XXX: When Patchwork Is "Pornographic"

Quilter's Home has rocked the needlework world to its foundation with its exploration of adult themes in quilting. "Shocking Quilts: We Show You the Controversial Patchwork," says the (plastic-wrapped) cover! Hey, it's a recession!

As the Washington Post's Monica Hesse tells it, the January/February "sex issue" was found to be too controversial for Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts, which chose not to carry the magazine. And while this may seem farcical, a look at the content shows that it's indeed a far cry from the Double Wedding Ring.

Behold, seven straight pages of shocking quilts. We're talking fabric phalluses. Gun-toting Jesuses. A newborn peering out from his mother's lady parts (constructed out of lots of soft, embroidered orange cloth).Some of the images are disturbing — and moving — like quilter Gwen Magee's "Southern Heritage/Southern Shame," which depicts five lynching victims hanging in front of a Confederate flag...Others are whimsical. Consider "Helping Hands," a Charlottesville quilter's ode to Viagra. The work was inspired by a present from a friend: "A fat quarter of fabrics with all these itty-bitty penises and sperm," says Mary Beth Bellah, describing the pile of remnants with delight.

Quilters like Bellah see the traditional medium as a natural for conveying important messages: as she puts it, "People respond to quilts like nothing else." And as those who've been following the struggles of print media with increasing dismay, we can only tip our hats to any publication trying something fresh rather than running scared. In fact, this actually seems really smart: if, as we're told, the flailing economy means a return to nostalgic pursuits, now is exactly the time to intrigue a potential new readership who might be as intrigued by crafting's artistic potential as its anachronistic comfort. Frankly, we're beginning to OD on "comfort food" and same-old reassurance; if we're making lemonade, let's spike it. We're glad to see Quilter's Home agrees!

Uncovered! The Unseemly Side Of Quilts[Washington Post]