Since the first time I set eyes on Arnold’s Attic, I thought it was just another elegant fall line — of course I think they are all very beautiful and put a unique spin on the season– but Barbara Brackman, designer of Arnold’s Attic, is here today to share a very intriguing story. One that gives an extra diversion away from…well, even being called a Fall line at all…
Arnold’s Attic celebrates everybody who saves things and especially my penpal Arnold Hegy Savage. Over the years he has sent me many gifts of fabric swatches with a note, “I found this in the attic.” Arnold lives in an 1840 Ohio house that’s been in his family for several generations. His mother, his aunt and his grandmothers were quilters and confirmed collectors.
|Arnold Hegy Savage|
The prints reproduce the latest trends from 1880 to 1920 when his Aunt Alice was buying for her quilts and clothing. The cottons in those years looked to tradition in subject matter but explored modern shapes and abstractions. Colors echoed the new aniline dyes —olive, bronze and brick—earth tones with a little punch.
Aunt Alice Hegy (1870-1955) taught Arnold to sew in the early 1930s when he was confined to his bed with rheumatic fever. She started him out with nine-patches and he figures he must have made a thousand. His mother often found him asleep with a needle and a nine-patch in his hand. He tried hexagons with the same dedication and then took up applique. After a career as a professional cellist he returned to his family home and to quilting. Arnold’s won numerous prizes for his quilts, which often reflect his family memories.
The combination of brown and bright pink was hot in the 1880s. But when I am coloring a whole collection I have to think about the all-over effect, so I decided against the pink. And I changed the colors by greening up the tans and shifting the carmels to red so all the prints would go together as a group.
The patterns and colors are named for family members and local landmarks. Thanks to all the collectors—women all named Mary. There’s Mary Barbara Fisher Hegy, Arnold’s great-grandmother, Mary Alice Hegy, his aunt, and Mary Madonna Hegy Savage, his mother. And thanks to Arnold for keeping everything, sorting it and sending some to me.