Skip Navigation Website Accessibility
Call Today 804-262-0005
become a fan

Traditional, Modern, Traditional Modernism, Modern Traditional

Traditional, Modern, Traditional Modernism, Modern Traditional 


Since QA sees itself as a Modern quilt shop, we are going to spend a couple or so weeks talking about traditional, modern, and the melding of the two into many different genres.

So let’s start with traditional quilts. Quilts through-out history have been functional, utilitarian, up-cycled materials, a reflection of the era when they were made. As I have talked about in a past, past newsletter, the history of quilts has been for warmth to start with. Materials readily available were used to put together a three-layer blanket. Designs and materials were those that could be put together by candlelight and quickly. Quilts were mainly tied, sometimes quilted depending on materials available and a light source available. Quilting bees were rare due to time away from daily chores and travel involved. Materials were left over materials from other items sewn – clothing, worn out blankets, feed/flour sacks, etc. When electric looms were invented, yard goods could be bought. First for clothing and later yardage just for quilts. The colors available seem subdued based on what we have today. However, think about how the colors were made, the materials used for dying, and time needed to dye the fabric. Tea, nuts, coffee, native/available flora were the colors we see in older, traditional quilts. Traditional hand quilting was used on special quilts – gifts for weddings, leaving to move west or south or where ever, baby quilts.


Traditional quilts usually use the same block or a couple of blocks through-out the quilt. The quilt is symmetrical, blocks are the same size, and the layout of the quilt is on an even grid. The size of the block varies. Usually, they were smaller so scraps could be used. However, there are many with squares up to 12 ½” and whole cloth quilts. There are basic shapes, components, and blocks used in traditional quilts. However, there are always exceptions to the rule (or no rules for quilting, also no quilt police). Gee’s Bend Quilter’s used the scraps from the clothing they made for Sears. Their quilts are made with cotton, corduroy, denim, you name it. They are now in the Modern Traditionalism genre due to the lack of symmetry and larger scale for many of their blocks/quilts.


The building blocks of traditional and modern quilts are the same – squares, rectangles, triangles, half-square triangles, flying geese, curves (think about the Drunkards Path or Rob Peter to Pay Paul). Quilts, no matter how complicated, can be divided into small components to be sewn. Find the block/component and the rest is how you put it together.


There are many, many blocks that are old, traditional patterns with names. Some blocks have different names depending on where you live in the world. Nine patches, four patches, sixteen patches are obvious names. But the blocks within the patches may be other blocks. The Harmony Square and Summer Winds blocks below are variations of the nine patch. The Ladies Aid is a variation of a four patch and half-square triangles. Log cabin and courthouse steps are similar block designs. How the light and darks are laid out with these blocks leads to many, many design combinations. 



If you have one of the Electric Quilt programs, they have a million (or so it seems) traditional blocks for you to see and use. Below are links to traditional blocks for you to use too. We have books and patterns with traditional blocks for you to sew as well. There are many,many more places to look - Pinterest, Etsy, Google quilt block patterns.

Quilting Daily
Generations Quilt Patterns
Quilter's Cache


Don’t forget to get your raffle tickets for the Ukraine Star quilt and barn quilt square. You can come in and get them or buy online. It’s listed under “UNICEF” in Gifts in the store. The drawing will be May 3rd.


Anyone interested in an Electric Quilt Club? We can meet one evening a month to learn how to use ALL the different components of the program. Let us know and we will set up a group.



Don’t forget to check out our calendar for classes. We are adding more all the time. Interested in a summer sewing camp for your children? We’re working on that too.

Enjoy our lovely sunny weather all.

Happy sewing everyone,

Phyllis and the QA staff

Quilting Adventures                                                                     Hours: 
6943 Lakeside Avenue                                                                  Tues thru Sat  10 - 5 
Richmond VA  23228                                                                     Sun - Mon  Closed
Shop Blog: 


Click to visit Quilting Adventures!
Contact Info
Quilting Adventures
6943 Lakeside Ave
Richmond, VA 23228
(804) 262-0005
  • Hours 
    Tue, Wed, Fri: 10 am-5 pm
    Thursday 10 am-7 pm 
    Saturday 10 am-5 pm
    Sunday 12 pm-3 pm 
    Monday closed
Find Us