Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Modern Quilting?

What do you consider "Modern Quilting"?   I’ve had the question swirling in my head for ever…but I still haven’t come up with an answer. 

IMG_3699

(Modern or not?  It looks modern…but it was made in 1865)

I don’t consider myself a modern quilter.  I like bright fresh colors, clean and simple designs, and loads of white, plus I’m in a young(er) generation….but does that make me a modern quilter? 

I don’t think so.

Almost any "traditional" quilt block can be made modern…and a lot of modern designs are simply updated traditional patterns.  Take these quilts for example…they are the exact same pattern, but one looks more traditional:

Traditional fabrics:

traditional quilt

Modern (really bright!) fabrics:

modern quilt

So are fabric choices enough to call it a "modern" quilt or myself a "modern" quilter?

I look at antique quilts and the improvisational quilts of Gee’s Bend and they scream MODERN.  But they were were made in the early 1900’s.   So what makes a quilt modern or not?

IMG_3698

Looks modern…

IMG_3704

and so does that one.

After searching I found these, really, great, posts about it.  I think my own quilting style is more "fresh traditional" or "updated traditional"…although I’m bound to slip a "modern" in here and there.  :)

Pin It!

58 comments:

Heidi Staples said...

I know what you're talking about. We had a women's tea earlier this year and one of the ladies who is 90 brought quilts made by her family over the past 100 years. I was shocked at how modern some of them looked. So often I think it's all about the fabric and color choices that make a quilt look truly modern, though I'm sure there's more to it than that.

thea said...

My niece does modern; I do a little more fresh traditional .. I'm not sure what the difference is either.

DianeY said...

Interesting, because I've pondered it too! I like the new fabrics and love lots of color, even in old traditional blocks. I keep hearing the use of negative space as the definition of modern quilting. I love what I see using this, but frankly, I kind of don't like it unless you have a wonderful long-arm quilter who is going to do wonders in all that space. Just my opinion and I'm not sure what I think or what "modern quilters" think make a difference. Just do what you love & forget the labels!

gale said...

I've wondered the same thing. I think I'll just call my style "simple" and even "easy".

Samantha said...

I always wonder this too since I've seen so called "modern" quilts and I think.. wait, my Grandma and her quilting buddies made that in the 1970s so how is it modern??

I just make what I like. I think of myself as a more traditional quilter but someone saw something I made and said "Wow, how modern". I don't have a clue! :D

Hope said...

It is a really good question and one I do not know the answer to. Modern just means of the present, not the past, right? If we make a quilt today, I would think of it as modern, even if inspired by a quilt from a hundred or more years ago. It could also be traditional, in traditional colours or traditional blocks, but I would still think of it as modern. In a decade or two however, that same quilt would no longer be modern.

I find the term "modern" far too vague. There are quilts that are distinctly avant-garde, people who experiment and develop new techniques, use mixed media and just try out new things, but a lot of what seems to be classed as "modern" incorporates none of that as far as I can see.

I don't think self-classed "modern" quilters do anything newer or more exciting than "traditional" quilters. Honestly, I don't think any quilt that is purely patchwork and/or traditional applique can be anything but "traditional". People have been sewing bits of fabric together to make new bits of fabric for a long, long time.
The main way or reason, in my opinion, that many quilts of today differ from past patchwork is in the wider availability of a greater variety of fabric colours and designs to incorporate into our quilts.

notes of sincerity said...

I am amazed at how the same patterns can look so different by just changing the fabrics. I am like you with colors and lots of whites. Only my love is of little prints like flowers and such. So they tend to be a bit "cutsie" I wonder what that makes me. :0) I love bigger prints too but still learning where to put them exactly. :0)

Anita said...

That's so true. I think I simply love modern prints! I do like simple patterns and I'm sure they're nothing new. =)

Happy Cottage Quilter said...

I too love the traditional patterns, but am loving the beautiful new fabrics. I like your new tag of Fresh or Updated traditional.

randi--i have to say said...

I have the same reservations about calling myself a modern quilter. Honestly, I don't think my style is all that modern. I think it's more like I am following the style of the day.

Another thing is that I have a lot of respect for quilters who have gone before me and have paved the way with lovely quilt patterns and techniques. I learned to quilt about 15 years ago by watching Elenor Burns on TV while my kids napped. She was kind of cutting edge at the time with all of her quick techniques.

So, what is modern quilting? Who knows? I just know that I don't necessarily fit into that category. Or at least I don't feel that I can place myself there. I just like to make quilts! :)

Rosa said...

What`s modern?The quilts patterns or the fabrics?.

I love all those quilts you put,awesome.

