For many years I’ve been a member of The Modern Quilt Guild, and was part of a now defunct local modern quilt group. I’ve watched a movement that began about 2009 go national in a big way; capture the quilt book and fabric markets; and launch many teaching, fabric and pattern design careers.
For a long time I was enthusiastic about this alternative to traditional quilting groups and made many quilts that to me had a modern aesthetic. I was always a bit puzzled about the exact definition of a modern quilt, which seems to have morphed a bit over time, as the definition expanded to include neo-traditional efforts. At first modern quilts were made of solid colors almost exclusively. Then, prints were added to the mix, especially after modern fabric lines were produced. Early modern quilts were often wonky. Nowadays, engineered precision is a hallmark of some modern quilts.
A big feature of the MQG is the annual QuiltCon. I gather there were over 2,000 quilts entered into the 2022 juried show. That means many, many “sorry, but” emails went out recently. I received one of them. Here’s my reject, “Calliope.”
Previous years’ rejects include:
The quilts selected for the 2022 show had better be great, as many of the quilts shown on Instagram under the #quiltconrejects hashtag are show-worthy to my eyes. I was surprised to learn that some quilters submitted up to 10 entries. Obviously I’m an amateur with my one measly entry.
Shapeshifting almost always comes about in a new movement as it matures. However, I’m at the point of wondering what are the differences between traditional and modern quilt groups, besides the kinds of fabric prints used and age ranges of participants. Both kinds of local guilds seem to have similar structures and activities; and books, magazines, teachers, notions, patterns, etc., geared to their interests.
For this discussion I want to separate modern quilting from the organization called the Modern Quilt Guild. I have learned much from early advocates of modern quilting, and had hopes that the MQG would be different from previous quilting organizations. Alas, I find that professionalization and marketing are increasingly important elements of the MQG. The freshness, the “wow, check this out,” seem overwhelmed with the marketing of stuff.
I have not found recent offerings on The Modern Quilt Guild website useful. Lots of patterns and basic sewing videos are featured. I understand this is what many members want. The number of webinars seems to have decreased, though a recent one on zippers was interesting. While the MQG is listed as a participant in the Textile Talks series, it has offered fewer programs than other groups. Of the 78 Textile Talks listed on YouTube, none are sponsored by the MQG. I find this disheartening, given the size of the organization compared with other more active Textile Talks participants like SAQA and the Quilt Alliance.
The proverbial straw? The day after I received my “sorry” email another one arrived announcing an annual dues increase. Talk about bad timing! I had kept up my membership so I would be eligible to enter QuiltCon. Since being juried in seems an unlikely event, I see little reason to continue as a member of the MQG.
That doesn’t mean I’m giving up on modern quilting. It does mean I’m out of sync with what the MQG offers. I think that over time I’ve integrated modern quilting with art quilting, and my focus is more on the art side. Of course I’ll check out the quilts on display at QuiltCon, and admire the many wonderful works, but I am bowing out of the modern quilting organization.
Fun While It Lasted
Here’s yet another “classic” post from 2016. You guessed it, I’m still on vacation. This post is especially pertinent as I have just dropped my Modern Quilt Guild membership. I don’t know why it took me so long. Maybe I kept hoping the direction would swing away from all the patterns.
With QuiltCon West underway in California it seems a good time to declare that I am over modern quilting, as defined by current modern quilt practitioners. Back in 2012 I had high hopes for a bolder, less pretty, more personally defined approach to quilting. I read and was inspired by many of the blogs that sprouted daily, and joined a local modern quilt guild. I made several quilts in the spirit of modern quilting.
Now, four years later, I say goodbye to all that. My local modern guild limped along on life support for two years, and finally vanished without even a whimper. Many of the blogs I enjoyed have ceased publication or have devolved into advertisements for fabric collections, patterns, and other items for sale. I gather it’s called branding, which I always associate with cattle ranching. Certainly there are outstanding exceptions, but many modern quilting books either lack substance or recycle “traditional” quilt book topics like half square triangles with new fabrics. Modern quilters jump from one “must have” fabric line/pattern to another. The owls, the deer, sheesh! What happened to the originality? I see a lot of “me too.”
It may be that I’m holding modern quilters to higher standards than I do traditional quilters. Yeah, probably. I just had such hopes for self-determination – design your own quilts, make them with less expensive solid fabrics/vintage sheets/whatever, learn to sew and FMQ in a month. Then, the marketing juggernaut struck. And who wouldn’t be tempted by the chance to make money from your hobby? BTW, I’d be interested to learn of quilters who support themselves on modern quilting.
I do treasure what I’ve gained from the moderns. The bold, off kilter designs were a shot in the arm. The exuberance of new quilters who had no idea something might be hard was a spur. The sheer thrill newbie quilters got from their first efforts reminded me how fun quilting can be. You can see from the winning quilts at QuiltCon West that plenty of great quilts are being made; not all has been drowned out by marketing. I still think, though, the definition of modern quilting remains as slippery as ever.
Here’s some of my modern quilts that were most directly inspired by the modern quilting movement. One, Breezeblocks, is even very close to the original in Quilting Modern. I still treasure that book.
Curves Ahead (based on Pinterest pin)
Spring @ 60 MPH (layout by Timna Tarr)
Where Did All The Hexies Go? (from my head)
107 Pyramids (based on a drawing by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr)
Boxed Triangles (from scraps)
Color Slide (my own invention)
Impact (concept from Terry Aske)
Tipsy Lampshades (concept from Quilting Modern)
WPM (layout based on Esch House Quilts design)
Breezeblocks (based on Quilting Modern)
Filed under Commentary, Modern Quilting, Snark
Tagged as Akron Modern Quilt Guild, Modern Quilt Guild, modern quilts