Plain and Fancy Quilting

Imagine a perfect, cold winter’s night. What does it look like? Is there a warm fire burning in the fireplace?

Tangen HomeAre your hands wrapped around a mug of hot chocolate? Are you cuddled up in your bed with blanket upon blanket on top of you?

Quilt

If those things sound good to you, then you aren’t too different from a kid living one hundred and fifty years ago! Living History Farms is starting to think about winter now that cooler weather is on its way. We are bringing out quilts that would have kept many children warm a long time ago. What is a quilt you might ask? It is a fancy blanket with a top and bottom and a filling in the middle, like this:

Usually the top has many pieces of fabric sewn together to make a pretty pattern like this:

crib quilt

The back might be fancy or it could be a plain sheet. The filling in the middle could have been the fleece from a sheep, combed cotton fibers, or even a thick blanket. Women put the three layers together, like making a sandwich–either by sewing small stitches through all the layers or by tying the layers together with threads.

Most early quilts had the very simple purpose of keeping people warm. So those quilts were very simply made. Like this one. Can you see the ties in the square corners?tie quilt

But as time went on, women’s lives got a bit easier when they didn’t have to make their own fabric or yarn. So they would put extra time into making their quilts beautiful. Women could take years making these works of art and they would immediately become family heirlooms–blankets that moms gave to their children who then gave them to their children. Some of these art pieces look like this:

quilt quilt detail

Living History Farms is very lucky to be able to put some of these very old quilts on display for museum visitors this week. It can be awe-inspiring to think of the women that put these quilts together and the kids just like you that were kept warm with these masterpieces.

 quilt, apron

Caregivers: The Flynn Mansion is hosting Living History Farms’ annual historic textile show from September 30 through October 4, 2015. A visit to the show is part of regular guest admission. While the historic quilts are in the house, some rooms that are actively hands-on during the rest of our touring season will have display barriers and no touch areas to protect the quilt pieces. Don’t let this keep you from visiting with younger children though! There will be a hands-on play area in the boys’ bedroom with pattern blocks, sewing cards, and stories about quilting. It’s a great time to introduce patterns, shapes, and colors to your children!quilt

Walk through the mansion with your kids and ask them to look for all the triangles or circles or stars they can find.

star quilt

Talk with them about their favorite colors and how the quilts were put together. Ask the demonstrators in the kitchen to show off the different layers of a quilt and how those tiny stitches are put in place. Explore the children’s quilts in the downstairs library. Kids and quilts are a great mix!

kids quilt

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