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Quilting Is More Than Just Another Gen Z Trend

Quilting is about craft, community, and identity—of course Gen Z loves it.
MF
New York, US
May 18, 2021, 11:00am
Quilt Lead Image
COMPOSITE BY VICE STAFF

Quilts cradle our butts, cheese boards, and conversations during picnics. They await us at the summer lake house, and in gammy’s basement. They have always been here, in their musty and wonderful glory, but rediscovering the possibilities of the fabric during this most blessed, vaxxed park season just hits differently in 2021. We’re stepping back into “normal life,” which is still not normal at all. We don’t just need a park blanket. We need some cushion. We need a hug—one that just so happens to moonlight as a jacket. 

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As a friend pointed out recently, the hodge-podge, patchworked aesthetic seems to resonate with both millennials and Gen Z bbs around SoHo these days. “Everyone looks like they’re in f*cking Godspell.” He’s not wrong. Tell me you don’t see at least three people from the co-op here: 

Quilting is such a communal craft—and Gen Z is such a community-driven generation—that all of this makes sense. Weaving, patchwork, embroidery: Quilting does so much work to extend our personality, which is great, because we’re happy and damn lucky to be here [slurps happy hour marg], but we’re exhausted. Besides, the joy of quilted fabric comes in many shapes, forms, and themes:

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Homer Simpson Quilt (Small), $41.39 at Etsy 

While quilting is hot this season, it’s not the beginning of the style’s fashion renaissance. Labels like Bode, which was founded in 2016 by Emily Adams Bode, have been at the forefront of repurposing vintage fabrics from domestic spaces (lace, quilts, tea towels) to make one-of-a-kind menswear. The designer was the first woman to show at Men’s Fashion Week, and brought traditionally female craftsmanship to the visual forefront of an otherwise masculine space. A giant, crocheted middle finger to the gender binary.  

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Bode Multicolor Stamp Quilt Jacket, $1,326 $1,560 at SSENSE

Most of Bode’s creations cost more than our rent, but there are plenty of upcycled, quilted dupes you can find on second-hand sites for a new spring-to-summer jacket that will make all the moths drool: 

Quilt Chore Coat

Quilt Chore Coat, $298 at Etsy

In all seriousness, the deeper we go into the history of quilting, the more profoundly layered it becomes. Especially in the United States, and especially for Black communities. As Shantay Robinson explained in The Quilting Tradition, “The earliest known quilt dates back to an Egyptian First Dynasty c. 3400 BC. Fast forward several millennia and the lore goes that African Americans used quilts to share secret messages to travel through the Underground Railroad.” Etsy recently highlighted the legendary, Black women quilters from Gee’s Bend in Alabama, praising their quilts as a testament to their “storytelling, resilience, and beauty”: 

Quilts by Caster

Quilts by Caster Handsewn quilt, $127.50 at Etsy

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K and Quilted Treasure Broken Dish Wall Hanging, $325 at Etsy

“In terms of the fine art world, one of the first major hurdles for quilters was to be seen as artists, rather than (or at least in addition to) craftspeople,” reported Sarah Rose Sharp in The Subversive Power of Quilting. “Now fiber art has come a long way from fringe practice to becoming part of the natural weft of the mainstream art world [...] quilts are an art form that has always been concerned with identity, recognition, labor, communication, and human connection.” All things that have been amplified, if not heightened in appreciation, during the past year. So, yeah. It’s never “just” a quilt. As the Patron Saint of The Devil Wears Prada would say, that charming graphic quilt you got on sale? It’s traveled a looooong way to get to Target. Something to curl up in, and think about.

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There’s no one way to love a quilt. Wear a blanket as a cape. Bring it to the park, or layer it over your summer linen sheets. Find quilted masks, bags, and upcycled jackets, and rest assured that when the time is ripe (and safe) for hugging again, thou shalt have the plushiest embrace.

This one just smells like Canasta

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Ah, the many nights spent at the midwestern lake house with grandma. You were wrapped in this blanket. She was shrouded in a cloud of Parliament smoke, along with all the wisdom of how to make the best creamy fruit salad.

North Star Patchwork Quilt Collection, $179 at L.L. Bean

You own more than one tarot deck

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You’re the friend who tells everyone’s fortune after a few glasses of wine, and always has the best 1970s cult movies recs. We love you. 

Esoteric Patchwork Throw Blanket, $59.99 $41.99 at Society6

Peep the patchwork

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Perhaps you just want to dip your toe into the trend. In that case, start with a patchworked sock for the perfect sprinkling of Bran Flakes sex appeal on your feet.   

Men's Patchwork Socks, $14 at Richer Poorer

Wear this to the co-op

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Better for the environment, and better for your Godspell solo. Let’s stay in character, folks. 

Reusable Cotton Quilted Mask with Elastic, $12 at Etsy

Ride this one all the way to fall

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In the never-ending effort to consolidate our life, a jacket that can span three seasons is a goddess-send. This one has a relaxed fit, slouchy cut, and will also look great at the pumpkin patch.

One Above Another relaxed quilted shacket in bandana patchwork, $72 $36 at ASOS

You want a quilted rug effect

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… But also don’t want something that’s going to stick to your vacuum. (RIP, our love of shag carpets.) This sunny patchwork rug can be thrown right in the dryer, and would look great on your patio or in your kitchen. 

Hundo Patchwork Flatweave Orange Area Rug, $59.99 $50.99 at Wayfair

You’d rather be at Olive Garden

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Basta! Nothing wrong with a little classic checkered moment. 

Red Check Quilt, $50 at Etsy

Mother Goose

UO Patchwork Quilt Tote Bag

Bring this to the picnic, and even before you dump out the goods your friends will know it’s filled with natural wine and sweaty, tasty French butter. Are you single? 

UO Patchwork Quilt Tote Bag, $54 at Urban Outfitters

Same, but different 

UO Frayed Patchwork Bucket Hat

You have the whimsically quilted blankets, bags, and jackets. Now, you need a hat that says both “I broke my foot skating” and “My other car is a bumble bee.” 

UO Frayed Patchwork Bucket Hat, $18.00 $24.00 at Urban Outfitters

This is the house that grandma quilt. Built. You get it.


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