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Column #43

A Star Studied Event

Louise's Stars by Nancy Ostman

Mennonite Lone Star by Bobbi Finley

Eagle Medallion by Carol Godreau and Maureen Gregoire

When textile researcher, quilt historian, and Quilter’s Hall of Fame honoree Sally Garoutte started the American Quilt Study Group (AQSG) in 1980, her goal was “to preserve the story of quiltmaking—past, present, and future.”

By the time she died in 1989, the organization was well on its way to becoming one of the premier sources for scholarly examination of quilts and quilting in the world. Surely, Sally would have been especially pleased to see that legacy expand in a particularly tactile way in 2000, when the AQSG launched its first biennial Quilt Study.

AQSG members Penny Tucker, Bobbi Finley, Terry Clothier Thompson, and Terry Barnes came up with the idea to “replicate, either exactly or as an interpretation, a quilt of a particular style or period...[so that] members can learn from the textile the history, techniques, and perhaps something of the person who made the original.”

First, they challenged the membership to reproduce full-sized chintz quilts. They followed that up with two-color quilts, crib quilts, pre-1840 quilts, and red and green mid-19th century quilts, with each challenge drawing more participants.

When it came time to plan the 2010 Quilt Study, Penny and Bobbi, who had been overseeing the Quilt Study effort, decided that they were ready to hand the reins to someone else, and Greta VanDenBerg-Nestle (see the Suzy’s Fancy™ column “Vintage Stitching”) agreed to take on the task. Georgia Mildfelt Chiarella later joined her has co-chair.

“The theme for 2010 of 19th Century Star Quilts was selected to compliment the theme being planned for AQSG’s 31st annual seminar in Minneapolis, Minnesota,” said Greta. “I hoped that allowing quilts made throughout the 19th century would allow some variety in the types of star quilts used for inspiration.”

Each entry had to adhere to a set of published guidelines and had to include a photograph of the inspiration quilt as well as a written statement that described how the inspiration quilt was selected, the approach taken in constructing the resulting study quilt, and what the participant learned from making the study quilt. Study quilts were limited to a 200” perimeter and only AQSG members could participate.

Greta was thrilled with the response. “Every participant’s experience gained through the Quilt Study is unique and every one has a story to tell,” she said. “For instance, Nancy Ostman’s quilt, Louise’s Stars, is a perfect example of a study quilt inspired by the original, which is owned by The History Center of Tompkins County in Ithica, New York.  She took elements from the original quilt known as Treman Star, dated 1840-1857, and created a wonderful quilt of her own. Nancy was fortunate that her inspiration included information about the original maker, which gave her some possible clues regarding coloration of the original quilt.

“I personally view the Quilt Study as an opportunity to explore quilt history and research without the commitment required for an article or research paper. Participants are encouraged to explore some characteristic of their inspiration quilt and learn through the process of making a quilt of their own,” Greta continues. “Some participants are fortunate to have quilts with a known provenance, which allows them to look into the original quiltmakers’ lives.  Others may choose to explore some characteristic of their inspiration quilt, such as the design used in the quilt or the construction methods.  Participants are allowed to replicate their inspiration in its entirety or some portion thereof, or just simply be inspired by the original to create their own design that reflects some aspect of their inspiration quilt.”

The challenge produced 39 study quilts, all of which were displayed at the AQSG annual seminar. Each quilt, along with its story, can be seen by clicking here. The results were so spectacular that 25 of them were selected to tour the country to represent AQSG at various quilt-related events. In addition to having been shown at International Quilt Festival in the fall of 2010, the Star Quilts will travel to the following venues:

  • July – August 2011: New England Quilt Museum, Lowell, MA
  • September 17-18, 2011: Faithful Circle Quilters Show, Woodridge, IL
  • November 2011 – January 2012: Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum, Golden, CO
  • March 2012: Dallas Quilt Celebration, Dallas, TX
  • April – August 2012:
    International Quilt Study Center & Museum, Lincoln, NE

Moreover, a book of the quilts, Stars! A Study of 19th Century Star Quilts by the American Quilt Study Group, has been published by The Kansas City Star and AQSG. All proceeds will benefit the American Quilt Study Group. Sally Garoutte would be proud indeed!

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Archived blogs:

Column 144: Texas Community Marks Juneteenth Sesquicentennial with History Quilts
Column 143: Maya Embroidered Patchwork
Column 142: Huipil Patchwork Quilts
Column 141: Tom Korn’s Military Medal Quilts
Column 140: The Return of Double Knits!
Column 139: Passage Quilts
Column 138: Home of the Brave Quilts
Column 137: The Story of Fabric Yo-Yos
Column 136: Christmas in July
Column 135: Trifles
Column 134: Deaf Initiatives—Communicating Through Quilts
Column 133: My Betty Boop Quilt
Column 132: Maura Grace Ambrose
Column 131: All You Need Is Love
Column 130: Chicken Linens
Column 129: The Quilted Chuppah
Column 128: Patchwork Around the World: Yoruba Dance Costumes
Column 127: The Bowers Co-Op Quilts
Column 126: Fon Appliqué and Haitian Voodoo Flags
Column 125: The Quilt Garden at The North Carolina Arboretum
Column 124: Harriet Powers and Handful’s Mauma
Column 123: Quilters de Mexico
Column 122: An Appliquéd Surprise
Column 121: Matisse’s Fabric Stash
Column 120: Soogan—The Cowboy’s Quilt
Column 119: The Ron Swanson Quilt
Column 118: HClarkdale, Georgia—A Thread of History
Column 117: How WWI Changed the Color of Quilts in the United States
Column 116: Wagga—The Bushman’s Quilt
Column 115: All in the Family
Column 114: The Alabama State Quilt
Column 113: Balloon Quilts of Albuquerque
Column 112: The Family That Quilts Together, Stays Together
Column 111: Two Rivers, Three Sisters
Column 110: Quilters Helping Quilters
Column 109: Community Cookbooks and Fundraiser Quilts—Parallel Histories
Column 108: Quilting to Freedom
Column 107: National Quilting Day
Column 106: The Airing of the Quilts
Column 105: A Call for a National Juneteenth Commemorative Quilt
Column 104: Dominoes
Column 103: 1936 Texas Centennial Bluebonnet Quilt
Column 102: Helen Blackstone, A Texas Quilter
Column 101: Montana CattleWomen Anniversary Brand Quilt
Column 100: 100th Suzy's Fancy Column!
Column 99: Montana Stockgrowers Anniversary Brand Quilt
Column 98: The Tobacco Sack Connection
Column 97: Meet the Sisters Who Are State Fair Quilting Queens
Column 96: The connection between fairs and quilts.
Column 95: Her Mother Pieced Quilts
Column 94: Rebecca Barker’s Quiltscapes
Column 93: The Thread and Thimble Club Mystery

See other archived columns here

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