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.
Modern quilting has existed in many forms for much of the 20th century. It wasn’t until the 2000’s that quilts with a modern aesthetic began to appear in greater numbers and quilters began to describe themselves as modern.
A defining event occurred in 1998 when Martha Stewart Living featured Denyse Schmidt, calling her quilts a “chic, modernist aesthetic.” For many quilters in the early days of the movement, this was a key inspirational moment.
The growth of the movement was facilitated by four factors: the cultural shift of quality design being recognized by the general public, affordable digital cameras, the changing fabric industry and the rise of social media.
In 2002, the Quilts of Gee’s Bend exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and the publication of Yoshiko Jinzenji’s book Quilt Artistry, further provided inspiration to a small but devoted group of modernist minded quilters.
Two influential books were published in 2005, Denyse Schmidt Quilts and the Modern Quilt Workshop by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr. The first online quilt alongs were established on blogs around these two books and awareness continued to increase in the online world.
The Flickr group Fresh Modern Quilts, established in 2008, provided the first online centralized social media venue for quilters in the movement. With that flickr group and many active blogs, the online world of modern quilting took off like wildfire.
In 2009, Alissa Haight Carlton and Latifah Saafir founded the Modern Quilt Guild giving the online community a chance to form in person connections with other modern quilters.
The Modern Quilt Guild’s role in this amazing and evolving movement is thrilling and we can’t wait to see what comes next!