05 October 2007

Traditional Quilts

I read a lot of blogs. A lot. And this post of Jeana Kimball's really has gotten me to thinkin' and a-wonderin'. She has just recently returned from judging quilts for the Houston International Quilt Festival. Here's the section of her post that has me fryin' the ole brain cells, and I quote:

"One element of the contest, however, surprised me a great deal—I still can’t get over it. The last time I paid attention to quilt contests, the categories with the most quilts seemed to be traditional quilts.

It is not so any longer. The entries have dropped so low in traditional pieced and traditional appliqué that there is only one category for each—no longer are there two categories with one being large quilts and the other being small. What happened!? Where are all of the traditional quilts? Are we traditional quiltmakers intimidated by the non-traditional quilts? Are we not competitive? Are we not finishing our quilts? Or, heaven forbid, are there less of us!!!??? Whatever the reason, there is now lots of room at the top for anyone who will enter in traditional categories. Lets get going!!"

I, too, have noticed this phenomenon. Even our county fair seems to be edging over to the other side. So where are all the traditional quilt entries? Hmmmm? Are we too scared to enter? Is it because we don't feel like our workmanship is up to par? What is it? Does it take too long to finish a traditional quilt? What? What?

I like traditional quilts. I've made a few in my life time. I have also made some art quilts. Granted, the art quilts are a smaller, wall-hanging size, and are therefore sometimes quicker to make depending on the techniques used. But I love the graphic potential of a repeated pattern in the traditional style quilt.

So where am I going with this? I'm going to challenge you to make a traditional quilt that is show worthy. And then enter it in a show! I'm going to do it. Are you?

Update 10/8/07: Jeana Kimball has addressed this on her blog/site. I encourage you to visit this post on further information about traditional quilts and quilt shows.

24 comments:

  1. Here here! I am and will always be a fan of traditional quilts. Now I cannot promise to make a show quality, I can say I do try!

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  2. Interesting - I was looking through an old quilting magazine the other day and noticing all the templates you had to cut - I think many people have moved over to a quilt they can cut with a straight line - ie - that they can cut with the rotary cutter! You just don't see many patterns anymore that have curved lines. I really like traditional quilts and will continue to make them - especially the ones I can cut with the rotary cutter!

    Cheers!

    Evelyn

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  3. sheila8:47 PM

    I don't know if I can post this but will try, I'm a traditionalist and will forever be. Still use patterns and Ginghers tho I tend to draft my own patterns now. If I could send a pic, I would send it of my red and green North Carolina Lily quilt that just won 1st place and Judges Choice at our recent guild show.

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  4. Love traditional quilts. Love super modern quilts. Love things in between. I have a couple of traditional quilts in the works - have always wanted to put something in Maine Quilts - maybe I can put in something modern and something traditional next year! Thanks for urging us on!

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  5. I guess if I entered a quilt in a show, I would expect that it would have to be different, somehow special, to be worthy of a prize. Since traditional patterns are been there, done that type of patterns, I wouldn't feel that a traditional quilt brought anything new or special to the show. (Not one I made anyway - I do enjoy seeing the others.) (If I could applique, maybe I would feel differently).

    So with traditional quilts, more emphasis would be placed on perfect craftsmanship, getting all those points dead on instead of just an eighth of an inch, like I did on the Smooth Sailing quilt.

    There is now a divide between art and traditional quilters - and I do feel like sometimes the traditional quilters are lower in the line, because they aren't making something new or creative, just copying a pattern so many other people have used.

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  6. You're right, I've noticed the same thing and I bet it is those very reasons. Quick and easier than precision, and I wonder if it is a reflection of the younger quilters coming up? Or maybe the thought that "it's all been done before, I want to do something else" A lot of factors come in there.
    I'll take your challenge, and pass it along. I wonder how many of us there really are?

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  7. I love traditional quilts - particularly scrappy ones! Maybe it is just a 'fashion' thing and traditional quilts will come back in a few years :)

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  8. Great post and I am so glad for the link to Jenna's blog. I have liked her quilts for a long time. I too love traditional quilts and feel the need to make something traditional at least once a year. Maybe that is the answer to what kind of Christmas quilt I need to make.

