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Modern Quilter Meet Ups: The Quilting Bee Comes Full Circle

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Linzee_bio.jpg A lifelong sewer/knitter and former weaver/spinner, Linzee Kull McCray, a.k.a. lkmccray, started quilting five years ago and can’t stop. Linzee is a writer and editor and she feels fortunate to meet and write about people, from scientists to stitchers, who are passionate about their work. Her freelance writing appears in Quilts and More, Stitch, Fiberarts, American Patchwork and Quilting and more. For more textile musings, visit her blog.

Admitting you’re a quilter can be daunting: mention to someone at a party that you quilt and their eyes immediately scan the room, looking for someone they’re sure is a more scintillating conversationalist.

That’s why there’s not much that’s sweeter than getting together with other quilters. When you’re with those who are equally sewing-obsessed, there’s no need to explain that a bowl of multi-colored thread spools incites passion or fondling fabric induces calmness.

Quit_group.jpgPhoto by Latifah Saafir

Around the country, hundreds of guilds exist to bring quilters together for workshops, lectures and camaraderie. But traditionally these guilds are, well, traditional. Members often focus on the “rules” of quilting: exact quarter-inch seams, quilt blocks that line up precisely, and creating quilts from patterns.

In recent years, there’s been a growing interest in “modern quilting.” Defining modern quilting isn’t easy to do, even for those who participate. Debbie Grifka, a.k.a. EschHouseQuilts, describes modern quilting as the third leg of the stool that includes traditional quilting and art quilting. She sees the designs of modern quilters as graphic and bold and notes that many modern quilters use negative space differently than traditional or art quilters do.

quilt_red.jpg

Photo by EschHouseQuilts

While some modern quilters create wall hangings and take techniques from art quilters, they also respect the designs and craftsmanship of traditional quilting. The majority of modern quilters create textiles to be used, rather than hung on the wall, and incorporate contemporary fabrics and patterns, or no patterns at all. Many draw design inspiration from the quilts of Gee’s Bend quilts and traditional Amish quilts.

Thanks to blogs, emails, Flickr and other online resources, contemporary quilters have come together virtually to explore this evolving craft. They communicate to get advice on favorite tools or techniques and to share input on design decisions at any point during the production process (Does this fabric look good with this one? Have you had luck with this thread when machine quilting?).

These virtual connections certainly serve their purpose and have created long-lasting relationships. But today’s quilters, like their 19th century pioneer ancestors who took part in quilting bees, have circled around to see one another face-to-face as well. And in-person events allow quilters to do something that’s not possible online: to indulge in their love of textile’s tactile qualities.

quilt_yellow.jpg

Photo by seventeenandem

One of the fastest growing in-person gatherings among those who engage in what’s being called Modern Quilting is the Modern Quilt Guild. According to Allissa Haight Carlton (handmadebyalissa) and Latifah Saafir (idreamofquilts), cofounders of the Los Angeles branch of the Modern Quilt Guild, the first official in-person meet up took place in L.A. in October 2009, with 20 members in attendance. Today, the Modern Quilt Guild includes more than 40 guild branches in U.S. cities from Phoenix to Philadelphia, as well as groups in Switzerland, Canada, Australia, Britain and Germany.

Quit_grou_2.jpg

Photo by Allissa Haight Carlton

“Finding community online is a wonderful thing, but in the end you’re still just sitting alone and looking at a computer screen,” says Allissa. “Finding community in person is much more interactive and simply more fulfilling. It’s a thrill to get to know people who want to discuss this topic as much as you do!”

Quilt_lisa_frank.jpg

 

Membership in Modern Quilting Guilds is open to any interested quilters (wannabe quilters are welcome, too!). Each guild has an online group that posts meeting times and places, as well as what’s happening at the next gathering. Latifah Saafir notes that L.A. Guild meetings provide more than talk: “Not only do we meet and share, but we also have meeting times once a month where we all lug our machines, fabric, and extension cords and create together. Not only can you interact with others who have the same passion and enthusiasm, but you can also see and feel their creations.”

