50 Shades of Cornflower Blue

Photo by Charity Banks.

By Kristen Banks

“I’ll tell you a story, correct me if it’s not true, but the most noble of all the colors is the lowly Cornflower Blue.” —Kritty

If you were alive in the 1980s you know exactly what color I’m talking about. And you probably made or owned at least one ceramic duck adorned with a blue gingham ribbon around its neck. Or at the very least someone in your family had a set of white Corning Ware baking dishes heaped full of steaming hot roasted meat, carrots, and potatoes. You know the ones with the iconic blue Corn Flower displayed prominently on the side, which ceremoniously graced the Sunday dinner table each week. And don’t forget the matching dinner plate you filled eagerly with a slice or two of wonder bread slathered with Country Crock margarine.

This subtle, common, subdued, everyday little color managed to show up everywhere around this time period. In the early ’90s, Cornflower Blue was replaced with the more sophisticated country color choices like ‘Cranberry’ and ‘Hunter Green.’ But while the rest of the world was moving on to greener pastures quilters kept the Cornflower Blue flame alive.

It is a little known fact that Quilters LOVE Cornflower Blue. Wedgwood blue, cornish blue, saphire blue, medium blue, iris blue, Boyles blue, country blue, whatever you want to call it, a little lighter a little darker, all are basically the same color. Cornflower Blue has actually been around for a long time but has always been a little bit ambiguous, and even the internet can’t agree on when it was first introduced.

Wikipedia says, “Cornflower blue is a Crayola color. It was originally introduced in 1958, in the box of 48 crayons.” While Crayola’s own website says the color was first introduced in 1949. Either way it must have taken the quilting world by storm, based on how common and prolific this color choice has become throughout the years. I would wager that over half of the quilts I see come through the door of my quilt shop contain a piece, or two, or twenty of some variation of this color of blue. And although I don’t understand it, and can’t explain it, I must confess every quilt seems to look a little bit better when this color is included.

So what’s the appeal of this soft, subdued, unobtrusive color? Why do we find it so beseeching? I once told my sister that I thought God made the sky blue because it matches with everything. I always used to ponder that question, “Why did God choose blue for the color of the sky?” It was a really important choice He had to make. It’s a back drop for everything we do, it fills up our view everyday, and I really wondered “Why?” And one day I just realized that everything looks great up against it.

Think about it for a minute….Is there anything that clashes with the sky? Not really, in my opinion. I’m not sure if that’s the right answer, but it sure satisfied me for the time being, and I think it was a brilliant choice.

That, and it’s comforting. Imagine if you walked out everyday and your entire view was filled up with fuschia or neon orange all day. I mean I know sunsets can be amazing, but a little bit goes a long way. Imagine how distracting it would be to glance out the window ALL day, and get a big eye full of tie dye. You’d wonder if you were experiencing some psychodelic episode. I’d be as nervous as a squirrel with a double dose of prozac everyday.

Thankfully that is not the case. And now, when I sit out on my deck by myself on a quite morning, and look out at the horizon all around me, I think about how big God is and how he’s everywhere, just like the sky. And I’m comforted. And although I don’t completely understand him, I know that every day and every situation looks a little bit better when He is included. He goes with everything.

So, if you’re having a hard time getting your color choices to gel, try a medium blue, it just might be the thing that pulls your whole quilt together. And if you’re having a hard time getting your life to make sense you might try looking up, because introducing God into your situation just might be the thing that pulls it all together.

Every Quilter has a story and we’d like to hear yours! Send us your stories, tips, and ideas to luluandhazel@yahoo.com.


  1. Susan says:

    Wow, that was one of your best articles.

  2. Carol hart says:

    O WOW loved this and you know how many Corning Ware I have. And I also had the ducks and yes the had the ribbon and hohn and I remark all the time about how beautiful the blue sky is loved your article!!

  3. Lisa Banks says:

    Nailed it again Kristen!