What is Modern Quilting?

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Often I get asked “What is modern quilting?” What does it mean to call myself a modern quilt pattern designer? Modern quilting still uses the basics of traditional quilting but I think a modern quilt pattern plays by its own rules. Today I am looking into both Traditional and Modern Quilting to find the differences.


You know a modern quilt when you see one! The Modern Quilt Guild defines modern quilting in this way:


Modern quilts are primarily functional and inspired by modern design. Modern quilters work in different styles and define modern quilting in different ways, but several characteristics often appear which may help identify a modern quilt. These include, but are not limited to: the use of bold colors and prints, high contrast and graphic areas of solid color, improvisational piecing, minimalism, expansive negative space, and alternate grid work. "Modern traditionalism" or the updating of classic quilt designs is also often seen in modern quilting.


Traditional quilting is composed of historical, patchwork quilt blocks. I see these a lot in quilt sampler patterns or beginner quilt classes. Here are a few illustrations of my favorite traditional patchwork quilt blocks. 



A think of these blocks as the foundation. They are where it all started! Modern quilting didn't emerge until the 2000s when traditional quilters started defining themselves in a new way. The Modern Quilt Guild was founded in 2009 and the first official QuiltCon was hosted in 2013. 



Modern quilting is still very young which is super exciting to me! Just imagine where it will go from here! Quilting in general has been around for hundreds of years. It's a true art form! I believe the catagory of "Modern Quilting" has giving all of quilting a new life. There are SO many young quilters learning to sew online or at local quilt shops. This is extremely important if we want this tradition to continue on. We have to teach our kids the craft or it will slowly disappear.


The expansion into modern quilting has allowed for new ideas to blossom and rules to be broken. Hardcore, traditional quilters follow the rules of quilting like laws. I like to think in modern quilting - there are no rules. 


 Pictured here is the Sunroom Quilt Pattern.

Modern quilt blocks usually follow those same foundational piecing methods as traditional quilts, but they play with scale, minimalism or color to create something fresh and new. For example the Playroom Quilt Pattern is composed of simple Half-Square Triangles and lines. Half-square triangles are a super basic quilt block but blown up to 6” x 6” and paired with some simple lines and bold fabric something fresh and exciting comes out! 



Pictured here is the Playroom Quilt Pattern 

Another characteristic of traditional quilting that is not seen in modern quilting is the use of multiple borders. The body or center of a traditional quilt will be composed of a symmetrical grid of repeating patchwork blocks with a small border followed by a larger border. None of my quilt patterns have borders in the traditional sense. I love a pattern that goes edge to edge or has a simple solid border to create a more minimalist look.



Some of the key aspects of modern quilting I would still love to explore are asymmetrical layouts and improve piecing. I think I’ll add Improv Quilting to my list of blog posts and we can explore that one together yes? 

For now - I'll leave you all here. I hope this has helped to clarify some of the differences. In my mind the real difference comes down to creativity and bending the rules. What defines modern quilting for you?



You might also enjoy reading:

A Guide For Beginner Quilters

My Favorite Quilting Tools

Tips for Curved Quilting

Five Easy and Modern Quilting Designs



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