A quilt show, that is. And I’m knee deep in discovering how much is involved with doing just that. I’ve secured two venues and two show dates, photographed and measured 25 quilts (with a few more to go), and I made my way through the quilt identification process. It. Is. Happening. Happy New Year – I’m curating Flo & Edna quilt shows for April and May 2019!
What made me think of doing a quilt show? Opportunity knocked. Last June, I was working with a tour operator planning an Indiana Quilt Tour. I’ve done some quilting, have a few quilt shop connections, know of a couple quilt guilds, and thought there might be a Southeast Indiana show they would enjoy. She was interested – but the regional show I’d attended in the past had its final event in Spring 2018. Hmmm….
Fast forward to me pitching the idea of creating a show of family quilts to my cousins. Our grandmother (Flo), and the mother-in-law & grandmother (Edna) of these cousins, were passionate and prolific quilters, and we had most of their work. (Lovely work, I should add.) Their love of quilt making – a forty-year passion – created a family legacy and treasure. Long story short, they were in!
The first step for my cousins and I was to go through our stacks of quilts. Judy had the most as Flo was her grandmother and Edna was her mother-in-law. Judy’s daughter, Julie, had several from both grandmothers as well. I had a short stack, all made by Flo. We reached out to family out of town to gauge interest in being a part of the family show. Judy’s niece in Princeton, NJ and Julie’s daughter in Liberty, SC were definitely interested. Judy also had “wedding quilts” from two of her sons, Chip and David, and son John agreed to find his! My brother in Franklin, NC has a lovely applique quilt by Flo, and he may participate as well. No question, there were enough quilts to make this happen.
I contacted a colleague at Ohio County Historical Society in Rising Sun, Indiana to see if they would be interested in hosting a quilt show in their museum during April 2019 (the month the tour operator was planning her trip.) They signed on right away, happy to have a quilt event to replace their previous longstanding (and very awesome) annual QuiltFest held in April. Then I reached out to the Jefferson County Historical Society here in Madison, Indiana to see if they were interested in hosting the show at some later date. They were also enthusiastic, and offered to have the show during the Madison in Bloom Spring Garden Tour in May. What a perfect opportunity to showcase our beautiful floral applique quilts in particular to this audience.
OK, so now the show was real! I’d committed to deliver quilts, information on quilts, photos of the quilters, biographical information on the quilters, and any sewing artifacts related to the quilters. Let the groundwork begin!
Naming the Show
I decided to name the show Flo & Edna – Hoosier Quilters. Family. Friends. The show will feature the majority of quilts made individually by Flo Askin and Edna George, and a pair of quilts they made together. Both women spent their early married years living on the south side of Indianapolis in small communities just a few miles apart. In the 1930s, Flo became acquainted with Edna’s family when Flo’s daughter, Betty, went to the school where Mr. George was a trustee. They probably crossed paths frequently, but became family when Flo’s granddaughter, Judy List, married Edna George’s son, Phil.
Assessing Quilt Condition
Some quilts were fashioned from applique kits, while others were pieced designs (patchwork) in fabrics of their choosing. Some were quilted by Edna, some were quilted by church group quilters, but all were hand quilted. Some are in pristine condition, others are tattered treasures, and many have been loved to death. It was our opinion that although condition played a big part in what we wanted to display, many of the worn pieces showed interesting patterns and beautiful handwork and deserved to be seen. We decided to include as many of these as possible, even if displayed on ladder rungs or railings to showcase their best features. There were a couple that deserved a few repairs to render them “hang worthy.” I went to work on my Friendship Plume applique quilt of Flo’s. Judy enlisted the help of a quilter from Margie’s Country Store in Madison to replace a stack of missing applique pieces from two matching quilts made by Edna. Applique or patchwork, perfect or in shreds, the quilts showcase a love of needlework over a period of two concurrent lifetimes.
Identifying Quilt Patterns
Determining quilt pattern names, and the name of the company/supplier if a kit, proved to be a more lengthy process than I’d anticipated. If I were a more experienced and serious quilter myself, I doubt I would have been so surprised… Regardless, there were experts out there ready and willing to help find the information.
The two most amazing resources have been the Quilters Hall of Fame, a National Historic Landmark in the Marie Webster Home in Marion, Indiana and the Quilt Kit Identification website of Quilters Hall of Fame honoree, Rose Marie Werner, that is available through subscription.
I made the 3-hour road trip to the Quilters Hall of Fame in August. Volunteer Regina Thompson and I had been emailing back and forth about patterns I was struggling to identify. Among several resources available on site, she used Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns to find most of my stragglers. What’s more, she sent my friend and I off to have lunch at nearby Hostess House while she continued to do research on my list! (Totally worth a stop, by the way.)
Photographing and Measuring Quilts
Photos were needed to see the full design/pattern of each quilt, and measurements were needed to plan the venue floor layout. After what seemed like endless trips up a ladder and crawling on the floor, I’ve finished documenting my and Judy’s quilts. Julie’s are next, then any that come in from out of town. (For those of you that know I recently herniated two discs in my lower back, be assured these “floor and ladder” pics were taken well before my foolish lifting incident!)
Writing the Quilters’ Stories
I needed a short bio of both Flo and Edna – a little about their lives and some insight into their quilting styles and preferences – and identifying photos to accompany their stories. Luckily for me, I had family and genealogical records as well as digitized images to choose from to build their backstory. I’m sure I spent longer than needed looking over photos and records, but seeing it all really put a face on the show for me.
Now that the new year is here, I’m gearing up for Phase Two of the show preparation – getting the word out about the shows and pulling everything together for installation & hanging by the exhibit experts at the venues. There’s still a lot of detail work to be done, but things are shaping up nicely. I hope you’ll check back with Sally’s View as I post updates on Flo & Edna – exact show dates & hours, special activities offered during the shows, more photos of the quilts, and stories of the quilters. Who knows, it might be time for you to plan a trip to the rolling hills and river towns of Southeast Indiana to see Flo & Edna for yourself!