Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Thanks to your votes, I won the essay contest on "What Is Modern Quilting?"  I told you Friday, when I asked for your support, that I knew we wouldn't win, because he younger people who love this movement and read this blog will outvote us, but this was a chance to stand up for our generation.  How nice to be wrong!

Now that I am famous, and perhaps about to be rich (not sure what they're going to send me as my huge prize), I will reflect again on what this movement seems to be. 

In discussion on the Quiltart list about this issue, Barb Pozek wrote, "Most of these quilters have grown up at a time when art education was hit or miss and Home Ec classes have thrown out sewing as a part of lessons.  Some might have been lucky to have a family member share their knowledge but they are very tech savvy, so their go-to place to learn is the internet."

And isn't it great that the internet allows them -- and us -- to connect with other like-minded people!  I've been using the internet in that fashion for about 15 years, but in that day, we didn't have blogs, we didn't have easily shared photos, so our connection was words-only.  Today it's far more feasible to learn your quilting entirely online, and I suspect that will make it more appealing to many time-challenged young people, especially those tethered with young children.

Barb again:  "It's also interesting that so many of the projects they create are very much home/ kid based. They are not creating art, they are interested in useful homemaking creations. Baby clothes, baby quilts, baby toys, kid clothes, and so on."

I don't find that at all surprising.  Recall your own young-mother days, how stressed and time-short your world was, and then contemplate that far more young mothers have jobs than we did.  The whole concept of "making art" is a luxury that most people in my generation came to only after our children left and we neared retirement. Making baby things was far more accessible and justifiable, a way to rationalize the time we stole to close the door and be alone for an hour or so of sewing therapy.

Barb's conclusion:  "Just to say they are MAKING anything is important to them and worth noting. They all have grown up in a time when making clothes did not save you money. Making things is a labor of love, not a matter of economic practicalities."
Excellent point: now that T shirts cost $3.99 and bed quilts from China cost $89 at WalMart, making your own things is no longer the low-end solution.  And what a burden the younger people have escaped because of that hard economic fact.  If they're making things for love, not for money, perhaps they'll be spared the frustrations that we older folks go through, where we give handmade gifts that are disrespected by our "loved ones," or sell our work at prices that translate to 10 cents an hour. 

The world changes, thank heavens, and even though the craft of cutting fabric into little pieces and sewing it back together is much the same as it was centuries ago, the mindset of the people who do it continues to mutate.  So even though we may feel amused and even smug at how the younger ones are discovering the same things we discovered many years ago, at the end of the day we should be delighted that they are learning and loving the craft/art that has brought us so much comfort and joy.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on your win. I really enjoyed reading your essay. I'm visiting my first "modern quilt shop" tomorrow. There is a new shop called Crimson Tate on Mass Ave in Indy. It will be interesting to get a "modern quilter's" take on a quilt shop.