What Does Modern Quilting Mean to Me?

Over at The Modern Quilt Guild this week they've had a series of posts from some significant bloggers in the the modern quilt movement. I've rather enjoyed the conversation, so I decided instead of just commenting on all the posts, I would create my own post. So, what does modern quilting mean to me?

Central to modern quilting, I believe, is the idea of Freedom. Unlike traditional quilting which can feel very restrictive in both construction and design, modern quilting is about freedom. Freedom to throw tradition out the window or tweak it with fabrics, layouts, and improvisation. Freedom to try something new in colours or construction. Freedom to do what you want without fear of the quilt police knocking down your door.

Improvisation is also central to modern quilting.  This doesn't just mean the wonky log cabin. Improvisation is about starting a quilt and seeing where it goes, without a detailed plan. Maybe you could also talk about process here.  When I was asking you about The Whys of quilting, process was something that was central to me at the end of that discussion. I think modern quilting stresses the process as much as the final product (regardless of your technique) and improvisation is central to many a modern quilter.

Even when a modern quilter is using calm colours or simple designs, The end result is always something quite bold.  It might the fabrics themselves, or the final design, but when I think of modern quilts, subtlety does not come to mind.

I know that there are many traditional quilters out there under the age of 40. And there are modern quilters out there over the age of 50. But when I think of modern quilting I tend to think of youth. Perhaps it is because there is an energy to the work and the movement? It might be because most (but not all) of the bloggers I've encountered are closer to my age than my mom's age? But that youthful enthusiasm and energy has, I think, a powerful influence on the quilting world as a whole.

It would be remiss to not mention the role of technology in modern quilting. I don't just mean the design software. Blogs, virtual quilting bees, Flickr, and Etsy are all having a powerful influence on quilting. Have you heard of Web 2.0, where we the readers are also the content providers and help determine the present of the internet? Well, technology has allowed us to have Quilting 2.0 as well. Not only are we connecting and working together in a way that wasn't possible beyond the traditional guild, we are also working with each other projects, lending opinions through workshops and our blogs, and generating a never ending cycle of inspiration.

Finally, I want to highlight, that for me, it is important not to throw out the baby with the bath water. That is, there is a lot in traditional quilting that shouldn't be thrown away just because we like a modern aesthetic. This includes basic technique - we still want a quality piece at the end, not just one that looks good in a small on-line picture.  It also includes colour theory and design basics. We're modern and it is up to us to push the boundaries a little. Like modern architecture though, the building still has to stand on its own.

In a somewhat contradictory twist to this conversation I will be attending my first guild meeting tomorrow, a traditional guild. I'm quite excited about it, and it seems that this guild has some modern tendencies and vibrant members. With The Modern Quilt Guild springing up across North Amercia, maybe one day there will be a Calgary chapter?