I love keeping watch on new trends in the quilting world. Every year something "new" is introduced--or really reintroduced. What was once old can be made new again. This is certainly true in a growing 2021 trend known as "Grandma-Chic Décor." This trend has spilled over into the quilting world and is growing in popularity in TikTok, Instagram, and Pinterest and is expected to be a huge hit in 2021-2022. Fabric designer and crafting maven Lori Holt is even jumping on the bandwagon with this trend.
According to Kiva Motnyk, the founder of the experimental textile and objects brand Thompson Street Studio, "its [grandma chic's] reemergence into modern society started before you probably realized it." Motnyk couldn't be more right, yet interestingly doesn't go back far enough to trace earlier roots of this trend.
When I first saw this quilt, I immediately saw its roots in the quilts of Gee's Bend. The quilts of Gee's Bend--the original grandma chic--has long been recognized as one of quilting's finest discoveries. Women in the deep south in the early 20th century and beyond used bits and pieces of fabric from anything and everything to create both a utilitarian object and a piece of art.
Jessie T. Pettway (born 1929) created this "grandma chic" quilt c. 1950. This quilt and others can be viewed in the Smithsonian article "Fabric of Their Lives." You can read about the stories within these quilts and their historical value.
I have long admired the quilts of Gee's Bend. These treasures underscore the origins of quiltmaking in America. What was once purely utilitarian has now become an artistic expression.