Wedding Quilts on My Mind: Traditional or Modern?

Wedding Rose
Wedding Rose

My plan for today’s post was to share with you a couple new fabric lines that caught my eye at my local quilt shop recently. Instead, I feel inspired to write a bit about weddings; specifically, wedding quilts.

Believe it or not, both my daughters celebrated birthdays this past month and BOTH of them received engagement rings! Oh my, it all feels a bit overwhelming at the moment and I am so very excited!

I’m remembering back 30 years ago while working at Empty Spools Quilt Shop, a shop co-owned by my creative partner Diana McClun. I was recently engaged at the time and was asked by a fellow employee to help select fabric for a kit that was to be sold at the shop (or so I was told!). Of course, I selected all of my favorites knowing they would be the perfect choices for the pattern. Little did I know that, behind my back, the staff was furiously working to complete a wedding quilt to be presented to me at an upcoming bridal shower.

Laura's wedding quilt. Made in 1983.
Laura’s wedding quilt. Made in 1983.

I love everything about this quilt. Every tiny hand stitch reminds me of the dear friends who gave of their time in making it for me. The beautiful traditional appliqué and trapunto patterns were designed by Adele Ingraham, a very talented quiltmaker. Trapunto is a method by which raised decoration can be added to any textile surface. Channels of parallel stitches or areas of patterned running stitches are filled to create a desired design. The hand quilting was done by Leona Hagen, an exceptional hand quilter.  Both ladies were frequent visitors to the shop.

Detail of hand appliquéd swag border.
Detail of hand appliquéd swag border.
Detail of hand quilting and hand trapunto wreath design.
Detail of hand quilting and hand trapunto wreath design.

Of course, I want to make quilts for my girls, but my question is “what style?” It seems that the young women today favor a more modern and less traditional style than I associate with wedding quilts. Do I put hours and hours into designing and making quilts that they might not like or enjoy because they are known as traditional “wedding” patterns, or do I follow today’s trends, using simple lines and non-traditional colors and fabrics?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. I always enjoy hearing from you and since I am new to the wedding planning stage would appreciate some sage advice. In appreciation for your time in sharing I would like to send a gift bag of some of my favorite appliqué supplies to one of our loyal readers. This will be a quick turnaround so please post your comment by end of day Sept. 12th as I will announce the winner with my post on Friday Sept. 13th.

Until next time, enjoy your week everyone!

L1-Signature

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45 thoughts on “Wedding Quilts on My Mind: Traditional or Modern?

  1. That Quilt is to die for! How can any Quilt not be loved. Here I am finishing two Quilts going to Military men. I am posting new photos to my blog: http://www.quiltknit.blogspot.com tomorrow.
    One is for an American, and the other Afghanistan. Now, how do you choose those designs and colors?
    No, one I asked ever gave me a hint.

    Well, I have a kit for embroidering, that is in the Wedding Ring Style. I think two Quilts in the Wedding Style with the Brides and Grooms Colors are on Your Idea Drawing Board!
    Go look, I am sure you can see them.

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    1. Hi Sherri-
      Thank you so much for stopping in and sharing your lovely blog. I enjoyed reading your story and wish you all the best with your quilts.
      Laura

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      1. You should have waited for more photos. I have to go buy a new iron. My GE gave out. Both quilts are overwhelming me. Hoping I can afford to ship them.
        But thank you so much for going to my blog. I am sure Your Girls are waiting for their Quilts. I know they will be just Beautiful. Enjoy! All the excitement.

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  2. Congratulations, Mother of the Brides!!
    What a joyous time for your family!!
    I’m impressed with the thoughts and ideas of your readers… But I think I have to agree with Sobana… You love your gorgeous wedding quilt because YOUR choices were in it, AND because it was made with LOVE!! I’d give the same gift… their choices and your love, to your beloved daughters!!
    (And, oh my!!… Think of the future baby quilts!!)
    Blessings!!!
    Pat T.

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  3. Your quilt is stunning and a traditional quilt would be my preference. However, you know your girls better than anyone, but think about taking a similar approach with them. Engage them in the decision making process. Maybe they’ve always had a pattern they’ve coveted and not shared. What a great time you could have with them selecting fabrics to use in the quilt too.

