Sunday, March 8, 2015

DAR - Eye On Elegance Quilt Exhibit

Tree of Life 1820-1839 Detail
Eye On Elegance Early Quilts of Maryland and Virginia
"In Eye on Elegance, the DAR Museum uses its extraordinarily rich holdings of Maryland and Virginia quilts to examine regional styles prior to 1860."

An extraordinary opportunity to see early quilts, most with known makers.  On display October 3, 2014 through September 5, 2015.  Read more about the DAR Museum HERE.

Young coed from Georgetown enjoying the exhibit

There is an exhibition catalog is a hard cover book that includes quilts not in the exhibit.  At 180 pages, it is a wonderful compliment to the exhibit.  Filled with informative research about the textiles, makers and quilt details.  

You can order a copy HERE through the museum shop.  They also have a full selection of related gift items - cards, magnets etc. if you want to add a few items to your order.     

104.5" x 120" finished quilt size

It is always interesting to see the detail in the quilts.  It was not crowded, so quality time with each quilt was easy!

This block is from the Waring/Arnold family.
17" Blocks, dated 1851
Beautiful embroidery and stuffed work.

Details on pg. 143 of the companion book.

Part of the exhibit gallery

The exhibit is arranged into four sections:  Applique, Albums, Pieced and Migration.

The exhibit space is filled with signage for each quilt.  In between the quilts are complimentary displays including sewing tools and fabric printing techniques.

Album block detail

More block detail.

This Baltimore album block is from circa 1850, unknown maker.
18" Square
It includes stuffed work, inking, and wonderful embroidery in a variety of stitches.

(Better photos in the book)

Hand work detail

The hand quilting was so inspiring to see close up. This example is noted as 15-16 stitches per inch.
Aren't the details important?
Made for Mary Mannakee Nichols (1827-1916)
17" Blocks, dated 1851
Sandy Spring, Montgomery County MD.
The pattern for this quilt is available in the DAR gift shop.

Fish Motif hand quilted

Detail from the Pieced Star Quilt dated 1853
Made by Mary Maccubbin Waters Waters (1817-1864)
Hand quilted at 15-17 stitches per inch

Fabulous block and roller-printed (solid too) cottons.  Blue Fondu sashing print.  
More information on the maker and her family is in the book.

Embroidered appliqued stuffed flower buds

The embroidered details add so much to the designs.
I think these flower buds are exquisite.

Baltimore Album Quilt about 1848
Made for Betsy Hobbs Harper (b. ca. 1810)
16" Blocks
Hand quilted 12-16 stitches per inch

Inked detail

The inking on the quilt is beautiful.  It is unusual for the center of a medallion to have such a large detailed ink design.  This photo is only one small section of the central design.  The book has several pages dedicated to this quilt.
Made by Mary Rooker Norris (1785-1868)
Williamsport, Washington County MD
104" x 102.5"
Hand quilted at 9 stitches per inch

Reverse Applique Detail

Reverse applique from one of the Catherine Markey Garnhart basket quilts.   This one is dated 1849.
Note the slight shadow of green showing through the ground fabric.

The book explains in detail the connection this quilt has to others from the same maker in the exhibit.  There is also a connection to the Eagle quilt shown HERE.

Hand Quilting Detail

Last, but certainly not least, I leave you with another detail of hand quilting from the quilt made for Mary Mannakee.Beautiful applique, embroidery, and hand quilting.

I hope you can make it to the exhibit and if not consider adding the exhibit book to your personal library.
Have a great week,


  1. Will you be attending the symposium nest fri. and sat.? I will be there on sat and i'm so excited.

  2. Thanks for whetting my appetite for this exhibit! So excited to be attending the symposium at the end of the week.

  3. I just recieved this book and had a chance to just skim through it. Looking forward to some time to spend reading it more closely.

    1. Thank you, Dawn and Donna, because you have both just sold me this book!

      Plus, the Mary Mannakee pattern is one I've been thinking about for a while, so, win-win!

  4. All beautiful and yet the 15-17 stitches per inch just blows me away. Glad there was a 9 in there. I can do 9 when I concentrate, even 11 occasionally but more than that? I just wonder how they managed. And to think skillful at every other part of the process as well. Amazing. ! :)

  5. Wonderful, wonderful quilts!! I love your close shots of the quilting. I can't imagine stitching 15 - 16 stitches to an inch - wow that is fine! Would LOVE to see these in person. Thanks for sharing your pictures :0)

  6. I love your photos and enjoyed the videos about the exhibit on You Tube a few months back. I am just amazed at the talent the makers exhibit. They didn't have all the fine notions we have today and were able to make such beautiful quilts.

    1. Some of their drawings (Applique plans) were in the exhibit. So much beauty from a needle and thread.

  7. I always enjoy your explainations along with the photos. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with all of us. Those quilts are exquisite. What a wonderful treasure.

  8. What an amazing experience to see these in person! Such dedication involved in the making.:)

  9. Received the book recently and it is lovely. Thanks for sharing your photos.

  10. Wonderful quilts and I would love to do some museum visits, Boston is not that far away from me.


    1. DAR is in Washington DC, but there are some great museums in Boston too!

  11. Can you tell me if the red line surrounding each block in the Waring/Arnold quilt is an inset of fabric or ink? I like the look it gives to the busy blocks.

  12. So glad you got to go! I plan to go in a couple of weeks when I'll be in the area for a doctor appointment and to pick my daughter up at the airport. Can't wait. Thanks for the preview!

  13. Thank you for this post. I would so love to go, but if I don't the DAR has a lot of info online.

    1. You are so right! They did a wonderful job with media like video and photos on the website. I hope you go!

  14. Looks like it's an amazing Exhibition and great that you got there.

  15. What an amazing exhibit - thanks for sharing. I love all of the gorgeous hand quilting. Beautiful!

  16. Received my book last week. It is superb. Thanks for sharing!

  17. It must be a feast for the quilter's eye to stand in front of these incredible works of art. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  18. Such a rich display of vintage handwork. A treat to have you share it with us. I love seeing the tiny stitches and marveling at the skills of those who could do that.

  19. What an amazing exhibit! thanks for sharing some photos with us. I adore the quilted fish!!!
    the berries are beautiful too :)

  20. Would just love to see this amazing exhibit "life", but since that is really too far from Holland, I enjoyed beeing a litte bit there through your lovely blogpost and detailed photos. Especially the handquilted fish-motif caught my eye... amazingly detailed!!! Thanks for sharing and kind regards, Ageeth.

  21. Thanks for your wonderful photos! Loved that colorful bird with the blanket stitching!

  22. Oh my! What amazing eye candy - I could just look and look and look and be inspired (or intimidated if I let myself!) Thanks for sharing!!


Thanks for your comments!