There are no rules in making a modern quilt, but just in case. Five Things you should know.

In case you want some guidance in your modern quilt making, here are the top five things you need to know:

  1. functional.
  2. use of expansive negative space.
  3. improvisational piecing.
  4. bold and graphic.
  5. minimalism.

For an explanation of modern quilts, I turn to the Modern Quilt Guild. They say:

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.

I. FUNCTIONAL

This means you can throw the quilt in the washing machine. I see a lot of modern quilts used as wall hangings and they function as art, but you could still throw them in the wash and they don’t need to be sent to the dry cleaners. I take this “functional” label to mean they aren’t embellished with beads and such.

II. EXPANSIVE NEGATIVE SPACE

The key word here is “expansive.”. Traditional quilts use negative space. My Vintage Moments quilt uses negative space but it isn’t a modern quilt:

IMG_2431

Expansive negative space uses large areas of the same color of fabric and it seems to use minimal piecing.

I like the use of large areas of solid fabric in a quilt, but to make it functional, that negative space needs quilting and all that free motion quilting seems to me to be no different than piecing. Either way there is a design in that space. Thread versus piecing — I don’t know the answer to what is negative space. Maybe it has to read as a solid background and it has nothing to do with negative space design. The blog, KnitNkwilt, has a discussion about negative space in modern quilts. I’m still trying to figure out what this means.

III. BRIGHT AND GRAPHIC COLOR PALETTES (HIGH CONTRAST AND GRAPHIC AREAS OF SOLIC COLOR)

Again, my Vintage Moments quilt uses high contrast with the black and white. High contrast in a modern quilt must mean something more than that. The following photo is a quilt which won third place in the QuiltCon show for best handwork.

allocca_fillthevoid

Fill the Void by Cinzia Allocca Pierrefonds, Quebec, Canada Pieced & Quilted by: Cinzia Allocca

This quilt (right) uses high contrast and graphic areas of solid color. I like bright and graphic colors but I’m also in love with muted colors which I think could be modern.

IV. IMPROVISATIONAL PIECING

I love improvisational piecing.  I think “improvisational piecing” is akin to my understanding of “liberated” quilting. Last year I made a quilt from pieces of scraps from previous projects and quilts, mostly traditional. I made wonky log cabins but the “logs” were white or white-on-white fabric, also left over from previous quilts. I call it Sentimental Soup.

sentimenal soup

V. MINIMALISM

This category seems the easiest for me to understand. Perhaps it is because I see it as Modern Art.

This is a painting by Brice Marden. I recently saw it as the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The work is titled, “Meritatio.”

Meritatio By Brice Marden ,1978

This painting looks like a minimal quilt.

I recently finished a quilt, titled Muppets Minimal. I know I named it ‘minimal’ and so it must be minimal. Right?

IMG_6283

This quilt is my husband’s favorite and is perfect for long naps. Functional – check. Expansive Negative Space– check.  Bright and Graphic– check. Minimal– check.  Improvisational Muppets– check. This must be a modern quilt. The LOVE quilt at the top of this post checks some of these blocks — improvisational, graphic, functional but not minimal and not much expansive negative space. This quilt is called, Love is messy, and is my tribute to the LOVEWorks sculptures throughout Virginia. The point is that a modern quilt doesn’t have to be all these things at once, and that just isn’t possible.

VI. TRADITIONAL WITH A TWIST

I’m drawn to quilts which use traditional blocks in a new way.  The Modern Quilt Guild recognizes these quilts as “modern.” The Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild explains:

Modern quilting is a new twist on the traditional art of quilting. This may mean something as simple as using a traditional quilt block and updating it in a fresh, fun new way. That includes using modern fabrics, modifying the block arrangement or even the scale of the block. The piecing could be improvisational and liberated, or it could be very exact and measured, following a pattern or creating your own. The quilting could be traditional stippling, clean straight lines, or a very “free,” fun, quilt-as-you-go style. Fabrics could be upcycled vintage sheets, custom digitally printed fabric, a yummy selection from one of the new modern fabric designers, or an old fabric from an ever-growing stash.

 [….]

Modern quilting is also about the attitude and the approach that modern quilters take. It respects the amazing artistry and talent of the tradition of quilting, while allowing the quilter to challenge the “rules.” In fact, if there were one rule in modern quilting, it would be that there are no rules.

I like this description. THERE ARE NO RULES!

VII. FINAL THOUGHTS

I believe art, and modern quilts, must have some connection to the person who is creating the art or the quilt. Merely producing a replica of a piece of modern art is hollow. I have to find what speaks to me and what I want to create. I want my quilts to have a story.

Telling stories one quilt at a time,

Wanda

Update: after writing this post I realized I completely forgot about Alternate Gridwork which was the requirement for the QuiltCon Charity Quilt I helped make.

Michael Miller Spring Cotton Couture Challenge

I finished my quilt for the Michael Miller Spring Cotton Couture Challenge and just entered it online. The title is, “Robot Couture.”

This is the first quilt I have ever entered into a contest or show.

Here’s what I wrote in my entry about the process:

Couture, to me, means a gown with exquisite details. I sketched dresses for inspiration. My daughter said, “That looks like a dress for a robot.” It had polka dots and hexagons which looked like bolts. I created the “bolts” using a reverse appliqué technique. I placed couture fabric with a white back, drew a circle and stitched; cut the hole out, flipped and ironed. They are attached using y-seam technique. I added “grandmothers gardens”, overlapping them up the side of the quilt. I used all the fat-eighths I received, combined with five other colors from the collection.

The challenge was to create a modern quilt using pastels from the spring collection.  Michael Miller sent fat-eighths of eight of the colors from the spring cotton couture collection: opal, breeze, blossom, spa, spring, candlelight, creamsicle and soft white. I wanted to use all of them, and I did. I also added lavender, lilac, geranium, bubblegum and fern green.

 

One of the biggest challenge was photographing the quilt. I wanted to take advantage of the gray skies today and found this piece of equipment at the football practice field to hang the quilt, using an old jump robe:

IMG_5866

The digital photo had to be no greater than 1800 pixels on the longest side. That required me to use Photoshop to resize the photo — a new thing for me as well. The one concern I had was that the photos didn’t exactly depict the actual color of the fabric and that’s pretty important since this was a fabric challenge. The final photos represent the feel of the fabric colors and are pretty darn close.

FYI:

I machine quilted the circle/hexagons. I used a reverse applique technique to create them. And, yes, I machine stitched them together using y-seam technique. I hand quilted it using Presensia thread, No. 355 (light gray) and No. 266 (deep purple) and some embroidery thread in yellow and light blue inside the circles. I debated whether the flowers needed more quilting but decided the emphasis should be on the dress.

Thinking of Spring,

Wanda

 

Update: December 10, 2014: My quilt wasn’t chosen for the show. I’m really disappointed, but it will force me to review my thinking of what is a modern quilt.

QuiltCon Charity Quilt: the assembly.

My part of the QuiltCon Charity Challenge is done and ready to ship to Pam in Florida for quilting:

QuiltCon ready to ship

The colors from everyone’s blocks worked well together. I struggled with deciding where each block should go. The assembly went smoothly, though. It’s a very happy quilt top, and I can’t wait to see the finished quilt.

Thanks to Rene Creates for sending the batting and to Shelly Recicar for sending extra white fabric which I used, with some of my stash, to make the backing:

QuiltCon Charity Backing

Now I have to finish the quilt I’m doing for the Michael Miller Spring Cotton Couture Challenge. It is going to be a challenge to get it quilted and finished by the November 30 deadline. Back to work.