Back to the 70s with Kaffe Fassett

kaffe fassett 01There’s something fabulously old-school hippy about the textile artist Kaffe Fassett and his quilting,needlepoint and knitting style. Maybe it’s his upbringing on the Californian Big Sur coastline where his parents ran a restaurant popular with artists, or his move to the UK in the 60s where he worked with Bill Gibb and settled in  Notting Hill, or maybe its his cheerfully bold and upbeat colour combinations. Whatever it is, his gentle, happy vibe is impossible to be miserable around and if you like his work, then nip along to the Fashion and Textile Museum in London where a retrospective of his work is being held.

kaffe fassett 03The show has a selection of quilts and knitting, mashed up with some of his early art and recent exquisite needlepoint and embroidery (by far, my favourites). The exhibition is a magnet for the silver haired quilting brigade who spent a lot of time bent low admiring Kaffe’s careful stitch work while I was there. The older quilting ladies I know were brought up in an era where Needlework was on the curriculum at school and sewing was properly considered a skill; where tiny stitches, creative flair and beautiful finishing (the back being as neat as the front) was something to be quietly proud of (no showing off in this age group, obvs, just not done). I think they adore Kaffe’s work because he holds all these values dear too. That and his adventurous approach to colour.

kaffe fassett 06Above is some of his art and needlepoint, I loved the slightly calmer blues…

kaffee fassett04Inspiration board, left and quilt, right, showing Kaffe’s love of a bright hue.

kaffe fassett 07Hippy knitting, there’s always room in the wardrobe for a patchwork knitted shawl….

kaffee fassett 05Knitted quilts and patterns, these take me right back to the 70s, when Kaffe worked with the Missoni family to create knitted styles that seemed to be in every copy of Vogue you picked up .

kaffe fassettThe embroideries were gorgeous, the ones I liked were the vegetables, why isn’t there more ruby chard and radish embroidery? Don’t you love the embroidered signatures too?

kaffe fassett frontI desperately wanted the vegetable needlepoint cushions, and I might even have to take up needlepoint to have one….

sindysOn the way out of the exhibition I fell in love with these 60s & 70s Sindys, which I can’t resist putting in. They remind me of making clothes for my dolls when I was little, although I wasn’t this creative.

The exhibition is on until June 29th 2013 and there are some great Short Courses where Kaffe is teaching on quilting, if you are interested. Check the museum website for details.


  • Tiffany says:

    Yup, I’ll stick to the needlepoint as well. As a knitter, I’ve seen many of KF’s designs and they’re generally – although splendid and technically brilliant – just a Bit Too Much for me. But those vegetables – gorgeous!

  • Sue says:

    They’re great to look at ; might just have to go to the exhibition. If you are keen to do your own,Fine Cell Work do very nice vegetable needlepoint cushion cover kits (and ready made up cushion covers too, if you don’t want to do it yourself).I have the artichoke one.Unfinished, of course. I was so slow I gave up exasperated,but I’m inspired to dig it out again seeing the examples above.

  • Marv says:

    Hmmm. I have never been a hippy and frankly dislike much of the knitting, I don’t think knitting works as textile art, which much of this is. Knitting is for wearing. But the embroidered radishes look good.

  • Amanda says:

    I was a fully paid up hippy in my teens but even I find the KF look a bit dated Marv, thanks for the Fine Cell Work tip Sue, I meant to get to one of their pop up shops over Christmas but failed, will look them up . Vegetable love then, ladies! Ax

  • charlotte robbins says:

    do you know where I can find a pattern for the needlepointed Frog pillows? I have been looking for years.

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