An Iowa Quilt

When we saw the Sum of Many Parts exhibit last January, we also saw the Iowa Sesquicentennial Quilt on display at the State Historical Society. I don’t believe I’d ever seen it before. The log cabin border is stunning, and the quilting is great:

ISQuiltFullIowa became a state in 1846, the Sesquicentennial (150 years) was celebrated in 1996. Each of the 99 counties submitted a block in the shape and scale of their county. Some are embroidered, some appliqued, some just drawn or inked on:

ISQuiltDetail1Polk County is where Des Moines is located (orange block with star on it) and we have a beautiful state capitol building which is in the center of the block. Madison County is famous for its covered bridges

ISQuiltDetail2The one with the John Deere logo is where I grew up, Black Hawk County, home of John Deere Tractor Works and the University of Northern Iowa and named for Sauk war chief Black Hawk.

ISQuiltDetail3This little quilted heart on the Iowa County block is very small, but it really stands out. The hand embroidered sites in the Keokuk County block impressed me as well:

ISQuiltDetail4The background quilting is full a different motifs, corn stalks, stars, banners, eagles, wild roses (our state flower), a goldfinch (the state bird)…


ISQuiltDetail7I was glad we got to see this, I’m not sure if it is on a semi-permanent display or not. But we both enjoyed looking it over for little details and surprises.

Happy Birthday to my big brother, Steve, today!




2 thoughts on “An Iowa Quilt

  1. Doris, I always appreciate your attention to & knowledge of quilting history & development in addition to your own Modern esthetic. Thx for the info. I, too, got to see our Iowa quilt at an AQS Des Moines show a few years ago & had fun looking at counties esp. relevant to me & my family.

  2. I’m so tickled to see this quilt again! Thank you for showing it. I’m proud to say I have a block in it. It’s one of the border blocks. Interestingly, when this quilt was first made, it was professionally photographed and made into a poster that was given to everyone as a thank you… or maybe we paid a small amount for it? In any case, I was so excited to have the poster, and look for my block. Only I discovered that when the poster was made, whoever did the printing decided to remove the last round of the outside border! Wouldn’t you know… that’s where my block was! Thanks for the throwback reminder of being a teeny part of Iowa’s history.

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