 

 


Photo by seventeenandem

If there isn’t a Modern Quilt Guild in your area, their web site includes directions for starting your own guild.

Quilted_purse.jpgPhoto by VictoriousVixen

Says L.A. Modern Quilt Guild cofounder Alissa Haight Carlton: “It’s taken a lot of work to get the Modern Quilt Guild organized and up and running, but there’s clearly such a drive for us to meet in person that all over the country and even the world, everyone has taken on that work without hesitation. The reward of meeting like-minded people is worth it.”

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  • Laurasbox

    Laurasbox says:

    Wow nice job. Really interesting :)

    4 years ago

  • nomadcraftsetc

    nomadcraftsetc says:

    How cool! I think quilting certainly has come a long way!

    4 years ago

  • saintesmariesjewelry

    saintesmariesjewelry says:

    it looks like soo much fun!!! what a great article!

    4 years ago

  • opendoorstudio

    opendoorstudio says:

    wow...just how talented is this bunch! I love the group getting together! beautiful

    4 years ago

  • TessaKim

    TessaKim says:

    lovely group! great article :)

    4 years ago

  • lovelygifts

    lovelygifts says:

    Beautiful! Great article.

    4 years ago

  • TessaKim

    TessaKim says:

    lovely group! Great article :)

    4 years ago

  • Ayca

    Ayca says:

    Great article!Thanks for sharing!

    4 years ago

  • julessabjewelry

    julessabjewelry says:

    I wish I was able to quilt; my grannies & moms all quilt, but I never had the patience for it. I admire those of you who do and love the intricate work. Keep finding others like you so we can keep seeing your work!

    4 years ago

  • meringuedesigns

    meringuedesigns says:

    thank goodness for modern quilting! gone are the days of tacky geese-laden quilted wall hangings and these are the days of modern and retro styles. great article.

    4 years ago

  • CarryTheWord

    CarryTheWord says:

    Beautiful quilts and quilted items!

    4 years ago

  • AnniesWearableArt

    AnniesWearableArt says:

    My next door neighbor is a quilter: the skill/talent possessed and beauty created by quilters truly does rival logic!!

    4 years ago

  • AnniesWearableArt

    AnniesWearableArt says:

    maybe should have said 'defies logic!' ***runs off to get another cup of coffee***

    4 years ago

  • HandmadeHandsome

    HandmadeHandsome says:

    Great article. I admire quilters.

    4 years ago

  • candacejean

    candacejean says:

    I have a handed-down quilt that my grandma made years and years ago of my mom's high school clothes from the seventies. I ADORE it. I can't stop staring at all of her tiny, perfectly intricate hand stitches. I also think it's cute that my mom admits she's in a quilter's guild. Haha. Thanks for sharing the fun photos!

    4 years ago

  • warmnfuzzies

    warmnfuzzies says:

    So true about mentioning you are a quilter at a party and they scan the crowd looking for someone else to chat with! LOL

    4 years ago

  • RuthBleakley

    RuthBleakley says:

    wow! I have no patience for lining up fabric - my attempts at sewing usually end at the cutting stage - so bravo to all of those quilters!

    4 years ago

  • adrienneaudrey

    adrienneaudrey says:

    Beautiful quilts. My mom made me a lovely quilt a few years back and it is one of my most treasured gifts

    4 years ago

  • QuiltFinger

    QuiltFinger says:

    Wonderful feature, looks like a fun group of quilters!

    4 years ago

  • IcingOnTheCupcake

    IcingOnTheCupcake says:

    Beautiful quilts!

    4 years ago

  • sakizome

    sakizome says:

    I love to quilt too, although mine are traditional Japanese style ones sewn by hand, with lots of hand applique, hand piecing, embroidery and hand-quilting. But I really like these Modern quilts too!

    4 years ago

  • LucindasNiceThings

    LucindasNiceThings says:

    The quilts are just wonderful! I'm so proud of you for getting together and making these groups happen!

