Quilts in quilt shows and museums


Probably the most fascinating quilt museum is in Paducah, Kentucky. The museum was started several years ago after the American Quilt Society started having a humongous quilt show in a hotel in Paducah.

I went to one of the early shows there, and was blown away by the lack of security for the quilts. Children were running through the quilts with ice cream cones in their hands, no one was monitoring the quilts and all in all, it was pretty sad to see.

I decided then and there that I would never exhibit one of my quilts in that show.

After miniature quilts started disappearing from quilt shows around the country, exhibitors got the message. Security is a must.

There is even a website showing quilts that have been stolen from shows or en route to the exhibits. One must never mark a package for mailing with contents, a quilt.

I must say that now, the Quilt Museum in Paducah is fabulous. Security is very tight, and one can see some of the most beautifully made quilts that have ever been made. It is a “must see” for all quilters.

Most people have no clue how valuable most quilts are. Hand pieced, hand quilted quilts are now almost all heirlooms, since the sewing machine industry has tweaked their machines to do everything, even talk to the quilter!

Many quilters hand piece their quilts, then have someone else machine quilt them. There are fabulous quilting machines out there, now.

Some of the “purists” who do mostly hand quilt work, enjoy the time consuming sewing while watching TV or listening to a book tape.

I happen to be one of these people. Hand quilting is my passion. If I hand applique a quilt, I want it to be hand quilted. If I hand piece a quilt, I want it to be hand quilted.

There are quilters who do everything by machine who do fabulous work. It takes a real skill to know how to do machine quilting nicely.

A beautifully made quilt may be completely ruined by the incorrect type of machine quilting.

After being very precise in piecing the quilt, machine quilting may totally destroy the seam intersections distorting the whole block. Don’t assume that every machine quilter knows how to machine quilt your quilt.

Be very exacting in your instructions to her. I learned that lesson the hard way. Several years ago, I decided that I would get some of my hand pieced quilt tops machine quilted, just to say that they were finished.

I took them to a quilt shop to be quilted, not knowing who was going to do the work, nor what kind of quilting she planned on doing for each quilt.

Bad news was when I picked the finished quilts up and saw how they were actually ruined by the incorrect machine quilting. The borders were distorted, the binding was put on incorrectly, and every moment got worse as I looked at my poor quilts. Needless to say, I have never made that mistake again.

Looking at quilts in museums usually makes me sad. Most of them have “Maker unknown” on them.

They are dated, due to the fabrics used in them. It would have taken a few minutes for a quilter to write her name on the back of the quilt and date it.

If you own quilts that you know the maker, take time to write her name on the back and the date it was made, if possible.

The quilt pictured is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It is a hand appliqued Tulip pattern quilt, maker unknown. By looking at the fabrics, it was made between 1850-1880.

The quilter’s workmanship is fabulous. The colors are vibrant, to say the least.

If you are a quilter and would like to join a quilt guild, visit the Ocean Wave Quilters Guild in Ponte Vedra Beach, the second Friday of every month at 10:00 to 12:00, at The Players Community Center on Landrum Ln., off CR- 210, behind the Shell station. You’ll be astounded at all this group does for the community!