Des Moines: Quilt Capitol


Okay. Okay. I know Paducah is really Quilt City USA, or “the Quilt Caiptol” but I tell you what, folks, we do it up right here in Iowa. The entire city took it to heart when the American Quilter’s Society agreed to bring their Expo here this October. Our State Historical Museum had a special exhibit, our Botanical Center had an exhibit, there was the Quilt Walk, art galleries with art quilt exhibits, and quilt happenings all over town. Some of them are still going on, and I hope to take them in yet this week. I did get a chance to see the quilt exhibit at Living History Farms last week. They do one every October, and this year, it coincided with the AQS Expo.
LHF is a living history site that includes a recreated fictional 1875 town, Walnut Hill, Iowa, a 1700 Iowa Indian Farm, an 1850 Pioneer Farm, and a 1900 Farm. It is built on the original estate of the Flynn family…their 1875 Italianate style mansion and barn still stand on the site…

There are 360 vintage quilts in the museum collection, every October they bring 30 of the quilts out to display in the Walnut Hill Church…at the East end of town…

I first visited LHF on a field trip in the 6th grade. I remember that day like it was yesterday, this place left an indelible mark on me. I really enjoy the drug store, complete with mortar and pestle in the compounding area, where the duggist would mix your prescription. I remember when I was twelve, being amazed by the container of live leeches on the counter. I checked. They still have a glass container of live leeches on the counter in 2008. Just like they would have had in 1875…

The interpreters speak in first person (they take on a character and introduce you to their shops and homes as they would if they really were that character) This gal is coming back to work at the newspaper after taking a lunch break with her lunch basket in hand…

The printing presses are amazing, you can print your own souvenir here and try out the press…

There is also a milliner’s shop where she was sewing this ruffled trim with her New Home treadle machine…

a doctor’s office, attorney’s office, Post Office, bank, one-room school, livery stable, general store (where you can actually but reproduction fabric!), a carpentry/undertaker’s shop, and the homes and barns. Oh the homes. The Tangen Farm House is my favorite…

Isn’t it gorgeous? There were reproduction quilts (exact replicas of some of the vintage quilts in the collection) displayed all over the houses. I love this pomegranate applique quilt…

Way too many photos to share, and this post is already getting too long…so I will share some of the shots from inside the church of the thirty vintage quilts they displayed this year. This lovely Marie Webster original…STUNNING…

A crazy quilt with very unique appliques, embroidery motifs, and fabric combinations…this one will have it’s own post one day soon…

LHF sells some of their quilt patterns, meaning patterns they developed from quilts in there collection. I bought the pattern for this windblown flowers quilt on the left.

The quilt on the right side of that photo was made by Lydia Wood, the maiden aunt of Grant Wood. The name of Grant’s sister, Nan Wood is printed in the bottom right corner with the date it was given to her by her aunt, Lydia.

This green and red quilt has never been laundered…not ever in it’s more than 150 year life. Probably never used, either. How do they know? Because the green dye is vibrant and bold, and green dyes from that time period faded immediately upon washing.

This was a fun charm quilt…

with just one special, fussy cut hexagon…makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Why just one? Why on the left side, not at the center?

and a lovely Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt, with the printed feed sack visible on the backside…

I am so enjoying my quilt tour of Des Moines…and looking forward to next October already!

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7 thoughts on “Des Moines: Quilt Capitol

  1. I love places like that! My hubby and I are the type of people who ask millions of questions about the history and restoration of old homes that we tour. I was terrible when we visited the Biltmore Estate in Ashville. My tour group was about to kill me by the end of tour, cause I was asking so many questions.

  2. I’m glad to know about the farms. Maybe I’ll get there someday. Although I live on the east coast now, my roots on my Dad’s side are in Van Buren county.I love the quilt you bought the pattern for. How can I buy the pattern? BTW, the link to the farms in your blog doesn’t work. Once I did get to the website, I found they don’t have an online shop.

  3. Barbara,The pattern is called “Swirling Flowers” it is a Living History Farms Historic Textiles pattern, inventory #7120002, $6.00. The phone number for the Market Place Gift Shop is 515-278-5286, x156. Good luck!Doris

  4. Pingback: Vintage View: The Ties That Bind | made by a brunnette

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