Monday, November 2, 2009

Up to the Challenge?

Hello! My name is Crystal and I normally blog my sewing misadventures over at Sonnet of the Moon.

Aesthetically I’m drawn to today’s modern quilts. Lots of white, colors that pop, improvisational, wonky. When I flip through pictures of quilts, the bam, in your face modern quilts are always my favorites.

table runner front

Emotionally, though, I’m drawn to traditional quilts. I like to think about the people who made them, why they made them, who they made them for. I imagine women swapping ideas for blocks, trading scraps of fabric, sewing by hand, by candlelight. I think of the rich history, the memories in each scrap of fabric. Who was the first person to create a nine-patch? A log cabin? Who first thought hexagons were worth all that trouble? Were they as obsessed with them as I am?

pop garden hexagon quilt

Unfortunately, as much as I love the idea of traditional quilt blocks, I don’t like them very much. Modern quilts are so fresh and fun, traditional quilts are bland and boring.

At least that’s what I thought when Jen approached me with her idea for this project. I was pretty convinced that there was no way to make traditional quilt blocks modern or interesting.

But then the rebellious side of my personality kicked in. Surely there must be a way to give traditional blocks some modern appeal. There has to be a way to make a sampler quilt look good. There has to be a way to modify tradition without changing it beyond recognition.

So that’s the challenge I set for myself and that’s my goal in this project. I look forward to thinking about the history of quilting while making my traditional blocks. I look forward to picking bright, beautiful fabrics to compliment the block designs. I look forward to making a sampler quilt I don’t hate.

Maybe I can do all this and maybe I can’t…but at least I’m going to try. Hopefully you’ll want to give it a try too.


  1. Put me on the sidebar - I've grabbed the button for my blog! Here's an interesting analogy for you. I ride a 2007 Vespa and when I bought it I went on the internet to find out all I could about riding a scooter in the city, etc. I found that there were two distinct communities - one devoted to vintage scooters (shifties) and the other was made up of riders of primarily modern scooters (automatics). There was all kinds of dissing and bad blood between them. I still don't understand it - together they represent about .000001% of the vehicular population. But there seems to be a human need to dichotomize and divide. In the quilting world, because we are mostly women, there is hardly any of that aggressive trash talk, thank goodness (one of my students says it reminds her of junior high: "you're so pretty" "no, YOU're so pretty"). But there are definitely two worlds. Kudos to you and Jennifer for thinking about the big picture and how what we do in our own work fits into the bigger picture and history of women's handwork.

  2. I am so into what you are doing! It was reading stories about woman who were quilting back in the 1930's, and using traditional patterns, that first made me fall in love with quilting. But it was the modern improvised quilt that pulled me into wanting to be a quilter. Lately I have been also thinking about the marriage of the two, and am delighted to see someone exploring this and sharing their journey. The hexagons, (for a Grandmothers Garden quilt?) are beautiful!

  3. *oh! oh! Miss! Miss!!!!!* (lol - Yeah, I was that kid, in school. )

    I've made a sampler top that I actually love - I can't figure out how to quilt it though I'm gonna have to soon because I think I'm dragging it out to be quilted tonight! Now I'm excited for you to see it!

  4. Hi Lesly! Yes, I definitely know what you're talking about.

    I don't just like traditional things because they're traditional...or modern things because they're modern. I just like what I like and I'm tolerant of people who like what they like. It should always be that simple, in my opinion. :)

  5. Hi Victoria! It happened like that with me too. Quilts were cool (because of the history) but I didn't want to make one because I'd never seen one I really loved. Then I saw a "modern" quilt and just about died from happiness!

    I struggled for about three weeks with how I would be able to make a traditional quilt "modern" enough for me. I think I'm on the right track but we'll see.

    Thanks about the hexagons...they were going to be for a quilt but they take so much time...I think I'm going to make them into pillows and then make a quilt using bigger hexagons.

    Love your work, by the way! I'm going to add you to my reader before I forget again!

  6. Kit! I can't wait to see your sampler quilt! I'm undecided about how I'll quilt mine but I have a few ideas at least. Samplers are tricky...I can't wait to see what you decide to do.