Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Millie's quilt - the one I can't stop making

Almost a decade ago I was inspired by this quilt that my Grandma's friend Millie made.  She called it the "tattered" quilt or the "pioneer" quilt.  I don't think she used a pattern, but I could be wrong.  It may be that she saw it in the window of her local quilt shop in Denver.  I have certainly seen many iterations of this quilt over the years.

In fact a few days ago I came across this fresh version - Christmas Canasta -  at Sew Love to Sew.  I love the colors she chose and Millie would, too.

As I was learning to quilt, I was a great admirer of Millie's quilts, mainly for the simplicity and great color sense.  I oooed and aaahhhed over this particular quilt, and it inspired me to do my first bit of "liberated" piecing.  Fast and fun, just sewing those squares down, leaving the edges raw.  Millie gave me a pack of scraps from her quilt to get me started - kind of like sour dough starter I think!

Here was the result, finished in 2003, and today it is still well-loved and well-used, honestly tattered.

Over the years Millie had made several versions of the tattered quilt.  She is now in her 90's and has retired from quilting, but when she heard that we were moving to Tokyo, she surprised me by sending me the original "tattered" quilt.  It is not tattered, but rather in mint condition and beautifully hand quilted, and it has found a happy home over the back of our couch here in Tokyo. I will treasure Millie's quilt.

This past summer as my oldest Miss N was preparing to go off to college, we started planning her college quilt.  When it came right down to it, sure enough she wanted a version of that old tattered quilt.  We raided my stash for homespun, shirtings, batiks, flannels, and then headed over to Quilter's Way for supplements that caught N's eye.   I threw this quilt together fast, completely by machine, without a thought in my head about precision, so that it would get DONE and be something that could be used and abused at college.  Miss N loves it, and I won't worry about her getting paint or ink on it.  

And.... it looks like I may make yet a third version of this quilt, for someone special (shhhh) who requested one long ago... time permitting!  I brought a bin of scraps for it to Japan.  There is just something irresistible about this quilt.  I blame it all on Millie!