The background of these poppies is pieced with a traditional feel
Artist unknown

I love how some quilters mix the old with the new.  I think this is a wonderful way to honor the traditional roots of quilting.  I’m always amazed at how some quilters can make such beautiful pieced backgrounds that totally enhance their subject using traditional piecing.

This group quilt shown at the Pacific West Quilt show in 2011 uses a blend of traditional-feeling piecing
and shadow imagery very effectively

One quilter who mixes traditional log cabin blocks with contemporary portraits was featured at the Bellevue Art Museum’s “High Fiber Diet” show.  Luke Haynes repurposes old, discarded clothing into the block backgrounds of his quilts.  The pictorial foregrounds are unique… he asked friends to come and pose for a photo session.  Not only did he use the portraits to make the content of the picture, he had his models leave behind the clothes they wore in the photo shoot… and then he used their clothing for their portraits!

Clothes Portrait #1 – Cupcake by
Luke Haynes
Clothes Portrait # 2 – Helmet
by Luke Haynes
Camera by Luke Haynes

Tree quilt displayed at Block Party Quilters show
in 2009- Artist unknown

While this tree may seem simplistic in style, the background brings thoughts of upcoming winter with the blues and purples and neutrals in combination with the yellowing autumn leaves.  Also, the complementary colors of the yellow with purple help make the quilt more interesting.

I’d like to apologize to any artists whom I do not have their names… I have taken many pictures over my many years of quilting of quilts I’d admired to look at for inspiration.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t always as careful to note the artist’s name or name of the piece in the past. I hope that my sharing of your quilt for other’s inspiration will be seen as praise for your skills.  If you know the name of any artist or piece that I do not have attributed, please let me know and I’ll correct it.

Do you have any quilts that combine the traditional with the contemporary?

You might also be interested in:

BAM High Fiber Diet A Sprig Away Developing the 
Creative Habit

See some fabulous quilts on Connie Kresin’s Freemotion by the River

Check out all the linked up blogs of quilts and projects on Quilt Story

4 replies
  1. QuiltSwissy
    QuiltSwissy says:

    You read my mind here. I have admired those quilts with contemporary pieced backgrounds. I have tried, with some success, to even make a few of my own. I have wanted to explore this even deeper in the future.

  2. Sally in Seattle
    Sally in Seattle says:

    Very thoughtful post, Christina. I always admire the way that people use the traditional with the abstract. One who does a lovely pieced background is Gloria Loughman. You probably do this now, but since the advent of digital photography, when I go to a show, I try to take a photo of the artist's statement after each quilt photo. That way I have the documentation if I want it. Bulky, though, to store all of the extra photos.

  3. Angela Moore
    Angela Moore says:

    I too admire quilters who mix the traditional with the contemporary. This is something I would like to expand on as most of my quilts are from a single pattern. Soemthing to think about.

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