What says “modern”?

This year I am quilting along for two projects, and one finished block serves both.

Blue BOM

25 x 16

Rainbow scrap challenge (link here) involves using scraps from an assigned color for a block–either a quilt-along block or one’s own choice; January’s color is blue. I doubt I’ll ever keep up with three a week, but we’ll see. And Classic Meets Modern (link here) involves a modern take on a traditional block, this month (polar) bear paw. The latter BOM involves thinking about what makes a quilt or quilt block modern. Consider the blocks already shown at the above link–most of which follow the traditional arrangement for the Bear Paw block.

Here are the features I think of when I think modern quilt: enlarged pieces, modern fabric, color choices tending toward bright and clear, solid colors or modern prints–often large, but not always, lots of negative space, and asymmetry.  The first heading for this post was “The essence of modern”; however, a little reflection  showed me that no single one of the features was essential to calling a quilt “modern.” So I changed it. I suppose one might say at least one of the listed features was essential.  If you think of other features, please add them in a comment. Also I invite discussion if you think a listed feature does not belong.

As much as I love modern prints and solids, I can’t use that as a feature for my modern quilts.  I have too much old stash.  Back when I was working I purchased fabric (while I had money) as a retirement “fund” for when I had less income.  It never occurred to me that styles of prints would change so drastically. I can buy some new, but I also want to use the old. And enlarging pieces is something for a whole quilt rather than for a block. That left me with asymmetry and negative space. So I kept the bear paw portion of the block, omitted the center square, and rearranged the placement.

Sometimes I use a square to make a triangle piece, as at the bottom of the “paw.” (The “toes,” I made the regular way.) From the cut-away, I get bonus triangles, already paired up. This one is about the smallest I save and use (triangle legs are 1 1/2 inch unfinished–trimmed to 1 inch after sewn).

mini pinwheel

1 x 1 finished pinwheel size–4 1/2-inch bear’s paw for comparison

Some day I’ll find a use for the itty bitty blocks. Meanwhile, I’m linking up with other Friday finishers (Link a Finish Friday and TGIFF–links to right).

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “What says “modern”?

  1. dezertsuz

    Thanks. I still struggle to really understand modern. I know it isn’t just that blocks don’t have nice points and corners, though it seems a lot are like that, and I know it isn’t just using solids, though a lot do. It’s something that, for me, is more of a feeling to the quilt, and it’s a hard feeling for me to pin down! Thanks for your insights on this. Love your bear paw.

  2. Cher

    I love your approach to the current “trend” of quilting, which is how I see “modern” quilting right now..I do not mean that in any way as negative, just a wonderful addition to the world of quilting. My January donation quilt is featuring the color yellow..it is of course something I started years ago with another finished quilt in mind for someone. I find re-purposing started projects such fun to finish now. great bear paw blocks! I look forward to seeing what you do next month.

  3. Your blocks look great and I think that you are achieving your goal nicely!

  4. What a fun take on modern. Though the bear paw is obviously a classic, the way you arranged it as symmetrically and the wide open background definitely say modern to me. I would add a focus on the quilting pattern to the list as that is often one of the things that draws me to modern quilts.

  5. I like bear paw blocks. Placing them on a wide open background says modern to me, too.

  6. Your bear paw blocks do look modern to me…a traditional block with a modern setting.

  7. Like your retirement fund idea! I really don’t understand “modern”. And, quite frankly the more I see of them the more I crave vintage! That’s not to say I wouldn’t try modern. We all need a challenge. And I do like your bear paws.

  8. Great revisitation of the bear paw! When I think of modern quilting, I also think of distinctive free-motion quilting with an unfettered flow that is quite organic in its execution versus staid and perfect like computerized quilting. Both can be exceptionally beautiful.

  9. Absolutely GORGEOUS Claire! LOVE the block and your take on MQ. I love how everyone’s definition is a little different, and how their interpretations are never the same. To me, that’s modern quilting! Stitching outside the lines 🙂

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