June 18, 2024

A Modern Match Made in Retro Heaven: An Interview with Kelley from Modern Groove

By Lee Franklin

Have you ever felt a pang of nostalgia for the funky prints and bold colours of the 1970s and wondered how to incorporate these into a modern interior? Then you'll love Modern Groove, the brainchild of Kelley Matt, a passionate quilt maker who brings a wonderful Mid Century twist to this age-old craft.

Two images of Modern Groove Quilts 

I discovered Kelley in a Facebook Group earlier this year where she had shared a photo of one of her stunning quilts, and I was immediately struck by two things: the incredible workmanship and fabulous retro design, but what also blew me away was how perfectly her quilt complemented a set of our own 70s style coasters. It was as if they were designed to go together!


Recognizing a fellow maker who not only shared a love for all things fabulously 70s but also an appreciation for incorporating elements of retro nostalgia into modern life, I reached out to Kelley to learn more about Modern Groove.

In this interview, Kelley chats about her thriving business, her love for 70s design, and the nostalgia and comfort it brings her, what inspires her, and what the future holds for Modern Groove.

We'll also explore how her designs and ethos align perfectly with Inkabilly products, making them a match made in heaven for anyone looking to add a touch of funky flair to their home decor.

Photo of a mid century style dining room featuring Inkabilly tableware on the dining room table and a Modern Groove Quilt on the wall behind

Firstly Kelley, please tell us a bit about yourself and what Modern Groove is all about?

I'm a mom to 2, and I help my husband run a rock climbing gym. I'm wild for estate sales, thrift shopping and collecting mcm furniture. Modern Groove seemed like a seamless combination of my love for design/making and collecting mcm pieces/curating our 1964 ranch style home.

Photo of a Modern Groove Quilt featuring brightly coloured overlapping squares

Where did it all start … Have you always loved sewing?

I have always wanted to love sewing, Ha. Before 2020 I tried multiple times to dip my toes into garment making. Mostly pin up style dresses/tops. It always led to frustration and shoving my machine in the back of my closet. In March of 2020 our gym was required to be closed for 6 weeks due to the pandemic. We had members who helped keep the gym going by continuing to pay their dues during those weeks. This was when n95 masks were hard to find, so in a moment of desperation I pulled the sewing machine out and looked up mask tutorials. I wanted to show our members how much we appreciated them. I made our office a little one-woman factory and was able to deliver tons of them. It was during that period of sewing for multiple hours every day that I fell in love with the many meditative processes that sewing can provide.

Close up photo of a hand sewing a quilt in a climbing gym.

Did you receive training in quilting and pattern designing or are you self-taught?

Self-taught when it comes to sewing. I have always been a crafter. Between the library and the internet, there is so much to learn. As far as design goes, I was a tattooer, so I have to give credit to learning a lot of elements of design during my apprenticeship. I started drafting my own quilt design on quilt number 2. I figured if I went through with drafting the whole thing why not write it out for others to enjoy making as well. I also took an online class focused on quilt design in 2021.

Graphic showing the front and back of a Modern Groove quilt pattern

Which is your favourite part of the quilting process?

Colour pull, hands down. I love experimenting with how colours change based on the other colours near them. The Basic Glitch quilt is a fun, brain breaking example of movement created only by colour placement.

Photo of a Modern Groove's Basic Gltich quilt

How long does a typical quilt take to make?

This varies greatly depending on the complexity of the pattern. Designs with a ton of curves take longer to cut/prep, but they are my preferred choice. My best guess for my patterns is probably somewhere around 12-24 hours of work. More if it is being hand quilted.

Two photos of the quilt making process: cutting out fabric shapes and hand stitching

Two photos of the quilt making process; pieces pinned to a wall in readiness to sew and the final quilt being held up.

You take commissions … have you had any unusual requests? Or have your quilts ever ended up in unusual places?

Some people may think that 'memory quilts' are a bit odd. These are quilts made from the clothing of people who have passed away. My furthest travelled quilts are a series of 3 memory quilts for a family in Japan. I drafted the pattern for each one after receiving a huge box of clothing and organising it by colour and value. I feel a lot of responsibility to put extra love and tenderness into those pieces.

Photo of a memory quilt by Modern Groove, being held up

Do you have a favourite quilt that you’ve made?

OOh that's a tough one. I love a big loopy stripe. Think 1974 Supergraphic System stripes. They make for fun, easy-going sewing while still having this bold impactful design.

Photo of a 70s style Modern Groove quilt being held up in front of a groovy mural

I love the name Modern Groove, it hits a sweet spot in me and what we're trying to do with Inkabilly ... creating retro homewares for the modern world, would I be correct in assuming this is your ethos too?

You're spot on. I was originally going by Modern Groove Quilts, but that seemed misleading at local markets because I also offer retro inspired jewellery, fashion accessories, homewares and rock climbing chalk bags

Photo of Modern Groove's market stall.

Where does your love of vintage come from?

Definitely from my childhood. I spent a lot of time growing up living in my grandparent's house. Wood panelling, a harvest gold oven, shaggy carpet...I suppose my inner child just feels safe surrounded by the things I knew so well then.

Do you have a favourite era, vintage style or designer who inspires you?

Personally, I lean towards 70's groovy. Josef Albers and Charley Harper are a couple of my favourite artists, but I tend to be inspired by nameless pieces like old wallpaper or floor tiles.

What does the future hold for Modern Groove?

While the plan is to build a larger offering of quilt patterns I can never sit still long enough to just do one thing. There will definitely be lots of one-off chalk bags and I am experimenting with mounting quilts on canvas. I would love to try to get into surface design...we'll see!

Two images; the first is a photo of Kelley, a young woman standing next to her quilt which is hanging on the wall; the second image is a photo of a hand holding up a Modern Groove business card.

So, are you ready to infuse your home with a dose of 70s magic? 

Head over to Modern Groove and Inkabilly to discover worlds of retro delight. From statement quilts to funky coasters, you'll find plenty of inspiration to create a groovy haven that celebrates the best of a bygone era … With a little mix and match, you can create a home that's both effortlessly stylish and bursting with 70s nostalgia … Imagine curling up with a Modern Groove quilt, a refreshing drink resting on an Inkabilly coaster – pure 70s bliss!

Two images; first is a photo of a hand placing a drink on an Inkabilly coaster in a mid century style room; the second photo shows a Modern Groove Quilt on a bed

Get inspired on Instagram with Modern Groove and Inkabilly
Ready to shop? ... Visit Modern Groove and Inkabilly.