Stop it with “not your grandma’s quilt”

It seems the folks who write about modern quilters use the same trite line about modern quilters: this is not your grandmother’s quilts. Such insight does not flatter the modern quilter. Modern quilters know they sit on the shoulders of those women. Without them, there is no modern quilt movement.

Even some contemporary quilters are guilty of this sentiment, naming books such as Not Your Grandmother’s Log Cabin.

The problem, I admit, is that modern quilting is often described as “non-traditional”. Traditional means perfect grids and sashing, etc. Hence, to describe modern, we have to describe traditional. And, that leads to —grandma made traditional quilts—and we aren’t grandma traditional.

Take the phenomenon of the quilters of Gee’s Bend. Their works were labeled “modern” because their works didn’t fit the typical traditional categories. They looked like modern works of art. They are cited as one inspiration for the modern quilt movement/the Modern Quilt Guild.

The annual Modern Quilt Guild exhibit of modern quilts is next week. The MQG has guidelines on What is Modern Quilting, and they do not want traditional quilts. Critics lambast the MQG because modern quilting, they believe, cannot be categorized and limited. Some think the MQG folks are arrogant and disrespectful of current traditional quilters as well as of quilters who don’t adhere to the modern aesthetic set by them. Who are you to set the rules for modern quilters? they ask.

Many of the original and contemporary modern quilters endured the wrath of the traditional quilt police. Those people were snooty and were critical of any quilt that didn’t meet the traditional model of quilting. They couldn’t fathom a quilt with irregular binding being in a quilt show. “That’s not a quilt”, they’d say.  Expletives on quilts. GET ME the smelling salts. The anger and outrage was and is real.

For me, the modern quilt movement and the MQG gave me outlet for my non-traditional ideas. I have generations of quilters in my family. I made traditional quilts, but I always felt I wanted something more. When I saw quilts from Carolyn Friedlander, Cheryl Arkison, Amanda Nyberg, and Gwen Marston, I was knew I had found my tribe. I was happy and engaged in quilting. I could be creative and design my own quilts.

I embrace my grandmothers’ quilts as the foundation of what I want to do as a quilter. My quilts are different, but I steal from the Grandmas. My Mod Drunk quilt is a new way to present the traditional Drunkards’ Path.

“Not your grandmother’s quilts” implies a negative judgement on their work. I want that to stop.

Celebrate grandma. Celebrate modern.


Lexapro, Menopause and Me

IT’S BEEN almost five years since I took the plunge into menopause. I was 48 years old. One month I was fine. The next month I was on a roller coaster of emotions. Hot flashes, memory loss, anger and sadness. It was crazy, and I was crazy.

The lab work showed positively menopausal. My doctor prescribed Effexor for the mood swings and the hot flashes. Hormone Replacement was not an option because of my family history of breast cancer. The drug helped all of my symptoms, but I was now an insomniac. Lack of sleep made me lose focus and I was less efficient and productive. And perhaps less sane. The doctor switched me to Lexapro. It worked too but without the insomnia. The most upsetting side effect was weight gain. I also felt like I was treading water. I was moving but not going anywhere.37994E18-5629-4976-B0EE-D55B7E597BB5

Now that I’ve weathered the depths of menopause, my doctor has advised me to taper off the Lexapro. She is worried about the effect of the weight gain on my health. Hot flashes won’t kill me but diabetes will.

It must be done slowly since I’ve taken it so long. I’ll begin this process in February. I’m hoping for post-menopausal calmness and a bikini body!

2018 Planning Party

At the beginning of 2017, I had two goals. I was going to finish two quilts from the Savor Each Stitch Book Bee (the emphasis chapter and the texture chapter). I finished Mod Drunk, the emphasis chapter quilt.

I hand quilted it and finished it in June. The design and the quilting show a real advancement in my design and quilting skills. I entered it in QuiltCon 2018 in the modern traditionalism category, and it was accepted.

I finished the top for the Texture quilt. As usual I got sidetracked with multiple other projects and didn’t finish it. I did manage to make the backing and baste it. I’m hand quilting it too.


I won’t finish it this year so this Quilt is on my quilts-to-finish list for 2018. And it’s the only thing on the list. Once it’s done, I will have made a quilt for each of the design element chapters from Carolyn Friedlander’s book, Savor Each Stitch. I hope to do that in 2018. Savor.

I have travel plans. My husband and I are going to Pasedena for QuiltCon in February. I’m going to the Virginia Quilters Consortium retreat in April. I hope to return to Slow Stitching Retreat in Maine in August.

I will continue my work with the Emerge Circle of do good stitches.

I will participate in the Central Virginia Modern Quilt Guild’s programs and events.

I know I’ll get involved in something unplanned and that is the best part of having plans. I can always change them.

I’m linking up with Quilting Jetgirl’s 2018 Planning Party.

2018 Planning Party

Cloud Eclipse reveal

Making this quilt with the Emerge Circle of do.good stitches was so much fun. I liked seeing what each member created. They have great taste. The fabric choices were perfect. I blogged about the inspiration in this post.


I hand quilted it. I used quarter circles, beginning at each corner. I like the texture and interest it gives to the linear strips. I added a small section of yellow fabric in the binding (Christa Watson’s Modern Marks) to represent the sun.


I’m donating the quilt to The Doorways. They provide lodging and support for patients and their loved ones who need to be near the hospital. They say the place feels like home. I hope this handmade quilt will give them the feeling of home.  Every home needs a quilt.


The challenge of a challenge

This year’s QuiltCon Michael Miller Fabric Challenge was a finishing challenge.

While  I was machine quilting, my Bernina 560 machine gave me fits. The needle position was to the left when I turned it on but the display said it was in the middle. Then the tension acted up and the stitches looked terrible. This was at the first of November. I took it to the shop— wait time could be 30 days or more. Good grief!

I came home and used my credit card points to purchase an inexpensive machine, a Brother. I didn’t have a backup and this seemed like good time to get one.


City Hall Secrets

That meant I switched to handquilting. I love handquilting but finishing it on time would be a struggle. And it was.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, the Brother arrived. On Sunday, I added the binding even though I had until November 30 to enter it. You never know when the computer will go out too.

Because sections of the edges were not quilted, I got puckers on the back using the regular presser foot on the Brother when stitching the binding. I was used to my walking foot. And this confirmed how valuable a walking foot is. Most of it was okay but about a third had to be removed and redone. The next pass I pinned the whole thing and no puckers. Yeah for patience!

I took photos on Monday, November 27, and entered the quilt that night.


The quilt design has a nice backstory. In May I took over our Guild’s Instagram account. On May 8 the theme for the day was Inspiration. I took a photo of the back side of City Hall. I live across the street.

Last year I bought Heather Jones’ book, Quilt Local, Finding Inspiration in the Everyday. Heather used photos of local scenes and turned them into quilt designs and quilts. I took her instructions and sketched a quilt from the City Hall photo. Then, a graph with sizes for each edition.


Along the way I adapted it, preferring an asymmetrical design. And I added two rows on the right. Rather than solid “sashing”, I used the Michael Miller Our Yard prints. They started as large improv blocks that I cut and stitched into long strips. That changed my plan to connecting the rows. Instead of three long rows, I had multiple sections and rows. It actually helped with accuracy. I find that sewing long strips together can create wonky lines.