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Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century

So excited to be today’s stop on the blog hop for the launch of the Modern Quilt Guild‘s book, Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century! Curated and written by authors Riane Menardi, Alissa Haight Carlton, and Heather Grant, the book is a retrospective showcasing more than 200 quilts and traces the history of modern quilts from Amish and Gee’s Bend quilters, to the first use of the word ‘modern’ in quilting.

I was lucky enough to have a sneak peak at Quilt Market last October and the book is b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l. A large, hardcover book, it is the perfect coffee table centre-piece – worthy of repeated, leisurely browsing. Many quilts that I have admired online (and a few I was lucky enough to see in person) appear in the book, which reads not only like a quilting book, but as a design tome as well. Just pure joy.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that one of my quilts – Otherwise/Autrement is amongst the pages. (What a thrilling day that was, when the request came from the MQG to be a part of this amazing project!)


O/A was originally created for the Montreal MQG’s exhibition: Vitrine sur la Courtepointe Moderne / A Window into Modern Quilting. Each quilt shown focused on different characteristics of modern quilting, and I had chosen my favourite: ‘negative space’. When designing a quilt, I pay as much attention to the negative space as to the positive. Maybe even more. There seems to me to be a certain subversive nature to negative space – bringing depth and detail without being the (seemingly) main event. It kind of sneaks up on you. I like that. In a way, it’s kind of how I think about myself – quietly subversive with depth and detail.

Space is the breath of art.  -Frank Lloyd Wright

The name for the quilt was chosen simply because it is a variation of my deconstructed chevron quilt (‘Autrement’ being ‘Otherwise’ in French). This is one of my favourite quilt designs to work with and I wanted to see how I could push and evolve it. Creating the negative space on the left and at the bottom of some of the columns was a way to do that. The vast space on the left opened up a big area to play with thread. I had a spool of Aurifil variegated thread on hand that I was dying to find the right project for, and this was it. The beauty of variegated thread can get lost in the wrong application, but the straight line quilting on a piece of whole cloth looks like rain to me, and in it’s own way echoes the movement in the pieced section on the right.

In addition to playing with negative space, I wanted to explore very subtle shifts in colour. Carolyn Friedlander’s Carkai collection with tone-on-tone and high(er) contrast versions of the same print were the perfect choice (not to mention that the print I used is one of my all time favourite fabric prints).

With the front having lots of subtle detail, I wanted to bring a bit of colour and contrast to the back. A late-night (crazy?) decision to use orange bobbin thread was made. Quite a bit of time was spent fine-tuning the tension (and cursing myself for making the decision so close to deadline). Ensuring that the orange thread did not show on the front and variegated thread did not show on the back was tricky, but worth the effort. It’s the kind of detail that only quilters and sewists notice, because they know how hard it is to achieve perfect tension. To everyone else it’s just ‘orange thread on the back, blue & white thread on the front’. Shrug. Details are important.

After the Montreal MQG exhibit, O/A was accepted into QuiltCon 2017 in Savanah, where it exhibited along with my Pique Nique quilt. I first attended QuiltCon in 2015 and it was a revelation and an inspiration – where I truly felt ‘at home’ as a quilter. I’m really looking forward to seeing where modern quilting goes and how it evolves and changes. For now, I’ll be enjoying my copy of Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century. If you’d like to pick up your own copy, it’s in stores now!

P.S. 100% of royalties earned from this book go the the Modern Quilt Guild, a non-profit 501(c)3.

1 Back of quilt with orange bobbin thread

2 Detail showing tone-on-tone and contrast Carkai fabric

3 Hand silk screened calendar with Otherwise / Autrement pattern

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Well, being a quilter in the know, I definitely noticed the amazing job you did to keep your orange thread from peeking out the front. I remember a few of us at the showcase venue, standing behind your quilt in amazement. Love your quilt! So honored to be in there with you. I’m gonna need you to sign my book!

    1. Thank you Cinzia, and sorry for my insanely late reply! Thank you for your kind words. The showcase was a great show – so many fantastic quilts including yours. 🙂

  2. I enjoyed reading your post and learning more about your featured quilt. That was a wonderful way to use the variegated thread and definitely a bold move to use orange in the bobbin!

  3. Congratulations on being featured in the Modern Quilts book – what a fantastic honour, Suzanne!! I have loved this quilt since I first saw it at the exhibit here in Montreal! I was blown away by the orange thread you used on the back and how perfect the tension was. I’m not sure if you remember I hunted you down at the showcase to tell you in person 😉 Love, love, love this one!

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