What is Modern Quilting?

yeah.  so this is the topic of the day.

What is Modern Quilting, anyway?  Since I joined the NYCMetroMod Quilt Guild I've been thinking more and more about this.  Do I want to be a "modern quilter"? but I don't use white sashing, and I don't buy Amy Butler.  But when I look back at the quilts I've made in the past few years, yeah, they're modern.

I've got a Bento Box.
I did a Plain Spoken from the Ringle & Kerr book, Modern Quilt Workshop.
I made a crosses quilt inspired from pics on flickr.
I did one of Kaffe Fassett's Bird Boxes.
Hell, I even made a Chinese Coins quilt. 
I just finished a paper-pieced string top and I've got a Spiderweb in the works.
the only thing I'm missing is some Drunk Love in a Log Cabin...

So.. Modern Quilting is quiltmaking inspired by the modern quilt artists, namely Denyse Schmidt (the Godmother of Modern Quilting?), Kaffe Fassett, Fielke & Doughty, Ringle & Kerr.. popular quilters that don't make traditional quilts.  There is an air of bending-the-rules-ness to it.  Using color & patterns in ways the last generation of quilters (or young, traditional, Dear Jane types) wouldn't be interested in.  "Wonky" is not only ok but sometimes sought after. 
Oh, and a big distinction for me is that "modern quilts" are very different from "art quilts".  Two great contemporary movements, but totally different in my book.  I am not an art quilter. 

There are sure to be other popular themes modern quilters mention, such as machine quilting and huge areas of open space/solids.  I'm learning to do both, but I'm not there yet.  I still love my eclectic stash of small prints (though that bin of previously drooled-over vintage florals may never again see the light of day), I'm very much a stash quilter and to be honest, I can't afford to keep up with all the latest fabric trends.  I do still love hand quilting, but the switch to stay-at-home-motherhood  has not really left much time for that.  I think hand quilting has a place in modern quilts, but here I'm leaning towards perle cotton #8...

Modern quilting also reflects the change in ways quilters gather (online), share (flickr/blogs), and shop (again, online).  Sure, traditional quilters do these things too, but with the speed of the internet, ideas light up and take off in an instant.  Someone posts it on a blog, everyone sees it, and by next week, 20 people have made one already  (more if someone creates a flickr pool for them).  You don't have to wait for magazines and quilt shows to see what's new. 

So what does all this mean?  I don't know, but it sure is fun to be part of this movement.  A part of quilting history.  A part of the current wave of creativity that spreads and splashes into our heads, sewing rooms, and all over our beds, couches and walls in the form of cozy cozy quilts in the 21st century.


jacquie said...

interesting take on the question, jessica. i'm so glad you took the time to write your thoughts.

Lesly said...

I don't know, but reading over the posts that have taken up this meme, it does seem to me that there is a need to define "modern quilting" as somehow "new and improved", certainly different than anything that has ever been before. I'm wondering if this is really the case. Women have been coming together over quilts for generations. The influences of today are going to look quite dated 20 years hence, just the way the big floral borders of the 80s do now, and - more than likely - our daughters are going to be calling themselves "postmodern quilters" and disavowing all that "negative space" and Kona coal! Lol - and so it goes!

Alissa said...

Loved reading your thoughts! Modern quilting is so many different things, right?? It's fun to think about.


thanks for your words and thoughts.
frankly, I don't think MODERN exists... what we do has been done for years by many people just out of shear utilitarianism... The advantage we have now, is to use our knowledge, or if we don't have the knowledge, we can get it, via online, or stores, a "modern convenience" that never existed before... And it's how we apply our resources... today's designers have just caught on that wave... but nothing they have done, is new... But your right, it certainly does means many things to many different people...;-) happy creating! SO keep creating those beauties! Does it really matter anyway? if it means we get to make more quilts, then have at it! ;-)

Dee said...

Modern quilting is quilting today as opposed to historical quilting, which was done yesterday! LOL

Going back to the history of quilts, one sees right away, they too were on the cutting edge of something new, fanciful, beautiful, utilitarian and artistic. I blogged about the history of quilts. Can't find it, but it's there.
Thanks for the ponderings and thoughts, I really enjoyed them!

PJ said...

This is a really good post! Very interesting pondering...comments, too! I have to say I'm not sure that modern is to different from what it has been...I do think the sharing looks/feels different! (internet vs. waiting for your group or magazine) Now I'm going to your hyperlinks ;)) HA! I guess I'm 'modern' !

Jessica said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jessica said...

yeah. i can't say i feel strongly that "modern quilting" is something new or different than before, it's just the current step in a long an wonderful quilt history. I don't follow (or even like) all of the "modern quilting" trends, (though after rereading my post and mentally sorting through my stash, i do own a half yard of amy butler..) and i still really like lots of traditional-type quilts. what made me think i had anything to say on the topic was that of the last 10 quilts i've worked on, more than half are patterns that are currently popular with the "modern" crowd, either in books or online. I would rather not label/limit myself with one genre of quilting, but I do really appreciate the energy that the online quilting world has felt in the last 5 years. Before that it didn't feel this way, don't you agree? And in guilds.. well, it still doesn't feel this way. So I'm happy for my NYCmetro mod-guild too :)

ParisMaddy said...

Interesting post.

I love your Chinese Coins and the Kaffe one, very fresh and mod.

Anonymous said...

Very weird that you would post this now because I've been asking myself if I was a modern quilter or not too. The Seattle Modern Quilt Guild is having their first meeting in two weeks and I've been trying to decide if I should go or not. I don't feel like a modern quilter but I am definitely heavily influenced by the blogging world when I think about the quilts I have completed and have in progress/planned.

Anonymous said...

Mostly I just wanted to leave a comment to say thanks. I'd quietly begun wondering if "modern quilting" meant what it said on the label or was actually a code phrase for "we like a few certain things."

So I tossed out the question and posed my own: "If that's what I'm not, then what am I?"

I dropped off the resulting rantfest at http://domesticat.net/2010/02/quiltifesto

Now to get back to the ton of Japanese fabric I brought back from Hawaii... :)

Tonya said...

I think you covered it very well. It is a lot about the community, and the ideas and inspiration that come from the internet. Nicely said!

Lisabee said...

I really like your observation that part of modern quilting is how quilters are connecting using technology. I think that online social networking is something that definitely defines the age we live in, so it makes sense that it should also help to define us as quilters.

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