Do you know the difference between traditional and modern quilts? Over time, two distinct approaches to the art have developed. If you’re an experienced quilter, it’s possible that you’ve done work in both styles without knowing exactly how to refer to them. So, what exactly is the difference?

1. Traditional Quilts

The old style of quilting, which remains very popular, is one that is characterised by symmetrical, repetitive patterns with various combinations of blocks and grids. This is what you would have seen on your grandmother’s quilts: squares within squares, and straight orderly lines. The traditional style represents the quilt as generations have come to know and love it.

2. Modern Quilts

Towards the end of the 20th century, a more relaxed, improvisational style of quilting developed. This modern style threw out the symmetry, uniform squares and careful sashing in favour of variable shapes, a more free-flowing approach to stitching, minimalism and less emphasis on intricate patchwork.

Modern quilts tend to use bolder colours, often in contrasting combinations, various shapes and sizes of patches, and negative space. Essentially, modern quilting first rewrote the traditional rule book, and then threw it away entirely.

Beautiful quilts can be created in both styles. It’s really a matter of preference, as well as one of the individual’s sewing skill level and equipment. Traditional quilts tend to be easier as everything runs in straight lines, making for more straightforward stitching. However, since modern quilting can often feature stitching that runs in all sorts of patterns, it can make the process of sewing a little more complicated. But, there is also a lot of leeway in modern quilting because there is not so much focus on tight, uniform stitches.

As far as equipment is concerned, there is not much difference in terms of which sewing machine is better suited for modern or traditional quilting. For both, you need a machine with a relatively wide throat to allow you to manoeuvre sizeable quantities of cloth. You might even want to consider an extension table if you are really serious about your quilting.


Need more advice on the right equipment for your traditional and modern quilts? Contact us.