15 modern quilts from QuiltCon 2023
No matter what style of quilting you enjoy — be it traditional, art, modern, or something else — quilting is quilting and we can all learn and be motivated from one another. Enjoy 15 of just some of my favorite modern quilts (plus a few bonus quilts) from
QuiltCon 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. All descriptions were written by the quilters/makers. Prepare to be inspired!
“Granddaughter’s Flower Garden” by Nikki Woolsey Statement: “My quilting practice is firmly rooted in the generations of crafty women who came before me. My paternal Grandma Erika Meier Schoenhals would have approached a hexagon design by quilting double knot polyester in the traditional “Grandmother’s Flower Garden” pattern. My maternal Grandma Flossie Pearl Sperry Terrel would have crocheted “Granny Hexagons” for her afghans. I come to the hexagon inspired by a digitized 21st century design. In this piece I challenged myself to illustrate a three dimensional hexagonal mesh through the interplay of light, color, and size in a traditional quilt form. I drafted an original, large-scale, English paper-pieced pattern which was hand-stitched and appliqued. While I cannot share this quilt with my late grandmothers, I like to imagine that they would have loved to see where the granddaughter’s flower garden grows.” Featured in the Piecing category
detail of “Granddaughter’s Flower Garden” by Nikki Woolsey
“2022_1021_FabricChallenge-Backup_final_FINAL-v2.0.jpeg” (yes! that is the name) by Matthew Friesz Statement: “2022_1021_FabricChallenge-Backup_final_FINAL-v2.0.jpeg is an original design by TheQuiltyArchitect. It started as a sketch in an on-brand colorway in April of 2022 that sat dormant until late October when my original plan for the fabric challenge became inachievable in the short time until the deadline. It’s a commentary on both my ability to overcommit without following through as planned and my disorganized file management system. Surely, those go hand-in-hand.” Featured in the Windham Ruby + Bee Fabric Challenge category
detail of “2022_1021_FabricChallenge-Backup_final_FINAL-v2.0.jpeg” (yes! that is the name) by Matthew Friesz
“Breaking All The Rulers…ers” by Heather Joyce Statement: “When life takes away your rulers, you can still make a quilt! This quilt was made to help me learn to let go. I am such a planner and like the idea of creating something where who knows what can happen was stressful and exhilarating. I set out with 16 main fabrics and filled in with leftover scraps from a quilt made for my brother. Dipping into a bag of scraps to pull out whatever was available felt like the first step in giving a bit into fate. Not using rulers for the entire quit leaves a wonky edge to show every quilt can be beautiful even when the points get cut off and it doesn’t fold perfectly. The quilting includes over 20 colors of thread and dip into each color and shade of the rainbow.” Featured in the Modern Traditionalism category
detail of “Breaking All The Rulers…ers” by Heather Joyce
“Cosmic Orange Peel” by Laura Ward Statement: “This quilt is sparkles and sunshine and symmetry. All the curved shapes you see are appliqued, and I couldn’t resist the combination of metallic linen and metallic thread to accent them. I tried out a new idea when making the half circle shapes on this quilt. I started with squares of fabric and hand appliqued 2 layered circles on top. I put another square on top of this, sewed 2 diagonal lines, and essentially made 2 big half square triangle units. (P.S. It feels very wrong to cut your carefully hand appliqued blocks in half, but it all worke dout in the end). More orange-peel-esque curves were layered on to make the pink and blue applique circles crossing through the middle.” Featured in the Applique category
detail of “Cosmic Orange Peel” by Laura Ward
“Patent Pending” by Patty Dudek, Charles Cameron, Kitty Wilkin, Linda Hungerford, Pat Cummins, Sarah Ruiz, Valerie Luberecki, Yvonne Fuchs Statement: “Patent Pending offers a way to remove those unwanted stitches without touching a seam ripper. Since this is my least favorite quilting task, I recruited friends to create a Rube Goldberg* machine in quilting form. Our theme was Teamwork. With only the entry and exit points provided, each quilter designed a block for the ball to travel through the quilt. Each block is so wonderful (did you see the bird?**) and as unique and creative as the artist who made them! Assembling the quilt was an enjoyable interactive process, adding details and the final block which actually removes the stitching. My hope is that you enjoy looking at the quilt as much as we enjoyed making it. * A Rube Goldberg machine is a chain reaction contraption intentionally designed to perform a simple task in an indirect or overly complicated way. **No bird was harmed in the making of this quilt.” Featured in the Group of Bees category
detail of “Patent Pending” by Patty Dudek, Charles Cameron, Kitty Wilkin, Linda Hungerford, Pat Cummins, Sarah Ruiz, Valerie Luberecki, Yvonne Fuchs
“Go Figure No. 2” by Holly Clarke Statement: “Based on the design of my Go Figure No. 1 quilt, this design is made up of 36 traditional Drunkard’s Path blocks combined with rectangular transition pieces. The colour placement of pink, god, and lilac fabrics appear as if they “overlap” each other to create secondary colours of red, amber, and plum. I love the idea of creating visual transparency with the use of colour. The main figure in the design is an infinite shape that seems to have a sense of movement that invites your eyes to follow along its curves. I was inspired by 1970s “supergraphic” shapes that were popular in home decor and large scale exterior signage. Each section of the main figure is quilted with straight-line stitching which overlaps the stitching from the adjoining section. This echos the overlapping colours and creates a grid over each section. The quilting on the background echos the curved shape.” Featured in the Modern Traditionalism category
