The first Aunt Grace collection debuted at Quilt Market fifteen years ago, to the delight of other quilting enthusiasts who, like Judie, previously couldn't find the historically accurate prints they needed to make their reproduction quilt projects, and more importantly, to repair vintage quilts and even to complete unfinished quilts left behind by their grandmothers, aunts and other family quilters.
She began collecting antique textiles, quilt tops and quilts in the early 1970's, along with her husband, Bob. Together they traveled, visited museums and bought quilts. In creating her fabrics, Judie borrows from classic designs and colorations, while incorporating subtle variations to give them new appeal. She specializes the Civil War era and related periods in addition to her Aunt Grace 1930's lines.
And yes, there really is an Aunt Grace, a great, great aunt of Judie's who was influential in Judie's quilting career in the late 1980's. At the time, Judie actually preferred the Civil War prints, a closer match for her own decorating style. But as she examined the 1930's era designs more closely, she was impressed with the sheer number of designs created then, the most productive of any era. Fifteen years and over 1000 prints later, Aunt Grace, the original 1930's brand, is as popular as ever.
"I have always said the Aunt Grace prints are happy prints and make people remember their roots, and the quilts from Grandma's house," Judie says.
The new reproduction prints are especially popular with beginning quilters because for their simplicity. Small repeats and blendable colors a perfect combination that assures success, especially for beautiful baby quilts. It's been noted that the color intensities like those found in the 1930's prints are not too bright and not too pale, providing just the right amount of visual stimulation for an infant's developing eyesight.
And chances are they'll continue to be well-loved for their simplicity and sweet, nostalgic appeal, a welcome break from hectic, high-tech lifestyles.