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  4. Wow! Do they plan to make it a double wedding? I agree with the others that asking them would be best — maybe get a few ideas and a color pallette from each then you can surprise them with the final results. My friends surprised my husband and me by asking me to help choose a pattern from a book of batik quilts, ostensibly for a wedding gift to one of their brothers. We love the final results; the batiks keep it from being too feminine, while the hibiscus quilting pattern reflects the Hawaiian theme of our wedding.

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  5. Congratulations! I wasn’t quilting when my 2 daughters married, but since then I have made each of them a quilt. I had them pick out the fabrics they liked and the pattern they wanted. My son helped me design his quilt. :-). I’m sure that your daughters will have ideas about what type, traditional or modern, designs that they would like.

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  6. Wow! Your wedding quilt is awesome! Congratulations to your family on upcoming weddings. How exciting! My daughter was married several years ago and I made her a quilt(Google: Rivas-Varela Wedding as it’s on Craftsy). I would ask your daughters what they would like as I know you know them, but what they want could still be very different from what you “think” they would like. Before I retired, a colleague asked me to help her make a square for her friend who was getting married. It never occurred to me to have people make a block to be put together for a quilt for the bride and groom. So there are many ways a quilt can play a part in the bringing together of two people so it might be helpful to have imput from your daughters, since they probably figure you’d be making them one anyway, it might as well be something they had some “say” in determining. It doesn’t mean the potential groom(s) need to know as my SIL knew but with everything going on it was not important for him to become involved. He was pleasantly surprised when I presented it to them. Good luck

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  7. Love your wedding quilt! What a lovely story behind it, too. I think I would ask the girls what kind they would like, maybe even let them help pick out the fabrics. That way they have a great memory to go with it, too!

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  8. Like everyone else, I love your quilt. Unlike everyone else I have another questions – do either of your daughters quilt – perhaps they might enjoy working with you creating a quilt for their sister. This would definitely take up a lot of your time, but you might bond even more with each daughter as you work individual on a quilt for the other.

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  9. Last year two of my daughters married with out much notice and I have been pondering since! My daughters do not “appreciate ” traditional quilts and therefore I resigned myself to making a quilt to suit their style. Since then, I have enjoyed discovering the women they have become as I explore the different likes and dislikes they express as I present them with choices. Still in the process 🙂

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  10. I can certainly understand how excited you and the brides-to-be must be!! Congratulations!!
    I’d suggest that the personalities of your daughters might give a clue to “modern” or “traditional” style. Several of the modern quilts I seen appeal to me and I’ve always been a traditional (sentimental) kind of gal. Thanks for sharing your wedding quilt with us.

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  11. I would ask them what they like in a quilt. The problem is, they may not want you to go to too much trouble….your quilt is exquisite. I think if you keep the interests and tastes of the couple in mind and make it something really special you can’t go wrong. Perhaps take your daughters shopping and see what fabrics they gravitate toward.

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  12. Your wedding quilt is beautiful and such a special memory of friends! Since your daughters know you are the renowned quilter that you are, perhaps they already have very definite ideas or preferences. However, I love the idea of having them look at quilts (like at pinterest) and getting a feel for style and preference. I can’t think of a more fun outing for a mom and her daughters in shopping for fabric for their wedding quilts. Congrats to all of you and best wishes on finding the perfect solution! Then, you can start thinking about all the baby quilts you will have to make soon. 🙂

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  13. What a gorgeous quilt! I loved seeing it. This is what I did 10+ years ago when my two daughters got married within 10 months of one another. I made each one a double bed quilt, to be used in a future guest room. I researched and found quilts blocks that had the names of states that were significant in their lives–their and their husbands’ birth states, states where they went to college and grad. school, states where they were planning to live the first year, etc. Then I made sampler quilts using these block patterns. I relied heavily on two books–one was THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PIECED QUILT DESIGNS by Barbara Brackman, and AMERICAN QUILT BLOCKS by Beth Summers. I was new then to quilting and liked it that the blocks were 12″ in the latter book; but if I were doing it again, I would make the blocks 8″ or 10″, not the clunky 12″ size. Both daughters chose the fabrics for their quilts, so I didn’t go wrong on colors or fabric types.

