A couple of years back the "modern quilting" crazy really started to hit close to home. I was still working at the LQS then, and the books reflected this shift. Some of the newer fabrics that arrived signaled a move in this direction as well. Co-worker and I would commiserate on what we then called (and frankly still do) "dumb-downed" quilts. It didn't take much to cut a bunch of squares and/or rectangles and throw together a quilt. Easy Peasy! We did admit, however, that it could be a good thing. It seemed to be bringing in younger sewers who were going to be making their first quilt. Our craft that we so loved, our craft that has stood the test of time would live on. We just didn't find anything redeeming about this "new", "modern" stuff.
Don't get me wrong. I love the happiness of the new lines out there. I love Kaffee Fassett's fabrics. I've made several "easy peasy" quilts with much success: Yellow Brick Road, Lasagna Quilt. If you need a fast, go to pattern, these can't be beat. But those who know me, and those of you who have been kind enough to follow this blog through thick and thin, know I'm a traditional kind of girl. Show me a reproduction fabric and my heart stops. Mention Barbara Brackman and I sigh. Primitives make me happy. Deep, dark, depressing colors....or those cheddars and poison greens. Oh how my heart sings.
That mentioned contrast? If you have been reading my blog for sometime, you may remember this post on Rosie Lee Tompkins . Her quilts were on display at the Shelburne Museum. I took tons of photos and wrote at length about what I learned of her. She reminded me so much of the wonderful women of Gee's Bend and the quilts that came out of that community. And here is where I find my personal study in contrast. I consider the quilts that came from this remote Alabama community to be compelling, historical, and utterly fascinating. I have a beautiful coffee table size book that was given to me by eldest daughter. I adore this book. I marvel at the story, the women and the quilts. They are bold. They are linear/geometric. They are icons of the era, and were unique. So, what makes them different from the "dumbed down" quilts I've shook my head at these past few years? Any Internet search for modern quilting/modern quilt guild will show that these present day quilts are, in their own way, bold, geometric/linear. They are "easy" quilts, and the art of quilting has a new audience. This is all a good thing.
Moving forward- what has this girl been up to? She has gone bold, she has gone linear, she has gone a bit "modern".
Just before Christmas, I happened upon a kit for a Gee's Bend Quilt (packaged and sold by Windham Fabrics) tucked away in the back of the scrapbook supplies at a local Tuesday Morning. The price was right. I grabbed it up. I had seen the kits before and had a few favorites (this was not on the favorite list, but it is now!). I just didn't want to spend the kind of money they were originally commanding. This was a steal, and it was a lesson to me in, yes, contrasts. I could branch out and make a reproduction of a "newer" quilt, and I could love it:
|my reproduced quilt- with liberties taken|
The kit's design was inspired by Blocks and Strips, made by Loretta Pettway Bennett. Loretta is the youngest living quilt artist/member of the Quilters of Gee's Bend (having been born in 1960).
|Loretta P. Bennett|
Loretta's quilt pattern is an example of her "one block quilt" style:
|Loretta's Blocks and Strips|
50" x 60"