Modern Quilts (Long Beach Festival addendum)

Speaking of modern, I love this wall sculpture in the lower lobby of the hotel.

Modern Quilts: 

   At the Long Beach Quilt Festival, I was wandering around the show floor and was very drawn to the small but elegant contingent of 'Modern Quilts' (MQ) on display.  

I had many questions in my mind about these quilts, this movement and what it means to the quilting world in general.  I decided to stand next to the exhibit and when I would see folks gathering to chat I would walk up and after introducing myself, ask if they wouldn't mind chatting with me for a minute about whichever quilt they happened to be looking at. 

Some of the questions I asked were these:
What is 'Modern' to you?  Are we using the term 'Modern' as a synonym of 'new'?   
Do you like this new movement and the quilts? Why/Why not? 
Do you think this is simply a passing fad?
  What makes it 'modern' to you? 
Do you feel the 'Modern' movement is exclusive or inclusive of the longer standing traditional movement. 
Will there be 'Modern' art quilts?  
How have the fabric designers contributed to this newly established trend? 

Those were just some of the conversation starters I had and I'm happy to report most people were happy to share their views.  

Many of the key words I heard in response were: Simplicity, Solid Colors, Asymetrical, The use of Grey, Traditional techniques used in a modern way,Deconstructed. 

One quilt that got lots of attention was this one: Let me first apologize to the quilt maker, I neglected to get her name.  Since I was mainly interested in the grouping as a whole;  getting the individual info was outside the purview of my inquiries at the time. 

It's hard to tell in this photo but the warp threads & weft threads are different color so you aren't seeing a true grey.  It's rather a blue-green & orange.  Very nice!  

We can all see that this is a more traditional piecing method however it's been a bit deconstructed  and given a lovely asymmetrical angle.  
 Is that what makes it modern? 
Or is it the color palette? 

I love pieced diamonds; don't you?

What about this one? 
It clearly has a modern feel but is it?  Look at the write up that clearly states the design source is the Bauhaus movement.  And unlike many other modern quilts I've seen this one is quite 'busy'.   Kudos to Ms. Abraham on her sale too!

Does all that open space mean it will be quilted in straight lines? 
Nope, Here we see some lovely free motion work by Krista Withers
and note the type of material.  It's not silk or polished cotton but a more rough muslin. 
Interesting texture combined with the colored area.  

Here's a beauty: 

love the Seminole piecing here. 

One thing I also found was there were many quilter friends who later checked in with me to see what I had found out.

Often the folks viewing the quilts were quilters themselves, they would say things like 'we just had a table discussion about this at my guild.'  Or, 'We found our membership deeply divided on these.' In some cases the more traditional quilters felt these were shoddy, or sloppy.  I'm guessing due to the vast amounts of open space maybe. 

I've made a couple of these types of quilts and I can assure you, they are not always as easy as they appear and for some folks all that open space may be daunting to fill.  Sort of like people used to being around large groups of people and activity all the time and then suddenly finding themselves alone.  

I say for those of us who love to machine quilt and can think of nothing better than having fields of blank slate before us; these wide open quilts are enticing! 

It amazes me to discover that in just a few short years the MQ movment has grown so quickly!  There are guilds popping up all over and as with more traditional guilds, all age demographics are welcome.  Though it seems fair to say that the men & women currently in their late twenties, thirties and forties; most with children, are the driving backbone to these new, lively groups.  

Many of my contemporarires (women of a certain age)  have echoed thoughts with more than a litle contempt, that the design elements really aren't all that new, but then truly, precious little really is new.  To my mind it's all in the presentation.  You probably won't find a heavily appliqued Baltimore quilt on the cover of a Crate & Barrell magazine but I can easily see these more contemporary designs right up there.  To me that is wonderful!  Think of the exposure! That would be  very good for the quilt world in general.   Making quilts accessable to more generations, the fresh, hip styles and color combinations lure new quilters daily! The energy and excitement surround the first 'Quilt Con' was palpable and I understand it was a smashing success!

Yay for Modern Quilts!
Yay for Quilters!


  1. Great write up, my friend! Since moving from Bakersfield to Morro Bay, I've really missed my MQG peeps! I'm working on getting something started over here, but I'm getting a lot of resistance! Almost every employee at one local shop let me know that there is no need for another group here. I've been told more than once, to join one of the existing guilds and find like minded people that way. I did try that, but was not treated very warmly. I heard through another shop owner, that one of the local guild presidents said that there was absolutely no interest in this area for modern quilting. Fortunately, there's one shop that is very positive about MQ, and we are trying to put together a modern quilting friendship group. Change is hard, but I also feel it is necessary for growth! After helping to get the Bakersfield MQG going, serving on that board for 2 years, attending Quiltcon, and seeing modern categories being added to the major quilt shows, I'd say it's more than simply a passing fad.


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