Tuesday, January 10, 2017

INSTAGRAM: Saving the World One Quilt at a Time

The Old Lady Card

"What is this new-fangled Instadamngram?"

We've all been playing the Old Lady Card for too long.
If you look at quilts and fabric on the social media site Instagram you definitely see a slant towards what we might call:
Young People.
Modern Quilts.
Contemporary colors in Fabrics.
Solid fabrics.
Quilts inspired by contemporary graphics rather than traditional quilt design.

Here's a selection from the top posts on
Nearly 7,500 posts already up there on the day I looked.
See the comments:

My daughter, who has an MFA in design, created the quilt shown in the bottom right of the first picture. The title is "The Whole Is Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts"
Very nice quilt. I chose that shot cause that was such an eye-catching quilt. I'm not saying one style is "good" and one "bad". I'm saying we need more traditional quilts on Instragram, which is boring. I agree with your daughter. I often make quilts that have never been see before. She does it better than I do.

202,000 posts on the day I looked.
That could keep you busy.
Or put you to sleep.

Disaffected Youth
I feel sorry for those young people. They never see any quilts on this extremely popular site but what they post themselves. To me it's frankly


Mary Cassatt, the Reader
Collection of Crystal Bridges Art Museum

When I was young we had bound books to look at, which gave you a wide perspective on quilts, particularly rich in showing antique quilts.

My favorite was the annual Quilt Engagement Calendar 
from Cyril Nelson & Dutton Publishing

The social media sites seem to be short on antique quilts and even shorter on recently stitched traditional quilts based on antique design and style.

More Disaffected Youth

If all you see are the same quilts over and over you will make the same quilts over and over and pretty soon you will get bored too.

Bored young people can turn to crime.
Aesthetic crime.
Perhaps taking up other handiwork.

Don't EVER do a web search for Beer Can Hat!

Now that I am retired I have plenty of time to play with my phone. The main problem with Instagram is that you can only post from your phone. (And you might have to get a new phone.)

I've decided to save the world one traditional quilt at a time... I got a new phone and I am posting traditional quilts on Instagram under a variety of tags.

2.500 posts.

 You can see a difference already in the #handapplique page. Guess which posts are mine.

I also started my own page.


I've been posting pictures of quilts that I think are fabulous examples of traditional style, reproduction quilts, repro prints, etc. using the established tags. You might recognize your own quilt up there. I try to give you credit and link to your Instagram page (another topic for another day.)

Like this one from the #TemeculaQuiltCompany

Below are some Instagram tags those of us who make and love traditional quilts should be viewing and posting to. (More about posting later.)

You don't have to have Instagram to view them. Just click on the link.









Other hashtags. Type them in the search box


  1. Argh! You mean I now have to go out and get a smart phone? I have found this trend toward modern quilts a catch 22. I love the fact that young people are quilting and sharing their quilts. It isn't just the young people who are into the "modern" movement, but I do feel it does encourage the young folk. This trend is evident in the marketplace and most definitely in the area of major quilt shows. There have been far fewer "traditional" entries in many of the larger shows (and local as well). I have entered AQS shows since 1999 and had never had an entry rejected until this past year. I don't think my work has declined, I just think there is less room for traditional quilts. Luckily there are still some great venues (Houston, Vermont Quilt Festival, etc.) who still have wonderful antique and traditional displays. And, I am not discouraged from continuing to enter, as I believe it is important to keep our traditions alive. Thanks for another great post!

  2. I always enjoy your blog, and now I follow your Instagram as well. Retirement is grand after 40 years of teaching. Time to sew!

  3. Oh boy I'm sharing some of your view. I have 2 years to go until I retire , the older group has preceded me, and I am now working predominately with people young enough to be my children. No interest in what happened in the past. Ah well, as my dad used to say, you can't put an old head on young shoulders.

  4. You tell 'em, Barbara. Or maybe it's "you tell us"! I do have a smartphone (though I need to get a newer model). I wonder if quiltmaking in general has a big bulge (imagine the snake who ate the elephant in Le Petit Prince) because of us Boomers who fueled the contemporary quilting boom (1990 - 2015 or so) and acquired enormous stashes. I like all quilt eras but as one of those enormous-stash boomers my work is pretty contempo-traditional.

