The Quilt Scout

by Mary Fons

Pledging Purity

Column #14

There are many things I ceased to do after graduating from college. An excerpt from the embarrassingly short list includes:

    • Driving a car

    • Dating the adorable David

    • Feeling confident about my future

    • Using colored bedding


I still don’t drive a car, David is married with kids, and my future is still uncertain, but I’m used to it.


Photo Right: I think I actually woke up in this bed the day I had my Italian final junior year, but, like a lot of college, I don’t remember. Image: Wikipedia


Surprisingly, it’s that last thing that impacts me on a daily basis. Without exception, all of my sheets, pillowcases, comforters, duvets, etc., are plain white. There are a number of reasons for this; as you will see, my identity as a quilter has emerged as the primary one.


College is full of colored bedding. Kids in college use whatever sheet sets they can get, or they take the used stuff from home, or Mom buys them inexpensive sets at Target or IKEA—and Sam’s favorite colors are red and yellow.


Flannel sheets were popular when I went off to school, so I spent years in dorms and apartments sleeping under pilly flannel sheets and attendant pillowcases that ranged from teal to periwinkle to magenta, and usually a garish mix of all those.


It bothered me, but I couldn’t say why, exactly. But I realized at some point in the years after graduation that when I stayed at a nice hotel (Holiday Inn counts), the bedding felt so nice...and it was always white.


That crisp, fresh feeling of white sheets was the best part of a hotel experience for me. From that moment forward, I have used white bedding on every bed I’ve made. Anything else just feels grubby and late for class.


Photo Above: White linen -- or in this case, underwear -- looks better on a clothesline on a summer day, too. Image: Wikipedia


Because I didn’t start making quilts until I was in my late twenties, I had no way of knowing that my pillowcase/sheet preference would serve my passion perfectly.


When you put a colorful patchwork quilt on a bed fitted with white bedding, the patchwork quilt gets all the glory. It’s the superstar of the bed. Any color scheme, any pattern, when a quilt floats atop a field of white, what you’ve done for the quilt is give it the treatment every snooty NYC art gallery owner knows: art looks best on a white wall.


Speaking of snooty people from New York City, years ago Vogue fashion editor Anna Wintour coined the phrase “matchy-matchy.” When your handbag matches your shoes matches your headband, you’re matchy-matchy: boring, and not terribly creative.


It turns out you can be matchy-matchy with your quilt-linen combo, too. If you match your pale pink sheets with your pale-pink-and-green bargello on the bed, the pink in the quilt blends with the pink pillowcases sitting atop it; the deep green dust ruffle obscures the border you labored over. And the very notion you’d pair a jewel-toned Jinny Beyer with buttercream yellow bedding… I can’t talk about it.


But on white! On a bed trussed up in white linen, your piè de résistance shines. “See my vibrant florals!” it shouts in its snow-white pride. “Feast your eyes on my rich brown calico!” Indeed, like being hung on a white art gallery wall, your quilt is contrasted—not confused—by its surroundings. It looks fantastic.


Photo Right: You put this Hawaiian quilt on a bed with beige plaid bedding, I’ll find you. Image: Wikipedia


I rotate quilts on and off my bed. I’ll use my favorite Log Cabin for a while, and then swap it out for a Churn Dash. No matter the quilt, it is unfurled on a bed of white linen. I still feel twenty-two sometimes, but I sleep like a baby.