A Fresh Perspective on Quilting

The process of quilting is surely one of transformation as your materiality is manipulated from separate stiff pieces of fabric, to a well-crafted and well-loved heirloom. Many people today think of quilting as a dying art or just a hobby to acquire one day in the future, but it is far more than that. A quilt is a story, a painting, a functional object, a family heirloom. While of course there are many outdated and overused quilting patterns out there, we also see artists both past and current who are reinventing the quilting wheel and offering a fresh perspective on the art.

First of these is the women of Gees Bend: a group of African American slaves living in Gees Bend, Alabama during the late 18th century and into the 20th century. The women would use recycled work clothes, and other odd scraps of fabric to create quilts purely for necessity and survival. The more quilts they made, the more definitive their style became. Collectively their quilts represent themes of architecture and geometric forms through the use of color blocking. But even more beautiful than their quilts are the stories behind them. Through meaningful materials and powerful experiences these quilts represent the dreams, stories and visions of the women who created them.

“I always did like a ‘Bricklayer.’ It made me think of what I always wanted. Always did want a brick house.” – Loretta Pettway, on her Bricklayer quilt.

Loretta_Pettway_Log_Cabin_Brick Layer_1662

Bricklayer Sampler Variation Quilt by Loretta Pettway – 1958

 The Gees Bend women opened the door to a new way of quilting and how to look at cloth and create meaningful designs using traditional techniques with a distinct aesthetic. We see several quilters today who are following in the footsteps of these women while presenting their own modern point of view…

Maura Grace Ambrose of Folk Fibers uses her own naturally dyed fabric + up-cycled/vintage materials to create her quilts, which are 100% made of natural fibers and entirely hand quilted. Her quilts represent themes of folklore and tradition and her aesthetic is one of timelessness. The combination of her skillfully crafted quilts and attention to detail make for one-of-a-kind, beautiful quilts that are sure to be a valuable addition to any home.


New Mexico Quilt


Dark Star Quilt


Zen Quilt

You can view more of Maura’s work here.

Another artist offering a new perspective on quilting is Lindsay Stead. Lindsay has quite an eye for creating dynamic designs that are rooted in tradition, simplified, and translated to a modern aesthetic. She, like Maura, also spends countless hours hand quilting. Lindsay says the hand quilting process takes anywhere from 40-80 hours. That’s a lot of time and a lot of love going into one quilt… go big or go home, right? Just take a look at these beauts:

quilt by Lindsay Stead

Amish Bars Variation – 2013

quilt by Lindsay Stead-1

Log Cabin Variation – 2012

quilt by Lindsay Stead-2

Pinwheel Variation – 2013

You can view more of Lindsay’s work here.

And there you have it! Hopefully this post is a great foundation for you to feel inspired, enriched, and perhaps even make a quilt! But consider this your warning: once you start quilting it is impossible to stop!


Feeling inspired? Join us for Intro to Quilting with Joey Casey at TAC Brooklyn, starting on September 23rd at 10:30 AM – part of TAC’s Morning Series classes. 

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