  5. Thank you for hanging on to the art of beautiful handwork in a world of modern! Keep it up, we are right behind you with support!!

  6. Thanks for bringing antique/traditional quilts to instagram! I don't think you are retired, just on an exciting new assignment. My plan was to sew all day, but now it looks like I'll be enjoying a huge instagram quilt show, thanks to you!

  7. I have followed your blog for a very long time. Now, I am following you on Instagram. I love quilts of every size, color, style, age, design, shape and form. LOL. So, I am glad you are still going strong. It would be a sad day if we could only find one style at anytime. Thanks.

  8. The author of the Quilt Engagement Calendars is Cyril Nelson. Dutton is the publisher. :-) Thanks for nudging us toward Instagram. Several of the bloggers I follow are moving over there, so it's time to learn!

  9. Thank you Barbara for making me laugh out loud today. Since I don't do instagram and I don't own a cell phone, you're welcome to borrow any traditional quilt photos of mine from my blog. Technology is an amazing thing, but I choose not to keep up with the Jones's. However, I'm glad you're jumping in and sharing your vast knowledge. Thanks again for making my day.

  10. I've resisted Instagram as I prefer using my laptop to a phone. However I've been thinking perhaps resistance is futile, or at least foolish. I'd like my eyes on my quilts. Most are medallions, in all colors and flavors. ("Modern medallion" is a silly category, and only refers to color and print choices.)

    A separate subject -- as a retired person, do you do local guild presentations? I'm interested in discussing with you an opportunity at my Iowa City area guild in 2018. You're welcome to email me at catbirdquilts@gmail.com

    Thanks as always for the post.

    Melanie McNeil

  11. Melanie
    I'm retired. Don't travel much at all to speak anymore. Sorry.

  12. I've been bitten by instagram's quilt world bug. It's large and active. Most IGers have a blog too. Yes, traditional fabrics are sorely missing, although I see many traditional blocks in 'modern' prints, and those are very popular. But I think the 'modern fabric' is all starting to 'look alike'. That may be a bit overstating it, but if you look at the new lines coming out with some of the most popular 'modern-ish' designers -- they are the often the same shades, value, color, subject matter. On the other hand, I'll wager that seasoned quilters who saw their daughter's creating quilts from feedsacks also lamented the loss of 'tradition' ;-)

  13. Great post and thoughts that resonate with me too. I often suspect it is just my taste that makes so many modern quilts seem boring or bland to me ...I do so love the antiques! Thanks for the suggested hashtags - will make a point of using them on IG too :)
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  14. Thanks for sharing the traditional and updating Instagram with them. I am one of those that love mixing fabrics and not concentrating on a fabric line. Sometimes the quilt ends up as a dud visually but it was my work and it still keeps me warm. I do think some of the modern quilts are getting a bit stale visually but love to see the younger quilters sewing. I suspect they will venture more into variety as they become more experienced.

  15. I was SO sad when they quit doing that engagement calendar. I had EVERY one of them every published. Still do, in storage. Your idea is great! Thanks for reporting on that. I've just learned a little bit about how to post on Instagram in the four months since I got a smart phone. The problem is that I take pictures with my Nikon and not with my phone, which isn't a great camera. I will have to figure out something, though! There are still lots of traditionalists out here! Besides, I don't think we want to break with tradition. When we forget our roots, we forget the source of our creativity.

  16. I want to point out that the modern quilt movement (so it is called) is keeping the art of quilting alive. It resurrected, so to speak, a dying art. I think we should be grateful for that. I'm grateful that all of us artists have so many options to choose from. One is not better than another. We can have traditional. We can have modern. Let's push both forward. Let's support all quilters and their art.

  17. Desert Sky.
    I still use my camera too. I like it. I'm used to it. Here's how you put camera-taken photos on Instagram. Send yourself an email with the photos attached. Open the email on your phone.
    Share the photo to your Instagram app.
    I also send myself emails of photos I find on the web.
    I'll do a post on this how to soon.

