Iowa-Illinois Quilt Study Group
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March 31 – April 1, 2006 Iowa-Illinois Quilt Study Group Kalona, Iowa
The weekend started off at the United Christian Baptist Church with the
lecture, “A Tisket a Tasket, a Pretty Quilted Basket” given by
Catherine Noll Litwinow. She shared her collection of antique quilts she’s
collected and some she made. There were very few repeats of any of the
baskets. They ranged in size from three inches to fifteen inches. A try at
counting all the triangles in the Basket of Chips quilt took too long –
There were pieced baskets either empty or full, appliqued quilts with
fruits and flowers, and mixed techniques; often the handle would be
appliqué and the basket pieced. The lecture was followed by cookies and
conversation in the dining hall. This evening lecture addition to the
week-end was a lovely way for the travelers to get together the night
before the meeting and share. Many of us were like the little guy on the
Disney commercial-“I’m too excited to sleep!”
The Kalona Fire Department’s pancake breakfast was available to those
who got up early; otherwise, the IIQSG met in the lobby of the Kalona
Historical Village Visitor Center mingling, eating donut holes and
purchasing items from the “quilt stuff” tables – primarily books and
magazines donated by attendees.
The meeting proper started at 9:30 a.m. in Grout Church with a welcome
from Marilyn Woodin, IIQSG tri-founder (with Catherine Litwinow and Susan
Wildemuth), Kalona Quilt and Textile Museum Curator, and on-site
coordinator for the IIQSG meetings. Susan Wildemuth and Connie Bandstra
registered attendees. Andi Reynolds and Kathy Last manned the sale table.
Catherine Noll Litwinow was meeting leader.
Most guests came for the morning’s show and share. It started with
Sarah’s wonderful museum quality Crazy Quilt. Having heard about Copake
Auctions of NY at a previous IIQSG meeting, she took advantage of phone
bidding. A flag from 1876 helped to narrow down the quilt’s date. There
was a ribbon from the Spanish and American War, butterflies, fans, a
turtle, a goose and the “have to buy it factor”—a Black Cat on Pink.
Her second quilt was a full size queen made most likely by a PA Mennonite
from 1920-1950. The yellow, green and brown nine-patch with saw tooth
yellow and brown inner border had five outer borders of green, blue and
brown. This quilt of plain fabrics glowed in the church light.
Kitten was the theme for Virginia’s Kitten Quilt (glad she got her
taxes done to be with us). Pink and Blue cats play with a spool of thread,
a kit quilt purchased with a 1916 “Home Needlework Magazine.” $1 for
the top (possibly wool) and three cents for the floss.
An antique store in Bloomington, IL had Leona’s Rising Sun quilt.
Garibaldi reds (these reds were named after the Italian hero whose
soldiers wore red shirts in the late 1800’s) and a machine-sewn indigo
binding weren’t clues to its date. The back was made of feed sacks
advertising a Kansas mill. Baptist Fan was the quilting design.
A Missouri Daisy/Friendship Star quilt was made by Cathy’s
Grandmother Sarah Peel and her paternal great-grandmother. The 1930 pink
and white quilt was most likely made in Weaver, IA. Ice Cream Cone border
completed the quilt.
Cousin Elizabeth Anderson made the top, Great Aunt Laura Holiday of
Ottumwa, IA gave the batting and Betty’s mother hand quilted this 1953
graduation quilt. This Irish Chain in blues and whites is a family
Illinois member, Marian, brought two quilts and her daughter Jane to do
the talking. The first quilt is known as an Anvil by the family. Emma
Heidrich Holstrman made the blue chambray squares from men’s work
shirts. The second quilt was made in 1941 by Emma. The aqua Penny Squares
displayed tiny embroidery stitches. The family has learned about the
unfortunate effects of sun on fabric. Lots of quilting was done by Emma
and her Baptist Church daughters.
Hearts set together to form flowers was the Wedding Quilt owned by
Delilah of Decatur County, Iowa. This show stopper in red, green and white
has a twin, which was given to Delilah’s sister. The quilting is of a
vase of flowers, and a vine border with half feathers add to the quilt.
Having complete provenance, words and family pictures is a quilt historian’s
Our Susan finds wonderful Iowa quilts to share with us. Hubert Ver
Mehren of Des Moines designed the Sirius Star Medallion quilt. A bit of
astronomy lesson followed - Sirius meaning the brightest star, blue star
or Dog Star found in the Canis Major constellation. Susan’s blue, yellow
and white star measures 75” x75”. This quilt came from Ohio and was
purchased on eBay. Hubert’s designs were sold in catalogues, newspaper
ads and the Royal Neighbor of America Insurance Company newsletter. Mr.
