Category Archives: Modern Quilting

If You Cut It Small Enough…

… ugly fabric won’t look so ugly. At least that’s what Bonnie Hunter told us at a long ago workshop. She was dealing with millenium fabric, which was truly godawful. I tried to find an example to show you, but it seems to have been banned from the internet.

Because I had less than wonderful results in some pieces from my Sue Benner paint/print dye workshop. I wanted to cut those up. I thought a pattern called Flux, designed for Art Gallery Fabrics, would work to punch up my fabrics with bold solids and impose a grid order on them. While I used the same dye colors in my fabrics, the patterns were all over the place.

My plan worked, kind of. The pattern calls for increasing the size of the center blocks with each row from the center. It turned out more of each fabric was needed than I had. I decided to use the same fabric on the diagonals rather than in rows to eke out my supplies. I still didn’t have enough fabric, so I threw in a commercial fabric from Joann’s clearance bin.

Here’s my original sketch. Nothing like good old graph paper. The interior squares are crooked because I cut them out, colored them separately to give myself more flexibility and set them down on my foundation grid. At this point I still hadn’t decided on the center of the design. I ended up trying at least two different schemes for that area.

In fabric that translated to this.

I’ve called it “Trip Around Columbus” as a tribute to the trip around the world effect. Because it’s 56 inches square, I may have it quilted on a longarm.

I remade some of the squares because the first fabrics I chose just didn’t work. Those rejects gave me enough material to make a go-with wall hanging, called “Fractured Trip Around Columbus.”

I bet you thought I never used patterns. If someone else has done the work, why should I reinvent the wheel.


Filed under In Process, Modern Quilting

Running Out Of Strips

I’m winding down my work on all the strip improv pieces I’ve shown you before. Most are in a drawer awaiting future inspiration. One is kind of done, though it needs more…something.

Only one has made it to the finish line. I call it Stripe 3. I’m still fiddling with the width of the vertical outer yellow stripes. The crookedness on the left side is caused by the felt strips I use to try out different widths.

It was inspired by this $5000 dress advertised in a glossy magazine. How can anyone look so bored while wearing such a pricey outfit?

I tried some variations, such as four circles, but decided that overwhelmed the rest.

The circles are left over from a failed drunkards path quilt from about four years ago. Since I refuse to throw out bits I’ve spent some time making, they were waiting for me in my parts department.

As you can see, I got tired of all solids and added prints to the mix, partly because I had run out of solids that played well with the colors I had already used. As I look at it now, I wonder if I should either make this even larger, or reduce the size by eliminating all of part the top and bottom print strips. Your thoughts?



Filed under Completed Projects, In Process, Modern Quilting

Playing With Solids

The double whammy of the recent Circular Abstractions bulls eye quilt exhibit and a quilt group program on Nancy Crow’s design methods led me to pull out all my saved solid fabric strips and sew them together. I hope this link to Pinterest gives you an idea of the exercises students do in Nancy’s workshops. She offers several multi-day classes that range from beginner to expert.

My design wall became colonized by stripey units in various stages – just stripes, units cut from stripes, units with added cross stripes… As always, it’s fascinating to see which colors enhance each other and which just stick out their tongues at each other. So far I’ve worked only from scraps, though some of the scraps are about fat quarter size. If I want to make larger units I may have to break into stash.

For now I’ll set these assemblages aside to mellow a bit and wait for further inspiration. My fellow group members had fun playing with strips. Here are some of their efforts.

You begin Nancy’s workshop with lots of strip piecing, which you then build into units, and finally you do an overall composition. Since I made my units above before our group program I didn’t exactly follow Nancy’s dictates.

I learned that Nancy takes away everyone’s ruler after a few days; that she wants you to cut towards, rather than away, from you (I find that scary); and that she wants you to backstitch at the start and finish of seams.The ruler thing is amusing as Nancy once lent her name to an acrylic ruler.

I also learned she uses the same rotary cutter blade for a long time, even up to a year. Apparently she doesn’t sharpen it. We all wondered how that was possible, given the amount of cutting involved with her method.

All that cutting is the reason I won’t be adopting Nancy’s methods in a big way. Pressing down to get through multiple fabric layers and seams doesn’t do my shoulder any good. I plan to develop some of my starts further, but after that, who knows.


Filed under In Process, Modern Quilting, Project Ideas, Techniques

Look At The Birdie

My paper pieced birds project has moved right along. I’ve completed the quilting, and only binding it remains. I got tired of paper piecing the birds, so I stopped at 23. I placed 22 of them on stylized branches and reserved one for a label.

My original inspiration was this quilt which introduced me to the McCall’s Quilting bird pattern.

paper pieced birdsMy quilt doesn’t have quite the same modern feel, but I was going with scraps and some Fossil Fern fabric in blue. I tried a layout with just straight branches but felt my birds needed to be a bit more grounded (or treed.)

birds5You can see I’m trying to branch out from the birds’ perches.

