The different styles of cottage quilts tend to incorporate classic quilt blocks pieced together in traditionally styled fabrics. There is no one specific type of quilting pattern or print of fabric that is commonly used in all cottage quilts. The term is often used, however, to refer to patterns and fabrics that may be paired with antique bed frames and furniture and used to create a cottage or country chic decorating atmosphere. These quilts may be sewn by hand using fabrics purchased from local quilting stores, or they may be bought from country style decorating websites and home decor stores.
Traditional quilt top patterns tend to use quilt blocks and assembly styles that have been used for many decades. Common quilt blocks that fall into this category include the basket, split rail fence, nine-patch, churn dash square, and pinwheel, among others. These blocks are easy to sew together, can be pieced by a beginner quilter, and can be found in quilts dating back 100 years.
The basket block uses a central piece comprised of two half-square triangles. This primary block is then surrounded by a border of smaller half square triangles in two alternating colors, arranged to resemble a basket with a carrying handle. The basket block can be found in many cottage quilts as both border pieces and as a central theme for the whole of the quilt. Central basket blocks often feature fabric flowers appliqued inside and around the basket and carrying handle, so that the basket appears to have a spring bouquet spilling from its edges.
The split rail fence, nine-patch, and churn dash square are among the simplest blocks to complete when creating cottage quilts. These blocks use primarily straight edges to create rectangular and square pieces that sew together easily. The split rail fence presents three rectangles sewn together to resemble a fence. This simple block of three fabrics is then turned in alternating directions so that one fabric colors appears to make a stair step fence pattern across the top of the quilt.
The nine-patch block separates two contrasting fabrics into nine squares and connects them in a manner similar to a checker board. These patched blocks are alternated with solid blocks so that the nine-patches, when viewed as a whole, make a connecting chain that weaves across the center of the quilt. The churn dash square block surrounds a center square with a thinner square border. The corners of this border are replaced with half square triangles to create a unique frame.
Cottage quilts based on these classic quilt blocks also tend to feature traditionally styled fabrics. Large floral prints, reproduction fabrics, and 1930s prints are popular in use in these types of quilts. Country decorating schemes tend to incorporate colors and items that might be found around the garden, such as muted greens, pastel pinks and purples, and light blues. These hues may be seen in abundance in large floral prints that showcase hydrangeas, gardenias, roses, and irises blooming in small gardens that are populated by humming birds and blue jays.
Reproduction fabrics and 1930s prints are specialized fabric that have been created to mimic exact prints found in antique quilts. Reproduction fabrics typically pre-date the 1900s and are made from muted navies, browns, and maroons featuring exquisitely small prairie flowers and stars patterned across their surface. 1930s prints are bright and vivacious, presenting electric reds, blues, and pastel greens. These prints are commonly used in the quilt pattern known as Grandmother's Garden in which bright fabrics are surrounded by a border of green fabric cut into small octagons and set against a backdrop of white.