Modern Quilting Designs: Q&A with Elizabeth Hartman

Modern quilting, with its bold new contemporary style marked by graphic designs made from bright fabrics, is attracting young and old, new and experienced quilters.

modern quilt design hartman
modern quilt design hartman
Modern quilting designs by Elizabeth Hartman. Details of the Crazy Nine-Patch Lattice quilt (top) and the New Wave quilt design (above).

While there is no set definition of “modern quilting,” Alissa Haight Carlton (a quilt designer on the forefront of this trend), has written that modern quilt design shares traits with the quilts of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, and many classic Amish quilts: graphic, high-impact (yet simple) quilt designs featuring bold color choices, irregular and improvised piecing rather than strict adherence to traditional quilt patterns.

In an article for Stitch magazine, reprinted in the 2012 issue of Modern Patchwork magazine, Alissa writes that modern quilt designs “might also add generous amounts of negative space around focus blocks, using white or a light neutral fabric to create bright, open space, and refreshing visual impact.”

Contemporary fabric choices are also hallmarks of modern quilting, especially those created by a new wave of textile designers, such as Heather Ross, Anna Maria Horner, Denyse Schmidt, Amy Butler, and
Heather Bailey.

Having said all that, it’s important to remember that each modern quilter brings her or his own creativity and style to their quilting designs.

Elizabeth Hartman is a high-profile quilter who explores modern quilting design and technique on her blog,

elizabeth hartman quilt design
Modern quilt designer Elizabeth Hartman.

In her article in Modern Patchwork, Alissa asked Elizabeth about her evolution as a quilter.

Q. How long have you been quilting and how did you start?

Elizabeth: I’ve been quilting since the late 1990s; quilting appealed to me because it involved both making useful objects and sewing lots of color and pattern together.

Q. What makes you a modern quilter?

Elizabeth: This is such a hard question, because the answer can be as simple as “because I do contemporary work” and as complicated as an esoteric discussion of modernity as a movement and/or the impossibility of defining the nature of creative work as it’s happening. I would say that I’m a modern quilter because, while I appreciate the rich heritage of quiltmaking, I don’t quilt as a way of connecting with that heritage. I quilt because it’s my preferred form of creative expression now.

Q. How did you decide to start a blog?

Elizabeth: Between 1999 and 2009, I worked in a corporate office. In my downtime, I read crafting blogs, and I must admit that I envied all those sewers who seemed to be doing so many fun and creative things. I knew that I didn’t have the background to just go out and get a job in a creative field, but I figured I could start a blog for fun, so I did.

Q. What do you love most about modern quilting?

Elizabeth: I think most self-defined modern quilters are more interested in creating work that is about what they want to do now, in their own time and place.

If modern quilting and patchwork grab your interest, you can find out more about the modern quilt design movement plus get 37 contemporary projects and patterns by downloading Modern Patchwork now.

P.S. What about you? What do you want to do now in quilt design? Tell me about it in the space below.

Other topics you may enjoy:


Modern Quilting, Quilt Designs, Quilting Daily Blog

One thought on “Modern Quilting Designs: Q&A with Elizabeth Hartman

  1. I have been quilting for about 15 years. When I follow patterns, my completed quilt only resembles the pattern photo. So, I usually begin with the fabric and let it lead me to the sewing pieces of the quilt top and the quilting pattern. My preference is primary colors, and pale pastel geometric patterns, so I guess I am a contemporary patchwork quilter. I do what brings me joy. And I am hooked on pattern sites for inspiration, and quilting blogs for the same reason. Love you work because it is so cheerful. Thanks.