Abstract Design in American Quilts became an emblematic exhibition in part because traditional pieced quilts had so rarely before been displayed in New York City, let alone in one of its premier art museums. Perhaps ironically, a good portion of the quilts in the exhibition fit squarely in the “vernacular” category: made with everyday materials, techniques, and aesthetics that in many ways contrasted with the Whitney Museum’s sleek, modern art setting and aesthetic. These quilts represented the handwork of average late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century Americans rather than the mid-century modernist artists more often displayed in the Whitney. Completed in common patterns such as Log Cabin, Nine Patch, and Crazy, with simplified techniques like tying (as opposed to quilting) and commonplace materials such as wool suiting scraps and cotton shirting fabrics, these vernacular quilts lie at the practical, everyday heart of the American pieced tradition.