The impact of the Whitney Museum of American Art's Abstract Design in American Quilts was both immediate and long term.

Artists who were already experimenting with the quilt form felt heartened that quilts were being shown in a major art museum. Artists who had trained in other mediums began to see quiltmaking as a legitimate, challenging, and singular mode of expression—and some of them adopted the form as their own. Traditional quiltmakers, who were a bit surprised by the sudden popularity of quilts, nevertheless were pleased to see them being displayed and talked about in altogether new settings. Grassroots quiltmaking, also spurred on by Bicentennial and counter-culture celebrations of traditional American crafts and folkways, exploded.

With quilts' profile being raised to such a high level, the market catering to collectors became larger and more sophisticated. Digging around in flea markets for quilts was still a possibility, but dealers started to corner larger shares of the market, especially for rare, unique, and high-end examples. The work of contemporary quilt artists also joined private and public collections, including the plethora of quilt- and textile-focused museums that sprang up in the 1970s and after. Lay researchers and scholars, too, focused new attention on how to preserve quilts and, especially, the record of their makers and their significance to American social, political, and economic history.