Sunday, November 1, 2009

What's Modern Part 1

Mini Patchwork Quilt
Originally uploaded by BooDilly's

Millie had it right when she sang that "everything today is thoroughly modern." Most quilts that I see exhibit modern characteristics.

One quality I consider modern is use of white space. Modern quilts, like modern page layouts, use white space (though not necessarily white fabric) to their advantage.

This modern Nine Patch quilt alternates blank white space with a printed fabric that includes a lot of white space. This technique gives the quilt a crisp, minimalist feeling. A quilt alternating two small scale prints with little white space wouldn't feel nearly as up to date.


  1. Thank you, what a nice surprise!
    (And I have been a fan of Millie's ever since I was a little girl and saw Julie Andrews play her up on the big screen!)

  2. You're welcome! When this little quilt popped up in my blog reader I was said "!!!!!!" Yes, I said that. How timely!

    (Also, Millie Dillmount made me laugh with her naivete. Loved how she wanted to seduce her boss. SO modern. :P)

  3. Nothing new under the sun. White space in quilts is very fashionable now. But it's also very traditional - see the Dear Jane quilt, for instance. So I guess that's appropriate for the idea of modified tradition!

    What makes the quilt you show look more 'modern', in my view, is not so much the use of white space, but the fabrics used. For a start, it's clear that the modern quilt is made by someone with the money to buy fabrics specifically for quilting - that's been a huge shift in the way that quilts are made and the kind of designs that are possible. When quilts were primarily made from remnants and old clothing, and so on, that created a different kind of design constraint. And second, the print used in the modern quilt looks like a print designed for quilting - not a print designed for wearing (though I think it would look fab as a skirt or dress!) The perfect match of the tones in the print with the solids around the edge also give it that polished, contemporary look. I don't know if these were fabrics from a single line, or if the quilter had to search to find the match, but it certainly looks intentional.

  4. Ros--

    For me, it's not about the color white, but the white, empty space. I guess negative space is a better term for what I was trying to say. Many quilts that I see (and consider to be of the modern style) incorporate a lot of empty space. I like that!

    Also, the printed fabric featured above was designed by the quilter and printed at Spoonflower. That's why it looks so perfectly matched to the project; because it is!

    I think you can buy some in her etsy shop. Visit her blog (