GEMS of the Prairie Quilters

What do you think when you hear the word “Quilt”? Think again. Today, the magic of fabric art includes modern art and collage quilting. As quilters we will forever honor the tradition of quilting, both machine and hand quilting, handed down through the generations. But these are not your granny’s quilts!

Yes, most of us think about a bed quilt or a small quilt or craft art, but quilting can be 2D or 3D. “Quilt” is a wide-open concept now. Quilt creation is evolving and Modern Quilting is a spinoff of traditional quilting—which can be thought of as coloring inside of the lines; Modern Quilting is coloring outside of the lines. Quilters today are looking at motifs and inspiration from the world of technology. The fabric has a mind of its own and new fabric designers are adding variations of color values to the new types of fabric. New techniques and tools have led to designs that are different from traditional designs. They differ because both traditional designs and evolving designs are motifs of the time in which we live.

Hand-dyed fabrics and threads have led to the development of Thread Art. Collage quilting and portrait quilts use fussy cuts and the standard rotary cutters in a freeform pattern. These ideas in the quilting field were unthought of even a few years ago. The art of quilting is attracting non-traditional fabric artists, and a growing interest of younger artists. During the Covid pandemic, quilters were well aware that quilting is an art that is relaxing and calming, with the end result being something beautiful and practical.

Locally, the GEMS of the Prairie Quilters provide all walks of quilters and fabric artists a monthly opportunity to showcase their works. The GEMS feature nationally recognized quilt teachers and artists to teach new methods and designs. Additionally, GEMS members quilt and donate over 200 quilts each year to OSF Neonatal Unit, St. Jude’s, Center for Abuse, and present Quilts of Valor to local veterans.

The GEMS worked in partnership with the Peoria Riverfront Museum in bringing the Ken Burns Quilt Collection to the Museum in 2022. In his words, as a society, we can “think of a quilt as the record of a country written in the bottom-up story of so-called ordinary people.”  And as our traditions continue and transform to current times, “this is what human beings are required to do: to take raw materials and transform them into something greater than the sums of their parts. That’s what a quilt is, that’s what art is.”


        You can see a representation of all these new methods and traditions, as well as vendors, demos, raffle Quilts, bed turning and a Boutique at the 2023 GEMS of the Prairie Annual Quilt Show on Saturday, August 26 from 9–5, and Sunday, August 27, from 11–4 at the Life Together Center at 3635 Sheridan Road. Join us, and Happy Quilting!


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