I believe [this] one ... is actually by Lisa DeBee Shiller for Timeless Treasures"
The Shiller Pillar?

NOT Colossal Columns by Kathy Hall from the American Folk Art Museum

Bettina's repro star
captures the out-of-scale look that
we often see in early patchwork.

I found this piece of the same print in purple

Becky fussy-cut 

to make a vivid star.

Source for this antique medallion? 

The center star is pieced of pillar print fragments

Reminding you that even if you don't want to feature a particular print you can include scraps to create an authentic look.


Lately Arrived from London

I've reproduced several pillar prints over the years.

See Sandra Starley's quilt made with this print here:
Above and below, two by Nancy Gere

Terry Thompson and I did this reproduction in Coral Gardens.

It's the same print that's in this detail

Chintz quilt with pillar print border.
Collection of the Spencer Museum of Art.

What to Do With Your Stack of Stars?
Use pillar prints for the setting blocks and border with a chintz.

Pillar Prints set in every direction in an early quilt top from the collection of
Old Sturbridge Village

Historic New England has a similar quilt:

Another star and pillar from the Crane House on
Barbara Schaffer's blog

Sumptuous Stars by Barb Vedder

A chintz pillar print for the border.

Other chintz border ideas...
(A review of the last few weeks)

Dark ground chintz (vintage quilt from William Bunch Auctions)

Or a light ground as in this Broderie Perse Quilt by Fannie E Wright & Eliza Bacon

A Fancy machine ground

Quilt from Historic Deerfield Museum
A blue blotch ground

From collection of Marilyn Woodin
A border stripe

One More Thing About Pillar Prints

The term "pillar print" seems to be rather recent, a mid-twentieth-century description. The earliest reference I have found to fabric by searching Google's digitized books in a 1956 British publication. 

The term is more commonly used to describe Japanese wood blocks on paper, in which a pillar print (hashira-ye) is a long, narrow print meant to hang from a wooden pillar in a house.

Read more about pillar prints at a post here:

See Laura Syler's Pinterest page


Suzanne A said...

Becky Brown has outdone herself with that first block in which the pillar is growing through the star and coming out the top. It seems a parody of all the wacky period cuts of chintz you've shown us. It's hilarious!

Vicki W said...

I love reading everything on your blog but I think this series is my favorite. I am learning so much! I recognize all,of the different types of fabrics but have never thought of them as separate categories. Thank you for all of the time and effort you have invested in this.

Barb said...

Thanks for posting my simple star from NJ Heritage book with the pillar print borders - readers can see my work at: or I can't wait to make this block - I LOVE pillar prints. Thanks again for such a few and informative sew along, Barbara!

cityquilter grace said...

very interesting blog trying to keep up with this sew along but sometimes finding these obscure prints can be you have a source for some of these prints where i don't have to buy a significant quantity?

Barbara Brackman said...

Grace- interesting question. I'd buy an 1/8th yard of everything, but that could get pricey. It takes years to build a good repro stash. Sharing with friends is good. I get a lot of my repro prints from a box we share at my guild. Bring some fabric you don't want, take some fabric. One quilter's reject is another quilter's treasure.

Jeanne said...

Wow, halfway through the year already - my pile of stars is GROWING! Thank you, Barbara, for all the information you're sharing with us. I'm learning something new every week!

Unknown said...

Love these pillar prints--gorgeous. And such a good reminder of the different ways to use them.
Having just run downstairs to my stash, I believe the one which is identified as being by Kathy Hall is actually by Lisa DeBee Shiller for Timeless Treasures. I made the 9 patch reproduction quilt in the photo, using it for the borders, and tried very hard at that time to locate the source of the design in an antique fabric and never did. I think I even tried to contact Lisa Shiller. My dear friend an I had purchased it in every colorway and lovingly named it "The Shiller Pillar."

Rosa said...

Fabulous ,love how you play with those prints.Thanks for sharing!

Sandra said...

Thank you for sharing the link to my eagle quilt using the repro pillar print.