Visiting the Iowa Quilt Museum
I went to Des Moines this week to see my great-nieces and great-nephew show their pigs on the Iowa State Fairgrounds.
My family’s roots in the livestock industry go way back, and these kids are the fifth generation that I know of to show competitively.
They have so much fun doing this, and they’re learning a lot. Their last name is Higbie, so they’re fondly known as the Higlets.
One and a half days of pigs was enough for me, so from there I went down the road to Winterset, Iowa. You may know Winterset as the home of Fons & Porter. It’s also Covered Bridge Central—did you read The Bridges of Madison County back in the day? This is that Madison County. It’s really quite beautiful.
My plan was to make my first visit to the Iowa Quilt Museum, which sits right on the charming town square amidst numerous other businesses. I could have spent at least a day exploring the shopping. The popularity of the covered bridges has really perked this place up.
The museum is in a former JC Penney store. It’s been beautifully redone and it retains some of its old personality.
The current exhibit is “A Quilts of Valor Salute” which includes 17 Quilts of Valor made especially for display at the IQM. Each pattern is featured in the recently published book, Quilts of Valor: A 50 State Salute. Also on display are “Old Glory” quilts from the collection of Mary Kerr, each a vintage, patriotic top recently quilted by invited longarm quilters.
I was mostly interested in the antique or vintage quilts, so those are the ones I shot. This quilt feels like a hybrid of New York Beauty and Double Wedding Ring.
I liked this Bear Paw quilt, especially the strong columnar effect of the vertical sashing and cornerstones. Notice how the horizontal sashing is a softer color.
We can’t know whether this effect was purposeful or not, but I think it’s very effective.
There’s a lot of dense quilting on this piece. The next quilt was my favorite of those hanging in this exhibit.
This vintage applique quilt top has a lot of personality. Notice how the blocks differ. Some of the motifs are much chubbier than others. They’re all shaped a little wonky.
I love the way this highlights the humanity of the maker. Nothing “factory made” about this one. The quilter did a nice job of making feathers to fit inside the red applique. And I like the curls in the blue sashing.
I’d call this an Economy block, and what made it so interesting is the variety of quilted motifs in the blocks.
A great job by the longarm quilter. So much to see! Jo Morton says that a successful quilt is one that keeps you looking.
That’s exactly what this one did for me.
This Flying Geese quilt caught my eye for a couple of reasons. You don’t see Flying Geese going sideways as often as you see them set vertically so the Geese are moving up or down.
If you think about real geese, it makes more sense to arrange them sideways like this. The second thing that caught my eye was the right-hand border: totally different from the others. This adds weight to my theory that running out of fabric is never really a problem.
The third thing is how the points of the Flying Geese are just cut off as needed at the right end of each row. Don’t stress, don’t fuss, just cut them off. Wouldn’t that be something to embrace?
And last, I like the words that are quilted in the blue sashing. If you look at the full shot, you’ll see that it’s the Pledge of Allegiance.