Friday, April 13, 2012

10 Modern Versions of a Traditional Art Form: Quilting

I love quilts! I love all the intricate patterns. I love all the pretty colours. I love the homey feel they give a room.  And I love the story behind each quilt.  I am always amazed by how much time and care goes into making quilts.  

Pottery Barn

I did a little research about the history of quilting and found it really interesting.   The earliest quilts - some dating back to ancient Egypt - were whole-cloth quilts.   We tend to think of quilting as a way that people used up small leftover pieces of cloth, but that was only true after the 1840s and 50s when two important events happened - the industrial revolution resulted in affordable commercial fabrics and the sewing machine was invented.  Prior to the 1840s only the wealthy had time to stitch quilts - everyone else was consumed with spinning and weaving cloth for the family to use as clothing and linens.  Wealthy women engaged in quilting as an art form and as a way to develop and show-off their needlework and display the expensive materials they were appliqueing.  When the use of commercially-purchased cloth to make clothing at home became widespread, it meant that women had the time to save scraps of cloth and sew them together to make beautiful pieced quilts.  Thus it was from the mid nineteenth century on that quilting entered the mainstream and became a popular craft form.


A warm bed covering made of padding enclosed between layers of fabric and kept in place by lines of stitching.
Join together (layers of fabric or padding) with lines of stitching to form a bed covering.

There are many different types of quilts - there are whole-cloth quilts, applique quilts, medallion quilts, block quilts, crazy quilts and many others.   In recent years many creative souls have come up with amazing modern versions of this ancient and traditional craft.  I was really surprised at the variety of lovely modern quilts when I started Googling and pinning quilt pictures.  Maybe these modern types of quilts are only new to me, but just in case you have missed the surge of creativity out there too I thought I would share what I found.

Let's have a look at ten new creative ideas for quilts:

1.  Raw edges - in these quilts the seam edges are turned to the outside instead of being carefully hidden away as they traditionally are.  As the quilt is washed the seam edges fray and turn soft and fluffy.


2.  Strip quilts - I love the simplicity of these quilts - just strips of cloth sewn together to form a quilt.  Sometimes the strips are even and sometimes they are different widths.

Twin Fibers

3.  Zigzags - I love the simplicity of these quilts too, although something tells me they are a whole lot more complicated to make than the strip quilts.

Bea Spoke Quilts

4.  Circle quilts - the circle pattern is pleasing to the eye, but I bet all that sewing on a curve takes a lot of skill.

Cluck Cluck Sew

5.  Rainbows - I saw variations on the rainbow theme in many different patterns.  They are such a fun way to organize the scraps of material.

Quilting Gallery
Maniacal Material Girls

6.  Ruffle quilt - aren't these so pretty and feminine.  They must takes lots and lots of material to make each row of ruffles.

Urban Outfitters

Is her fake sleeping adorable or what?  from Under Construction

7. Map quilts - some of the map quilts were maps of whole countries, but the ones that caught my eye the most were quilts showing the streets of a town or city.  Wouldn't they be a great quilt to give as a sentimental gift.

Apartment Therapy
Ian Hundley, Oberg White at The Cork Board
Have and Hold Design

8. Souvenir/memory quilts - I've seen quilts that people sign to commemorate an event and quilts made pieces of favourite t-shirts or using ski bibs (like in the quilt below).

ski bibs Prints Charming

9. Picture quilts - the skies the limit with picture quilts.  There were endless styles of picture quilts so it was tough to narrow it down to only two.

Daniel Rouse

10.  Modern abstract quilts - these quilts look like modern art with amazing variety in form and colour.

French Knot
by Sherri Lynn Wood at Dainty Time
Sampaquita Quilts

For years I've had a secret desire to sew a quilt, but haven't quite got myself organized to make one yet.  While I love traditional quilts, I found these modern ones so inspiring and creative.  I'm not sure which type I would make - if I ever get around to it - as they all appeal to me in different ways.  Have you ever made a quilt?  What types do you prefer - modern or traditional?

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  1. Grace ... all are beautiful ... great expressions of the women who quilt them.

    I pinned the black and white house one and the zigzag ... great inspirations!


  2. How beautiful, something for every taste in this collection. The first picture with the three beds looks so cosy. I think I'd grab a book, snuggle up, and be tempted to stay there all day!

  3. I have a quilt all cut & ready to sew...for a year now!

  4. AMAZING - what a lot of work and how beautiful they all are. TFS!

  5. I'm itching to learn to quilt too. But can I focus on one thing that long? Hmm... Thanks for sharing all the pretty quiltyness though!

  6. I love quilts and I love to quilt (I just wish I had more time!) and found your post very enjoyable. I have at least four quilts that need finishing. Of your top ten, the one I am most interested in trying is the strip quilt. The modern lines are so appealing.

  7. Oh my, these are all so lovely - that deer quilt is amazing! I'm hoping to make my own anthropologie-inspired quilt this summer so this post provided some excellent inspiration :)

  8. I love all quilts, old or new, it doesn't matter. I remember I had a pale yellow one when I was a kid and I used it until it fell apart. I still have it and thought someday I would use it for pillows but haven't done that yet. Hope you get to make one some day.

  9. I have never made a quilt, but I do have a couple of my great-grandmother's quilts. They mean the world to me! Hers are all traditional patterns. I bet you could make some pretty quilts if you tried, Grace.


  10. There was a cross Canada quilt exhibition that stopped at our museum last year. It was amazing! They were so creative and intricate. I have made quilts. When I was much younger, I made quilts for my sister's baby girl and for her baby boy. The baby girl, my niece, dragged that quilt around until it wore out. Now she has made one for her own niece! Glad she picked up and made it a tradition.

  11. I've sewn a couple of nine patch quilts...they are quite easy to do. I don't have the time and patience to do anything too intricate at this time in my life...waiting for retirement to do the fancy ones. I love all of the ones you've pictured!