April 2018 Recap

Designing Minimalist Quilts

What is minimalism, and how can you incorporate it into modern quilts? During our April meeting, we examined the minimalist aesthetic and created designs inspired by one of Chattanooga's most recognizable landmarks. 

What is Minimalism?

Kelly Spell started the program by providing definitions of minimalism and showing several examples of minimalist art and quilts. Members can see the complete presentation by visiting the Member Resources page.

Essentially, minimalist art:

  • is all about the medium and the form

  • is not representational

  • is impersonal and neutral

  • does not reflect an emotion or an experience


"Minimalism identifies works of art most often comprised of geometric shapes in simple arrangements and lacking any decorative or dynamic flourishes." Artsy.net


Aquarium-Inspired Designs

Although minimalist art is not representational, it can certainly be inspired by the outside world. After her presentation, Kelly led us through an interactive design activity using one of her favorite sources of inspiration: downtown Chattanooga's Tennessee Aquarium. 

 Photo by Kelly Spell

Photo by Kelly Spell

Kelly volunteers as a docent at the Aquarium and the animals there have influenced many of her recent quilt designs. She challenged us to create minimalist quilt designs based on elements seen in the above photo, and she provided lots of dark chocolate in case anyone needed an additional jolt of inspiration. Take a look at what members created:

Z Seams

Kelly also talked about limiting the number of seams needed to construct a quilt top, which may help you achieve a minimalist design. She showed us Ruth McDowell's method of sewing Z seams, which you can learn all about in this tutorial.

 An example of a Z seam

An example of a Z seam

Kelly used a Z seam to construct a mini quilt inspired by the Aquarium's famous peaks.

 Kelly Spell's mini quilt entitled "Peaks of Change" was inspired by the roofline of Tennessee Aquarium.

Kelly Spell's mini quilt entitled "Peaks of Change" was inspired by the roofline of Tennessee Aquarium.

Show and Tell