DiYVR: The Modern Quilt Guild


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Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild banner

Quilting is an age-old craft with a rich history, and in the last couple of years that history has been enriched by what can only be described as a worldwide movement. In 2009, a group in Los Angeles started what they called the Modern Quilt Guild. Just two years later, there are over a hundred chapters of the guild, all over the world.

The Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild celebrated its first anniversary last week, and I went to their meeting to see what it’s all about. (I’ve always wanted to quilt, you see.)

Modern Quilt show-and-tell

To be honest, it blew my mind. The guild meets monthly at Spool of Thread sewing lounge, and there were around 50 people at the meeting. The room was overflowing with creative energy, friendliness and love of craft.

Guild president Kalin White explained to me what modern quilting is. “It’s a movement of making quilts that reflect exactly what the quilter wants to see in the quilt. It’s less about following a pattern – modern quilters tend to take more risk with colour [than traditional quilters]. They don’t worry about what a quilt ‘should be.'”

I asked her if it’s a factor of style or fashion. She said, “It’s not about the aesthetic, even though there are definitely trends. It’s about an approach to quilting. A modern quilt is a quilt that’s meant to be modern.”

Kalin White's quilt in progress

What I noticed in the room, and during the show-and-tell, when members talk about quilts they’ve made since the last monthly meeting, was an eagerness to express a vision. Modern quilters aren’t looking to recreate a quilt they’ve seen in a book or at an exhibit – they want to use their traditional quilting skills to express themselves in a unique way.

Introducing the next challenge

Personal expression even comes out in the challenges the group undertakes. At each meeting, members are given certain materials and/or constraints, and are sent off to make a small square, or sometimes a full-size quilt. You’d think the results would all be similar, but they aren’t.

Fabric at Spool of Thread

In addition to its monthly meetings, the guild holds regular sew-ins, and hosts occasional retreats, and they chronicle their quilting challenges and events on their blog.

I totally just joined.