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The generation gap: why quilting is so popular with young people

In increasingly hectic lifestyles, the number of young people in their 20s and 30s looking for hobbies offering a change of pace is ever-growing. Quilting has gained widespread popularity in recent years in new demographics, with clients of stores like Cookes Quilting no longer entirely based in the older generations. A few theories have been put forward as to the amazing growth in popularity, but it seems to come down to three key ideas.

In times of economic crisis, people are increasingly inclined to look towards traditions and long-established practices for stability in the demanding financial climate. Quilting is a very traditional art form, harking back to earlier and simpler times. Whilst originally patchwork quilts were produced from recycled worn clothing or furnishings, such a level of thrift is no longer a social necessity, particularly with the fabulous array of craft fabrics now available online through websites such as www.cookesquilting.co.uk  There are a growing number of clubs and groups uniting both old and young quilters, passing down techniques in the time honoured way. This social value cannot be underestimated.

Secondly, the enormous variety of new and unusual fabrics makes quilting a technique of infinite variation. Coupled with the use of the rotary cutter, advances in technology, even lower priced sewing machines offering a wide range of function and features, there are numerous possibilities to take the art into more modern styles. Whilst some young quilters are using traditional patterns in modern fabrics, others are taking their creations in more unusual directions. ‘Freeform quilting’ has become popular amongst the younger generation, creating innovative and visually stunning new quilts out of the traditional methods. Traditional construction of pattern blocks was built upon practicality, using small scraps of leftover fabrics to best effect within the quilt. With the wide availability of fabric in prints, plain colours and various textures, the only limit is the imagination. Modern quilters are now also using buttons and other embellishments to further enhance their designs.

Finally, it is an expression of creativity. Many young people still want to explore their creative energies but find themselves unable to do so, trapped by time pressures and social guilt associated with ‘wasting’ time on frivolous activities. The prevalence of craft societies on the internet and social media mean that communities can be established and friendships made, whilst crafting something which ultimately has practical purpose around the home.

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