Let’s Celebrate Modern Quilts

May I confess something? I love all quilts but I am truly a modern quilter at heart. It’s been an evolution, mind you, but I find the style endlessly inspiring and this is the direction my own work leans. The modern quilters working at the highest level—exhibiting at QuiltCon and other elite shows—are the incredibly innovative, 21st-century pioneers of the quilt-iverse. I am such a fan girl it almost makes me blush!

Do you want to join the club?

I’d like to share some of my personal favorite modern quilts and patterns that have graced the pages of QuiltCon Magazine in the six years we’ve partnered with The Modern Quilt Guild to create this special magazine for this special quilt exhibit. Disclaimer: I have MANY more favorites than I have space to share with you today—I hope you know who you are; I love your work, too.

“Test Print” by Heather Black was on the cover of QuiltCon Magazine, 2020 | Photo by Molly Stevenson

Heather Black’s work has been in QuiltCon Magazine and Modern Patchwork many times. Over the years, her design skills and mastery of machine quilting have just gotten better and better. Just this year, her quilt, “Test Print,” was featured on the cover of QuiltCon Magazine. This quilt hits all the buttons: curved piecing, innovative use of solids and a striped print, lots of negative space, and awesome machine quilting.

“Sirkel” (detail) by Daisy Aschehoug won third place, Use of Negative Space, at QuiltCon 2018 | Photo by Mellisa Mahoney

I have also followed the work of Daisy Aschehoug closely. She, too, has been featured in our pages many times, and is a past cover girl herself. She uses curves in her work in expressive ways. Sometimes her patterns are geometric and continuous, sometimes restrained and focused. That is what “Sirkel” is to me. Her use of her own pieced “striped” fabric in the central motif just radiates with energy and reminds me of 1960s op art. Daisy has marched the stage many times during the awards ceremonies at past QuiltCons, “Sirkel” being one of those award winners.

There are three other quilts I’m going to share with you today and they all have something in common: They were all featured in the first issue of QuiltCon Magazine in 2015! This magazine was—and still is—very special to me. It was the first issue we created in our partnership with The MQG, so that was exciting. But it was so much more than just that. Working with these quilts was like having our own secret art gallery of masterpieces. Like having a Picasso in your living room! A big one, too!! This issue—and the quilts in it—is still among my favorites.

“MisDirection” by Jess Frost | Photo by HornickRivlin.com

When I saw Jess Frost’s “MisDirection” for the first time, I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. I was new to Half-rectangle Triangles (HRTs) so I went back time and again to look at and understand it. I was mesmerized! Also new to me at the time were low-volume prints, which were so popular in modern quilts for a long while. But let’s not overlook the show-stopping machine quilting and how she echoed the ‘zig-zag’ element of the piecing in the negative space. Jess even used variegated thread to add interest in spots. It still knocks me out to see it again.

“Picnic Petals” by Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill | Photo by HornickRivlin.com

Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill is another quilter whose career I’ve enjoyed following. Her “Picnic Petals” quilt fascinated me, then and now—it seems complex yet doable at the same time. The large curved blocks are created in manageable sections and as long as you have all the fabrics cut and arranged on the design wall, this quilt goes together 1, 2, 3! The cutting and piecing charts in the pattern help keep you organized. The quilt is so modern and yet a strong nod to the traditions of our foremothers. Sheri’s design and machine quilting skills—great then but even greater now—have nowhere to go but up.

Lastly, “Echoes” by Leanne Chahley is another quilt I’ve loved for some time. The minimalist design is so striking and the curved piecing comes together in three large (20″) blocks. Then the top is finished with large background pieces. But the quilting is what takes this quilt to the next level—and took my breath away when I first saw it! The randomly spaced parallel lines are not all fussy-precise so even beginners should give this quilt a try. Leanne’s directions include several other piecing and quilting tips. (Hint: She quilted with aqua-colored thread on the black background!)

All of these quilts patterns are available separately. Give your modern quilting self something wonderful to work on—and sleep under some day! There are so many other patterns that grew out of the six issues of QuiltCon Magazine that I’m sure you’ll find even more great quilts to create.

Sew happy we had this visit,


Image at top: “Echoes” by Leanne Chahley | Photo by HornickRivlin.com