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  14. Laura I love your wedding quilt! I too had 2 children married 3 months apart about 8 years ago and life was very hectic since I was still working. Neither received quilts I made but might now that I am retired. I have a wedding quilt that my grandmother made for me and it was given to me when I married. It is purple and white and my mother said grandma ask me what my favorite color was and then made a design of her choice using that color. I was a preschooler then and it was purple. I to this day love purple and treasure the design she chose because it for me. You will make a beautiful choice based on your understanding of your daughters. Good luck with all trhe wedding planning!

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  15. We live in a time where retro is in as well as contemporary. Many of the quilts I fall in love with these days are traditional patterns done with modern fabrics. They’re bright and gay as well as traditional at the same time. That said I would consult the happy couple and help them with their selection. A hands on trip to pick fabric could be akin to completing their registry….

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  16. My philosophy is that the brides to be should have some input. I made a quilt we call “Bryan’s Quilt” (my nephew) because the bride-to be gave me design ideas, chose one of the patterns I suggested, and helped shop for fabric with my daughter, my sister and me. On the back of the quilt I used part of the design from the invitation that Kristen designed. And, especially because there will be 2 weddings, let them know up front that you will do your best work with the understanding that the quilts may not be complete until some time after the wedding.

    No matter what the plans, weddings are high stress and high happiness. Let the quilts celebrate your love, not stress you out!

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  17. Whatever you decide to do, I am sure the girls will love them.I think that probably a more modern quilt would be their preference just going by my daughters preferences (ages 27, 22). I love the quilt your friends made you- beautiful work.

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  18. Let your heart be your guide. Think of your girls personal tastes. I’d be inclined to go modern but maybe they’re both traditionalists. Whatever you decide the love you stitch into each quilt will make it a treasured keepsake

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  19. I think they will love anything your put your heart and sole into, whether it is more modern or traditional…I cannot imagine them not loving anything you made yourself. Your quilting is beautiful!

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  20. I love your wedding quilt picture! What a special gift. Like you said in your post, it was special to you because you chose the colors and those you loved and admired spent many hours preparing the quilt for your enjoyment. My opinion is that you should consult your daughters in the planning of the quilt. Then perhaps it will have a very special meaning to them and be a treasure not just to them but, to future generations.
    Good luck with your endeavors!

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  21. Congratulations to you and your daughters! How exciting for you all! I really believe that you should go with your gut since you know your girls best! I love the element of a surprise gift so maybe not ask them their preferences and just go for it!

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  22. Congrats on the upcoming events. Consider what designs and colors your daughters like, you might be surprised. Be sure to add some of your style so the generations to make this a special memory.

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  23. No matter what you decide the girls will love the quilts as they are made with love. Enjoy the process, take a deep breath and create. All will go well.

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  24. Oh Laura!! I’m so excited for you! I think that you know your daughters better than anyone. Only you know which each girl would choose. Personally I would always choose the more traditional.

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  25. Congratulations, Mom! For the quilts, I agree with some of the other commenters. Ask your daughters to give you some idea of what sorts of pattern they like. Look at their homes for color ideas, or have them pick out one fabric as a start. I made a throw as a wedding present earlier this year that was just one gigantic storm at sea block somewhat disguised by the fabric placement. The colors and “era” of the fabrics came from asking the bride’s mother (the couple lives in the UK).

    As far as the weddings go, I hope each of them feels free to depart from what a wedding is “supposed to be” as much as they like to make it a real celebration of who they are as individuals and as a couple. I love the story in the wedding chapter of Robert Fulghum’s book, From Beginning to End: The Rituals of Our Lives. I hope you (and they) might read it and think about whether it speaks to their visions of their own weddings.

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    1. Thank you so much for the referral. I am not familiar with this book but am certainly adding it to my list. Will recommend it to my daughters as well.

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  26. oh dear, that’s bit of a dilemma. but the bigger issue to me is how long do you have to make two wedding quilts? and you realize that if they both get married at the same time, the grandbabies will come at the same time and there will be even more quilts to make!