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  9. I have always preferred traditional quilts over the "artsy" ones. I am, however, intriqued by the artsy ones too. I'm amazed at what others can do with fabric!

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  10. Absolutely! But not this next year. I have to retire first. I believe all my quilts are based either in quilting tradition or American folk art, which is first cousing of quilting tradition. I adore traditional quilts. Out here it depends on what show you attend. At quilt fest last week in Portland there were as many traditional quilts as there were non-traditional. What we hardly ever seen any more are HAND QUILTED quilts!

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  11. I like traditional quilts but wouldn't enter one because I feel there is so much stress on technical perfection that I would not even get into a juried show.

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  12. Great challenge. I hope I am not wrong but I think traditional quilts recquire more work and knowledge and beacause of that many people adopt new styles for quilts, easier to make. I love tradtional quilts too and your post reminded me that it is time to pick up nice fabrics and make again a traditional quilt .

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  13. Great post. I've been thinking along these lines also. I love traditional quilts and I've also noticed a trend to make fast qults - jelly rolls/charms. Now, I
    do use them. Sometimes when I need to whip up a fast quilt for a gift, but there is something about a quilt that you've worked on for a longer bit of time. One that has challenged you.

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  14. Thank you Paula for your thoughts on traditional quilts and for quoting me. I have spent some time since the Houston Quilt Show judging reviewing the same questions you addressed in your post. I wonder if traditional quiltmaking has evolved into quick and easy quiltmaking in recent years. The fast pace of life these days does not value the investment of self, or time, on any project. I spend a long time on my quilts and in their making they become a part of me and my life that a quilt made in a week, or a weekend, never has the potential to be.

    Check out the Sewing Room on my website for more on this debate. My seemingly innocent post (at least to me it was non-controversial) has started a big discussion. In answer to one very
    pointed and unhappy questioner, I have written a very long answer
    about judging quilt contests and with her permission I have posted her questions and my response in the Sewing Room. You will
    probably enjoy reading it as well.

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  15. Great post, Paula. Lots of food for thought, the current trend away from the traditional proves out here, too.

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  16. I squarely fall into the traditional/folk art category when it comes to my quilts. While I can certainly appreciate the work that goes into an art quilt - at the end of the day I want a quilt to cuddle up in or throw in the back of the car for an impromptu picnic blanket. I have never entered a quilt of any kind into a show . . . but I may just have to consider it now *s*

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  17. Thanks for the post and the link. I've added it to my Bloglines so I can start reading her blog. I had been thinking that traditional quilts don't seem to capture the judges' attention but the art quilts do. Some of the art quilts that I see in magazine photos make me shake my head and ask myself how they got selected and also wonder what the definition of art is regarding quilts. I think some are outstanding but some others I just don't know...must be in the eye of the beholder...

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  18. What is the official definition of traditional? (Now I really can't wait to get to Houston!)

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  19. All I do is traditional quilts. To me that is what quilting is.

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  20. When I went to the Vermont Quilt Festival I was taken aback by the amount of raw edge applique. Perhaps I'm old fashion, but I wouldn't enter such a quilt at a show! Oh well! I'm also a lover of traditional. Keep well!

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  21. A very interesting comment/observation.... I've noticed the same thing at he big quilt shows - which is a shame because the ones I love the best are the traditional ones! I'm off to read more On her blog!

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  22. ciao,
    I like traditional quilts but I like contemporary too....

    The modern quilts left to open our interior ideas but the traditional quilts are the ones that each of us would like to have.
    Here in Italy too there are more contemporary quilts but when I go to shows I always notice that everybody stops to have a look at the traditional ones.
    ciao ciao

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  23. Thanks ever so much for the very interesting post and the link to Jeanna´s blog. I love traditional quilts too, especially scrappy ones and I think they are easy to live with. I never get fed up of looking at them. This is not something I can say about art quilts. In Europe, there are a lot of art quilts too in competitions and they win most of the time.
    I think they are full of new ideas and interesting to study but then I go back home and get on hand-quilting my scrappy basket quilt and I love it! Take care.

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  24. Great post! I recently signed up to have my own blog on just this subject. I love traditional quilts and fabrics and hope to connect with other quilters who feel the same way. Now I just have to write something and figure out how to post pictures...

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