MILLENNIUM QUILTS – LOOKING BACK 20 YEARS

MILLENNIUM QUILTS – LOOKING BACK 20 YEARS

Free clip art: 2000 with stars in blue
Source: Free clip art on Google

Millennium Quilts – looking back 20 years. Were you quilting 20 years ago? If so, do you remember if you had a special quilt project for the year 2000? I went through a pile of quilts last week that needed to be aired out and refolded. In the pile were two millennium quilts that I made.

When I found the millennium quilts and realized 20 years have passed – wow!! The time is just flying by day by day. So many changes, both in my quilting and personally.

As far as my quilting, the past 20 years have been mostly fun. I have tried more hand applique. Using the rotary cutter has become second nature and I learned after one serious accident to keep my fingers firmly on the ruler. Combining colors and designs of fabric no longer scares me. I rarely feel the need to respond to the question “how many quilts have you made? – it is not a contest. Quilting gives me joy and a sense of peace, plus I can actually enjoy and see the finished item, which is not something visible in my daily job.

The making of my millennium quilts – looking back 20 years

Judy Martin, a well known quilter, says that millennium quilts… “made to celebrate the year 2000, were made with exactly 2000 patches. Sometimes…cut from different fabric, just like a charm quilt.” https://www.pinterest.com/judymartinquilt/charm-quilts-millennium-quilts/

In the late 1990’s I saw ads in quilting magazines from people all over the world who wanted to trade 3″ squares to make millennium quilts. I thought it would be a fun challenge to make a quilt with 2000 different fabrics. So I traded, and traded…….. Eventually I traded 10,000 three inch squares with other quilters all over the world. Each envelope was so exciting to open and see what new treasures were inside.

The squares came from all over Europe, Canada, and the USA. There were even a few packages from Africa, India, Japan, and South America. I certainly never thought about all the different fabrics that were available the world over. This project really opened my eyes to quilting being international – not just American.

In fact, the post mistress of our little town was so excited about all the places these envelopes came from that I would open them right there so she could see what they contained. The selection of fabrics was amazing. Ultimately, I ended up with 43 repeats out of the 10,000 squares traded!! And only one person did not trade back (or maybe the envelope was lost somewhere in the mail system).

2000 Millennium Charm Quilt – looking back 20 years

MILLENNIUM QUILTS - LOOKING BACK 20 YEARS

I cut the 3″ traded squares to 2.5″ simply so they were actually all the same size. If you have quilted any time at all, you know how my 3″ square maybe a bit (or a lot) different than your 3″ square. I have never figured that out, but that is not the point either.

The variety of colors, patterns, and even quality of the cotton was amazing. The squares were kept in plastic bags by color groups. I changed my mind several times about exactly how I would design this millennium quilt – after all, the year 2000 was a big deal (or was supposed to be!).

Finally opting to do 16 square blocks. It was a simple way to double check to make sure there were no duplicates. This way also allowed me to loosely use the squares by color. I didn’t stress over if my planned look for each block turned out differently – frankly I just let myself have fun putting the blocks together.

16 square blocks for charm quilt
More charm squares sewn together for quilt.

Even as I pieced this top together during Jan. to March of 1999, the packages of 3″ squares continued to come in. It seemed that no matter how many I used, there were more to work with.

I finally stopped making the blocks, and added a navy blue border with “2000” in it. Then I added another border down two sides of more blocks. There is one square of the border fabric somewhere in the top so that there are exactly 2000 different fabrics for this millennium quilt.

Quilt border print says "2000" in it.

It was quilted in Nov. 1999 by MG in an all-over cloud design. The final size is 90″ x 98″. The top is all cottons, the batting is polyester, and the backing a queen size flat sheet.

MILLENNIUM QUILTS - LOOKING BACK 20 YEARS
Photo taken 05 2020

2001 Millennium Charm Quilt – looking back 20 years

MILLENNIUM QUILTS - LOOKING BACK 20 YEARS
Photo taken 05 2020

Still using the 2.5″ charm squares, I simply just randomly sewed the medium and dark ones together. I was still getting packages in the mail and at this point just felt overwhelmed at how many different cotton fabrics there were around the world.

Random squares sewn into quilt top.
Random 2.5″ squares sewn together to make quilt top.

I pieced the quilt header “2001” area using the lighter squares as the background and darker ones for the 2001.

Three borders down two sides
These 3 fabric strips were the borders for two sides.

