Modern vs. Traditional

I’ve been quilting on and off for about fifteen years, and had never thought about traditional vs. modern quilting. Mostly my quilts are my own designs, start to finish. So when I jumped back into quilting again this year, the modern and traditional labels got my attention.

What is modern quilting? The Modern Quilt Guild answers this question very well on their website, but I think what sums it up best is this quote (from “We create in a way that supports our individual creative needs and our lifestyle preferences. Modern quilters resist the imposition of hard and fast rules for making a quilt. We pick and choose traditional techniques and methods that work for us…”

And with that quotation, I realized I have been making “modern” quilts for my whole quilting life. By taking an idea, turning it around, changing this or that, adding my own thoughts, a quilt becomes a modern expression of who I am at that moment, and what I would like it to be for the recipient.

Another page on The Modern Quilt Guild’s site shows “traditional” and “modern” designs side-by-side and shares a quotation from Mary Lee Bendolph, a Gee’s Bend quilter, “I never try to quilt altogether like anybody. . .  It’s better if you do what you are supposed to do than to try and copy somebody else.”

Of course, some design aspects are key for modern quilts, such as asymmetry, simplicity, minimalism, bold colors and more greys, whites, or blacks. And these might make a modern quilt more or less appealing to the viewer, depending on their own ideas of what a quilt should be.

A friend recently shared that she would like to make her first quilt, so off to the quilt shop we went for inspiration. The designs that caught her eye the most were tradtional in a design-sense but modern in color. She didn’t like the fussy prints or complicated shapes, and appreciated the cleaner solids and simple rectangles.

While at the quilt shop, I pointed out a fabric and the shop owner comment that she “ordered those fabrics for the kids”!! Little did she know that I was one of those “kids” — a modern quilter among traditionalists.

What do you think?

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