I like make quilts so I don´t know where I am.

The Cozy Pumpkin said...

Interesting post, Allison. I am a member of the OKCMQG and our show coming up is titled "Defining Modern." We had to actually write a definition of Modern quilting, and all I could really say was it is bright, fresh, and taking a twist on a classic block/design. But, is it really? Not usually. One of my quilts is decidedly traditional, but it's in the show for the fabric choices. The other is, I would say, modern. I do find that more modern quilts have a greater use of solids than more recent quilting years past...although the amish only use solids. So...like Tula Pink says...there's only so many ways to cut and sew fabric back together. Whatever it is though...I'm glad the movement has gotten young people like ourselves interested in quilting again...and maybe in the end...that's really what modern quilting is all about. Modern women taking back the craft of quilting as an art form and not "merely" functional.

Kristy said...

I do call myself a Modern Quilter for a couple of reasons; but truly belive that it's more of an attitude then a particular and easily defined style. I truly believe that even the word and defintion of Modern Quilter and Modern Quilting has changed. In the beginning it was a way in which to break away from the "Traditional" Quilter and some of the stereotypes associated with that style; but now I think it's evolved into a term that's heart lies in the bright colors and patterns; but is also about Community, Online Activity, Fearlessness, etc.

Jackie Russell said...

What The Cozy Pumpkin said!
"I'm glad the movement has gotten young people like ourselves interested in quilting again...and maybe in the end...that's really what modern quilting is all about. Modern women taking back the craft of quilting as an art form and not "merely" functional."

I belong to the STLMQG but all my quilts are not what they would consider "Modern". I do love the use of solid colors and improv piecing!

LeslieUnfinished said...

I like what's posted on The Modern Quilt Guild's site: "Modern quilting, like all art, changes, grows and adapts from quilter to quilter as they find their own voice. We are quilters first, modern quilters second."

lurel said...

With fashion and design, the trends tend to rotate. With clothing the rotation is about 20-30 years, hence why styles from the 80's and 90's are popping up again. It claims to be a fresh and new style, but I remember seeing some of the same or similar items in my house as a child. The same goes for home decor. People go nuts over the 50's styles right now. I guess it's the same for quilting. Maybe it's reminiscent of the past, but it's the current trend and thus considered modern, I suppose. It might not be brand spankin' new, but it's the most recent/current trend, I would suggest.

kelly said...

kristy summed up what i was thinking.

Anna said...

what a cool post allison! I love all those examples you had shown. And it's amazing what fabric selection does to a traditional quilt design.

Carla said...

Whatever your style is, I LOVE it!

Farm Road Ramblings said...

I think that "modern" is a style, not a time period. Love what you do!

miki said...

I think modern quilting is taking the 'traditional' and putting a twist on it. Like reversing the designing. Making the negative space stand out against the shapes or where we usually place our patterned fabrics. I like your idea of fresh or updated traditional quilting.But....I still consider you a modern quilter:)

Betty Crocker Ass said...

You know, I'm *just* a quilter. No preface to quilter-simply a quilter. :-)

Annie said...

I think "modern" is a time period. It's "modern day" as opposed to "olden days". What's modern today is not going to be modern 20 to 30 years from now. We're going to laugh when we read the name of a quilt is "Modern Whatever" and say, "well, it was modern back then". For me it's the here and now. Quilting with the tools and fabrics that are available to us now in our modern day time.

Aunt Spicy said...

Excellent questions...I think I am just a fresh take on traditional. And at some point, modern becomes old fashioned, old fashioned becomes retro, and the cycle keeps going around :-)

Emilie said...

When I think of Modern Quilting I think of LOTS of white space.

Kelly O. said...

I have thought about this alot. I am not modern nor am I traditional. I am just a quilter. I quilt what I like. and I happen to be attracted to fabric with a more "modern" flair for the more youthful generation.
you know my mom and I were talking about generations and how they have colour schemes. you know, like each generation brings in it's own style and likes. My mom loved hunter green, burgundy and rose colour palette. and neutrals.
I prefer brighter fresher looks and so do most of my friends in "my generation"...so what is modern? youth?
Each generation is more modern than the next. due to influences and technology partly. and just due to the need to be different I think.
But no. I'm not a modern quilter. I'm just a quilter who likes to quilt :)

Kate Gunther said...

I love your style and I try to emulate it!

Heather F. said...

I love this post. I think that a lot of what we consider modern now is based simply off of fabric choices. I do think there are some truly modern quilts..a lot of minimalist and some arrangements of shapes, but mostly...we're all the same.

Claire Jain said...

