all text & images ©rayna gillman 2019
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my traditional roots

June 21, 2019



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.  







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