  18. Good morning, There are some great examples of triangle quilts over at Temecula Quilt Company blog this morning. I think you'll enjoy seeing them.

  19. Thank you for your work. I have followed you for years, and own many of your books and BlockBase. Your Encyclopedia is the most used book in my collection.
    My daughter, who has an MFA in design, created the quilt shown in the bottom right of the first picture. The title is "The Whole Is Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts". It is an original, beautifully constructed quilt enhanced with machine matchstick quilting in coordinating threads.The quilt has been juried into several shows and has won awards.
    My daughter started quilting quite young and participated in 4-H with quilting (and chicken) projects, then did not quilt for several years. The modern quilt movement captured her interest and she started quilting again.
    "Why would I want to re-make something that has already been done?"is her motto, and that has influenced me.
    I like the machine quilting of modern quilting (I had resisted machine quilting) and now I can make lots of quilts in a fraction of the time. Modern quilts are meant to be enjoyed and used. They encourage experimentation with color, design, and negative space. Modern quilts will bring young quilters to the art of quilting, and be the energy that keeps the industry alive.

  20. I've just recently found an apps which you can post to Instagram using your notebook. I'm like you where I don't like using my handphone to type a lot.

    Check it out: gramblr.com

  21. Thanks for this post! I just searched for you Instagram and am now a follower.

  22. I agree and disagree about IG! I love it and prefer it to Facebook by miles. It's a wonderful place for visual inspiration and to meet people with similar interests and I've made some good friends. (I'm about to go follow you!)

    I think the biggest problem with this 'modern' quilt movement is the availability of jelly rolls, charm packs, and every other co-ordinated fabric collection under the sun. They're heavily marketed and of course if you use them you're going to have a quilt that doesn't look much different from anyone else's. Marketing is about making sales so that the big companies can sell more fabric, make more money and keep the wheel turning. The quicker and easier it is for people to make a quilt, the more fabric they sell.

    I don't think the problem's so much a decline in traditional quilting (there are some wonderful hand quilting groups out there in social media land, for example), as a decline in taking your time and enjoying the process. More significantly there seems to be a lack of creativity and the desire to use fabric as a means of individual expression. Very sad.

  23. Negativity and lamenting tradition's passing will not turn younger quilters into fans of the old styles. Like fashion in clothes, trends in sewing change. We can embrace and enjoy or be left behind, boohooing in our stash of Civil War pretties. I know that none of my children have any desire to own or use or heaven forbid be bequeathed! any of my quilts. I collect them and make them for myself only.

    lizzy at gone to the beach

  24. Moving to IG seems to be a trend among garment sewers, knitters & crocheters as well. It's great for a quick "what I did" posts, but I like blogs for more in-depth "how/why I did" coverage. I won't join FB, and I'm not happy that Pinterest doesn't allow non-members to see much any more, so won't join that either. Maybe I'll sign up for IG??? or not. I will check your posts there, and those tags - thanks for those!

    Yes, styles will come around again, as there's very little truly new in quilting. Right now we are back to solids again, but this time, heavily quilted, unlike in the 70s-80s. Or traditional blocks done really big, or only a couple rows of blocks on an otherwise plain top. I'd rather see the new versions than see quilting nearly disappear like it did in the mid 40s until the mid 70s when the US bicentennial revived interest. But I do love to look at the antique & vintage quilts, esp. scrappy ones, the most.

  25. I am replying to JustGail.

    In Malaysia, the only way to get a wider exposure is through FB and IG. Only a small portion, and usually the older generation will read blogs.

    Having said that, people do still google or do Internet search for any particular items. So it is good to have the blog too.

  26. Great post! I'm so glad you're populating IG with traditional quilts. We need them represented! THANK YOU!! There is a way to post on IG with your computer. Look up Uploader for Instagram. You can download it for free.

