As modern quilters, we participate in a craft with deep roots and lots of history. Ours is a movement influenced by the designs, innovation, and ingenuity of those who came before us. Their contributions to the art and craft of quilting may have been born from thrift and necessity, but they paved the way for current trends. Today’s quilts are more often the product of creative expression and innovative design than the need to keep every inhabitant of our homes warm.
Quilts from the 21st century reflect our foremothers’ (and sometimes forefathers!) traditions in a purely modern way. We still use traditional designs, but reinterpret them with new settings, creative color and value combinations, and lots of machine quilting. We continue to hone our skills and seek the perfect matching points in a pinwheel block and a smooth arc of a pieced curve, but we use more technically advanced tools and techniques when creating our quilts. Thank goodness for rotary cutters, accurate templates, and digital design software!
A close look at every quilt in this issue of Modern Patchwork tells it all: there is no denying the influence of past quilters on current design trends. In fact, some of the strongest quilt designs at this year’s QuiltCon held in Savannah, Georgia, were from the Modern Traditional category. That movement (and group of quilts) is discussed in Riane Menardi’s article “Tradition Made Modern: A Fresh Take on Traditional Quilts”.
Want to try your hand at an updated version of a Log Cabin quilt? Malka Dubrawsky’s “Ombré Radiance” quilt is an excellent place to start. The quilt features an unmistakably modern palette of colorful solids arranged in a glowing light-to-dark ombré gradation radiating from a center Hourglass block, yet the quilt also nods to the traditional Courthouse Steps block. Malka’s construction method is also updated: she cuts the strips to length as she pieces the top, measuring and adjusting for each cut. This variation ensures accuracy and also allows for a bit of improvisation along the way. It’s just one example of tradition-made-modern in a unique quilt.
As you mature as a modern quilt enthusiast, I hope your quilting adventure leads you to explore the past, present, and future of the modern quilt movement. And along the way, I know you will be inspired by many traditional quilt patterns and blocks—hopefully updating them and making them your own.