Monday, 15 June 2015

OMG Quilts!

There is a sub-genre, not  quite a spin off but a group that makes a variation of quilts within the Modern Quilt Movement called OMG – Organic Modern Quilts. 
Image used with the kind permission of Helen Godden.  source: Facebook
Image used with the kind permission of Helen Godden.  source: Facebook

On the group Facebook page an analogy is used to describe the group aesthetic.  To understand pink you need to understand red.  To understand OMG quilts you need to understand the Modern Quilt aesthetic.

We use the original Modern Quilt Guild description on our blog which is a very loose, all encompassing, more of a guideline really (Captain Jack Sparrow anyone?) that includes :
  • Primarily functional rather than decorative quilts
  • Use asymmetry in quilt design
  • Rely less on repetition and on the interaction of quilt block motifs
  • Contain reinterpreted traditional blocks
  • Embrace simplicity and minimalism
  • Utilize alternative block structures or lack of visible block structure
  • Incorporate increased use of negative space
  • Are inspired by modern art and architecture
  • Frequently use improvisational piecing
  • Contain bold colours, colour combinations and graphic prints
  • Often use grey and white as neutrals
  • Reflect an increased use of solid fabrics
  • Focus on finishing quilts on home sewing machines
Weeks Ringle from the Modern Quilt Studio describes Modern Quilting as
“Modern quilting is about making quilts that are expressive of the times in which we live.”
Amy Ellis from Amy’s Creative Side describes the modern category of the the Blogger’s Quilt Festival as “Modern to you is modern to me”
So its kind of a loose definition that we work with.  What makes OMG quilts different to most modern quilts?  There is no piecing, applique is the method of choice.  There are set sizes to work with and you can submit your quilt for critiquing.  Once accepted the quilt is given an OMG number and entered into the OMG hall of fame.  It is a brilliant way to see how the group evolves over time and may even lead to an exhibition in the future.
Helen Godden OMG
Image used with the kind permission of Helen Godden.  source: Facebook
The OMG group was founded by Helen Godden, Michelle Pearson and Suzanne Hyland.  The idea for the group came from a conversation had during a HandiQuilter Academy in Utah in 2013 where Helen questioned the use of piecing so prevalent in Modern Quilts and wondered why they couldn’t be more organic.
Helen Godden OMG6
Image used with the kind permission of Helen Godden.  source: Facebook

Influenced by artists such as Rex Ray, Joan Miro, Henri Matisse and Henry Moore amongst others the OMG quilts feature free form fluid shapes often taking inspiration from nature.  They use organic shapes in a graphic way and avoid pictorial or realistic effects and straight lines typically found in pieced quilts.  Use of pattern to draw attention and combining shapes and colour with quilting, gives an abstract style of quilts, that can cross over from functional quilts favoured by the Modern Quilt Guild to non-functional Art quilts.
Helen Godden OMG7
Image used with the kind permission of Helen Godden.  source: Facebook
The Rex Ray (paper artist and collage) influence is seen in the sizes chosen by the group.  Rex Ray was German born and so the smallest 5” x 7” size is called Kleine (small) and the largest 40” x 60” Ueber (meaning over sized and chosen for 40” usable width of fabric).  The sizes chosen prefer the 3:4 ratio of standard paper but square is also accepted. 

The sizing is strict allowing 1/2” to 1” tolerance on the finished quilt.  The difference between sizes allowed is twice that of the previous to allow for a good collective display when exhibited. Creatively speaking adding a little constraint can be a good thing,  getting the mind working hard to be creative in developing a design!
Helen Godden OMG1
Image used with the kind permission of Helen Godden.  source: Facebook
Helen Godden OMG2
Image used with the kind permission of Helen Godden.  source: Facebook

The other aspect about OMG quilts that I think is really interesting is the concept of Parent and Child designs.   A child design is made from leftovers, scrap fabric or the same set of fabrics as the parent design.  Sounds like a fun challenge to me!

If you want to see more and perhaps submit a quilt for critique (to do write a Facebook update on the group page with OMG! OMG! OMG!) the group page can be found here.  Go take and look and see what wonderful organic modern quilts are being made!


  1. Ruth, these are fabulous! I pinned a couple already, love that double ribbon candy on the green and purple quilt of Helen's.

  2. Ruth, I love the artistic freedom that applique allows, as compared to piecing. It is really interesting to learn about the OMG group. The quilts that come out of meeting this challenge are so amazing! (I visited the group [page on Facebook and looked at the photos.) Love the organic and natural shapes. Also the whole concept of parent and child quilts is wonderful!


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