Christa’s Soap Box – Modern Quilters Make Quilting Cool

Well, actually, I have always thought quilting is awesome, but I love that the modern quilting movement has made quilting seem hip, urban, and ultimately cool. 🙂


Untitled by Kayli Taylor and Sarah Oviatt, Modern Quilt Shown at HMQS Exhibit 2013

In my recent blog posts here and here, there have a been a bunch of discussions about modern quilting. In fact several of my blog followers have asked me how I would define modern quilting, so I thought I would try. Remember, these are my opinions and of course you are also entitled to your own, even if we disagree. 🙂

Jumbo Star

Jumbo Star by Kati Spencer of Salt Lake MQG, Shown at HMQS 2013

To me, modern quilting is part attitude, part aesthetic. If you think you are a modern quilter then you are, no matter what “style” of quilts you like to make. I think technology plays a huge role in the spread of quilting in general because we are no longer limited geographically. I have sewing friends all over the world, and what one blogger may discover in the Netherlands, her fellow blogging buddy in Japan may carry over to her sewing friends in her (or his) country. How cool!


A-maze-ing by Karen Atkinson, Desert Quilters of Nevada Quilt Show 2013

As far as aesthetics, the look of modern quilting runs the gambit from highly traditional to very artistic. You can make hand pieced, hand quilted modern quilts as well as machine pieced, quilted, and bound modern quilts.

In Defense of Handmade

In Defense of Handmade by Thomas Knauer and Lisa Sipes, QuiltCon 2013

And whenever someone comes up with a “rule” for what modern quilting is, someone else is sure to break it. I have seen modern quilts with borders, made from low-contrast fabrics and small scale calicoes, the use of feather quilting and batiks; all characteristics that just a year ago modern quilting “wasn’t”.

Modern Traditionalism, Large 1st

New Star Rising by Ben Darby – Modern Traditionalism from QuiltCon 2013

I think modern quilting is very inclusive rather than exclusive. Sure, you can have wonky piecing and improvisational styles, but that is not an excuse for poor workmanship. Modern quilts are meant to be functional rather than being seen as priceless heirlooms, but that doesn’t mean a beautiful quilt hanging on a wall has no purpose – its function is art.

ModernFor those of you that would really feel better with a concrete definition, here is how the Modern Quilt Guild defines modern quilts. Notice that it is not an absolute, but rather an evolving definition.

“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.”

Skillbulder BOM

Modern Quilt Blocks by Christa Watson, Pile O’Fabric Skillbuilder BOM

Not everyone is going to like all modern quilts, just as not everyone will like all quilt styles in general. The important things to remember is that there is room for everyone, and modern quilting is such a boon to the entire quilting industry which I, for one, am truly grateful for!

8 thoughts on “Christa’s Soap Box – Modern Quilters Make Quilting Cool

  1. Alyce {Blossom Heart Quilts} says:

    Hehe, yay Japan 😉 Essentially, modern quilting is whatever you want it to be! Even the MQG definition is very open. Personally, I’d call myself a modern traditionalist – I love traditional blocks and making them in modern colours and settings. I think the biggest difference between “modern” and “traditional” is the use of solids and colour. It will be really interesting to see how it all evolves over the next five, ten, twenty+ years!

  2. wendysquilting says:

    I personally am so excited by this new movement if that’s what it is. I’ve been a quilter for many years and I love the freshness of what’s been made. The ultimate what’s old is new again, which seems to be attracting a whole new generation of quilters!

  3. Kay Holm says:

    I love all styles of quilting but I have to admit that the modern use of bright colors has me sold. I am finally using yellow and orange, colors I never would have before, in fact were not in my stash until this year, and I love it. Thanks for being here Christa!

  4. Susan McAdams says:

    We just had a lecture at the Austin Modern Quilt Guild by Heather Grant from the MQG about modern quilting. She discussed this very subject. I guess I would consider myself more of a modern traditionalist.

  5. dezertsuz says:

    I think “modern quilting” owes a debt of gratitude to Gees Bend quilters. It showed us that quilts could be different and still be beautiful pieces of art, and still be functional. Quilting evolves, and there have been many distinctive quilt “movements” in the past. I’m sure there will be something after this one, too. And then something else. People change and so does their art.

  6. Sue Moore says:

    Call it what you will….. If ‘modern quilting ‘ hadn’t come along I may never have tried using grey or solids in my quilts! Thats a big thing for me haha! I’m trying new fabrics & styles & indirectly it’s made me improve my computer skills to keep up with blogs, online magazines etc! Love it!! 🙂

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