I think it's completely possible for hundred year old quilts to have a modern aesthetic. Heather Grant of Modern Day Quilts has a GREAT presentation discussing the aesthetic and philosophy of Modern quilting. I'm an Austin Modern Quilt Guild member, and I love traditional, modern, and art quilts along with those quilts that fall somewhere else on the spectrum as a "modern take" on a traditional pattern. Maybe Heather will do the presentation at QuiltCon in February. It would be just another reason to go!

Joelle said...

I like the term "free range" quilts and quilting. beyond boundaries.

Kristen said...

I like your term 'fresh modern'. A lot of my quilts use traditional patterns, but use a lot of brights. I would like to think mine fit that category of the many subsets of modern.

paterd said...

I don't know the definition, but just the word to me means it's a quilt I would not like much, ha! I am very, very traditional, hand quilting and all.

xoxo --c. said...

Hmmmmm -- have really enjoyed everyone's comments! Thanx for the food for thot.

April said...

Modern feels like both too big and too small of a box for me. I prefer to be somewhere in the middle.
xoxo
April

blue.crab said...

Yes. You are a modern quilter. I find myself in the same category as you....I need order and structure in my blocks. Improv blocks are not my thing. But, fresh colors and bright fabrics...and it is modern enough for me. At least that's my opinion....

bethanndodd said...

I haven't really put much thought to it. I just buy what appeals to me then hopefully sew it up into something pretty ;). Smile-Beth

Jane said...

I like reading the comments here as well... and feel that the modern bit is overused. As I tell my fellow modern quilt guild members,just wait 10 years and these wonderful fabrics we're using today won't look so modern then...yep, even the modern label will most likely be dated as some point. I'm glad younger folks have taken to quilting with such passion...it will be interesting if their daughters will be as drawn to it. I consider myself a quilter. Period. I love many things about the modern aesthetic, and hope it continues to evolve and incorporate the past.

Tsoniki said...

I'm glad you posted this! I've been wondering what the definition of modern quilting is - is it the fabric, the style, obvious a combo of everything involved in quilting! Thanks for the other links too.

Denise Russell said...

The words 'modern quilt' to me seem to apply to a quilt with a design showing a play with lines and colors, not so much using bright colors and traditional blocks...

Natalia from Piece N Quilt said...

I seriously think the same thing of myself all the time! I love all types of quilts so I really don't know what I am, a quilt hoarder! :)

Sew Lovins said...

It's an interesting conversation, and a very personal one. I think if any quilter were looking at a quilt each one of us wold have a different gut reaction and be able to sense if a quilt is modern of not. For me modern is a number of things. It could be a quilt using batiks but with a pattern that is futuristic and graphic. Or a wedding ring quilt(a very traditional pattern) made using text print as a background. I think modern has an element of surprise, bold colors, or asymmetry. Paper piecing seems to have embraced the modern movement with some interesting and complex manifestations. I also think that besides materials technique can exhibit modern aesthetics such as complex machine quilting, use of fusibles and other art quilting.

Ally said...

Love this post Allison... i think i am definatley a fresh traditional quilter with a modern twist LOL
www.quiltingmumma.blogspot.com

weesie said...

i have all of 6 months of quilting under my belt. when i hear "traditional quilter" i think of my grandma and her cardboard templates, cutting each piece by hand and often sewing them by hand also. and hand tied. to me a "modern"quilter uses rotary cutting,strip piecing and hand turned applique. i think of the techniques rather than the fabrics or the style
just my 2 cents
sara

themissymom said...

We do like to label everything, don't we?
I did not take the time to read the articles you posted...but in my mind I think of modern quilting as a technique, not the final product.
Every quilter has used what was at their disposal to make a quilt. Sometimes leftover fabrics or clothing cast offs, sometimes new purchase of yardage!
I have a feeling those quilters from a century ago would have used rotary cutters and walking feet on their machines, too, if they had them!!!!

Nanci said...

When I discovered Gees Bend quilts, I thought that there will never be truly "modern" quilts.
I see some "moderns" and my opinion is that they use the same colours usually, the blues, greys, and yellows together...

Patchysails said...

Personally I think , who cares ????? just put pieces together and make a quilt no labels..just quilts

Floss said...

I agree, so many time mordern quilts are refering to the fun fabrics, I think make what you like.

Nonnie Quilting Dreams said...

