Decorating & Entertaining Ideas

A Stitch in Time:
Modern Quilts

Photo by Laure Joliet

In the midst of this amazing artisanal renaissance that’s found us all canning our own preserves, bottling our own beer, and learning how to loom, it’s only natural that an inspiring new generation of quilters would be taking shape. People who’ve turned a modern eye to traditional patterns (remember wedding ring? how about lonestar?), and come out the other side with designs that, whether geometric, floral, or color-blocked, are firmly grounded in the 21st century. As Claire Oswalt and Eliza Kenan of Hopewell Workshop said (more on them later), “We felt like the American quilt needed a makeover.”

Read on for more about a handful of quilters who are turning tradition on its head.


The Ramblin’ Woman

MAKER: Pauline Boyd, Counterpane  KNOWN FOR: Freewheeling, asymmetrical designs full of color and life  MATERIALS: Silks, cottons, wools, linens, and hand-woven and hand-appliquéd fabrics  MACHINE: A semi-industrial Juki

“I’m a bit obsessed with the hunt and story of my fabrics. At this point, I’m knee deep in scraps—old clothes or remnants from friends and family, from fashion designers I love, from other projects. I’ll go to tailor shops and ask for their scraps. I have amazing djellaba material from Morocco, and wool and silk men’s suiting bits from schmancy tailors in Vietnam. I also love to trade for clothes when I travel. I’ll find out what the old ladies’ style is and buy new stuff at the markets and then go to villages. There’s always a really funny ‘here’s that crazy lady who wants our dirty old sarongs’ moment, but then they’ll start pulling out some quilting or patchwork to show me once we’re on the same page.”

Clockwise from top left: The Lover Quilt I; Bay Quilt; Eternia Quilt; and The Lover Quilt II.


The Industrialist

MAKER: Chris Rucker, Ruckercorp  KNOWN FOR: A minimalistic geometrical approach that relies on texture play and a restrained palette  MATERIALS: Used moving blankets and satin binding  MACHINE: A household-size Husqvarna

“I also make furniture, so when I decided to begin upholstering it, it made sense for me to adopt some of the processes of traditional quilting. And my quilts just grew out of that. I begin with moving blankets I’ve used for several years in my construction company: they get worn out, paint-splattered, and have all the marks of wear and tear on them. I cut, reorder, and sew them back together. The finished blanket has been transformed from an everyday utilitarian object, but carries the specific history of its prior use.”


The New Wave Crafter

MAKER: Ashley Thayer, Maricolous  KNOWN FOR: Seascape-inspired, watercolor-reminiscent palette used on geometric shapes  MATERIALS: Raw silk, cotton, cotton flannel, and homemade dyes  MACHINE: An industrial Brother

“Unlike a lot of quilters, no one in my family actually quilts! My mom’s rejection of certain domestic arts—specifically sewing and ironing—was her salute to feminism. I started when I took a quilt-making class at the Rhode Island School of Design in the late ’90s. Each of my pieces is made one by one, with a ‘Slow Fiber’ approach. I’m lucky to be in sunny California where I can work outside on any given day—my studio extends to the rooftop where I dye and dry.”


The Modernists

MAKERS: Claire Oswalt (left) and Eliza Kenan (right), Hopewell Workshop  KNOWN FOR: Pretty-preppy takes on midcentury-inspired shapes (always edged with their signature navy-and-white-striped binding)  MATERIALS: Heirloom-quality cotton and linen  MACHINE: A Husqvarna Viking 435

“For the most part, our quilts are traditional in their craft and function, and contemporary in their design. We didn’t want to make a quilt that was nostalgic for cornfields and squeaky bedsprings, but rather one that belonged at the feet of a Wegner chair, or to cover up on a cool night at the Hollywood Bowl. We want to make quilts that reflect our time and sensibilities but also can stand up to the test of time. Quilts take a long time to make and should last! They are modern because we are.”

Now check out our fabulous quilt sale.

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