Quilts: A piece of historyPublished 10:00pm Friday, March 8, 2013
The Pioneer Museum of Alabama celebrates the history of quilting
When Loretta Simmons was five or six years old, she and her mother “pieced” an “Octagon” quilt made from scraps of old clothes and material left over from clothes that her mother made for her.
The quilt is titled “Mother and Me” and is an entry in the “Pieces of History Quilt Show” ongoing at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama through March 31.
Even though Montez McLeod was working eight hours a day at the telephone office, she quilted a “Butterflies in Flight” quilt for her grandson in only one year. She also raised a garden that summer that fed three families.
McLeod’s quilt is showcased in the museum’s biennial show.
Linda Morgan entered a quilt, Ida’s Quilt, that was given to her by her grandmother, Ida Dykes Green, who was gifted the quilt from her grandmother.
Mac Holmes is not a quilter nor did he have a family treasure to enter in the “Pieces of History Quilt Show” but he did enter several quilts from his collection. One of those quilts is actually a piece of history. It is backed with sacks from the historic Quaker Oats mills in Akron, Ohio.
Those stories and a hundred more add interest and local lore to the “Pieces of History Quilt Show” that Grover Poole said is the most colorful quilt show that the museum has hosted.
Not that all quilts have to be bright and colorful, Poole said, but color does “catch your eye.”
The “Pieces of History Quilt Show” features nearly 200 quilts. Some are vintage and heirloom quilts while others were quilted only recently but with the same love and tiny hand stitches of the older quilts in the show.
Kari Barley said that the quilts of yesteryear were made out of necessity while today’s quilts are used primarily as decorative bed coverings and even for wall hangings.
“The quilts that our pioneer ancestors made provided warmth on cold, winter nights,” Barley said. “Many times, the quilts had to be piled on top of each other to keep the people warm so a lot of quilts were needed.”
The quilts in the museum’s quilt show demonstrate the artistic value of the quilts.
“Back in the pioneer days and even later, the women took great pride in the quilts they made but it wasn’t until much later that quilting was recognized as an art,” she said.
Many of the older quilts were piece quilts or string quilts and were made of scrap materials and stitched together as blocks and simple patterns. However, many quilt patterns were more detailed and more creative in design.
The quilts in the Pioneer of Alabama’s quilt show are a patchwork of different designs. The patterns are known by different names depending on the part of the country where they originated.
Grandmother’s Flower Garden is also known as Grandmother’s Rose Garden and French Roses and French Bouquet.