Saturday, August 6, 2011

Modern quilting -- update

I've been intrigued with "modern quilting" and trying to define exactly what it is besides younger people who don't get particularly good vibes from quilting with older people.  Melody Johnson suggested in a comment that MQ tends to involve a lot more white, fewer muddy repro fabrics and less fiddly piecing of tiny bits that have to match at the corners.

I have more clues for you today.  Generation Q has a post about a block challenge in the Modern Quilt Guild, showing the four winning blocks from the Philadelphia chapter.  I thought they were all excellent and they were certainly different from the blocks you would have gotten if your regular middle-aged-and-up quilt guild were to do the same activity.

the winning block, by Monica Cuartero

The very existence of the challenge provides me with another piece of the definition of MQ.  The rules were to use fabrics from a certain designer line.  I have noticed that a lot of the MQ chatter has to do with designer fabric lines.  I find this fascination understandable among new quilters, who may not trust themselves to pick out fabrics that will go together. 

I do hope the newbies will outgrow designer lines as their own color and design sense matures, but acknowledge that choosing this particular design line for the challenge is a long step toward that goal.  The collection is much more adventurous and challenging than the matchy-matchy design lines seen in so many shops and immortalized in so many quilts made by older ladies.

I note that the designer whose line was chosen for the challenge was a Project Runway winner; not sure that would happen so much in old-lady quilt guilds.  I wonder how many young people have taken up sewing, whether garments or quilts, because of Project Runway!  I don't watch it myself, because there's too much drama and too little actual sewing, but I think it's great that the show has given needle arts a shot in the arm.


  1. Okay - let me preface this comment with the fact that this is only my opinion and I don't mean any disrespect. . .I've been watching the modern quilt movement over the last couple of years with mixed feelings. What I see it is mostly younger and beginner/intermediate quilters who love piecing but need it to fit into their busy lifestyles. They are techno savy so they commune online and are fueled by the internet. Their budget is limited - their time is limited - their need for an outlet for creativity is not. So here is a style quilt where they can do relatively quick, easy piecing - go to a quilt shop and buy fabrics from in the same designer and make a cool quilt by machine. It fits right into the current style of big bold "60's" mod prints and their busy lifestyle. Great! It gets their feet wet and helps foster a passion for fiber work.
    Now that said - I'm wondering if this "style" can be a bit limiting. I wonder if these new quilters realize that this is just the tip of the iceberg and that there is a whole big world of quilting out there. I wonder if they realize that they are still beginner/intermediates no matter how many of these quilts they make. I find the term "modern quilts" a huge misnomer and rather disrespectful to the long tradition of quilting. "Modern" implies that its new - interesting - fresh. . . .I don't find this style any of the above - simple beginning layouts and piecing - new fabric lines that come and go - a lot of the same look over and over. To me "Modern quilts" are the amazing contemporary quilts I see coming from mostly "senior" (sorry - for that ladies - for lack of a better word LOL!) quilters who are exploring and pushing the very boundaries of the quilting tradition. They took what ladies have sweated over for the last two hundred years and added to it.
    Let me add - since I'm ranting - that over the years, I have been subject to age discrimination as a "younger" quilter. Other older quilters, look at me at 45 and just assume I don't know what I'm doing - even though I'm going on 20 years behind a machine. So I see how the "modern quilt movement" would give younger quilters a chance to come together. But there is still so much more to quilting than that!

  2. Ageism is bigotry no matter which direction it is aimed in. Full disclosure: I quit SAQA the third time I got a desperate "we have to get younger" message. They meant under 30. When I resigned my membership citing this, I was encouraged to stay because, at 54, I was "one of their younger members." And I was assured that I could come back later -- as if I would be younger (and thereby more desirable) later.

    Must everyone be 'an Artist' as defined by someone else's standards? Can't people just be happy doing what they're doing and growing as they grow?

    I taught at a university and I sincerely loved my undergraduates, but I wouldn't want a steady and exclusive diet of their company. The arrogance of youth and inexperience can be just as tiresome as the arrogance of age and maturity.

    We need both. In mindful and respectful measure.


  3. I'm old as the hills. I used to quilt, conventionally, in the 80s. I grew to dislike quilting because of the fiddleyness and the demand for technical perfection in executing designs that were too fussy for me. Modern quilting came as a breath of fresh air. What I responded to was the minimalist aesthetic and lack of fiddley technique. Call it beginner/intermediate if you like, but to me it's all about fresher design.

    Since I got back into fiber work 2 years ago through modern quilting I was led to other movements - Gee's Bend, Gwen Marston - and last year I became an artist, dyeing my own materials and producing textile art pieces that have,so far,been accepted into 3 juried exhibits.

    Thank you MQ.