    4 years ago

  • AudreyGardenLady

    AudreyGardenLady says:

    Wow are those gorgeous! I love to quilt but live in a small place where I can't leave it spread out. So I make a full quilt only one or two times a year and do smaller projects otherwise. Love the comraderie between fellow quilters.

    4 years ago

  • sewlola

    sewlola says:

    Beautiful quilts and lovely post!

    4 years ago

  • Floreal

    Floreal says:

    love the patch work. and the quilts... great article! :)

    4 years ago

  • clothscapes

    clothscapes says:

    Thank you for this article. I have been looking for a group like this. I just went to their site and a guild is forming in my area! Yay! I joined immediately.

    4 years ago

  • JoshUrsoDesign

    JoshUrsoDesign says:

    We love modern quilts. Thank you for featuring some wonderful artists!

    4 years ago

  • pasin

    pasin says:

    Beautiful guilts

    4 years ago

  • pasin

    pasin says:

    Beautiful guilts....

    4 years ago

  • bylynnkrestel

    bylynnkrestel says:

    oh i would love to learn...my g-gram was an avid quilter.... what an unbelievable talent!

    4 years ago

  • YouAreYou

    YouAreYou says:

    Such dedication!

    4 years ago

  • BabongoHome

    BabongoHome says:

    Very interesting, puts quilting into a new perspective, great works!

    4 years ago

  • WoollyWonka

    WoollyWonka says:

    Gorgeous!

    4 years ago

  • genisepark

    genisepark says:

    Beautiful, Beautiful.

    4 years ago

  • bhangtiez

    bhangtiez says:

    amazing artists....i will try my hand at quilting 1 day...

    4 years ago

  • kadlubik

    kadlubik says:

    refreshing to see modern quilts!

    4 years ago

  • Tumus

    Tumus says:

    Oh great article!! We don't have a quilting guild in my area but lots of shops abound :) I've seen some REALLY great art quilts by local sewers too. It's great to see this craft being revitalized by a new perspective.

    4 years ago

  • kadlubik

    kadlubik says:

    hurraah for modern quilts! not to disregard the old fashion once!

    4 years ago

  • KamiMono

    KamiMono says:

    Gorgeous modern quilts!

    4 years ago

  • BellaVintageANDmore

    BellaVintageANDmore says:

    Beautiful work!!! I have a wonderful memory of making a soccer "quilt"(by my definition, not the true craftsmanship shown here) for my son many years ago. He watched anxiously awaiting the finished product and helped layout and piece the quilt.

    4 years ago

  • PiecesOfPine

    PiecesOfPine says:

    Wonderful article! Such gorgeous quilts!

    4 years ago

  • BassWoodStitchery

    BassWoodStitchery says:

    Such nice quilting! The possibilities are endless. I find quilting to be so satisfying . As a person who designs my own quilts, I know how much work goes into making these treasures! Keep up the great work!

    4 years ago

  • Quiltville

    Quiltville says:

    I truly enjoyed reading this article and Love all the gorgeous quilts.

    4 years ago

  • tumblebumbletots

    tumblebumbletots says:

    Your work is beatiful and I love the modern touch to your quilts. As a quilter myself, I can certainly appreciate nice quilting! Keep up the FABULOUS sewing!!!!!

    4 years ago

  • Ebruk

    Ebruk says:

    I love this article.

    4 years ago

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage says:

    I have a couple of quilts I never completed. I'll try to get motivated again!

    4 years ago

  • maggiemaevintage

    maggiemaevintage says:

    nice article. it's always nice to be around like minded people.

    4 years ago

  • HighRidgeRockNbeads

    HighRidgeRockNbeads says:

    Looks like fun! Just love all the bright colors!

    4 years ago

  • artofjane

    artofjane says:

    I haven't quilted in years, but I love quilts. I'm glad u mentioned Gees Bend quilts. There's a wonderful book about the quilters of Gees Bend I take out of the library about once a month. Those quilts are works of art!

