I stumbled across a post about whether Modern Quilting is a revolution or an evolution. Reading it triggered a sore spot of mine that has developed after looking through the Flickr Fresh Modern Quilts pictures. I wrote out the following reply to the post but when I realized how hugely long it was, I realized that it might make a good discussion blog post too. Keep in mind, I'm not trying to bash anyone. I think I just have a different way of looking at quilts and quilting than some, and I wanted to share why I think the way I do. So read on, and pass this on if you like it or think that someone else would want to see it. I'd love to hear other peoples' thoughts on the matter!
I realize that I'm really late to this discussion, but I wanted to chime in, even if nobody will ever see it. I read this article and all of the comments, and have mulled over what to say for a while now. It almost seems to me that many who call themselves modern quilters and just make quilts from kits with a single line of fabric and maybe one solid fabric mixed in or, if not from a kit, at least they make their fabric choices based off of a single line or two of fabric, are afraid. Quilting is something that so often today is associated with grandmothers. Grandmothers who sat up late, working on incredibly intricate blocks just like their grandmothers. In our society, we are taught to fear aging - you should look like you're 20 for the rest of your life, right? Botox, cosmetic surgery, all of the age-defying products on the market...we as a culture in the US, anyways, are afraid to seem old. So why would we want to do something that our grandmothers did?
While we love quilting, we also want to separate OUR quilts from THEIR quilts. We want a way to say "I quilt, but I don't do it like old ladies...I'm not old, I'm modern!" so that our friends, when they find out we quilt, don't instantly think of us as shriveled old women. We use fabrics bought at the store specifically for a quilt so we're not scrimping and saving everything the way the quilters of old did. Don't get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against buying fabric for quilting...quite the opposite, if you look at my stash. I have a problem with the way we don't push our boundaries. We're lucky to live in a world where quilting isn't a necessity anymore. We don't have to make a quilt in order to keep our newest child from freezing to death in the middle of the night. And that's great. But that has changed quilting.
I'm not going to lie, I get sick of looking at flickr pools that are all full of the same quilt designs - they're great designs, but the quilts aren't really unique. I'm not going to name any because I don't want to make anyone mad, but there a few newer designs that have been showing up almost daily in the FMQ pool. Traditional designs, sure - everyone recognizes a 9 patch quilt, and it's one of the simplest ones out there. I just don't understand why, after seeing umpteen other quilts that are identical, just with different fabric, you'd want to make it yourself. Maybe I'm just jaded, or too stubborn and independent, but I've made a few quilts with traditional designs (Log Cabin, Disappearing 9 Patch, pinwheel, Trip Around the World, etc.) and am rather proud that I've never made someone else's quilt.
At the same time, my quilts are still in the FMQ pool. I submit them to a lot of different flickr pools, but every time I submit a traditional-designed quilt to the FMQ pool, I feel like I'm being a rebel. After all, my quilt isn't modern - there are quilts hundreds of years old with the same design. The first few times I submitted images to the FMQ pool, I wondered if my quilts would make it in, since every other quilt had white sashing, multiple borders, and designer fabrics. I'm not using designer fabrics, either - I think I have 2 Moda fabrics. Maybe 3. I have less than a yard of each, as I picked them out based off of the color and design, only later realizing that they were made by Moda. I have FQs from Joanns, Hancocks, Hancocks of Paducah, and all sorts of other stores. The fabrics aren't even usually bought as bundles - I don't really do coordinated stuff, I just pick out a few individuals that catch my eye and work them into my future quilts.
I'm not trying to bash Moda or any other fabric line, but too many times other quilt bloggers buy tons of it, post pictures of it on their blog generally with the caption "delicious" or "yummy" something similar, and never use it (or it's a "Wordless Wednesday" post, but I just laugh as I don't even know what fabric it is). They complain about never using it, too, which bugs me. What's the point of a fabric if it never gets used? I have trouble finding homes for some of my fabrics, too, but with each quilt I design, I try to use at least one untouched fabric. I'm a scrappy quilter, so I might have as many as 10 or 15 different fabrics of one color (say, brown) in a baby quilt, let alone in a larger one! It might take a little more time for you to pick out your fabrics if you don't just pick up a charm pack or layer cake or jelly roll or whatever, and you'll probably spend a little more time cutting since your pieces of fabric aren't already partially cut for you. But it's not that much longer...trust me, I work full time, and I still manage to do it!
My challenge to "modern quilters" out there - try something different than everyone else is doing. Make a quilt that doesn't involve pre-cuts. Make a quilt that doesn't have sashing in between the blocks and a narrow and wide border. Make a quilt that you designed - it's not that hard, even if you don't have EQ software. It takes a little longer to count how many squares you'll need, but it's totally doable. For me, maybe I'll try some of those things...sashing, or borders. I don't use them at all, so it'd be a step out of my comfort zone. Because that's what modern quilting really is - it's us trying something new, and knowing that we won't be rejected for it. After all, if a traditional block with no sashing and no designer fabrics can make it into a modern quilt pool, break out of the wonky log cabin rut and try a real log cabin!
So...what do you think? I hope I didn't hurt your feelings, but I would love to see this post foster some healthy debate/discussion! Do you agree? Disagree? Tell me in the comments!