There’s no one firm definition of modern quilting, but here are a few thoughts on design characteristics that make quilts modern from Sunday Morning Quilts by Amanda Jean Nyberg and Cheryl Arkison (page 12):
Regardless of the finished size of the quilt, the designs are often on a large scale. This can be manifested as a quilt that is one large block or a quilt made from a handful of large blocks. In a similar vein, modern quilts are often seen with large pieces of a single fabric. In part, this is a reflection of the desire to show off large-scale prints as well as a love for many modern fabrics.
Clean and Simple
Even when complex in construction, the designs of modern quilts are usually … full of clean lines and spare spaces. Modern quilters also have returned to basic shapes such as squares, hexagons, circles, and half-square triangles. Intricately pieced blocks aren’t commonly seen in modern quilting. Stripes are also very popular.
It would be a generalization to say that there are no borders in modern quilts, but it isn’t far from the truth.
Whether it is through the use of large bands of plain sashing between blocks or the appearance of blocks floating on the background, the use of negative space is prevalent in modern quilts. With so much blank space, there are many opportunities for the eyes to rest when looking at a modern quilt. These large blank areas also provide opportunities to showcase quilting stitches.
To find out more, check out these books in the Mariners library: