Collection Focus: Modern Jazz


We were so excited to celebrate the recent 2021 Festival of Quilts with our exhibition ‘Quilts and their makers’, showcasing 10 historic quilts and 10 pieces from our contemporary works. In this show we explored the variety and skill of our makers both past and present, and celebrated their creativity in a selection of the quilts which were on display.

Modern Jazz was created as a sampler mystery quilt for The Quilter magazine from Autumn 2017 to Summer 2018, and features four main improvisational blocks: Tiger blocks, Modern Crosses blocks, Wonky Stars and Floating Stones blocks.  This piece has several characteristics indicative of a modern quilt, including the use of a traditional style block that has been updated, using the same block in different scales, and the use of negative space and simple quilting designs which enhance the patchwork blocks without distracting attention away from them. It was one of two quilts categorised as Modern Quilts to enter the Collection at the same time in 2019, to reflect the emergence of this new genre to ensure this category was represented in The Quilters’ Guild Museum Collection.

 The quilt was designed and made by Helen Howes, a textile and mixed-media artist and teacher, who remembers learning to sew before she learnt to read. She spent 40 years as a kite maker, and enjoyed seeing her art flying in the sky. She is an honorary member of The Quilters’ Guild and founder and first Coordinator of the Modern Quilt Group – the Specialist Interest Group which was formed in 2014. Her in-person and online teaching includes classes on quilting techniques, such as improvisational piecing, but Helen also has other skills and interests. She also teaches courses on bookbinding, and is a leading expert in vintage Singer sewing machines, which she uses on a regular basis for her quilt-making.  

The Quilters’ Guild Museum Collection is sponsored by Bernina, UK.

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