I recently did a series of articles for my quilt guild.  Here is the first of several posts.  These are my personal opinions based on the research I have done in the last several months.  The opinions of other quilters may be different, but I am hoping to begin a dialogue with other quilters.  So if you have any ideas or comments just chime in and we can discuss it.


For a while now I have been fascinated by the Modern Quilt Movement.  I first stumbled upon the modern style of quilt patterns on the blog of my quilting podcasting buddies.  I would follow links on their blogs and started seeing modern quilts.  As I read the blogs, I would comment or communicate with the authors.  I found I was often attracted to the patterns and colors of the quilts.  One day I stumbled upon the online MODERN QUILT GUILD (MQG)   

The MQG was organizing members on line.  Their rationale was that there were not enough members who lived close enough to each other.  Little by little the members in the same area started connecting and they organized brick and mortar guilds in the area where they lived.  Sometimes these guilds were off shoots of larger traditional guilds but more often they were independent groups.  Like traditional guild they evolved according to the group’s need.  Some are working groups where they learn techniques and work on projects.  Other groups organize themselves the same as traditional guilds. The majority have show and tell as part of their meeting. The groups tend to be filled with younger women who have just started quilting, but anyone who shared the same aesthetics and made modern quilts were welcome. 

The main difference from a traditional guild is the aesthetics of the quilts.  The groups belong to the main MQG, they continue to communicate and organize on line.   Blogs, Facebook, PINTERST and Flicker Groups connect the MQG community.  The growth of social media has spurred the growth of the MODERN QUILT MOVEMENT.  Often  members do not even live in the same state ( I am active in one group but am an on line member in several others.)

The MQG is evolving and growing, earlier this year they had their second QUILT- CON.  QUILT CON in the own words from their blog:

QuiltCon is the inaugural international conference and show by and for The Modern Quilt Guild. The first modern quilting event of its kind, Quilt-Con features top modern quilting instructors and will attract attendees from around the world. It includes a juried modern quilt show with cash prizes, vendors, lectures, workshops from top modern quilters, and more.

If you want to learn more about MODERN QUILTING you can check out the lecture series on Craftsy.  You do have to register on the website but you can sign up for several classes and the QUILT CON LECTURE SERIES for free.    You do need a high speed internet connection to watch the programs they do not work on dial up.  But if you can stream a TV show you should be able to steam these lectures.                  


What are the aesthetics of MODERN QUILTING?

I did extensive research in what is considered MODERN QUILTING.  Just like traditional quilting for every modern quilter there is a different definition and an application of those definitions.  Modern quilters have differing levels of skills from the total newbie just learning to thread a machine to experience quilters who could win ribbons in any show.  Modern Quilters also have a growing group of quilters who publish patterns and books.  I am sure you have been seeing more books, patterns.  I do not think the MODERN QUILTERS are rejecting traditional quilts they are just finding their own voices and what fits in their lives.   I say bring them on let us welcome them to the club of quilting and enjoy their endeavors.

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.

As voiced by a recent essay winner in the magazine GENERATION Q:

Modern quilts display an effective use of the principles of design: movement, unity, harmony, variety, balance, contrast, proportion and rhythm.  Most interesting is that most modern quilters employ these principles organically, without any formal training or structure—they simply create what is in their hearts and minds of quilter.   Modern quilting alongside ancient and indigenous art and designs expresses the inborn drive of humans to create beauty.


Characteristics of MODERN QUILTING[1]:

[1]  CHARACTERISTICS  of MODERN QUILTING is a compilation of multiple sources  and some of my own observations based on what I have seen on Pinterest, Flicker groups.  Some of the notations are similar to each other as they share similar sources.  Some notations are a contradiction of previous definitions,  MQ is still evolving.


Base their quilt structure and blocks on design principals found in architecture  and art classes.

The defining design principles in modern quilting are rhythm and movement.

Designs exhibit influences of modern art and architecture

Functional /utilitarian quilts used in the home, not show quilts, not art quilts

 Simple, minimalist design using geometric shapes

One rule in modern quilting, it would be that there are no rules[2].

Expression of the time in which we live

Original form not always a recreation of traditional blocks or quilts; it is a blazing of new trails.

Reflect the individual personality and personal style of the quilter and it also reflects the current aesthetic of the day.

Asymmetry in quilt design

Frequent use improvisational piecing

Alternate grid work is often a part of modern quilt compositions

Bold colors, on-trend color combinations and graphic prints and use of complementary color schemes

Modern quilters tend to collect and use MODERN QUILT / GRAPHIC FABRIC DESIGNERS… Amy Butler, Tulula Pink

 Increased use of solid colors, including grey and white as neutrals

 Less emphasis on block repetition

 Increased use of negative space

Unusual block settings and block arrangement

Decrease use of borders, more edge to edge patterns

Pieced backings / dual quilts

Increased use of solid fabrics

The use of diverse fabrics (keeping in mind the way the fabrics different in their wearing and use.) is often found in the same quilt.  Using vintage and recycled fabrics in different ways is common.  I think this is an off shoot of inheriting stashes and thrift shopping.  Mixing fabrics types can frequently be found in a MODERN QUILT PROJECTs.

Block aesthetics:

Reinterpreted traditional blocks

 Unconventional block structures

SIZE of blocks and patches tend to be larger than traditional quilts (16 to 20 inches are common in Modern Quilting patterns.

Graphic / geometric block designs.  Fabrics are showcased not the blocks. 

Use of precuts and fabric bundles / kits is often used by the new Modern Quilters but they to branch off as their skill level and quest for personal creativity grows.

The piecing could be improvisational and liberated, or it could be very exact and measured, following a pattern or creating your own.

Using a traditional quilt block and updating the blocks :

using modern fabrics

 modifying the block arrangement

 modifying  the scale of the block


Use of technology in MODERN QUILTING …Beyond standard quilting tools

COMMUNICATION and Sharing:  Pinterest, Blogs, Flicker groups, Facebook  and twitter

ONLINE LEARNING STYLES … Craftsy, Flicker, YOU TUBE tutorials


SPOONFLOWER FABRICS for designing your own fabric

Design Programs such as Electric Quilt

Less high tech… sketch and design books and journals

Digital cameras are used for inspiration and communication of a quilter’s own projects for journals and blogs.

I enjoy  the MODERN QUILT aesthetics and what I have learned about the MODERN QUILT MOVEMENT, but I have never made a modern quilt.   I think I agree with a comment voiced by Angela Pingel on her blog  :

“The concept of modern quilting is not meant to divide or segregate. It is meant to welcome new quilters, of all ages, to the world of quilting in a style that they can relate to. In many ways, modern quilting takes us back to the basics of the early quilters, when women of the day used the colors and styles of their time to express themselves creatively.

THAT is the Modern Quilt movement that I want to be a part of.  I am sure that I need not put myself in the box of “modern quilter”.  I don’t put myself out there as a “traditional quilter” either.

I am, without any other label, simply a quilter.”

I too consider myself a quilter.  

Happy quilting to all my guild sisters. 

 NONNIE of Nonnie’s Quilting Dreams


[1]  CHARACTERISTICS  of MODERN QUILTING is a compilation of multiple sources  and some of my own observations based on what I have seen on Pinterest, Flicker groups.  Some of the notations are similar to each other as they share similar sources.  Some notations are a contradiction of previous definitions,  MQ is still evolving.

[2]   Even now the definition of MODERN QUILTING is changing and being further refined.



ADDED MAY 11, 2013


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