Ultimately I ended up with this. The quilting is a chevron pattern done with a walking foot.


Right after I quilted my birds I saw the wall below on a trip to my local grocery store. Maybe the image wormed its way into my subconscious, but I could swear I never noticed the pattern before.




Filed under Completed Projects, Modern Quilting

Maple Leaf Rag

If it’s June it’s time for my Quilt Canada pilgrimage, which a friend and I just completed. After years of meeting at various universities, this juried show seems to have settled in the International Center near Pearson Airport outside of Toronto.  The good thing – it’s all under one roof. The bad thing – some charm is lost, in my opinion. The Center is your usual airplane hangar type corrugated metal building.

As is customary, the show is actually a few shows. Front and center is the all Canada juried show, whose judges ensure the entries are at worst very competent. Most often I find gems in all styles to admire. Then, the Fibre Art Network (FAN) shows its members’ work, which is often an exhibit of a set theme or size. This year the TrendTex fabric challenge quilt entries were displayed, and the Toronto Modern Quilt Guild had a mini show.

Over the next few posts I’ll share some of my favs with you, but if you’re impatient and want to see all the award winners, go here. I’ll warn you the best of show quilt is MUCH better looking than the photo on that site. In fact, I’ll show you the photo I took of it. Please excuse the waving hand of an enthusiastic quilter.

Helen FujikiQuiltCanadaBestofShowHere’s a detail shot.

BestofShow detailIt’s called Election Night Euphoria, but I don’t know if it commemorates Justin Trudeau’s win or what. And yes, you picky folks will note that the circles should have been lined or pressed differently so the turned under bits don’t show.

We were happy that Quilt Canada lifted the no photos rule as we like to take shots of details that don’t show up in the catalogs offered for sale.

This year I noticed a lot more landscape and abstract quilts and fewer traditional appliqued, etc., quilts. I guess that’s a function of the judges, who change for each show. I know Anna Hergert was one of the three judges this year. She wrote about her experience here. Since she runs Art Quilt Campus, I feel safe in saying that’s her area.

I was intrigued at a category for quilts made from patterns, books, and workshops as a way to group non original quilts. I was surprised that any quilting done by a person other than the quilt top maker only got a subdued mention. Some of the quilting was spectacular, and I felt the creators of it should have received more prominence.

Of course there were hot and cold running vendors. I was restrained with my purchases as my haul consisted of a roll of 14 yards of 1.5 inch bias cut fabric, a spool of silk thread, and a Japanese fabric fat quarter. When all my loonies were spent, I was done.



Filed under Art quilts, Modern Quilting, Quilt Shows

Occasional Wednesday Salon

Today I want to focus on the negative, space that is. Within a few days of each other I read a post on the use of negative space category at QuiltCon West from the Plaid Portico and one on Spanish graphic designer and illustrator Jesus Perea. I was struck by many similarities between the modern quilts and Perea’s work. Let me know if you think I’m onto something or simply on something.

First, Perea’s work, which is flat out abstract and uses large blocks of color. The only information I have on him is date of birth and school degree. He sometimes works in collage, though I don’t know which of the following are collages.


JesusPereaAbstractComposition578JesusPereaAbstractComposition689JesusPereaAbstractComposition724I’d love to make these up as quilts. He’s done tons more abstracts, which you can see on his website.

Next, a few quilts from the use of negative space category at QuiltCon West.

Sunset on the Bay by Julie Smith

Sunset on the Bay by Julie Smith

Echoes by Leanne Chahley

Echoes by Leanne Chahley

Activating Space Medallion by Jacquie Gering

Activating Space Medallion by Jacquie Gering

Retroreflective by Stephanie Ruyle

Retroreflective by Stephanie Ruyle

The quilts above are similar to modern quilts made at the beginning of that movement – solid colors, large areas of negative space, and fairly basic quilting. I really like them.

Editorial carping, feel free to skip this: I find it odd that quilts with such characteristics have been bundled into their own category, while other categories such as modern traditionalism and handwork have been added. I realize that quilt shows like to spread around ribbon winning opportunities, but modern has become vastly diluted, in my opinion.



Filed under Commentary, Modern Quilting, Quilt Shows

Fun While It Lasted

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.” And the workshop lineup at QuiltCon West features a lot of traditional topics – hand applique anyone?

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 2Curves Ahead (based on Pinterest pin)

Spring@60MPHSpring @ 60 MPH (layout by Timna Tarr)

Where did all the hexies goWhere Did All The Hexies Go? (from my head)

107 pyramids107 Pyramids (based on a drawing by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr)

boxed-trianglesBoxed Triangles (from scraps)

Color SlideColor Slide (my own invention)

Impact 2Impact (concept from Terry Aske)

tipsy_lampshadesTipsy Lampshades (concept from Quilting Modern)

WPMWPM (layout based on Esch House Quilts design)

Breezeblocks_quiltedBreezeblocks (based on Quilting Modern)


Filed under Commentary, Modern Quilting, Snark