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.


CVA MQG crayon color challenge

The Central Virginia Modern Quilt Guild crayon color challenge was so much fun.

We pulled three crayons (they were Crayola) from a bag. We were tasked with using those three colors in a quilt. We could add any other colors we wanted. The reveal is scheduled for March 1. Read the entire post for why I won’t have this quilt for the reveal. Sorry, CVA MQG. 😦

I got Plum, Blue Green and Green Yellow.

crayola crayons plum blue green green yellow

I wanted to use these colors in a big way. I purchased yardage of each color: Michael Miller Cirtus, Kona Lagoon and Kona Berry from Quilting Adventures. I sketched and colored what I wanted to do:

crayon challenge sketch

I  wrote on the sketch, “hotel art” because it looked like something you’d see in a hotel lobby. I ultimately called the quilt, Lakeside Avenue, the location of our guild meetings.

I had some Kona Tomato and added a little bit of it to the quilt as I went.

Then, quilting it.  My family and I traveled by train to New York City over Christmas, and I had plenty of time to hand quilt. I got most of the middle done. Once home I machine quilted the rest because I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to hand quilt it all by the deadline.

I like the difference the hand quilting and machine quilting gives to the quilt.

Lakeside Avenue Full view_edited-1

Lakeside Avenue Close Up

I entered the quilt in the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival, February 25-28, 2016, and it was selected for the show.

I am inspired by art museums, and attending the festival was better than an art museum. Here’s me at the festival with my quilt. No ribbons, though, but look at that color. It won’t be back in time for me to take to the March 1 meeting. This photo will have to do.

MQQF closeup

Inspired by color,


A Thousand Star Experience

I’m back from Texas, and it was an inspiring and exciting trip. I arrived early on Thursday and immediately saw inspiration at the airport. Texas houston airport

Look at those colors.

Then I grabbed a cab to the convention center, bought tickets for the International Quilt Festival show, met up with Susan, ate some lunch, then began the tour.

I really liked this award winner by Melissa Sobotka of Richardson, Texas. She used batiks and silk. The colors were earthy and I was drawn to the applique:

Texas end of the spin

This next quilt is not modern, but it is strikingly beautiful: Brilliant Rose by Junko Fujiwara of Narasheno, Japan.

Texas brilliant rose

I made it to my quilt, and a friend of Susan’s (on left) took our photo with Random Perfection. Texas random perfection

Susan was a big help in getting me registered for classes and events.

On Friday I took a bus tour through Texas. We began early.
Texas early monring

The Texas Quilt Museum was our first stop. They had an amazing collection of contemporary quilts, but I can’t show them to you. They didn’t allow photography. This is a shot from the inside, showing outside to the streets of La Grange, Texas. inside-the-texas-quilt-museum-looking-out-beautiful-quilts-inside-but-no-photography-quiltfestival-texasquiltmuseum_22617986601_oI saw stars at many stops along the way. After lunch and shopping in La Grange, we traveled to Round Top, Texas where the Festival Hill Institute is located. They have an incredible music academy there with a star-filled auditorium:


After that we visited a local quilt shop in the Stafford area of Houston, called Quilters Emporium. They had goody bags for us, and then back to the convention center. Susan was so good to wait for me to get back from the bus tour.

Then it rained and rained. It was more than the streets and bayous could handle. Susan and I attempted to get to the convention center Saturday morning but the streets and highways were flooded. We survived this exciting ride and just relaxed the rest of the day.

I am grateful to Susan for her hospitality and good cheer. I had a great time, and I’m sure this thousand-star experience will find its way into a quilt.

Texas sugar skull