Everything Old Is New Again

Since I first heard about the Modern Quilt movement in the quilt world I was intrigued. I have written in the past about my concerns for the next generation of quilters - where are they and why aren't they joining our guilds, coming to workshops? I know there are many Modern Quilt Guilds now, over 150 worldwide and we have one based in Dartmouth NS The Maritime Modern Quilt Guild (they are also on Facebook here) and I think that is terrific. 

I was really surprised when my friend Ann gave me an old copy of Quilter's Newsletter Magazine, issue 89 from March of 1977. There on page 8 is an article written by Mary Leman (daughter of the founder of QNM Bonnie Leman) under the banner Modern Quilting is "Rock Star A QN Original Design". That was written 37 years ago!  

I have been in touch with Mary and she has graciously given me permission to share her article here.

We are seeing 'modern quilts" show up at our Guild's show and tell.

Vicki's fun modern quilt Converging Corners, came from a tutorial here

 Sandra's quilt Popsicles has a wonderful "modern" feel and look, the fabrics are her own hand dyed and snow dyed fabrics. It's not a pattern but it's not an original idea. It was done following the technique of improvisational piecing by Melody Johnson. Sandra quilted it on her Bernina....quilting a series of narrowly spaced ....."somewhat "straight lines.

I made this Fireside Log Cabin (started in a Heather Stewart workshop) which I called Log Cabin Renovations, it kind of has a "modern" look though it wasn't my intention when I started. Funny thing, I selected the fabrics based on the orange print to pick up the greys and white, I took the workshop just a few days before I had cataract surgery. After the surgery I was amazed how much colour was in this quilt and that it wasn't just greys and whites! The quilt was beautifully machine quilted by Lynn Jones.

While looking up a reference for a quilt I made back in the '80's which was inspired by a crazy quilt I saw in a Quilt Engagement Calendar. I was looking through calendars from1980 - 1985 and I was surprised by some of the quilts that had a distinctly "modern look" using today's terminology of "modern".

Wall quilt made by Carol Anne Wien, 1981.

Straight Furrow Log Cabin, unknown maker, 1890-1910. Sure looks modern!

Everything Old is New Again

The new trend sweeping the quilt world today is "Modern Quilts". I am struggling with the term, with why a style has to be labelled and with why young quilters seem to be drawn to it. When I started quilting and for many, many years I bought fabric because I liked it, that is still how I buy fabric because I like it, not because of whose name was on the selvedge. There was hardly ever a name on the selvedge let alone the name of a designer or line of fabric. I was lucky if the brand was there like VIP, Cranston or RJR. I coveted what I did buy and mixed it altogether in my quilts, the more the merrier! I store it all on open shelves (I like to know if it is going to fade!) sorted by colour. And now I have sorted out the stripes, polka dots, batiks and conversation/novelty prints.

My solids are all packed away from the days when I was into Amish quilts...a great adventure thanks to Roberta Horton and her book An Amish Adventure. Roberta was a huge influence for me and her book is a great exercise in understanding and playing with colour. For someone who made quilts of many prints and no solid colours this was a real challenge, a good one! I went through the book chapter by chapter and di all the exercises. For a while a lot of family had Amish inspired pillows and wallhangings from all the squares I made. I am beginning to think it is time to revisit that era!

All Things Bright and Beautiful was inspired by an old quilt I saw in the 1979 edition of the Quilt Engagement Calendar edited by Cyril Nelson and published by Dutton. The original quilt was made of silks, satins, brocades and velvets and was heavily embellished with fancy embroidery stitches. I loved the geometric pattern behind all the stitches and rich fabrics so I drew it out on graph paper. Then I made templates for each of the pieces and carefully machine sewed them together. When I finished piecing it it reminded me of hot air balloons which is why I hand quilted it in a sort of balloon-like shape. Could this be considered a "modern quilt" today? I made it in the mid 1980's. Here is a detail of the hand quilting, it is stab stitched.

Or maybe this one, Sweet Dreams is a quilt I made for my Grandson, Evan, his first big boy quilt. It is machine pieced and hand quilted (stab stitched). I made it in 2005 before seeing any pictures of modern quilts, it just seemed like an easy way to make a simple, colourful quilt.

Penny Candy is a small wallhanging inspired by the pattern Chinese Coins, it is machine pieced and hand quilted (stab stitched). The fabrics are commercial batiks and hand dyes, some I dyed and some from others quitlers. I made this in 2000 could it be anther modern quilt? I guess I just love to be in both worlds, traditional and modern but with a twist. I think I'll stay away from labels though, make what I like and hope I can inspire others.