What does “modern quilting” mean to you?

As we work to get the Modern Quilt Guild up and running, we’ve encountered a number of people who are unsure about this “modern quilting” thing. What is it? How is it different from other kinds of quilting, and how does each quilter’s individual style fit in?

Our website has a general description but, because modern quilting means different things to different people, we thought it might be helpful to ask ourselves, and our members, to answer the question: “What does modern quilting mean to you?”

This week, our Planning Committee will be answering that question on the MQG Blog. We hope that you will join us by posting your own answers on your personal blogs. If you choose to participate, please leave a link to your answer in the comments to this post. (If you don’t have your own blog, you can leave your answer right here in the comments.)

Please keep in mind that there are no right or wrong answers. Our goal is simply to explore the different ways we all define “modern quilting.”

We look forward to seeing your responses!

34 thoughts on “What does “modern quilting” mean to you?

  1. I think that modern quilting means that you are incorporating a fresh new style to the traditional way of quilting…maybe that means color choice or technique…just you bringing a fresh face to quilting!

  2. For me its bringing a fresh new look to something, whether its fresh vintage, fresh retro, fresh floral, fresh pastel or fresh designs. I guess you could say that fresh is the word 🙂

  3. The whole virtual community of quilters I’ve encountered are the nicest, friendliest, most generous, helpful, extremely talented group of people I’ve ever encountered. I’ve learned all of my quilting skills and methods solely from these people on the internet. Maybe the technology is part of what makes this “modern” quilting.

  4. What does modern quilting mean to me?

    I see modern quilting as the third leg of a stool that includes traditional quilting and art quilting. Modern quilting seems to encompass the basic materials of traditional quiltmaking with the bend and break the rules approach of art quilting.

    For me, modern quilting often has a somewhat minimalist approach to design. The designs are graphic and bold. They often look simple to make, but are not necessarily so. In addition, many modern quilters use negative space in a way that neither traditional quilters or art quilters usually do.

    While many of us “modern quilters” appreciate and value the workmanship and detail that may comprise an award winning traditional or art quilt, these are not the quilts we want to make.

    • “I see modern quilting as the third leg of a stool that includes traditional quilting and art quilting. Modern quilting seems to encompass the basic materials of traditional quiltmaking with the bend and break the rules approach of art quilting.”

      This idea–that of three legs, makes the most sense to me. Thanks, Debbie, for bringing that into the conversation. As for me, someone who began some 36 years ago with a small applique quilt and who has done the full range, I think the “modern quilt” movement has its plusses and minuses. I also agree with some of the ideas that domesticat has on her post. I, too, sometimes get tired of the excessive blockiness and whiteness, as these themes seem to repeat and repeat and repeat.

      Like everyone else, I applaud the freedom shown in many quilts, yet realize that as these quilters’ skills improve and as they spend a few more years at this craft, we may yet see another version of the modern quilt emerge. I’ll be looking forward to this.

  5. Finding your own way to do things, getting the info you need to complete a project… As most of what we do is NOT NEW to quilting, people have been sewing scraps together for eons…Modern quilting to me, is taking what you know, learning what you don’t know, and applying it to your OWN ideas and ways to create something that is stitched together…

    • “Modern quilting to me, is taking what you know, learning what you don’t know, and applying it to your OWN ideas and ways to create something that is stitched together…”

      I love this! So true.

  6. Modern quilting is putting your spin on tradition. We are creating trends and using other inspirations in our projects. I think “Modern” is based on our current time frame. I’m very excited about this movement. Bringing younger people into this hobby/obsession is great.

  7. To me modern quilting means sewing according to our “modern” lifestyle. We’re busy–we have jobs, families, things to take care of. We don’t have a lot of leisure time, but we’re setting aside some time to make creative choices in our lives. Unlike quilters of the past, we haven’t been honing our sewing skills since a young age–when we make mistakes, we work them into our design as reasonable idiosyncrasies, and move on. We appreciate the handiwork of skilled quilters, but admire the resolve of our fellow makers who are teaching themselves to sew and quilt as time permits.

  8. Pingback: What does “modern quilting” mean to Latifah Saafir? « The Modern Quilt Guild

  9. I’ll preface this by saying I am *exceptionally* hesitant to leave this comment.

    I spent some time trying to answer the question and ended up rather exasperated. I have balked at terming myself a ‘modern’ quilter because a significant subset of what I’ve seen termed ‘modern quilting’ online had a set of inspirations that I don’t share. I find it interesting in an intellectual sense, but I can’t see myself making such things.

    So — what ended up happening? I tried to answer the question posed here and ended up writing a (hopefully amusing) rant to answer the follow-up question: “If I am not a ‘modern quilter,’ what am I, and what am I doing?”

    Therefore, a ‘quiltifesto’ by someone who probably won’t be embracing the label: http://domesticat.net/2010/02/quiltifesto

  10. For me, Modern Quilting is all about the fabric. The use of solids instead of tone on tones being a great example. Choosing one or several prints and showcase it/them with a lot of solids. For me modern quilts embrace simpler lines/concepts. Frames ala log cabin instead of intricate piecing/applique. I guess at a basic level, quilts that are Inspired by Denyse Scmidt are Modern. (For me.)

