I’ve struggled with a succinct definition of “Modern Quilt” ever since I heard the term several years ago. What exactly makes a quilt modern? Since I talk to lots of quilters in my travels and teaching, I asked them to help me define it. Gathering answers from all over the globe there were a few terms that stood out: Geometric, non-symmetrical, lots of white. I agree with those 3 attributes but I think there’s more to it than that. While I was at the Quilters Unlimited show in Chantilly, VA, I spotted a few quilts that I thought could be considered “Modern” but they did not align with the “lots of white” stipulation. So maybe there’s a new trend in the modern quilting world? Modern goes Colorful?

Examples of colorful modern

by Nancy Hoskins
of Annandale, VA

Nancy’s background is grey! And it is not a solid and it is pieced. Loved the softness of this quilt.

by Robin Tilsworth
of Arlington, VA

Robin’s negative space (background) is quite dark but very effective at showing off the colors of the piecing.


Intersections With Attitude!!!
by Bonnie Anderson
of Haymarket, VA

Bonnie used grey as well, am I sensing a trend here? I really love that she quilted with red thread. (Sorry I didn’t get a close-up)


Gypsy Wife
by Martha Bush
of Annandale, VA
quilted by Cindy Luby

Martha’s quilt is on the borderline of Modern vs Traditional with all those traditional blocks, but I think her unusual choice for background pushes it into the Modern camp.


Lemon Lime Pop
by Emily Mickelwait
of Haymarket, VA

Now we’ve got the Modern Goes Colorful vibe really going on with this quilt. Some of my favorite modern quilts have the blocks start out as traditional but then seemingly fall apart and scatter. I loved Emily’s color choice! It was much brighter in person, the photo toned it down some.


by Bonnie Rhoby
of Reston, VA

Bonnie’s hand-dyed background is fabulous. Definitely Modern Goes Colorful!

If you are interested in a comprehensive explanation of Modern Quilting, the Modern Quilt Guild has a great read on their website. A recent HQ Live showcased some modern improv quilting, too.

Are you a modern quilter, and what is your definition?


by Mary Beth Krapil