Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Next Layer - Chester County Historical Society

See the tiger?
The first day of my May trip was spent at the Chester County Historical Society (CCHS). Their current exhibit is, "Quilts - The Next Layer Rotation #2".  In advance, I enrolled in a special Saturday program that included several textiles from storage just for us!

The group was kept small for optimal viewing.
Quilt historian Barbara Garrett and museum curator Ellen Endslow facilitated two groups through countless pre civil war textiles behind the scenes.

Through July 12 - YOU can still visit the museum and see the public exhibit. (HERE).

The Pennock Album Quilt is on exhibit. Some of you might recall the reproduction fabric line and pattern that was out years ago. That project helped support funding for the museum through licensing.

Our museum collections need financial support!

The museum exhibit includes pieced and appliqué quilts.

It covers several decades of quilting.

Many pieces have local provenance to the CCHS area.

The galleries are arranged with seating so you can soak in the beauty of each quilt.

Good signs and labels tell about the exhibit and the quilts.

I love everything about the quilt.
The fabrics, setting and sewn edge finish.

After viewing the exhibit we went to the storage area where another grouping of pre-civil war textiles was ready for viewing and discussion.

We were greeted with a table of doll beds, a silk bonnet and childs kerchief used as part of a quilt back.

The box at the end of the table is acid free with acid free tissue. The textile treasures are now packed safely away in storage.

Larger tables were used for the quilts.

There was seating here - but who could sit when we had treasures to study!

This wool intarsia quilt is very rare.
Documentation for this quilt has been provided to Annette Gero who collects, studies and writes about this style of textile. She will be exhibiting this quilt style at the American Folk Art Museum in NYC September 6 2017 to January 7, 2018 then in Lincoln Nebraska sometime in 2018.

After a delicious catered lunch, the groups switched again and we were treated to more wonderful quilts. I can only share a fraction of what we saw here. If you have the opportunity to attend an event like this, be sure to grab it!

We saw so many inked blocks in quilts I lost count. Techniques included stamps, stencils, hand script, scriveners - many with drawings and dates.

Once again we were treated to large tables and could walk around the quilts to catch every detail.
Interesting "feathers" on the lower border.
Fascinating array of red prints in the appliqué. The block shapes were probably cut from folded paper.
The center of each block is inked with a name.
Given the large size of the "font" in the lettering there was discussion as to whether it was hand or stamped.

This quilt is all silk. The two colors of silk in the warp and weft gave it a wonderful color change as you moved around the table.

It is embroidered 1857 with the initials A.M.B.

In one corner the hand quilting motif includes an adult size hand with a heart in the center. There were several different motifs in the larger squares of the quilt.  The diamond sashing was outline quilted.

We saw a few mosaic patchwork pieces.
This one was so vibrant, stunning assortment of prints.

Note the hand quilting follows the share of the hexagons.

Wouldn't you love these prints today?
This quilt had a wonderful brown chintz border  (mitered corners) that was quilted in chevrons.

We saw some piecing with lots of prints too!

Oh...the fabrics we saw!

This quilt included prints over a few decades.

The green was rather dark in this 1846 quilt.
We saw many shades of green in quilts dated pre-1860.

This quilt was also quite large, draping the edges of the tables.

Excellent condition, beautiful stitching it was one of many that got a 'gasp' when revealed.

They have 100's of quilts in their collection.

This is the detail of the green print in the 1846 album.

The appliqué was done in all one piece.

You can see part of the light inking on the block.

Look at the tiny hand quilting stitches - very, very thin batting.

When we finished the program we hand show and share. One family heirloom brought to show included all of the paper and templates for the full mid 19th century album quilt. The appliqué paper patterns, hand quilting templates and notes. It was a treasure to see.

We were then free to explore the museum until it closed. I always enjoy opening the samplers drawers. This 1774 sampler is stunning. Thank you to the sampler guilds who help fund this type   of open storage.

Remember you have until July 12, 2017 to see the public exhibit at the Chester County Historical Society.
I hope you enjoyed the photos!

Layers: Unfolding the Stories of Chester County Quilts
    Available used on Amazon and from the CCHS Gift Shop


  1. I sure did enjoy them!! What am amazing event! Such lovely quilts! Thanks so much for sharing :0)

  2. What a treat to see what you saw! I can just imagine what it was like in person. Gorgeous quilts, and the sampler too!

  3. The red and green applique quilt is my favorite.

  4. Dawn preciosos edredones
    gracias por compartir estas fotos!!

  5. What a treat to see these beauties in person .
    Thanks for sharing them with us here.

  6. I wished such exhibitions would be here, in Holland, somewhere. But meanwhile I am very pleased you show us your photos and the information in this interesting blogpost; thank you for sharing! Knowing you a little bit, you must have been thrilled to see all these ancient quilts and fabrics!

  7. What an awsome exhibit! Those woman who made those quilts without all the help from the modern techniques that we have... truly amazing!

  8. Thank you sharing your photos of these quilt treasures. Seeing them up close and personal would be a very special opportunity.

  9. I thank you so much for sharing these treasures with those of us who will not be able to see them in person. I would truly love to see that wool quilt in person. They always a maze me. I have finally used a bit of my Pennock Album fabric and now I wish I had bought the entire bolt!

  10. I visited the museum this week and enjoyed the exhibit. Your photographs and comments are a wonderful reminder. Lucky you to get the tour! The Primitive Hall quilt is special, so is the Historical Society. We are fortunate to have such strong commitments to preservation.

  11. Gasps all over I am sure. Over here too. Thank you for sharing many pictures. We have nothing like this in The Netherlands, so love to see all this on your blog.

  12. I love ❤️ this post, Dawn. Thank you for sharing info from what sounds like an incredible Saturday afternoon. The Primitive Hall top is such a favorite of mine and I never tire of looking at it in the AQSG book...


Thanks for your comments!