detail of “Go Figure No. 2” by Holly Clarke
“Perception is Reality” by Sarah Muslim Lefebvre Statement: “The artist would like you to take a step back and think about the concept of “Perception is Reality” as it relates to Impact vs. Intent.” Featured in the Piecing category
detail of “Perception is Reality” by Sarah Muslim Lefebvre
“Confetti” by Diana Fox Statement: “We can find many opportunities in life to celebrate victories, achievements, milestones and joyous moments. I have found that it is important to acknowledge and honor large and small life events, sunsets and sunrises, and sometimes just making it through the day.” Techniques Used: Machine pieced, hand embroidered, machine quilted on a frame (longarm). The larger ovoids have inset piecing at approximately 1/10th inch for each thin line. The seed embroidery consisted of thousands of stitches. Featured in the Handwork category
detail of “Confetti” by Diana Fox
“Mask #3 — The stoic” by Scott Culley Statement: “This quilt is part of a series called Masked Masculinity that investigates the different masks men wear. Growing up in rural Washington State in the United States, there was very little room to show emotions or be different as a boy. You were called ‘weak’ or ‘sissy’ if you expressed your true emotions. The stoic (lower case) mindset is defined in modern times as the capacity to tolerate suffering without expressing sympathy or whining. With this piece, I explore the idea of blending different repressed emotions and then pulling them apart. Viewing the quilt using color lenses, you can separate and individually explore feelings that were bottled up inside. Viewing the quilt without the color lenses, you feel the chaos that overlapping, unexpressed emotions produce. On the website quiltlens.com you can find a colored lens app to view the different emotions.” Featured in the Piecing category
detail of “Mask #3 — The stoic” by Scott Culley 2023 Special Exhibit: The Quilts of Chawne Kimber
One of this year’s special exhibits at QuiltCon featured a retrospective exhibit on the work of quilter Chawne Kimber. Chawne is an African American mathematician and quilter known for expressing her identity and convictions in her quilts. She is an academic dean at a university in a mid-Atlantic state. Several of her pieces are now found in museums around the country including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the International Quilt Museum, and the Michigan State University Museum. The text from the entry panel of the exhibit describes her work best: “From quilts with deep messages to those with impeccable piecing, Chawne’s work is powerful, instantly recognizable, and will stop you in your tracks.” Here are just a few of her quilts from the show:
“hope, half-empty” by Chawne Kimber. Statement: “A lamentation on realizing I’m middle-aged and have fewer years to hope. But also just a sense of loss of hope for my mother, our nation, and my people.”
detail of “hope, half-empty” by Chawne Kimber.
“uoy evol i tub” by Chawne Kimber. Statement: “A ‘selfie quilt’ with many meanings.”
detail of “uoy evol i tub” by Chawne Kimber.
“The One for Eric G” by Chawne Kimber. Statement: “The dying words of many we’ve witnessed on viral videos, these words also express my deepest feelings of sorrow and powerlessness.”
detail of “The One for Eric G” by Chawne Kimber.
“Flying West: Chasing the Sun” by Chawne Kimber. Statement: “This disintegrating log cabin block is a response to Gee’s Bend. The colors and mood are meant to evoke the drama of sunsets one can observe when flying west at dusk.”
detail of “Flying West: Chasing the Sun” by Chawne Kimber.
I was also honored to have two of my quilts in the show:
“Journeys Aren’t Straight Lines” by Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill Statement: “Navigating into the third year of a global pandemic forced me to start thinking about my own path—as a designer, artist, business owner, and human. 2022 has been a year of personal and professional exploration. I designed this quilt, Journeys Aren’t Straight Lines, at the beginning of 2022 and spent most of the year hand piecing (English Paper Piecing) the blocks. While stitching this project at home and while traveling to various places, I meditated and thought about what directions might be in store for me next. While the quilt might be complete, the journey isn’t over.” Featured in the Handwork category
detail of “Journeys Aren’t Straight Lines” by Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill
“Highs and Lows: Year 1” by Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill Statement: “Making this mini quilt was one of the ways I coped with all of the lows (and some highs) during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic. This quilt represents facts along with some aspects of how I felt during the first year of the pandemic. Starting March 18, 2020, I kept track of the temperatures at home. I then hand pieced a 1/4” hexagon for each day’s “low” and “high” temperature, creating calendar rows each month starting at the bottom. I skipped the first 17 spots, representing March 18th as the first date. I pieced throughout the year, making a row every month. This quilt project ended exactly one year later. I left the quilt edges jagged and fraught, a bit like how I felt throughout the year. The scale of working this small felt a bit insane at times, much like the times we were all living through.” Featured in the Small Quilts category
detail of “Highs and Lows: Year 1” by Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill
Did you have a favorite quilt from QuiltCon 2023?