Cutter Quilt – What Does This Phrase Really Mean?

I’ve been obsessed by vintage quilts for the last decade. Once I finally had a family of my own, the warmth, history and values that antique fabrics represent has been very appealing. The idea of someone lovingly and artistically cutting, arranging, and sewing beautiful fabrics together is simply too strong for me to resist. I love the history of old textiles and quilts and I have become an eager student on the characteristics and significance of each kind.

Information about most types of quilts is pretty straightforward, but I still find cutter quilts to be very subjective and mysterious. That’s because the phrase means different things to different collectors, artists and crafters.

Some see a true cutter as a unique piece made out of scraps of vintage fabric. Usually, these textiles are old, treasured clothes like neck ties, christening gowns, wedding dresses, suits, and scraps of lace or velvet. Sometimes the scraps are more common and utilitarian like feed sack. Occasionally, these pieces are also called crazy quilts. Dealers who have this view of cutters usually see them as not defined by their damage but by the type and shape of the fabric used.

Others view these types of quilts as nothing more than damaged pieces to be cut up and make into something else entirely. This is not as bad as it sounds. If a piece is truly irreparably damaged, it’s commendable to want to save and preserve it. There is only so much genuine feed sack or turn of the century textiles available. Many quilters and collectors love old fabrics, but find a torn or worn piece undesirable.

Still others view a cutter quilt as a bargain priced valuable antique that only needs to be lovingly repaired and restored. Because some dealers will discount pieces with flaws, many view these items as a bargain second to none.

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