Ver Mehren did not produce kits with pre-cut pieces; he stamped the shapes
on fabric for the customer to cut-out.
The eye-catching embroidery award went to Shirley’s Miscellaneous
Birds quilt made by Twylann Cushing in 1990 in Rockford, IL. The quilt was
quilted in 1998. This artist would use magazine pictures as a guide and
then, using exquisite embroidery stitches, recreate the birds. Several of
the birds are not common in Iowa, such as the Besick Hen and Red Capped
It was at this time that Andi unveiled IIQSG’s new periodical “Pieces
of Time: A Quilt and Textile History Magazine.” This publication effort,
we think the first from a small quilt study group, will produce two issues
a year based loosely on each meeting’s study topic. The inaugural issue
features articles on a Women’s Relief Corp quilt (Marilyn Woodin), Susan
Wildemuth’s excellent research on Mary Wolf and on Virigina Snow
Studios, Redwork and more. Also included are Herstories (biographies of
quilters), quilt history book reviews, editorials and IIQSG member news.
To purchase your copy, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. $11 (includes
s/h). Own a piece of history. For article submission guidelines use the
above email address.
Show and share continued with our Minnesota member, Rosie, sharing her
Dresden Plate. Its medallion setting made this a most attractive quilt of
a popular pattern. Found in an Iowa antique store, this yellow/cheddar
sateen and multi-colored plates was most likely made in the 1930’s or 40’s.
Echo quilting around the 15 medallions was done on a grid and included
Pat Speth, author of Nickel Quilts and More Nickel Quilts, brought the
original antique quilt purchased on eBay and the fabric swatches for her
next line of fabric by Windham. Without labels it will impossible to
identify the antique from the reproduction quilts.
Since our last meeting, Marilyn found a Redwork quilt to share. The
quilt was purchased at auction from a store in Dubuque, IA. The wonderful
motifs were expertly done and varied from those seen at the August 2005
Marilyn W. showed an Ohio/Indiana Amish hired man’s quilt. It was
made in 1930-40 by an unknown Amish woman. Hired men’s quilts were not
necessarily used for hired men, but these quilts have acquired that kind
of title. They are for a bed like a day bed. Some were thought to be for
an elongated crib, but it would have had to be quite a long crib – hence
the name “hired man’s quilt.”
Marilyn Woodin amazes us with her quilt shows; each one tops the last.
A tour of the basket quilts at the Kalona Quilt and Textile Museum had
most of us speechless. This was a once in a lifetime exhibit of quilts.
The quilts came from IIQSG members’ collections, the museum and other
donors. A mixture of rich, solid colored Amish Baskets hung next to
utilitarian pieced baskets and the always awe-inspiring Marie Webster
Some of the Reif Spool Cabinet Collection, the largest private
collection of spool cabinets in the United States, complimented the quilts
A tasty salad lunch was served by the United Christian Baptist Church
The afternoon found the church sanctuary filled with participants’
basket quilts. The quilts were laid across the pews in divisions of
pieced, appliqué and mixed techniques of construction. All members were
experts, with each sharing the provenance on the quilts they brought. The
groups’ knowledge was shared as we identified the ages of the quilts;
this proved a delightful question and answer activity. The stumper of the
day was a baffling one. The quilt didn’t want to fit into any one age
until its owner, Shirley, said the antique fabric backing was used in that
it was the only piece of fabric that fit the contemporary top.
The on-going IIQSG Redwork Fund Raiser top was shown pinned together.
$3 for a 5” square and $5 for a 10” square of muslin and floss. The
squares are to be embroidered and returned to IIQSG when finished. As an
Educational Auxiliary of the Kalona Quilt and Textile Museum, this old
fashion fund raiser will help IIQSG provide funds to maintain the
collection. Contact Virginia Berger: 214 S. 13th St., Adel, IA 50003,
(515) 993-1098 email@example.com
Another fund-raising project is the sale of photo CDs of the show and
share portion of each meeting. A PC-compatible CD of the August 2005 is
available for $6 (includes s/h). Future meeting CDs will be available,
too. Order from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Circle August 5, 2006 for the next IIQSG meeting at Kalona Historical
Village, Kalona, Iowa. The study topic will be Kit Quilts, lead by Shirley
McElderry, Deb Rake, and Rosie Werner.
Respectfully submitted – Catherine Noll Litwinow