    Mind you that I know that others find Gees Bend style quilts as modern – my great-grandma was a thrifty quilter who made that kind of quilt – so they do not speak to me as Modern at all.

    But that also reminds me of one of the best unwritten “rules” about Modern Quilting – tolerance.

  11. modern quilting to me is bending the rules, thinking outside the lines; mixing colors, new techniques, embellishing – ART

  12. Pingback: ::What Modern Quilting Means To Me:: « SEW KATIE DID

  13. Modern quilts to me are non-fussy and precise. They lack unnecessary elements and aren’t overdone. I think of clean lines and fundamental shapes when I think of modern quilts.

  14. First and foremost, the definition of modern quilting must include the computerized sewing machines, the rotary cutter, all the gizmos and gadgets, an entire library of books and patterns, and access to an inexhaustible variety and supply of quality fabrics. Then is there all the information available on the web. One has a choice of guilds or groups. Think of all the quilt shows we attend. Think how many of us have sewing rooms or at least a space that is devoted to our quilting and nothing else. We are all grateful to be stitching away with “natural” lamps while watching television. And we have the freedom of creating whatever we feel like without criticism!

  15. Modern quilting to me means a few things. Unfortunately, it often means machine quilted. I know that that’s still a load of work, but it just isn’t the same as hand quilting.

    It also means looser designs, non-traditional fabrics, and breaking the rules. A lot of this is very positive except when it crosses the line into poor workmanship. This is not to say that you don’t come across traditional quilts with poor workmanship. But broken rules that result in poor workmanship should remain, well, unbroken. Lastly, the introduction of large repeat fabrics such as Kaffe’ Fassett’s and Philip Jacobs’ has transformed quilting. Modern quilts don’t rely on just calicos and high contrasts.

    The lines get very blurred when you talk about this because Amish quilts of yesteryear are actually quite modern in design.

    I make both traditional and modern quilts. If fabric speaks to me, I want to work with it . and all kinds of fabric speaks to me, be it large repeat botanicals or Civil War reproduction.

    Nice to read everyone’s thought on this . Happy quilting.

    • I have to agree with Nancy about the workmanship. I love the fact that modern quilting is bring a whole new generation(s) of quilters/artists into this field, but it is distracting for me to see poor stitch quality, lumpy borders, etc. when it would be so much more satisfying and long-lasting to make the same statement with skill. I love the spontaneity and freedom of modern quilters…and look forward to the incorporation of workmanship into the art. Practice makes perfect, and I think that many modern quilters will build skill as they go along — and that skill contributes to the freedom to make the design you see in your head! Keep up the great work, communication, fun, and sharing.

  16. The Modern Quilt Guild to me represents the nonjudgemental & openmindedness of todays quilters/artists/crafters. We can be free to use bright new fabrics as well as repurposing some really great retro & vintage goods. Which means you don’t have to be independantly wealthy in this horrible economy to create great things!

  17. A little late to the party here, but never I miss a chance to voice an opinion…

    To me the most appealing aspect of this concept is that of “no rules”!

    Modern quilting means we all get to learn/work within our time and budget restraints and express our joy and creativity without judgment of our taste or technique.

    This is good stuff -an organisation that reflects the inclusive thinking of this generation and makes quilting accessible to a whole new group of people.

  18. Modern Quilting means to me that it is a modern spin on traditional quilting……..no set rules…….your imagination can take you places that before it couldnt go because you were bogged down with the minutia of getting a pattern precise.

  19. Modern Quilting means several things to me:
    – Freedom to choose from many fabrics, tools, & styles.
    – As far as style, I usually a clean geometric look, more abstract & stylized when it comes to piecing, but also not leaving out great pictorial or painterly quilts.
    – Elimination of overdone elements whether that’s in construction or quilting.
    – I usually think of computerized quilting as modern but that’s because it’s my job to digitize & design patterns for computerized sytems, but again this comes down to choice because it’s very modern for me to get back to basics and do handwork after listening to the hum of machines & bombardment of technology all day.
    – No rules. I know that this includes different types of construction but to me I will always want to try to have good workmanship, whether I’m working with traditional, art, or modern styles.

    As a side note: To me there are a lot of similarities in modern quilting to modern art styles, as both are built on the history of the art/craft. I see the parrallel progression of style in both. I find it so interesting that a lot of what is categorized as “modern” is also similar to the historical quilts that were made from left over fabrics from worn out clothing, cobbled (I mean that in a loving way) together and the bold graphic design that showed up was personal expression combined with necessity & limited supplies. I find it incredibly interesting from a sociological standpoint that we are gravitating toward this style in our tough economy, yet many of the modern style quilts are made from fabric purchased with a specific purposes in mind. I don’t find anything wrong with that, I just find it interesting that as a society that we would lean toward a design style that harkens back to tough economic times in another tough ecomomic period that influenced quilting styles in the past. Because of this I think that we will find some modern quilts that have many new fabrics in them, but it will also draw in people that might not have the money to purchase new fabrics & they again will draw on recycled materials to produce wonderful quilts.

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