MQG’s Webinar on Modern Quilting and a BOM

Let me remind you of the Around the World Blog Hop. Today, September 29, is Tam’s day; go check her blog out at Quiltcharette. Besides checking on her Around the World post, browse around. You will see some modern quilts.

Then come back to see my block for the Classic Meets Modern BOM. Not my most successful “modernization.” Oversized, yes. It is 25 x 25. Second idea was to embed two smaller. The middle-sized one barely shows up if you strain your eyes.

maple leaf block

25 x 25

It is another example of fabric values looking more different before cut and sewn. I’ll either have to redo the center–luckily I have enough of the orange of the large leaf–or add more small ones. Time will tell.

Every time I do this BOM I rethink features of “modern.” Every time I hear/read a presentation about modern quilting I find a new list of features. And that makes sense because modern quilting is not static. In fact Heather Grant’s list in the MQG webinar of several months ago omitted a couple features that were listed prior to the first Quiltcon exhibit in 2013. Gone was the use of white or gray backgrounds, gone was one person does the whole process from start to finish, and modified was that the quilts were functional.  In the recent listing, quilts could be used as wall hangings, but one needs to be able to throw them in the washer and dryer. She is still making the three prong distinction among traditional, art, and modern quilting.

Here are the common elements of modern that she discussed:

Creative use of negative space

No borders (When a border matched the backgound, she considered it no border.)

Minimalism, seeking the most basic form

A bright and graphic palette (though “low volume” quilts can also exhibit modern design)


Grid work (grids may be alternative, but are present)


Exaggerated Scale


Quilted textures more line and stippling than feathers.

Of course no modern quilt need exhibit all the elements listed, maybe 1-4.

Heather also talked about modern traditionalism, applying modern elements to traditional blocks in a restrained, impactful way. Thus, the Classic Meets Modern Block of the Month fits right in.

An important point came out in the Q & A when Heather was asked to name current modern quilters.  She answered that quilts can be modern, but quilters can move back and forth between traditional and modern. So, just as the category “Modern” is not static, neither need we plant ourselves into one or the other. That’s good because I’ve been considering myself bilingual. Reinforcing flexibility is a statement from Caitlin Tomkins’ article in the NW quilting Expo program: “[T]h modern and traditional quilt worlds seem to be colliding in Portland, creating a community of ‘contemporary quilters’ whose works incorporate aspects of both styles.” I wonder if that use of “contemporary” will spread and stick.

Many of the elements Heather listed are those I’ve listed in previous months. New are grids and pixilation. I suppose the logical thing for me to do soon would be to try one of the new elements in my next block modification. Maybe next month.

When does it become important to know if a quilt is modern? When considering entering it in Quiltcon or another show devoted to modern quilts. Otherwise all that matters is that it gives you pleasure to make and that the receiver likes it too.



Filed under design, quilting

5 responses to “MQG’s Webinar on Modern Quilting and a BOM

  1. I love your embedded leaves block! Strategic quilting could really help that middle leaf stand out more, too. About defining modern quilts – I sometimes wonder if I’m the only one who feels the irony of people being so specific about defining modern quilts, as the whole movement supposedly arose from a reaction against rules. Reading Heather Grant’s list literally made my gut crunch up, so I’m thinking I’ll just ignore such constraints and do my own thing. If Modern has to be a certain way, it’s not for me. I just wanna have fun and do what feels free. I’m not criticizing anyone – just expressing an inner reaction that caught me a bit off guard.

    • Lynette, your comment reminds me of something I read in a book by Trinh T Min-ha: She found her experimental films rejected because they weren’t like other experimental films; and she pondered the contradiction that rules were being made for experimental. However, in Heather’s defense, she was not making rules so much as describing what she had seen in modern quilts. And she was quite willing to change. She gave an example that one time she had said she had never seen magenta in a modern quilt and didn’t expect to; then she saw a quilt (which she showed in her lecture) that had magenta for a background and was definitely modern. She also said she hadn’t seen batiks–I’m waiting for that to change. It almost feels like a challenge. 🙂

      On Tue, Sep 30, 2014 at 7:21 AM, knitNkwilt wrote:


  2. dezertsuz

    I love your block, Claire! It seems quite innovative to me, and perfectly modern looking, as well as a little traditional. Good combination of ingredients. =) I also agree with Lynette’s comments about the rules. I know that when I work on traditional things in traditional ways, it calms me and makes me happy. Working on more modern interpretations is a challenge and can be energizing, but it doesn’t give me the calm happiness.

  3. Lovely block and lovely comments! The little leaf embedded in the larger leaves is charming. And I think Lynette’s suggestion to try quilting to make the middle leaf ‘pop’ is a good one. I appreciate Desertsuz comment about the ‘calm happiness.’ I get that from hand quilting. I don’t want to always hand quilt, but her commented reminded me of what I get from that process. Lovely!

  4. I LOVE THIS!! A leaf in a leaf in a leaf, so brilliant, I especially love the itty-bitty one in the center!!! well done!

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