Christa’s Soap Box – Defining Modern Quilting

QuiltCon 2013Ever since attending QuiltCon in February, I’ve been giving some serious thought to modern quilting and what it means to me.

While filling out a recent application to teach a quilting class, I was asked to define how I interpret modern quilting.

This is what I said, “I’m attracted to quilts with bright clear colors, bold geometric designs, and lots of negative space to showcase extensive machine quilting.”

MQGI was very pleased to find that the Modern Quilt Guild has refined their definition of modern quilting to the  following statement, taken from their website:

“Modern quilts are primarily functional and inspired by modern design. Modern quilters work in different styles and define modern quilting in different ways, but several characteristics often appear which may help identify a modern quilt. These include, but are not limited to: the use of bold colors and prints, high contrast and graphic areas of solid color, improvisational piecing, minimalism, expansive negative space, and alternate grid work. ‘Modern traditionalism’ or the updating of classic quilt designs is also often seen in modern quilting.”

Modern Log Cabin

Modern Log Cabin at QuiltCon, made by members of the Las Vegas Modern Quilt Guild

I love this because coming from a traditional quilting background, I find myself drawn to modern traditional quilts. Probably the thing I love most about modern quilting is seeing all of these quilters taking classic quilting patterns like log cabins, stars and hexagons and interpreting them in new ways.

Modern Table Runner

Modern Hexagon Table Runner and Placemats by Alyssa Lichner

One of the definitions I heard at QuiltCon was that modern quilting was definitely not “art quilting”, although one could argue that they are very artistically well-done and they certainly are beautiful works of art!

I appreciate the quality workmanship that goes into making a modern quilt and the fact that modern quilters are not afraid of doing handwork or projects that may take a little longer to complete. I recently wrote a blog post about slowing down and enjoying the process and I think that is the epitome of modern quilting.

Modern Quilt Blocks

Christa’s Modern Quilt Blocks

Many modern quilters will also dive right and and quilt their own quilts, something that thrills me immensely! (Read my soapbox post about quilting your own quilts!)

LV MQGSo am I a modern quilter? I think I find myself heading in that direction, yet the whole point of modern quilting is not to narrowly define oneself or one’s quilts.

As one of the lecturers at QuiltCon noted (I forget who), I am a quilter first, a modern quilter second.

9 thoughts on “Christa’s Soap Box – Defining Modern Quilting

  1. AmandaK says:

    I agree. A rigid definition could not possibly contain the essence of what Modern Quilting is or what it will be. That is what makes it fun and unexpected to me.

  2. Mary Ann says:

    I love reading about Modern quilting and seeing all the ideas that come about. I wanted to let you know that since you changed your website name I had to re-sign up to still keep getting the blog; I was under WordPress and others might have to re-sign up also to keep getting your great blog.

  3. Ann says:

    Oh l’m happy to see the Modern Quilt Guild update their definition! Their other one was very much ridgid. I did a Friday’s Logic blog in early February asking if I was a modern quilter because I didn’t want to be kicked out of my guild because I love the women in it. Not that is was an actual concern, but I didn’t want them judging my work as not being modern. I classify myself as modern traditional. Going way back to the early 90’s when I started, I always was told by the small town quiltshop owner tha a bright random fabric didn’t go with the rest ofwhat I was buying for a project. So maybe I was a pioneer of modern traditional!
    At our guild meeting last month , they showed pictures from quiltcon and we were to group ourselves into strongly agree, agree, disagree or strongly disagree on whether we felt it was modern or not and discuss. It was fun to hear the opinions. In the end.. modern is a subjective opinion, I believe.
    Thank you for a great post.

  4. Michele says:

    Well said Christa. I feel that I am a modern quilter but what that means each day specifically depends on my mood, the fabrics, my vision and the person that I am making the quilt for. Sometimes it may look more traditional but I’m always trying to find new ideas to add to the overall process.

  5. Maga says:

    Art just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder! I think it is great that Quiltcon has sparked off discussions all over the world about the direction quilting is taking and evolving. I just find it sad that we still in 2013 see that people are put into boxes; modern quilter, traditional quilter, art quilter, top-maker, long-armer, whole cloth quilter and so on.
    The fact that some have seen it necessary to set up another quilt show in order to show “modern” quilts I find sad too. Why is it that a generally nice bunch of people can’t show together, respect the individual’s choices and just enjoy the riot of colours of 21st century prints, the calm of muted civil war prints, the fun of 30ties prints and all the millions of ways of combining the fabrics with old and new blocks or no blocks at all.
    To me the most important thing about quilting is that I do what I find fun/calming/de-stressing at that particular moment in time when I work with fabrics whether it is piecing bits together or sewing 2 layers of fabric together with something in between. Surely whatever the result of the journey it is the journey that matters (and the occasional finish is nice too as well as the face of a recipient when one is handing over ;-D)
    Sorry I’ll get off my soap box now.
    As to defining what a modern quilt is – here is what the Oxford Dictionary says about modern:
    relating to the present or recent times as opposed to the remote past:
    (usually moderns)
    a person who advocates or practises a departure from traditional styles or values:
    Something to mull over.
    Thanks for letting me have a say in this.

  6. Pam says:

    Love your blog. Can’t agree more. I feel so strongly about quilting your own quilts that unless you have done so I don’t believe you have the right to say you made the quilt. You then have to say pieced and designed by me and quilted by so and so. Happy quilting

  7. Pretty Lady Baby says:

    I am glad someone’s decided to just explain it as it is and not be so negative. I have heard a lot about “modern quilting” and it’s meaning in the past few weeks! Glad to see we can still quilt and have fun!

  8. mumziepooh says:

    You know – I have sewed for about 45 years but was NEVER interested in quilting until my 25 year old daughter and I went to Quiltcon – the beauty of the modern interpretation hit me square in the face! I am hooked! I take great exception to the statement that Modern Quilting is not Art quilting-these pieces are absolutely works of art. It is a joyful expression of the heart!

    • Christa says:

      I agree – they truly are works of art. How wonderful that you are now inspired after attending QuiltCon. I think it was the most exciting quilting event I’ve ever attended!

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