Quilts In America

Kaffe Fassett learned to knit on the train from Scotland to London. His first knitting design then appeared as a full-page spread in Vogue Magazine. 

Born in San Francisco in 1937, Fassett has dedicated fifty years of his life to textile crafts. Through his own designs, as well as through his many publications, workshops and lectures, Fassett has hugely contributed to promoting knitting, needlepoint and patchwork as worthwhile and beautiful skills. This year, his dedication to these crafts was recognised with an MBE from the British Crown. 

Fassett started his career in the creative arts as a fine artist and studied briefly at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School. After just three months, he left to move to London and paint. Painting inspired Fassett's passion for colour and he continues to exhibit his paintings. However, colour soon led him to knitting and designing knitwear, and eventually, his designs were picked up by big fashion names, such as Missoni. Now, Fassett's hand-knitted garments are now in museum collections all over the world. He later took up needlepoint and patchwork, creating both his own works and designs for others to make.

One of the designers that Fassett worked with was Bill Gibb. In 1970, Vogue chose a Bill Gibb design that featured Fassett's hand-knitting as the Dress of the Year. This was an important event, as it gave out the message that traditional textile handicrafts were being valued by mainstream fashion. Fassett and Gibb worked together through to the end, collaborating on Gibb’s final collection in 1985.

This month, Fassett is releasing a new book: Kaffe Fassett's Quilts in America: Designs Inspired by Quilts from the American Museum in BritainThe book displays a marvellous array of quilts, inspired by vintage American quilts. 

Kaffe Fassett's Quilts in America: Designs Inspired by Quilts from the American Museum in Britain, Kaffe Fassett, published by Taunton, RRP £25, available from ISBN number: 978-1-63186-961-7

Blog post by Jessica Edney, photography by Debbie Patterson.

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  • Sue Rykens on

    As a quilter, needlepointer and sometimes knitter, I love Kaffe’s designs. Although I live in the U.S., I was visiting the UK in 2015 and was able to attend a lecture he gave in Huddersfield. What an inspiration! No more boring beige for me!

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