The History of Modern Quilting

The History of Modern Quilting

Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 5.02.50 PM
Quilts made by members of the Orange County Modern Quilt Guild

Modern quilting has existed in many forms for much of the 20th century. It wasn’t until the 2000’s that quilts with a modern aesthetic began to appear in greater numbers and quilters began to describe themselves as modern.

Defining Moment

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 9.20.10 AM.png
Images of Denyse Schmidt Quilts from Google Images

A defining event occurred in 1998 when Martha Stewart Living featured Denyse Schmidt, calling her quilts a “chic, modernist aesthetic.” For many quilters in the early days of the movement, this was a key inspirational moment.

Growth of Modern Quilting

The growth of the movement was facilitated by four factors: the cultural shift of quality design being recognized by the general public, affordable digital cameras, the changing fabric industry and the rise of social media.

Quilts of Gee’s Bend

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 9.52.04 AM
Images of The Quilts of Gee’s Bend from Google Images

In 2002, the Quilts of Gee’s Bend exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and the publication of Yoshiko Jinzenji’s book Quilt Artistry, further provided inspiration to a small but devoted group of modernist minded quilters.


Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 4.39.12 PM
Images of Modern Quilting Books / Magazines from Google Images

Two influential books were published in 2005, Quilts by Denyse Schmidt and the Modern Quilt Workshop by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr. The first online quilt alongs were established on blogs around these two books and awareness continued to increase in the online world.

Social Media

Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 4.48.42 PM.png
Fresh Modern Quilts flickr Group

The flickr group Fresh Modern Quilts, established in 2008, provided the first online centralized social media venue for quilters in the movement. With that flickr group and many active blogs, the online world of modern quilting took off like wildfire.

Start of MQ Guild

Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 4.57.00 PM
The Modern Quilt Guild Website

About the same time, Alissa Haight Carlton and Latifah Saafir founded the Modern Quilt Guild giving the online community a chance to form in person connections with other modern quilters. Through blogs and the Internet, word spread quickly of the fun they were having and soon guilds started popping up everywhere including the OCMQG.