  27. I stopped using Instagram when I started getting a lot of porn spam. Instagram doesn't do anything about it and I found it annoying to have to delete it all. I don't know why it started as I am 63 and only looked at quilts and embroidery! Not much porn there! I do really enjoy blogs and have my favorites I look at daily...yes all three of yours, Barbara.

  28. I'm 63. I started out 15 years ago with one Flying Geese quilt in reproduction fabrics (700+ geese), and since then have only used "modern" fabrics and "modern" designs. That said, I love to do old patterns in new materials.

    To say "moderns" all look alike and their fabrics are boring, that people on instagram only post and don't look, etc, etc is to not really be that familiar with the modern movement. It is a matter of taste, and I agree that panning it only makes people who poo-poo it sound like my father-in-law saying that there's been no good music since Frank Sinatra. I hope I never get that old.

  29. You are too funny Barbara! Yes! You need to populate Instragram with reproduction quilts! I'm a relatively new middle-age quilter and I say we should celebrate all kinds of quilts!

  30. Great post Barbara! I'm an oldie but love modern quilts, modern fabric as well as traditional styles. I tried instagram for about a year, but I found it unsatisfactory. The feed/photo stream is too demanding, as people don't just post pics of their work. They post pics of their kids, their meals, their recipes, their family get together etc. without wanting to be rude, I'm just not interested in the other stuff. It would takes ages to scroll through each morning (when I have time to go on the internet). So I bailed out of IG. A shame, as it has really great stuff on it.
    I am not sure it's a generational thing. I like reading blog posts, and getting the background, the struggles, the questions and decisions, behind the work.

  31. I'm not a fan of Instagram. It seems to me like it's just a bunch of pretty pictures. We don't get a backstory, a commentary, a discussion of choices about fabric, blocks, quilts, etc. And even those IGers who have blogs where they may post more about a quilt don't seem to have an easy way to determine a url for their blogs.

    All that being said, I think it's great that you're adding antique/vintage/traditional quilts, reproduction fabric and quilts, etc. It's good they're represented.

  32. Instagram is awesome - if it means quilting is alive and well and young people are into it - I say go for it. And it is all a matter of taste, what is boring to one person won't be to another. And who says what is the "right" quilt style??? Fashions change all the time.

    I love both modern and traditional so I have a foot in both camps. Both styles make my heart sing. Please don't be so negative, each genre has its place and I will follow both modern and traditional alike. As I was constructing my Hampton Ridge blocks I was thinking I should make a second set in modern fabrics or solids and then have two quilts that will be beautiful.

  33. Yay!! Good for you! I'm always happy to see more beautiful quilts. I love the variety of different styles quilting has to offer.

  34. Instadamngram! Love it! The moniker, that is. I despise Instagram and no, I am not the older generation. I'm just not into another "thing" that forces my life on an even faster lifestyle pace!

  35. Helen was I being negative? I tried to explain that I think the people who use instagram should have an opportunity to see a wider variety of quilts than they are able to post themselves. I enjoy Instagram myself and spend a half hour a day on it I bet.

  36. My take is the Modern Quilter will remember the traditional quilts they saw on Instagram and when their skills increase with experience try some of them. I have been a serious hobby quilter for 17 years, even though I learn in the 80s. In the beginning I never looked at Appliqué. Now I can not live without it.

  37. I uninstalled Instagram from my phone months ago. It was really not much different from looking at pictures of quilts on Flickr. I find that I do enjoy looking at pictures on Pinterest, as there's a constantly-changing display and if I like a quilt I see on there chances are there's a link to a blog and a tutorial for the quilt. Or at least some background on it.
    I respect those who subscribe to the Modern Quilting aesthetic. What makes me a bit sad about it is that quilters today have very little sense of the HISTORY of quilting, what our quilting roots are, and the amazing quilters who came before us. I started quilting during the Quilt Revival in the 1970s, and I have tremendous appreciation for those who came before...and those (like you) who keep that history alive.
    I wish the Modern quilts really spoke to me. But for some reason, I feel there is much more meaning in a simple Churn Dash quilt or a 9-patch than a modern quilt loaded with negative space.