So, Modern Quilting is. . . (A Recap of this Weeks Discussion)

“Every generation wants to believe it has broken with the past. When we praise art as modern we’re saying it seems urgent and meaningful to us now – and that can be as true of a cave painting as a Damien Hirst vitrine.” – Jonathan Jones, Art Critic

This quote perfectly captures the spirit of what is meant by the word “Modern” in the name The Modern Quilt Guild. Modern quilting is quilting in a style that seems “urgent and meaningful to us now”. This statement resonates deeply with the majority of those who identify with the modern quilting movement.

Modern quilting is not radically different than traditional quilting but, it is a progression, a next step in the evolutionary development. It respects the craft and history of traditional quilts and the quilters who made them. A modern quilter will incorporate the parts of traditional quilting that works for him or her and the parts that don’t will be molded and formed into something that does.

If you think about it “modern quilting” in any time reflects quilting that is urgent and meaningful at that time. (An interesting Google search is to look at articles with the term “modern quilting” in them. You’ll find many articles over the last century! Fun!)

Many “modern” quilt patterns originate from traditional patterns, some of them over 200 years old:

The nine patch is said to have been created as early as the year 1800.

Traditional Amish Nine Patch

"Modern" Nine Patch

The log cabin pattern was developed sometime between 1810 and 1830.

Traditioanal Log Cabin

"Modern" Wonky Log Cabin

Hexagon quilts became popular around the Great Depression but, may have originated as early as the 18th century.

Traditional Hexagon Quilt

Modern Hexagon Quilt

Picnic quilts were popular in the 1970’s, sometimes made of simple 6″ squares.

1970's Circa "Picnic" Quilt

Modern Picnic Quilt

Check out this book cover from a book released in the 1970’s – the time period of the last big quilting resurgence. The title? It’s “Modern” Patchwork of course!

Some quilt designs even transcend time and reflect our current “modern” aesthetic. Immediately the quilts from the amazing ladies at Gee’s Bend come to mind. And we can’t forget the “modern” beauty of many of the Amish quilts.

Gee's Bend Quilt

Amish Quilt

So, modern quilting is just about quilting in a way that reflects you, the modern quilter. It is a style of quilting that reflects your life, your aesthetic, and sometimes your general approach to the world. Mary Lee Bendolph, one of the famed Gee’s Bend quilters says it best, “I never try to quilt altogether like anybody. . . It’s better if you do what you are supposed to do than to try and copy somebody else.”

Thanks to all of you who participated in the discussion and we look forward to molding this Modern Quilting movement with each of you.

16 thoughts on “So, Modern Quilting is. . . (A Recap of this Weeks Discussion)

  1. De-lurking to say that I’m loving all these essays on modern quilting. Would love to see a group in my town (Nashville, TN).

    I’m not home enough, nor do I know any other quilters to form a group. We stay mostly on the road… it’s nice to have this virtual community for inspiration.

    Keep the posts coming!

  2. fits in perfect for the focus friday– denyse schmidt quilts! She has wonderful ‘modern’ quilts + other projects. The theme can be very broad…kind of the like the word ‘normal’. Lucky for us, everyone has their own interpretation. That is what i love the most.

  3. I’ve loved reading all of the artists various views, and seeing all of their beautifully executed quilts. I especially appreciate how open minded everyone is to personal interpretation and vision. Your discussions are articulate and inclusive. Wonderful!

  4. What a wonderful explanation -with excellent example photographs – now I can just point people to this post when they question me!

  5. Pingback: what does modern quilter mean to you? « *Snippets and Blabbery*

  6. This is an excellent review of what Modern Quilting is in “modern” terms…
    At first I could not quite get what it was and why it was considered different. Sometimes it does take visuals to really get the “picture” — now I do — I think, well, I know, I m a modern quilter too…

  7. Log cabin block has been around since the ancient egyptians – small animal mummies have been found with patterns we now think of as Western quilt blocks. Other sources in Europe and UK have been around since 1700’s. That said, I love modern quilts, and modern colours.

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