I worked on this quilt on and off during the first half of 2001. In Oct. 2001 it was machine quilted by CM in the loopy design. The backing is a light colored large flat sheet.

Machine quilting in a loopy design.

While the machine quilting was fine, the quilt was not centered on the backing. Truthfully, it really made me angry to work so hard and long on a top to have it treated so disrespectfully by the machine quilter. However, I wanted it completed. So a creative answer to fixing this issue for binding was to simply cut off part of the borders on two sides. It ended up being finished size 92″ x 104″.

MILLENNIUM QUILTS - LOOKING BACK 20 YEARS

Finally

I continued to use the millennium charm squares in other projects as I was able. The squares also got bagged up and “gifted” to other quilters for birthday or Christmas gifts.

I loved the challenge of working with the squares. It was fun, if time consuming, to keep checking for duplicates. My challenge to other quilters is to do a charm quilt of some sort during your quilt journey.

The year 2000 has come and gone. But I have two very special quilts to represent that year and am so glad I did all those exchanges with so many other quilters around the world.

I am so glad that I took the time and challenge to do the millennium quilts. It has been fun over the past week to look back over the past 20 years of quilting – wow. For myself, somehow those millennium quilts were really freeing for quilting in my life. They improved my critical thinking skills (as in how am I going to fix this problem/mistake?). I spend less time thinking about the individual aspects (will this fabric really match?) and more about the whole quilt design. There is also just making the quilts because each one suits me or my current need.

Each quilt you and I do expands our skills and allows us to learn something new about ourselves. Have fun with your quilt making journey.

Other charm quilt ideas:

http://quiltspluscolor.blogspot.com/2017/10/another-millennium-quilt-goes-home.html

http://crazyquilteronabike.blogspot.com/2017/01/the-new-millennium.html

https://prairiemoonquilts.com/do-you-remember/

https://indianaquilter40.com/triangle-charm-quilt/

PLEASE NOTE: 
ALL PHOTOS AND WRITTEN CONTENT ARE MY OWN UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

14 thoughts on “MILLENNIUM QUILTS – LOOKING BACK 20 YEARS

  1. What a fun idea. I have not been quilting anywhere close to 20 years but have been thinking about charm quilts. Thanx for sharing these fun quilts.

    1. Charm quilts can be a fun way to use your own stash and scraps. Plus if you know other quilters then maybe you could set up a trade with them to expand your collection. Have fun.

  2. I read this post, and thought…..20 years really??!! Sure I remember trading all those squares to make Millennium quilts – I made 5 full size and gave them as Christmas gifts to my kids. I wonder what quilt archivists will think about Millennium quilts in one or two hundred years when those are considered antique quilts. Love you blog – keep up the great work.

    1. I never thought about the quilt archivists and Millennium quilts being antiques. I hope they enjoy them and actually know why they were made, not some crazy quilting myth.

      I had a tough time keeping track of the traded squares for the two millennium quilts I made – I cannot image 5. Great job Deb.

      Happy quilting.

  3. Hello, This is my first visit at this quilt blog and I love it. Wow, so many ideas. I am feeling overwhelmed with all the beautiful quilts. Best of all, they are simple to do. I made one Millennium quilt and it took me 3 years to make and can I confess that I hate it? It was my first hand quilted project and all those seams made it really hard. But I wanted it to be special and hand quilted. Now I get all my quilts machine quilted. I love that you do what you like and it shows in your beautiful quilts. I am happy to subscribe.

    1. Thank you for subscribing to this blog. As you read through the blog post you will find that I just do what makes me happy when it comes to quilting. I love to hand quilt, but I agree that hand quilting one that has lots of seams is hard – guess that is why I love to do whole cloth quilts. Our world and lives are stressful, and I think that quilting should be fun so do what you like in colors, patterns and technique. Enjoy. Happy quilting.

  4. Appreciate the hard work you put into your quilt blog and detailed information you share. It’s awesome to come across a quilting blog that isn’t the same rehashed information. Excellent read! I’ve saved your site and subscribed.

  5. Awesome post! I wasn’t quilting yet in 2000, but this looks like it would have been super fun. I am going to suggest to the local guild that we do something similar for 2020. You know COVID, election, weird year of 2020.

    1. The Millennium quilts were fun to do. Remember in 2000 all the computers were supposed to crash and life as we knew it would end. Well quilters are still quilting for themselves, the families, and their communities. I hope your guild decides to do this as it would be a great thing to have for the very weird year of 2020.

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