    4 years ago

  • ArtisticIntentions

    ArtisticIntentions says:

    Really beautiful! Interesting article, too!

    4 years ago

  • TheLittleStitcher

    TheLittleStitcher says:

    Ohh I love quilting!

    4 years ago

  • MomNMiaQuilts

    MomNMiaQuilts says:

    This is a great article, and wonderful pictures! There are all sorts of great online guilds for quilters! I belonged to a large local guild for 3 years, but had a hard time fitting in being only one of 2 members under 40 . . . out of 400+ members. I love that the beautiful art of quilting is spanning so many more and younger generations!

    4 years ago

  • mooshoopork

    mooshoopork says:

    nothing sais "functional art" more then quilts! its like art you can keep warm in whats not to love :)

    4 years ago

  • dkshattuck

    dkshattuck says:

    Quilts really have it all....Beauty, art, expression, function! Spectacular examples!

    4 years ago

  • Pamelaquilts

    Pamelaquilts says:

    Really a wonderful article - I like the allegory of the third leg of the stool. Contemporary quilting is so different from traditional forms of quilting and this article really addresses those differences well! I think quilters are truly social and love to interact with each other, so online or in person, we just enjoy talking about aspects of quilting as well as the act of quilting.

    4 years ago

  • polkadotmagpie

    polkadotmagpie says:

    Lovely quilts and quilters. A Gee's Bend exhibit traveled through here last year. Inspiring...for a quilt collector like me.

    4 years ago

  • anotherghostquilts

    anotherghostquilts says:

    Thank you for this article - so well written! And thanks for including my sheep quilt- much appreciated!

    4 years ago

  • hoganfe

    hoganfe says:

    Wow thanks for including my bag!

    4 years ago

  • MoranArtandQuilts

    MoranArtandQuilts says:

    Loved the great article!

    4 years ago

  • gilstrapdesigns

    gilstrapdesigns says:

    Beautiful quilting thanks for sharing.

    4 years ago

  • sewinggranny

    sewinggranny says:

    Great article...love to quilt as well!

    4 years ago

  • lkmccray

    lkmccray says:

    Thanks for all the wonderful comments. So happy to know so many appreciate quilts. I think BassWoodStitchery said it best when she says "The possibilities are endless." It's so inspiring to see the tremendous variety of ways that people put together pieces of fabric. And for those of you who said you'd love to quilt but don't have the patience/skill/talent...Give it a try. A quilt can be a simple as stitching together great big squares or strips. There are so many amazing fabrics available these days that you can create something incredible (and modern) very simply.

    4 years ago

  • Quiltedbabe

    Quiltedbabe says:

    I agree, great article!

    4 years ago

  • Ebrown2503

    Ebrown2503 says:

    Wonderful! Last weekend I went to a quilt show and rounding the corner to the youth quilts was like walking into a new world. The designs, the colors, the fabric selections were breathtaking. Old or new, quilting is such a great way to learn patience, precision and style in crafting.

    4 years ago

  • clubaloha

    clubaloha says:

    Wonderful article!

    4 years ago

  • FrenchKnot2U

    FrenchKnot2U says:

    Gorgeous,stunning quilts!!!! Some of your designs reminds me of the wonderful quilts made by the ladies of Gee's Bend, Alabama area. Thanks to your story and related items I discovered a wonderful fabric shop-Fabric Worm.

    4 years ago

  • kirstenfrancis

    kirstenfrancis says:

    What a wonderful article! The work is stunning and the quilters' enthusiasm really shows (and is quite infectious!). My husband's mom is a quilter and I am in such admiration of anyone who can create in this way.

    4 years ago

  • RedandCompany
  • madeofsherbert

    madeofsherbert says:

    hum maybe I give quilting a go next.

    4 years ago

  • simpledream2

    simpledream2 says:

    What a great article. I check out ohfransson blog and link to the modern quilt guild flickr photos just about every night, right before shutting down the computer. I go to bed with so many ideas, maybe that's why I don't get much sleep. Just too many ideas and not enough time. But I do enjoy the photos of every ones projects. Thanks for more on quilting, it is an underappreciated form of art.

