Modern vs Traditional vs Kool-Aid Quilts

June 6, 2010 · 6 comments

dare to be different


I like quilts the same way I like music. A wide variety and eclectic styles. Chopin to Clapton. Mozart to Metallica. Grieg to Green Day… you get the idea {and yes, I do listen to all of them}. As long as it has artistic quality, passion and meaning. I loathe thrown together Pop music and I do not like junky craft quilts. Yes, I suppose I am a music AND fabric snob. I am a musician who played professionally and I am an amateur fiberist… yes, I say that fiberist is a word {my blog, my universe}

When I began quilting, the style was all about the new Jinny Beyer fabrics, the bold colored Amish style and the historical Ruby McKim / Kansas City Star quilts. Art quilts were big too. Good stuff. The junk of the day was the cookie cutter “country” style that I think was trying to dumb down the traditional quilts.
Today Modern Quilts are popular. I love them. I make them. But, I wonder if they really are modern. I think what makes them modern is the colors and prints used. Yet I look at my Dresden blocks that were made in the 1930s and I see some of the same bold, geometric prints and colors of oranges, greys, aquas, etc.

Our Foremothers quilted out of a need to keep their loved ones warm. Their passion for design, beauty and artistry was woven in. They were Green decades before Green was cool, using up leftover fabrics from sewing clothes and re-purposing worn out clothing.
We, for the most part, buy new fabrics. Not only do we buy new but we buy what’s popular. We buy the SAME fabrics. I look around and see us making the SAME quilts. Notice I am saying “We” and “Us” because I am including myself in this critique.

Even though I love all the beautiful quilts I see, I am finding myself taking a step back and pondering…where is the uniqueness? Are we losing our individual creativity? Are we becoming WannaBe Quilters?
I have been guilty of saying “my fabrics are outdated. I need some NEW, WITH IT, fabrics!” I am sooo guilty of Drinkin’ the Kool-Aid!

I know each quilt has its creators’ uniqueness sewn in but still I wonder. I wonder if we are allowing our art to become trendy. I wonder if we are wrong in not using our stash. I wonder if we worry about not being accepted by our quilting peers when making something that we like and end up making another style just to prove we are with it.

I am challenging myself to make use of my “old” fabrics. Even the ugly ones. If not in a quilt then in something. I am challenging myself to make each quilt my own. Yes, I will glean. Yes, I value all the wonderful ideas out there. Yes, I drool over your creations!
I am not saying I will not use new fabrics. I am not saying I will not use or value others patterns and tutorials. I AM saying let’s not lose our unique, one-of-a-kind flavor. Let your quilt scream YOU…whether that be Classical, Jazz or Death Metal.
Dare to be different and maybe a little greener along the way.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Luci June 6, 2010 at 11:37 am

Very excellent points! In the past couple of months I have decided to stop buying new fabrics and focus on the 2nd hand fabrics, or to only buy environmentally friendly fabrics like organic cotton, hemp or linen. (The ladies at Jo-Ann probably think I’ve died now that my weekly visits have stopped)

Forcing yourself to use your own stash forces creativity.

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avatar 2 maddie June 6, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Ohhhhh, timely to say the least and I often wonder how my own ” style” is distorted by the blogs I see and the craft/quilting books I buy. Maybe I am actually someone differnt.. but then who am I ?? ohhh I feel my head hurting and deep thinking coming on. But I do also pledge to use more of my stash and see what I can come up with.. see if I can find an authentic me..eeek!

Maddie
http://www.freshstitches.blogspot.com

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avatar 3 pam June 6, 2010 at 2:20 pm

Ohh I see my name there!
Anyway, I have to agree. It all starts to look the same after a while. We’re like junkies always looking for the next fix. I don’t even know what my style is anymore.

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avatar 4 Amy June 8, 2010 at 7:11 am

Hi Robyn, you won my fabric giveaway on Red Fish Circle. Send me your address and I wil lship these out to you. Congratulations and thanks for entering!

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avatar 5 thankfulgirl June 8, 2010 at 2:45 pm

I feel it’s important to recycle, but we don’t quite the same ooohs and aaahs from fellow stitchers who really want to see the new, fabulous fabrics. Do people really appreciate seeing a “new” quilt out of leftover fabrics or cut-up clothing? The “designer” fabrics take the guesswork out of color coordinating for those of us who are challenged in this area (like me). I rec’d a wrapped present yesterday from my DD which had a clever bow on it made from recycled bubble-wrap! How cool was that? Yeah for recycling!

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avatar 6 --ginger. June 8, 2010 at 8:28 pm

You’re reading straight out of my quilting brain–go for it! I love the idea of using quilting for what (I’m pretty sure) it was made to do: make something new out of bunch of weird old things. Woo hoo!

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