By: Xenia E. Cord
Kit quilts played an important role in the resurgence of quiltmaking during the Colonial Revival movement of the 1920s and 1930s. Commercially produced, media-promoted kits redirected the focus of quiltmaking from a community-based folk group process to a professionally created product stressing surface design. That perceptual change created a popular market, resulting in a flood of replicated quilt designs.
An analysis of catalogs and kits reveals some of the complex and obscure relationships among companies marketing quiltmaking components in inexpensive, attractive formats that encouraged further purchases. The simplicity of single-template pieced designs and the limited range of fabric choices and colors in applique patterns suggests that control of the market was directed by a small group of entrepreneurs who used female images and sentimental rhetoric to reach its targeted audience.