The Oldest WIP - My Y2K quilt

Y2K Quilt Top 1

Okay, so it isn't done yet. Only the top is done. But can we take a moment to celebrate sewing together 2000 little squares of fabric? I realize only quilters would celebrate that, but still. It comes in at 80'' by 100''. I only would have started it 17 years ago, when I participated in a swap prior to the Y2K New Year.

Can we also take a moment to celebrate 1990s fabric?

1990s fabric detail

The prints were so little, the colours mostly drab, and calico still reigned supreme. In looking at these fabrics again you can see why Amy Butler and Heather Ross were so revolutionary when they burst on the scene more than a decade ago! Changing the scale of the prints was huge, not just a big deal. A large scale print in the late 1990s would have meant a motif an inch or maybe 2 inches big. Then Amy's work came in at triple and quadruple that. And now, even to someone who considers themself a traditional quilter, these old prints are probably tiny. The market just moved to bigger designs, period.

Of course, there were and are always exceptions to the trends. What were then called Japanese inspired prints always seemed to have larger motifs with negative space in between. Saturated colours in fabric existed then, although they were most likely seen in novelty (kids) or geometrics prints. We still see small florals now. Text prints existed then as they do now, although not with the selection we have. Yellow is still a tough colour to find because, inexplicably, people find it hard to use.

The biggest difference in the 17-20 years since the fabrics in this quilt were made is in the general colour story. There is a lot of forest green, brown reds, and dull blues here. In a quilt store in the 1990s the fabrics with pure hues would have stuck out like a sore thumb. Great if you are drawn to them, not so great for store owners who may have found them a hard sell. Now, in some quilt stores you would be hard pressed to find a forest green, brown red, or dull blue. The fabrics for landscape quilts, yes. Or Civil War reproductions, sure. If the store carries that broader variety of prints. I'm generalizing here, of course, because you still see those colours, but you probably get what I'm saying.

I think it would be fascinating to see a version of a Y2K quilt made with today's fabrics. Not even an intentional effort to only put modern fabric in. No, just someone cutting into their stash to see the difference. That someone, however, will not be me. Once is enough. Did I mention that this quilt top has 2000 squares?

Y2K Quilt Top  Back of the Quilt



Y2K Quilt - My Oldest Quilt Under Construction

Y2K Quilt in Progress

Back when I was cleaning my garage a few summers ago I came across a few boxes of quilting items. I was pretty lucky no mice made their homes in there. Two round robins project quilts that belonged to someone else (one returned at least) and my Y2K charms.

What are the Y2K charms?

Back in 1999 - when we thought the world was going to end with a massive computer crash - quilters did their best to move on by swapping charms. Precisely, swapping packs of 25 charms with 80 people. Resulting in 2000 charms for a quilt!

After discovering the box again I played with the charms, sorting them by value. They then became a thing I brought out to be leaders and enders as I worked on other projects. That is, sewing pairs or rows together at the beginning or ending of a seam. Progress gets made, but it is slow progress. 

Y2K quilt rows

Let me tell you, these are some interesting fabrics. Definitely not what we would consider modern now. There are, however, some gems in here. I must also admit, that I am kind of falling for the little calico prints. They are so tiny. The colours may not be what I like, but the scale is lovely. 

Right now I am up to 25 rows sewn together. That's half. 2000 charms makes 50 rows of 40 for an 80'' by 100'' quilt. Nothing is pressed, none of those rows are sewn to each other. But that is progress with minimal effort. I just might have it done by the next millennium. Well, at least the next century.

The Oldest UFO

Generally, I like to call my unfinished projects WIPS, or Works in Progress, not UFOs.  This is because I actually like having a catalogue of things to pick from when I get the chance to sew. It doesn't stress me out - usually.  But this, this project must definitely be called a UFO.

I've been quilting for 16 years now. This project is 15 years old.

Going again into the Way, Way Back Machine this project started in 1999, when people were all up in arms over Y2K. Quilters, of course, put their positive spin on it and started swaps. Put 25 mini charms in an envelope, repeat that 80 times, and swap them out. Bang, 2000 charms!

These days people call it Scrap Vomit. I call it a bag of envelopes I found buried in my garage.

(To find out what else I found in my garage check out my


feed. Oh boy. #thingsifindinmygarage)

The smart people with their Y2K swaps took the charms as they came in and sewed together the 25 into one block. Then they were able to quickly put the quilt top together, and keep things manageable. I, of course, wanted to get all fancy. I have sketches and math on trying to figure out creative ways to put my top together. And that's why they are all still in envelopes.

Now it is time to move this into the WIP stack. But me, being me, I need to catalogue all of this first. Into my sketchbook will go the addresses as I unpack. And then I think this will become my next Leader/Ender project. Let's hope it doesn't take another 15 years to finish this!

Update: I found a book where I wrote down all the people I swapped with! Now to just get these organized in piles.

Did any of you participate in a Y2K swap?