seeking subliminal creativity props

Today I was privileged to attend a special presentation of antique quilts housed in the hospital at the LDS Heritage Park. A member of the Salt Lake Quilt Guild gave an OSHER group presentation explaining the connection of quilting to our American society and to the Industrial Revolution. Quilts dated from the 1820’s to the 1940’s. While I would love to show them all to you here, I’ve managed to cull the file down to ten. Some are particularly unusual and many were hand quilted as well as hand pieced.

IMG_0001Behind the glass is a flowered applique, and the two on the right varieties of the pineapple motif. Below is an authentic Amish quilt from Amish country in Pennsylvania.


IMG_0019“Sunbonnet Sue” has always been one of my favorites. My mother made one for me not many years before she died, and it was my very favorite of all my quilts, but there’s a sad story behind it now. Not long after we moved here in fall of 2005, it disappeared. Hubby did not agree with me that we should change all the locks on the entry doors because there were so many of them he thought it was cost a fortune to replace them all. And he assured me we needn’t worry about locking up because we’d moved to Salt Lake City in Utah which was probably one of the most honest places in the country! The house had many prior occupants and there was no way to know how many keys were floating around at large, but I could not convince him.

After several quilts and a blanket had been missing for months, he still insisted I’d misplaced them, even though I keep all my quilts together in one display cabinet. We both looked high and low several times, but they never showed up. He’s a good man, my hubby, except he’s far too trusting for someone who’s been in this country nearly 40 years! I don’t even have a photograph of it, but now at least I have this one. 😥 One final twist to the story: when we finally had the locks redone, it cost $50. For me, the three quilts were priceless.

IMG_0025It’s too bad the detail isn’t better in this one. The design is made of one-half inch squares! by hand! Many of these fancier quilts were usually stored away and brought out to adorn the beds when company came. After they left, they would be carefully rolled up and put away until the next guest.

IMG_0029My first thought about this one was “Eeewww.” But then I got closer for a better look. The design is made with irregular shaped pieces of textured fabric with fur in the center, making it look like little animals in the center. I think my granddaughter would like this one. I could imagine stroking the fur as you lay under it on a cold wintry day.

IMG_0030And of course no quilt collection would be complete without the crazy quilt from the Victorian era. Some of the fabric scraps are shiny and textured and all are embroidered down the seams in fancy needlework stitches.

IMG_0036The building where the quilts are kept is a hospital from the pioneering era of the mid- to late 1800’s. The rooms are large, and the beds–several of them–are placed close to the walls. The next two pictures show how it might have looked during its hey day.


This quilt (below) is much plainer, probably made from random scraps, and tied rather than quilted. I have one similar to this hand-stitched by my grandmother with my father’s WWII-issue wool blanket as the filler material.


I rather like this one myself. It’s a unique way to use up those old silk ties to use as a table cover. It’s also tied rather than quilted.


There’s usually a method to my madness, and there’s a special reason I went to that quilt presentation today. You see, I have two quilts I’ve started–one is a sampler quilt of 12 blocks, and I’ve finished nine. The tenth is sooooooo difficult I’m stymied. The other is a simple four-inch-block rag quilt, lap size, made of flannel. I’m looking forward to having it closeby one of the Utah winters! But it’s so boring doing the same block over and over and therein lies the rub.

Anyhow, my daughter and I went to see Julie and Julia (the movie) a few weeks ago. We saw the last showing for the day and if it hadn’t been nearly midnight when it was finished, we would have gone out to eat straightaway; it made us so hungry! Now I’m still feeling the effects of watching two women on the screen, one of whom so enthusiastic in her life and cooking and the other determined to learn to be.

One of the scenes near the beginning showed Julie grilling French bread slices in gobs of butter and serving Bruschetta. Next day the subliminal message was still so strong,  nothing would do until I went out to buy a French Baguette to bring home for a Bruschetta snack. And then I started remembering some of the simple but delicious foods I used to cook back when I thought I liked to cook. And Hubby became so inspired to see me fiddling around in the kitchen again that he learned to make homemade yogurt! We are so inspired, and now he wants me to see Julie and Julia several times a year. Maybe we’ll even buy it when it comes out on DVD.

Who knows? The quilt show might work, too, inspiring me to finish those quilts before I die. The way I figure it, if I’m learning through Julie and Julie to enjoy cooking again, even a teensy weensy bit, it could happen! Anything’s possible.

6 thoughts on “seeking subliminal creativity props

  1. Lovely quilts. What is the difference between quilt and tie? google didn’t say.

    I read Julia Child’s “My Life in France” last week while recouping from eye surgery,
    (couldn’t go to the movie.) Felt like a cavewoman the way I make stir-fires with
    whatever’s in the fridge, becauase I don’t have to cook for anyone else.I do try to make tasty sauces, though.

    • The difference between quilting and tying,Eiko, is that the layers are quilted together by tiny (and at best) evenly spaced stitches by hand anywhere between 7 or 8 stitches per inch although the finest most artistic ones boast as many as 12! Part of the design is in the artistic arrangement of these stiches, scalloped or shell or echo stitching to name a few techniques. Tied quilts are done with yarn or strong thread by inserting the threaded needle from the top, then pushing it through and back to the top. The thread is then clipped and tied into a knot, and repeated all over to keep the layers together.

  2. Oh I love this post! The pictures of the quilts reminded me of my grandmothers and mother. Mother made the squares for a sunflower quilt and when she died we divided up between two of her grand daughters so they could make some quilts for their little girls. Don’t know if they ever did! I have a star quilt top that my mother hand stitched when she was in high school so it is probably close to 80 years old. I haven’t dared touch it but after reading this maybe I will. I have been afraid it would fall apart in my hands.

    I laughed when I read that you used to think you might like to cook … I keep having that same thought run through my head … maybe I would like to really get into cooking again. But … my husband is such a good cook why rock the boat?

  3. I still think that one quilt with the fur is EWWWWWW. Makes me shudder just to think about. I prefer the furry critter on my bed to be alive and purring (even if it does sometimes mean meowing as well)!

  4. Thank you so much for these photographs.

    Ewwww..I agree, but someone was making a traditional form…..surrounding a pelt with a backing.

    The other’s are charming. I dearly love the Sunbonnet Sue, and that Jacob’s ladder with the many 1/2 pieces is beyond outstanding. The one that captures my attention the most is the one you called plainer. Those fabrics were printed with one of the earliest methods, and that quilt is probably the oldest quilt there. It’s marvelous. I have one I found in a thrift store….which reminds me that I need to air it.

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