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What Are Some Of The Differences Between Traditional And Modern Quilts?

By: Maureen Winkelman-Board Member

Friends of the History Center

Quilters have been making functional and artful creations throughout history, adding their own touches along the way. “Traditional” quilts are often referred to as our “grandmother’s quilts.” These are the quilts lovingly passed down from one generation to another. They contain tried and true techniques and patterns, have been quilted for hundreds of years, and are still made and loved today. They rely heavily on symmetry, many repetitions of the same block pattern, and orderly rows. Prior to the mid twentieth century, most quilts were hand quilted. The tinier and closer together the stitches were, the more desirable the quilt. Patterns repeated over the generations have been given names such as Log Cabin, Double Wedding Ring, Cathedral Window, and Dresden Plate. Appliqué designs such as Sunbonnet Sue are also part of the quilting heritage.
“Modern” Quilts began emerging in the early twentieth century. They are more experimental and asymmetrical, rely less on rules, use negative space, and accentuate off-centered patterns.They tend not to rely on a grid, and often incorporate modern technology to visualize and plan designs. Bold colors, high contrast, and modern prints are also utilized. The sewing machine is most often used to create geometric, irregular curlicue, and imaginative pattern stitching known as “free motion”. Modern quilts are also being augmented by experimenting with fabrics, dyes, painting, stamping, use of beads, textiles, and other embellishments. Modern quilting can best be described as “anything goes”.

What Are Some Of The Differences Between Traditional And Modern Quilts?
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