The Digital Age

“Imagine some possibilities…Visualize the wonders of a future CD-ROM ‘book’ about Log Cabin quilts…Perhaps you would see lovely antique English chintz-and-plaid Log Cabin quilts on your screen… ‘American history’ might bring you vintage photographs of old Midwestern log cabin and quilt historian Julie Silber, reading 19th-century women’s diary entries…”

–Penny McMorris, “Reflections on Quiltmaking’s Future,” Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine (November, 1994).

The format may be different but many of McMorris’s predictions have come true in the intervening years through available computer software, online communities, and online museum collections. Today’s quiltmakers take advantage of digital cameras, the internet, and computer software for designing and making quilts, for social networking and sharing, and for formal and informal learning opportunities.

Using digital media has exponentially increased the possibilities for the hobbyist, the professional, and the artist in designing and creating one’s quilts. Digital cameras, laser jet printers, scanners, and printable fabrics provide new ways for quilters to personalize their work. Computer software aids quilters in drafting, designing, and manipulating quilt patterns, fabrics, and quilting.

Quiltersalways interested in expanding their horizons and sharing their knowledgeuse social media tools to ignore geographical boundaries and develop communities in the same way that quilt enthusiasts like Emma Andres and Joyce Gross used the postal system. A quilter has the potential to never step foot in a quilt store or sit in a face-to-face class with the availability of resources and communities on the internet.

Education and digital preservation are two of the fastest changing use areas of the internet for quiltmakers. Informal educational opportunities seem to grow organically. As quilters create online communities, they share methods and techniques, general knowledge, and even create classes and YouTube videos. Learning institutions, museums, and universities are creating access points to collections of images, archives, and scholarly research.