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Modern Quilter Meet Ups: The Quilting Bee Comes Full Circle

Mar 30, 2010

by Linzee McCray handmade and vintage goods

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.


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.


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.


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!”



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 said 7 years ago

    Wow nice job. Really interesting :)

  • nomadcraftsetc

    nomadcraftsetc said 7 years ago

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

  • saintesmariesjewelry

    saintesmariesjewelry said 7 years ago

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

  • opendoorstudio

    opendoorstudio said 7 years ago

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

  • TessaKim

    TessaKim said 7 years ago

    lovely group! great article :)

  • lovelygifts

    lovelygifts said 7 years ago

    Beautiful! Great article.

  • TessaKim

    TessaKim said 7 years ago

    lovely group! Great article :)

  • Ayca

    Ayca said 7 years ago

    Great article!Thanks for sharing!

  • julessabjewelry

    julessabjewelry said 7 years ago

    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!

  • meringuedesigns

    meringuedesigns said 7 years ago

    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.

  • CarryTheWord

    CarryTheWord said 7 years ago

    Beautiful quilts and quilted items!

  • AnniesWearableArt

    AnniesWearableArt said 7 years ago

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

  • AnniesWearableArt

    AnniesWearableArt said 7 years ago

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

  • HandmadeHandsome

    HandmadeHandsome said 7 years ago

    Great article. I admire quilters.

  • candacejean

    candacejean said 7 years ago

    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!

  • warmnfuzzies

    warmnfuzzies said 7 years ago

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

  • RuthBleakley

    RuthBleakley said 7 years ago

    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!

  • adrienneaudrey

    adrienneaudrey said 7 years ago

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

  • QuiltFinger

    QuiltFinger said 7 years ago

    Wonderful feature, looks like a fun group of quilters!

  • IcingOnTheCupcake

    IcingOnTheCupcake said 7 years ago

    Beautiful quilts!

  • sakizome

    sakizome said 7 years ago

    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!

  • LucindasNiceThings

    LucindasNiceThings said 7 years ago

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

  • AudreyGardenLady

    AudreyGardenLady said 7 years ago

    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.

  • sewlola

    sewlola said 7 years ago

    Beautiful quilts and lovely post!

  • Floreal

    Floreal said 7 years ago

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

  • clothscapes

    clothscapes said 7 years ago

    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.

  • JoshUrsoDesign

    JoshUrsoDesign said 7 years ago

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

  • pasin

    pasin said 7 years ago

    Beautiful guilts

  • pasin

    pasin said 7 years ago

    Beautiful guilts....

  • bylynnkrestel

    bylynnkrestel said 7 years ago

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

  • YouAreYou

    YouAreYou said 7 years ago

    Such dedication!

  • BabongoHome

    BabongoHome said 7 years ago

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

  • WoollyWonka

    WoollyWonka said 7 years ago


  • genisepark

    genisepark said 7 years ago

    Beautiful, Beautiful.

  • bhangtiez

    bhangtiez said 7 years ago

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

  • kadlubik

    kadlubik said 7 years ago

    refreshing to see modern quilts!

  • Tumus

    Tumus said 7 years ago

    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.

  • kadlubik

    kadlubik said 7 years ago

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

  • KamiMono

    KamiMono said 7 years ago

    Gorgeous modern quilts!

  • BellaVintageANDmore

    BellaVintageANDmore said 7 years ago

    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.

  • PiecesOfPine

    PiecesOfPine said 7 years ago

    Wonderful article! Such gorgeous quilts!

  • BassWoodStitchery

    BassWoodStitchery said 7 years ago

    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!

  • Quiltville

    Quiltville said 7 years ago

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

  • tumblebumbletots

    tumblebumbletots said 7 years ago

    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!!!!!

  • Ebruk

    Ebruk said 7 years ago

    I love this article.

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage said 7 years ago

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

  • maggiemaevintage

    maggiemaevintage said 7 years ago

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

  • HighRidgeRockNbeads

    HighRidgeRockNbeads said 7 years ago

    Looks like fun! Just love all the bright colors!

  • artofjane

    artofjane said 7 years ago

    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!

  • ArtisticIntentions

    ArtisticIntentions said 7 years ago

    Really beautiful! Interesting article, too!

  • TheLittleStitcher

    TheLittleStitcher said 7 years ago

    Ohh I love quilting!

  • MomNMiaQuilts

    MomNMiaQuilts said 7 years ago

    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!

  • mooshoopork

    mooshoopork said 7 years ago

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

  • dkshattuck

    dkshattuck said 7 years ago

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

  • Pamelaquilts

    Pamelaquilts said 7 years ago

    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.

  • polkadotmagpie

    polkadotmagpie said 7 years ago

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

  • anotherghostquilts

    anotherghostquilts said 7 years ago

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

  • hoganfe

    hoganfe said 7 years ago

    Wow thanks for including my bag!

  • MoranArtandQuilts

    MoranArtandQuilts said 7 years ago

    Loved the great article!

  • gilstrapdesigns

    gilstrapdesigns said 7 years ago

    Beautiful quilting thanks for sharing.

  • sewinggranny

    sewinggranny said 7 years ago

    Great to quilt as well!

  • lkmccray

    lkmccray said 7 years ago

    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.

  • Quiltedbabe

    Quiltedbabe said 7 years ago

    I agree, great article!

  • Ebrown2503

    Ebrown2503 said 7 years ago

    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.

  • clubaloha

    clubaloha said 7 years ago

    Wonderful article!

  • FrenchKnot2U

    FrenchKnot2U said 7 years ago

    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.

  • kirstenfrancis

    kirstenfrancis said 7 years ago

    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.

  • RedandCompany

    RedandCompany said 7 years ago


  • madeofsherbert

    madeofsherbert said 7 years ago

    hum maybe I give quilting a go next.

  • simpledream2

    simpledream2 said 7 years ago

    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.

  • CharliesApt

    CharliesApt said 7 years ago

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

  • annsquiltnstuff

    annsquiltnstuff said 7 years ago

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

  • cincinscrafts

    cincinscrafts said 7 years ago

    beautiful! quilts! I loved the colors and designs!

  • licklekisses

    licklekisses said 7 years ago

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

  • patchworkdelights

    patchworkdelights said 7 years ago

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

  • KimsCraftyApple

    KimsCraftyApple said 7 years ago

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

  • ilovehearts

    ilovehearts said 7 years ago

    I love quilts and cosy blankets too... x

  • inajuicebox

    inajuicebox said 7 years ago

    Beautiful items!

  • bellasparty

    bellasparty said 7 years ago

    Lovely quilts! Very talented group!!

  • flutesandfabric

    flutesandfabric said 7 years ago

    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!

  • OrientalCultureHmong

    OrientalCultureHmong said 7 years ago

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

  • Junienone

    Junienone said 7 years ago

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

  • VirtuoSew

    VirtuoSew said 7 years ago

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

  • KristaBDesigns

    KristaBDesigns said 7 years ago

    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.

  • msalleycat

    msalleycat said 7 years ago

    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.

  • moxywares

    moxywares said 7 years ago

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

  • princcessnadia

    princcessnadia said 7 years ago

    beautiful works of art

  • HillTribeCulture

    HillTribeCulture said 7 years ago

    Good information!

  • GeniusJewels

    GeniusJewels said 7 years ago

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

  • AsianArtAndQuilts

    AsianArtAndQuilts said 7 years ago

    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!!

  • ellarta

    ellarta said 7 years ago

    That absolutly amazing. Wonderful job!

  • freshlybreweddesigns

    freshlybreweddesigns said 7 years ago

    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. :-)

  • OhOhMary

    OhOhMary said 7 years ago

    color YUMM!

  • bethany18

    bethany18 said 7 years ago

    There are some really NEAT fabrics posted above!

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