Friday, October 18, 2019

What is a "modern" quilt? What is "improv"?

People often ask me about "modern" quilts.
Are they actually any different from traditional ones?
 Where did the term come from?
 What is so special about them?

 And: what does "improv" or "improvisational" piecing mean?

Well all of the pieces you see here were cut and sewn together using Improv techniques...they're probably a little more elaborate than your average "modern" quilt - yes I got a bit carried away!!! - but if you look at just a small section of any of'd be close to a modern quilt...for example...just the lighter rectangle on the right hand side of the quilt below...would be considered modern.

Modern quilts have really revolutionized the field of quilting, bring into it younger energetic folk who are in a hurry!!!  and that's great!  I completely applaud the movement.
What I don't applaud is then trying to create and sell specific "patterns".....for the whole thing about being modern and improv is that you take a few basics...and then make it your own!

To find out a bit more about my thoughts and prejudices (!) and have a go on your own, consider my Mod Meets Improv class - and see you how go.  I think you'll enjoy it, plus you have unlimited access to me - which may or may not be a good thing!!!

I'd also love to read your comments about the modern movement....I promise to answer every one!!

So, if you have been, thanks for reading!!!  Elizabeth


Sue said...

It's my understanding that the Modern Quilt Guild distinguishes what it considers Modern Quilts (capital MQ) as those that are utilitarian (i.e. used as throws, or on beds, etc). Thus they do not consider wall quilts to be Modern Quilts, even if the design follows the so-called "modern" aesthetic.

Elizabeth Barton said...

Thank you, Sue, of course I'm referring to the style, the look, the aesthetic rather than a technical definition which of course you have to have for quilt shows. I know Nancy Crow has very very particular requirements for her shows. And so does Houston...

It's that "look" that really appeals to me, and of course the size should be appropriate. I see quilts, especially "modern" ones as being equivalent to minimalist abstract art....and very beautiful and much more difficult than you'd think to get it "right".

Sue said...

Yes! Exactly what I was getting at. I actually think “Modern” means a lot more. I consider my art quilts “modern”. And yours as well. Maybe not with a capital M in the opinion of MQG. I think their definition is rather narrow. I consider “improv” something that is put together without a pattern.

OPQuilt said...

It's always opening a can of worms to try and define the modern style, but good for you for adding your perspective to the mix. When, in my classes, I'm asked this, I generally say that not even the MQG knows what one is, if you go by what's won the top prizes every year, but I tend to fall in with the ideas on your post, preferring not to exclude.

Thanks for this!

Elizabeth Barton said...

Thank you for writing OP! I had NO idea there was any controversy attached to the definition of "modern" quilt!
But I know I do like a certain minimal aesthetic with lots of white and negative space.
It's always difficult to judge by prize winners, they are chosen for so many many reasons....

however i do feel all of us should be making art from our heart, reflecting our own thoughts and feelings. and fun too!