    4 years ago

  • CharliesApt

    CharliesApt says:

    It's really nice to hear you talking about modern quilting.

    4 years ago

  • annsquiltnstuff

    annsquiltnstuff says:

    Thank you for the great article! Quilting is a lot of fun and I shall see if there is a group in my area.

    4 years ago

  • cincinscrafts

    cincinscrafts says:

    beautiful! quilts! I loved the colors and designs!

    4 years ago

  • licklekisses

    licklekisses says:

    very inspireing article!!!! am feeling more confident about my quilts as there is a name for them modern!!!! big smiles !!!

    4 years ago

  • patchworkdelights

    patchworkdelights says:

    What an inspiring article and beautiful quilts. Love the purse too!

    4 years ago

  • KimsCraftyApple

    KimsCraftyApple says:

    WOW! What beautiful quilts. Love seeing so much attention to these heirloom quality creations!

    4 years ago

  • ilovehearts

    ilovehearts says:

    I love quilts and cosy blankets too... x

    4 years ago

  • inajuicebox

    inajuicebox says:

    Beautiful items!

    4 years ago

  • bellasparty

    bellasparty says:

    Lovely quilts! Very talented group!!

    4 years ago

  • flutesandfabric

    flutesandfabric says:

    Seeing some of the really avant garde look of a lot of "modern" quilts in recent years is so inspiring and makes me want to take the plunge and finally try my hand at quiltmaking!

    4 years ago

  • OrientalCultureHmong

    OrientalCultureHmong says:

    Beautiful items!I like your pattern style it very very cute (^-^)

    4 years ago

  • Junienone

    Junienone says:

    Such a great article - and the quilts you've pictured are AMAZING! Thanks!

    4 years ago

  • VirtuoSew

    VirtuoSew says:

    Great article! Thinking of dipping my toe into the sea of quilting. This is inspiring.

    4 years ago

  • KristaBDesigns

    KristaBDesigns says:

    For me, the fun is in the making of the quilt, not necessarily the quilting, as I must have about 50 quilt tops that need to be layered and loaded onto the long arm machine. Fabric is so addicting: the colors, the feel, the gorgeous quilts made by members of our quilt group.

    4 years ago

  • msalleycat

    msalleycat says:

    Hey, that's me on the left in the 4th photo down, with my 'Plain Spoken' quilt from the great book 'Modern Quilt Workshop'! It's so great to see the love of modern quilting get shared. Thanks for a great article, Linzee.

    4 years ago

  • moxywares

    moxywares says:

    Hooray for our guild! I know I'm glad to be a part of it :) Thanks for the nice article, Linzee!

    4 years ago

  • princcessnadia

    princcessnadia says:

    beautiful works of art

    4 years ago

  • HillTribeCulture

    HillTribeCulture says:

    Good information!

    4 years ago

  • GeniusJewels

    GeniusJewels says:

    Great article! I love quilts and these are such beautiful works!

    4 years ago

  • AsianArtAndQuilts

    AsianArtAndQuilts says:

    It is great to see more articles on quilting. It has beensuch an over looked art form, but it is finally coming into it's own. Hey it's cool to be a quilter!!! Really the field is wide open these days, with so many inovative and creative kinds of quilting, the sky is the limit! Yeah Baby!!

    4 years ago

  • ellarta

    ellarta says:

    That absolutly amazing. Wonderful job!

    4 years ago

  • freshlybreweddesigns

    freshlybreweddesigns says:

    I love to quilt myself...I really don't want quilting to become a dying art, so this article is encouraging. We need to get the cell phones out of our kids' hands and put some fabric in them. :-)

    4 years ago

  • OhOhMary

    OhOhMary says:

    color YUMM!

    3 years ago

  • bethany18

    bethany18 says:

    There are some really NEAT fabrics posted above!

    3 years ago