Friday, March 14, 2014


So a lot of people have written these posts about what Modern Quilting really is, so I know I’m not bringing up a new discussion. The thing is that every once in a while I need to get things off my mind and find this is the best way to do it (worked well when talking about the Quilt Police)!

Recently I heard a quilter talk about her disdain for Modern Quilting, but her love of Contemporary Quilting and it really got me thinking, what’s the difference? I see pretty clear differences when looking at modern and traditional quilts (most of the time), but contemporary? I just don’t know. It may be that I’m just not overly interested in classifying what I do (although I know I’m not exactly traditional- HA!), but I thought I would look into it a bit more.

First a little quiz! If you feel like playing along, pull out a pencil and paper and see how you do! Below are pictures of 10 quilts and 6 patterns I found online. Based on the maker/sellers classification I noted which ones were called contemporary and which ones were called modern. Can you tell the difference? Take your best guess and see how you do (the answers are way at the bottom). 

Okay, all done? Good. Hold that thought.

Before we get to the answers I should probably tell you why I did that. I am simply trying to show that style, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. If I create a quilt that I feel is contemporary, then I have every right to call it that. If I create a quilt that is modern to me, I can call it that. If I want to lump them together and say my quilts are contemporary modern I can do that too! Just look at the KeepsakeQuilting pattern section. They made life easy and just throw all the patterns in one big group together! 

Now, there is a but (isn’t there always). I say these things based on the fact that I am a personal (not professional) quilter. I’m not entering shows with any expectation that they need to be classified by ANYONE. If that is your aim, then ignore me and do what your doing because I’m sure it’s beautiful! I make my quilts for fun, for relaxation, for gifts and to bring smiles to faces. If I give my mom a quilt and call it modern or call it contemporary I will bet you $100 she doesn’t care. ;)

So all this came about when I heard ‘hate for modern quilting’ and a ‘love for contemporary’ and I really needed to understand that. What I have found is that these are not black and white categories, they are very very grey. Even within contemporary and modern quilting there is a huge array of quilts. 

My personal opinion is to do what you love! Do what makes you happy! Continue to explore different mediums and see what fits. Visit a guild or a sewing group with people who love what you love. I wouldn’t join a traditional quilt guild and expect them to love what I do, and visa versa for a traditional quilter in a modern quilt guild. I may check out a contemporary group because it seems appealing to me, but could just as easily decide it’s not my cup of tea and should not feel bad about it.

Quilting, like any art form, will continue to evolve, change and grow.  We will continue to agree and to disagree, but I feel it is vital to remember to welcome new quilters in with open arms rather than pushing them away because you don’t like everything they do! We all know the amount of thought, time, care, and effort that goes into this wonderfully crazy hobby that we love, and that should earn nothing but respect from and for each other. 

"In time we hate that which we often fear."  William Shakespeare

Now here's those answers! If your feeling brave leave  comment and let me know how you did and what your thoughts are are this!

African Print (32 x 40)

I have cited each and every quilt and pattern in this post. Please remember that all artists work hard on these projects and deserve proper credit. Thank you! 


  1. I very much appreciate the time you took to research and write this post. In fact, I would have called most of those quilts modern. #1 fulfills the modern definition of "organic design;" same with #2; #4 is "wonky," so that's modern, etc. #6 I would have called traditional because I've yet to see brown used in a "modern" quilt. So, it's all subjective, isn't it? I wish everyone would accept and appreciate that it's that way!

    1. It really is so subjective! I confused myself while looking these up because I too would call most of them modern :)

  2. Cyberhugs to you, Carly Ann! Love the quiz, love the examples, and most of all the freedom we have to each create what makes us happy. You put everything I've been feeling into words.

    1. Cyber hugs back to you! So glad this did not upset you in any way. I think you have done a FANTASTIC job with the guild, and didn't want you to think this indicated anything but that. Freedom to create is the absolute best! :)

  3. Thanks Carly Ann!! I left the same meeting shaking my head but not discouraged. I've been reading a bit on the Modern Quilt movement, the discussion on Contemporary vs. Modern, and now am wracking my brain trying to remember where I read a very thoughtful commentary on the debate C vs M (before reading your excellent post). When I find the article, I'll let you know. The quilter/commentator traced the history of 'modern art' and 'contemporary art' and its influence on the quilting community. Enjoyed seeing you.

    1. Glad you are not discouraged either. I think we all have creative determination! I would love to read that as I think that would have been a great way to look at and write this post.