Thursday, May 23, 2019

Modern Traditionalism

I've been quilting for at least 20 years and I love making blocks.  I've made many quilts with blocks set in a traditional grid layout usually with sashing and borders.

But I also have made a bunch of block based quilts where I set the blocks in a non-traditional grid.  Traditional blocks or modern blocks set in fun ways.

My quilts: Playful, Oh My Darling, Hand Pieced Rainbow & Special
A few Sunday's ago, I had an opportunity to speak to my local modern quilt guild about the concept of Modern Traditionalism.  While we have some incredibly talented award winning modern quilters in the guild, we also have a bunch of quilters who started out making traditional quilts, have fallen in love with the modern aesthetic but were struggling on how to make modern quilts.

I got excited when they got excited by thinking about how to set their blocks differently!

So what is Modern Traditionalism?  Think of it as a classic quilt or block design using modern techniques like adding negative space, alternate grid work, scale, asymmetry, cropping, disintegration, as well as using modern fabrics and/or solids.

Besides my own quilts, I shared photos of QuiltCon award winners in the Modern Traditionalism category for amazing inspiration.   ( If you've never looked at these, check them out! )

I also shared a couple of my quilts that went even further in embracing Modern Traditionalism.

Still my favorite quilt of all time is Perfectly Imperfect - it hangs in my studio and I look at it every day.  This quilt is my interpretation of the Double Wedding Ring quilt.

For Briar Rose, I started with the Crown of Thorns block and re-imagined it - one rose with many thorns!

Finally, Slipping through my Fingers is a re-imagined log cabin.  When I was searching through my pile of finished quilts for ones to bring in to support my talk, I found this one which I made in 2016.  The design of the quilt represents the growing up of my daughter - wrapped close to the family for many years, many twists and turns and then she becomes an adult and goes off to college, ready and excited to make memories of her very own.  There is actually text FMQed into the spiral - things like first smile to high school graduation and many things in between.  (See more about this quilt here.)

Sharing the concept of Modern Traditionalism and some of my quilts was a bit of work to prepare but a lot of fun to actual share.   I challenged the guild to take a pass at updating a traditional quilt or block and bring it to our June meeting.  I've got one of my own in the works and can't wait to share!

Have you made a quilt that updates a traditional block or quilt?

Have a wonderful day! Patty


  1. Thanks for sharing, I wish I could have heard your talk and seen all those quilts in person. It gives me a new perspective on what I might be able to do with some of my orphan blocks.

  2. Patty, thank you for sharing your quilts and explaining Modern Traditionalism. I will explore this more (and I’m open to suggestions). I love your wedding ring and briar rose quilts!

  3. Sounds like an informative presentation I would have like to heard in person. Enjoyed seeing these again.

  4. It sounds like it was a great meeting.

  5. Your Perfectly Imperfect quilt is my most favorite! Love it so much!

  6. I loved the mini quilt show, I would have liked to hear the presentation. I know that it was excellent!

  7. Interesting post Patty. I think that although I consider myself a traditional quilter, I am inspired by and admire the modern traditionalism quilts like those you have shared. Who knows, one day, I might just think outside the box and make one myself :-)


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