Thursday, February 23, 2017

Vintage Virginia Stitches

This week, Kara and I (Teri) are busy preparing to spend a quilt week in Virginia. First, we will go tho the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival in Hampton, and then we will spend the week in Williamsburg at the Academy of Appliqué, teaching our Floral Wreath and Secret Garden classes. 

As I assemble kits with lovely ribbons and threads, I am reminded of the trip to Virginia that I took with my husband in the fall. He is wonderfully accommodating when we travel and accompanies me to many a quilt shop, and sometimes even a museum or two. Last fall, we spent a day in Charlottesville, Virginia, and we found some beauties!

When I see a name like Quilts Unlimited on a sign, it is a sure thing that I will be drawn inside. Indeed, I was not disappointed when we got to the back of the store and saw the shelves stacked with vintage quilts. I knew we might be there for awhile. The quilt that intrigued me the most was a hand appliquéd album-style quilt, thought to have been made some time around the 1970s. Unfortunately, that was the only provenance known about the quilt, but it was a stunning piece of workmanship.

Album-style appliquéd quilt, c. 1970

Detail: rose wreath
Detail: vase of flowers
Detail: tulips and bird

Detail: cornucopia of flowers and grapes

Detail: dogtooth border, strawberries, and piped binding

I thought this piping made an interesting binding;
this was the first I had seen binding done this way.

The shop has an Etsy store, linked above,
if you are interested in seeing the quilts they have for sale.

As we continued to walk through the Historic Downtown Mall in Charlottesville, this shop called The Needle Lady was the next to lure me inside. 

The walls were filled with colorful eye-candy: threads of many kinds were beautifully arranged, just taunting me to try them. There were wools, silks, and wool/silk blends. And I confess, it was difficult to pick which colors I needed. I ended up with a lovely sampling of new threads to add to my fiber collection. (Addiction, perhaps?) Who could resist?!

Our last visit in Charlottesville was in this shop.
Don't you love the door stop?

The next day, we took a trip to Harrisonville, the home of the Virginia Quilt Museum. (That visit deserves a post all to itself!) After spending the morning studying the quilts in the museum exhibits, we decided to wander through the town. As we passed this antique jewelry store, below, I jokingly asked my husband if he thought he might need to buy me a small souvenir from the shop, but as I looked in the window, I saw an exquisite antique appliquéd quilt hanging on the wall. Of course, we went inside to study the quilts—there were three. (And no, I didn't get any jewelry souvenirs...)

This stunning Princess Feather quilt used to be red and green, but the green has faded to tan.

I love this quilt—it's such a gorgeous block! I believe it may be a variation of a Rose of Sharon block, but I cannot locater my Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Appliqué at the moment. (If only I put things away when I'm finished researching . . . ) Perhaps you know the name of this block; if so, could you tell us in the comments below? 

The scalloped border frames the quilt beautifully. And the quilting was superb!

This lovely pomegranate quilt, above, is the one I saw through the window that drew me inside. We spent some time chatting with the shop owner, James, and his friend, Wayne, about the quilts in the shop, and about quilts in general. Both are collectors of antique quilts and are involved with the Virginia Quilt Museum in town, and Wayne is learning to quilt. It was a privilege to have met them and to have had the opportunity to visit with them. It's so easy to make friends with fellow quilt lovers! 

We visited quite a few wineries while in this area. Virginia makes some delicious dry, red wines.

We also scoured several antique shops. As Kara mentioned last week, we both love to search for inspiration, hoping to stumble upon some treasure that may be within our budget limitations. Too often, we leave empty-handed, but our brains are usually filled with ideas.

Lone Star, c. 1930, made in Illinois 


The fabric choices in this Lone Star quilt are interesting; note that the star points are not identical. The corner blocks, above right, are each made with different fabrics as well.

A creative way to display a piece of an old quilt

An embroidered Colonial Lady
(To see more Colonial Ladies, read What a Lady!)

More vintage embroidery

This plate has some potential design elements for appliqué or embroidery—or both.
Stop back next week for more from Virginia! We will share some fun from the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival, and give you some insight into the Academy of Appliqué in Williamsburg. Maybe we will see you there? Have a "stitchy" weekend!


  1. What a wonderful post! First of all, I believe the Baltimore type album quilt is one of the controversial reproduction quilts that the Smithsonian sold during the 1990's. You can read about it here

    It was quite a buzz in the quilt world at the time. Of course the most tragic reproduction was the Harriet Powers Bible quilt. I think that was the straw that finally made them realize they were really doing a disservice to quilts and quilters and they stopped selling them. They still come up from time to time. Thanks so much for sharing this one.

    I envy your trip to the Virginia Quilt Museum. I would love to see the Shenandoah Valley Botanical Album quilt in person. Of course if I did I would realize all the mistakes I have made in making my version, but I don't think Esther (the original maker) would mind.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. That article led me to a description of the the original quilt, Eliza Jane Baile's "Bride's" Quilt, made in Maryland in 1850-51. ( Indeed, the original is far more exquisite.

      We spoke with the docent about the Shenandoah Valley Botanical Quilt, but it was not on display when we were there. We do plan to go back to see the current exhibit on appliqué quilts, so we'll look for it.

      Thanks, Wendy, for sharing the link! I encourage readers to check out both links above for some interesting background.