Loved the article ... thought provoking and some of the same things I have been thinking. When I first started following the MODERN QUILT MOVEMENT on the blog I thought ... Oh these are beginning quilters learning to quilt. The patterns were the utilitarian farm style patterns I have seen but done in current fabrics. As the quilters progress their patterns become more complex... with half sq triangles and quarter sq tri --ie SWOON BLOCKS ( A block I saw in EQ Block Base from the 1880s but a smaller size) Now I see these quilters using TRI REC triangles (peaky and spike) The only thing I see different from Modern and Traditional quilters is fabric selection.... But is that not inevitable? My twenty some daughters home is not in the colors or style of this 60s something lady who has been in the same house for 20 years. Each generation tries to differentiate from those that have come before.

Nonnie





BTW is there any way to increase the size of the font on your blog pages they are so dinky ... I hit the enlarge button on the computer and it will not expand they size of the text... might be the setting not sure if on your blog or on my computer. I want to save my eyes for quilting.

NOnnie

.

Modern Amish said...

What a great topic! I have know idea what I am. Thats one reason why I went with the oxymoron name: 'Modern Amish'. Thought I'd cover it all, and just let the quilting flow. I love reproduction prints, like you do, and am truly inspired by the simple & colorful Amish quilts. I just love to quilt!

Joyful Saint said...

I just thought of the answer....modern quilting doesnt't have borders. Really, I think this might be true.

R.McKnight said...

I don't have years of quilting experience, just dove in last year and started designing with fabrics. Everything I learned initially about quilting I learned from blogs and message boards because I don't know a single person who quilts.
What I saw online intrigued me, and all the ideals I thought were true about quilts and the people who made them were quickly challenged. The MQG site was like nothing I had ever seen, and the bloggers who wrote there seemed to be speaking directly to me!
As I define it, Modern Quilting is a movement. It's a verb--an actual movement to revive what was an art nearing extinction. The movement caused younger artists to pick up the craft and run with it. As the tools and materials changed, the way we use them also changed. We break the old rules because they no longer completely apply. We threw the "quilt police" out of office! We make beautiful, useful articles on home machines and take gorgeous pictures and share our processes with countless thousands of others via blogs and photo sharing sites.
Being free of the constraints of very traditional rules makes Modern Quilting my style.
Thanks for the discussion!

Colleen said...

We discussed this on Talkin Tuesday's chat and I think modern is not following the perceived 'traditional' rules and using fabrics in a fresh and often individual way. The freedom and improvisational aspect is key. I think there is often a collaborative aspect to modern quilting. The sharing of ideas and techniques. Those ladies who traded scraps and sat around piecing and quilting together were the modern quilters of their day. There is modern quilting in every generation.

Molly said...

THANK YOU for this post! This is a perpetual point of annoyance for me. I've been quilting for about 20 years, since long before the current "modern quilting" trend, and have often wondered at the overuse of the term "modern" for what look to me like continuations of a loooooong tradition.

Aggiequilter said...

As your photos well illustrate, the foremothers of "modern quilting" were the Amish, Mennonite and other quilters who were making these bold, graphic, striking quilts well more than 100 yrs ago!
Even just 25 years ago, quilters were using cardboard and sandpaper templates, tracing and cutting each one. Ask me how I know. Tedious! If the rotary cutter & mat hadn't come along, I wouldn't be quilting today!
Machine quilting was not even allowed in quilt show competition when I started. Today the hand-quilted quilt is the exception rather than the rule.
The wonderful fabrics out today and Web sharing are the wellspring of the current "modern" quilt.

Jaye said...

I have been puzzling over this very issue. So fortuitous to see your post around the same time as mine. I think some of the older quilts look very fresh and fun. I think the fabrics have faded giving some a dull look, but redone in new fabrics gives them a fresh look. I was thinking of calling my quilts fresh contemporary. I do like your idea of 'fresh traditional" or "updated traditional." You can read mine at: http://artquiltmaker.com/blog/2012/05/why-language-is-important/

craftytammie said...

I struggle to define modern quilting too. For me, it's mostly about the fabrics - but I know several people who would take offense to that! IMHO it's all been done before :)

Dora, the Quilter said...

The antique and vintage Amish and Mennonite quilts that inspired my early work (30+ years ago) felt a lot like what a lot of people call modern quilts today.
I'm thinking modern quilting is more an attitude and a big part of that attitude is doing what pleases the quiltmaker and ignoring what the "quilt police" say--Although I've noticed over the last 15 years or so that most people are not interested in honoring the directives of the quilt police (and a lot of those who thought they were on the force have retired.)

judy said...

Interestingly enough, I think there are Modern Quilt Police. I submitted a quilt to a show this year and called it Modern. It was grays and blacks in diamonds. The show said it was NOT Modern, but contemporary. Hmm? All of us think the definition is nebulous, but some people don't.

Related Posts with Thumbnails