my traditional roots

Yep, I started as a traditional quilter. What else was there in 1974 when I started making quilts? I don't really have any photos of my work before 1993 because I didn't realize that I should have been documenting my work that long ago. Anyway, I was making mostly baby quilts in those days. They were the repositories of my experimental blocks.


I have no memory of who got this one, but in a way I am sorry I don't still have it. All the blocks were made from vintage 1940's and '50s fabrics that my grandmother had brought home from the dress factory where she worked. Hand quilted and, I am sure, hand-pieced. I had challenged myself to learn to make Y-seams. Once I knew I could do it, I never had to do it again if I didn't want to. Did I want to??? I don't remember.

This was also 1993. Anyone who has seen my slide show lecture might have seen this. It was the first thing I did after I left the job with the boss from hell. I had a book of antique quilts and fell in love with a blue and white 19th c. quilt like this. I couldn't find a pattern for the cups, so believe it or not, I drafted the pattern myself. I have no idea how I did it and I certainly could/would not do it again. I got two small quilts out of those blocks and think I still have a few in my UFO block collection. Cut with scissors, hand pieced & quilted. It hung on my guest room wall until I moved to Florida. Not sure where it is now.

You can tell this was an experimental "can I make these blocks? baby quilt. Even then, I wanted to see how using different fabrics could change the look of a block. By hand. I LOVED making those blocks. Do I still have this one??


Later in the '90s I was at a quilt show in either NJ or Pennsylvania. Super traditional (were there any other kind??) and while I was in the vendor mall, I came across a woman selling the most gorgeous Indian batiks. They stopped me cold because I had never seen anything like them. This was the type of show where the attendees were wearing quilted vests and skirts they had made themselves -- you know what I am talking about. They walked into the Indian batik booth, took a quick look, and walked out again.

I knew they couldn't picture how to make a traditional quilt with non-cutesy florals and other prints, so I introduced myself and told the vendor that if she would give me some fabric, I would make a traditional quilt she could hang in her booth to show people how her fabrics could be used in traditional quilts.

This was the quilt I made. Usha hung it in her booth, Handloom Batik, and the rest is history.

1995 or 1996

'Nuff history.


 all text & images ©rayna gillman 2019