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Quilting Terms: What is a Liberated Quilt?

Updated on January 26, 2013
Millionaire Tips profile image

A lover of arts and crafts, Shasta Matova enjoys making artistic, applique, pieced, traditional, miniature, modern, and crazy quilts.

Quilts can be put in to many different categories. A liberated quilt are a type of quilt. This hub will help explain the term liberated quilting, show you some liberated quilts, explain their history, and introduce you to some liberated quilters.

A liberated quilt does not follow the rules of traditional quilting.
A liberated quilt does not follow the rules of traditional quilting. | Source

History of Quilting

With the Bicentennial of 1976, people in the United States developed a resurging interest in American history and in quilting. Many people made traditional quilts like the ones that quilters had made before them. They were able to make them faster and easier with the rotary cutter and a sewing machine. More and more people became quilters, and the industry grew. Quilt shops sprang up, and fabric was manufactured particularly for quilters.

Instead of a quilting bee, people got together at quilt shows and quilt retreats to show off their quilts and get new ideas. Quilt shows required some standardization and some ways to measure the quality of the workmanship in making the quilt. With the revival though, came critics in the form of the quilt police. The quilt police is not an official organization, but some people, many of them quilters, took it upon themselves to point out quilting mistakes, presumably in an effort to help them improve.

They pointed out lines that were not straight, points that were not sharp, angles that were not lined up correctly, and seams that did not match where they should.

Of course all people, being human, make mistakes. Many people were new to quilting, and were pursuing quilting as a hobby. They wanted a way to relax after a hard day of work, not get uptight about following the rules of quilting. Being resentful of the quilt police, they decided to deliberately break the rules of quilting. And the genre of liberated quilting was born.

A liberated quilt is more free and playful than a traditional quilt.
A liberated quilt is more free and playful than a traditional quilt. | Source

What is a Liberated Quilt?

A liberated quilt is a quilt that deliberately breaks the rules of quilting. It is generally not made with a pattern, although some quilters do attempt to make a pattern for people who are entrenched in traditional quiltmaking. The quilter takes pieces of fabric, often small, and arranges them in a pleasing manner. She makes her own rules to follow, based only on her own aesthetics. She may add traditional blocks, but she will likely adapt and liberate the block so that it is not straight lines and matched points.

The "rules" are not followed in quilting, except those that are required for quality construction. But these quilts are not slapped together. The quilter pays close attention to composition, color, balance, and detail. These quilts can be quite complex. Since there is no pattern, each quilt tends to be unique but the style of quilts is quite recognizable.

A liberated quilt is fun and playful.
A liberated quilt is fun and playful. | Source

Making Liberated Quilts

Making liberated quilts can be quite freeing, since there are very few rules. They are fun and playful. They can be difficult to make though, though, particularly since so many ingrained rules have to be broken in order to make a liberated quilt. It can be difficult to break the rules that have served you well in making quilts in the past.

Since there aren't explicit directions on making a liberated quilt, quilters have to become quilt designers in order to make liberated quilts. Some find it challenging to design their own quilts, and wonder about whether the quilt will be appealing when it is finished. A liberated quilter is a quilt designer. She has to trust her instincts, and take the risk that an idea or method will result in the intended outcome. Many times the outcome is not intended, but is sometimes better than anticipated.

If you want to make a liberated quilt, I recommend starting with a small one. With practice, you can learn which rules can be broken, and can develop the freedom required to make liberated quilts.

Books by Gwen Marston

Books by Nancy Crow

Liberated Quilters

Liberated quilts are contemporary quilts. Although similar quilts have been made in the past - think Gees Bend quilts - their popularity is relatively recent. Most people would put them under the modern quilt umbrella.

Gwen Marston and Freddy Moran brought liberated quilting to the forefront in 1996 with their book Liberated Quiltmaking. This book is no longer in publication and remains highly sought after today, even after Liberated Quiltmaking II was published. Many quilters took on the challenge to become free of the rules of quiltmaking. They made liberated quilts. They joined together by forming liberating quilting guilds, both in person and online, and liberated quilting blog rings. They made their presence known by sending liberated quilts to traditional quilt shows, and by presenting their own liberated quilt shows.

Some liberated quilters are:

Gwen Marston

Freddy Moran

Ami Simms

Mary Lou Weidman

Nickel and Dime Ranch Thank you to Bridget for letting me use the photos in this post.

Tonya Ricucci

Liberated quilting is a fairly new phenomenon, but it has taken a strong hold in the quilting industry. Quilt enjoy the freedom of making their quilts their own way, and enjoy challenging the rules of traditional quilting.


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    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Thanks RTalloni, it is really difficult to choose to make one quilt, isn't it. I find myself going after idea after idea. I have many unfinished projects as a result, even when I try to limit the number of projects I start. You know, you can make a controlled scrap quilt that is liberated! Mixing and matching techniques lets you make different kinds of quilts at once!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      Viva liberated quilts! Since they are untouchable by the quilt police, this style might work well for me. :)

      I seriously love the second example. The colors are delightful and perfectly arranged in pleasing complements to each other, the variety in the pieces' scale as well as shape all warmed my artistic instincts at the sight of it.

      The only problem is that now I want to stop everything and make a liberated quilt but I can't even get to the controlled scrap quilt yet!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Thank you Cathi. I enjoyed writing it.

    • Cathi Sutton profile image

      Cathi Sutton 5 years ago

      I really enjoyed this!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Oh thank you for telling me Branda. I am so honored that someone liked this enough to tweet it! Thanks for the reading and commenting as well.

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      Branda 5 years ago

      I landed here off a reposted tweet as I was logging out of HubPages. I'm so glad I followed the trail. Great article.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Thank you Donna. Liberated quilting is one of the newest styles of quilting, and is becoming very popular.

    • DonnaCosmato profile image

      Donna Cosmato 5 years ago from USA

      Good hub, I had never heard of this term so I was curious to find out more. Voted up.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      lcbenefield, thank you for visiting and for your comment. Liberated quilts can be easier than following the rules, since there are no mistakes only design choices. However, they can also be more difficult since you don't have a pattern to follow, and you could wind up making shapes that require set-in seams for example. Some of the quilts shown in this hub use curved piecing, which is also require some knowledge beyond straight piecing.

    • lcbenefield profile image

      lcbenefield 5 years ago from Georgia

      I am new to quilting and have never heard of liberated quilts. I like the idea. To me it seems like it would be easier than quilting an established block pattern. Thanks for sharing such an informative hub.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Thank you Miss Olive. I like breaking rules and making liberated quilts is a great way to do that.

    • missolive profile image

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 5 years ago from Texas

      Quilting is such beautiful work. I like the idea behind a liberated quilt - creativity is fun.

      I enjoyed reading this - thank you. Great pictures too.