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  27. The quilt given to you by such loving friends is stunning and it has such wonderful memories that go along with it. I would suggest that you plan the pattern using their favorite materials. Sew with love in every stitch. But just for fun add a few pieces from an old dress from their childhood to tie both now and the past together with the love that only a mother can have for her child. Congratulation to you and to them. I am sharing in your happiness since my son is also getting married soon and I am working on things for them as well. Good luck on your quilts.

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  28. Congratulations! I would ask the girls for color suggestions and do something a bit more modern for them. Get inspiration from them. Being your daughters, they have to lean towards certain styles! As far as the weddings, if you are paying for them, give them each a check for the budgeted amount. They will be much more apt to strict to the budget!

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  29. Before undertaking a quilt for my DIL, I had her view Pintrest quilts to get an idea of her colors and taste. She totally surprised me by gravitating towards a very traditional style w deep reds and creams. So 2500+ pieces later – I’m still cutting and making little flying geese units! Congratulations in this exciting new chapter in your family’s journey!

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  30. Congratulations on the upcoming weddings. I know for my own children, I would go for less traditional and time consuming unless you are sure they will treasure and protect a traditional quilt like you write about in this post.

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  31. Good responses already. I agree that a traditional pattern, made with very modern fabrics might be my choice. It would bridge both generations, and would be more interesting than strictly traditional. That said, having your girls help choose the style, if not the fabrics, would help you decide. Happiest wishes to the whole bunch of you!

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  32. You like your wedding quilt both because the choice was yours and it was made with love by your friends. So give your girls the same choice. Let them choose the pattern and fabrics and quilt your heart out. They will cherish it like you do yours

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  33. If I were a mediocre quilter, I would opt for the newer, more modern look with simple lines and design. But you are not mediocre by any measure, so if I were you, I would keep with the more traditional and flaunt your talents. I love the clean lines and fresh colors of the modern quilts BUT I believe that the more traditional quilts will become family heirlooms over time whereas the more modern ones will go “out of style” quickly.
    I am sure that whatever you do, it will be exceptional.

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  34. Wow, just the thought of two weddings at the “paying end” could be overwhelming so the quiltmaking can be a peaceful time therefore I wouldn’t want to second guess one person, let alone two! I agree with Sheila, ask to be safe. I have a daughter-in-law who has way different tastes than I so there is no way I would put time,money and good thoughts into something I made w/out her selection help. I hope we get to see the finished products!

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  35. I would go with traditional. Look how fresh your incredible wedding quilt looks from thirty years ago. It is a gem! The modern part would be machine quilting. In any event, loved your post and all the best in making your decision.

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  36. Hi Laura. I have 2 lovely wedding quilts; one made by my mom and another made by my grandmother. Both are hand done and I love them. One is falling apart because I actually used it and the other hangs on a wall because I am afraid it will be ruined if used. It does look fantastic there though.

    When my oldest son got married I made them a quilt that was machine pieced. It was in their favorite colors and had a star pattern. I wanted a traditional look but a modern graphic punch and I think it worked. Machine quilting adds a modern look as well. Will your girls want the quilt on wall or bed? Why not ask them? Does it need to be a surprise? If not you could let them choose pattern and fabrics. The guesswork would be moot and they would get exactly what they love. If you love the idea of surprise why not choose a classic and update colors and use a machine quilting pattern so it will be durable -and modern! They will love it because it is from YOU. That is the bottom line.

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  37. Congratulations to all of you! My thought was to use more modern fabrics in a traditional way, so that the quilt would reflect your daughters and their tastes but also be a quilt that is reflective of you. These quilts are sure to be heirlooms, so having them be representative of you would matter to future generations, I think. And my experience has been that while younger quilters are somewhat turned off by “older” fabrics and colors, they appreciate traditional patterns and quilts. Batik Double Wedding Ring quilts, for example, are stunning and bridge both camps.

    I’m sure you’ll make choices that are right for each of your girls and that they’ll love the quilts. As the daughters of quilters, they undoubtedly know all that goes into creating a keepsake quilt.

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  38. Your wedding quilt is stunning ! I think if I was in your situation I would ask the girls for some suggestions for a quilt , I know there is a lot of time , money and thought goes into quilt making so I would ask just to be safe . Congrats to both your daughters and good luck on your decision .

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