I have been quilting for more than 25 years, so I can’t really claim to be a “Modern Quilter” and wouldn’t ever describe myself that way. I am a quilter. Period.
But, for some reason, the term “Modern Quilting” doesn’t annoy me the way it does many of my contemporaries (i.e. quilters who have been quilting a while). I see it mostly as a marketing thing, but anything that brings more voices in my art, and more fabric to my stash, I see as a good thing.
So, for my quilting buds, I am listing reasons why I am grateful that Modern Quilting has come along.
1. Gray. I love grays because they sink back and are a team player. It was getting really hard to find nice grays (and solids, too, for that matter) before “Modern Quilting” took off.
Like the Japanese quilters popularizing taupe (another color “discovery” I love), I will always be grateful for the new fabric designers for bringing back nice grays.
2. Online resources. The rotary cutter really revolutionized quilting. I remember it (mostly because I used templates to cut out the pieces for my first quilt… templates, and scissors, and (oh horrors!) a Sharpie!) It’s a wonder I wasn’t burned at the stake back then.
Since quilting has become popular again, there are dozens of podcasts, thousands of blogs, and millions of tutorials, both video and written. There are books, and rulers, and templates, and stencils, and patterns directed at all interests and skill levels. There are more ways than ever to connect to like-minded quilters all around the globe, and that’s just wonderful in my book.
3. The death of the Quilt Police. Oh, they’re still out there, but they are easier to ignore than ever by attributing your quilting style to something they are less familiar with.
You clipped your points or your corners don’t match: you are exploring “freeform piecing.” You like lots of white space, or you adore the new fabrics? You’re “modern.” You like using billions of scraps? You’re a “scrap quilter.” You’re exploring elements of design using fabrics and other stuff? You’re an “art quilter.” There are now more ways than ever to shut those pesky quilt police down.
4. Experimentation and whimsy. I admire people who can take existing patterns and make them new and fun. In fact, that’s what I try to do when I quilt: start with a parameter and see where I can take it. Solve a “problem.” Probe deeper into a concept.
The Drunkard’s Path Blocks are my current “research” and I’m really enjoying myself. Isn’t that the point of an avocation or hobby? If I sewed as much for my business as I do for fun, it would be drudgery. I wouldn’t look forward to my time with my fabric. But because I can’t wait to see what happens when I put all those blocks on my design wall, it’s exciting and fun.
5. Making useful stuff is “in” again. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in thinking about what others see when they see our quilts that it seems like we’re constantly preparing for a Quilt Show. One of the things that the Modern Quilt Guild claims makes a “modern quilt” is that it is a utility quilt. I find this really funny because that’s what I’ve been doing for 25+ years, but if they want to make it “cool,” then I’m “down” with that.
So if someone describes themselves as a “Modern Quilter.” Don’t regard it as if as if they are looking down their nose at you. Don’t pooh-pooh them as if they are merely following a trend (they may be, but didn’t we all when we started out? And some of us still do because we prefer that specific style.) Think of it as if they are proudly proclaiming themselves “art quilters” or “traditional quilters” or “hand quilters” or “slow quilters” or whatever. Concentrate our commonalities. They are easy to see. It’s in that second word: Quilters.