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Quilt History

June 6, 2006

I went to the tiny historical museum in town over the weekend because when I went to pick up Definitely Dead at the library on Saturday (the person who had it finally brought it back, but I was thwarted in my plan to pick it up after work that night and dive right in because I forgot the library closes early on Friday, and then I was further thwarted when the eye doctor I went to right after I did get the book put dilating drops in so I couldn’t read for most of the day–but I could entertain myself by looking at my freaky large pupils), I noticed a sign about a quilt exhibit ending June 8th. I felt quite lucky that I was able to see it, as the museum is not open every day and when it is open it’s only for three hours at a time. You’d think this was a small town or something.

The exhibit was about the Underground Railroad Quilt Code. (I didn’t see any mention in the museum of how some scholars believe the code is a myth.) Because this is a little museum with limited space, the quilts were sort of wedged into the permanent displays rather than being hung flat so they could be fully seen, like this pretty little Evening Star in a streak of lightning set:


I marveled at the tiny cross stitches in the signatures on a friendship quilt:


My favorite was a pinwheel quilt that would never past muster with the quilt police, as it had a wavy binding and non-square squares and random grainlines. I liked it because there was a lot to see, such as this block with one stripe print cut to run in three different directions combined with two plaids, one dark and one light (the latter cut in various ways):


Or this bit, with the buttonhole in the binding and the patch at the end of one of the triangles:


After seeing all these antique quilts, I was fired up to work on my own stuff again and spent a fair bit of time on Sunday outlining mushrooms with various colors of rayon thread. If only I didn’t have to come to work, I could get a lot more sewing done, but it’s my understanding if I don’t come to work they’ll stop paying me, and that won’t do.


Addendum: When clearing off the card on my camera, I found one more item from this exhibit that caught my eye. It’s an unquilted top in the double four patch pattern, and I love the way it combines solids and stripes and checks and dots and shirtings:


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