Winter Park / Quilt exhibit: Piecing together history
May 6, 2009
Barbara Mitchell sat with a quilt across her lap. As her needle pulled the thread through the fabric, she examined the pieces and saw fabric she remembered from clothes she wore as a child.
It was the second family heirloom quilt she had completed. The first was by her grandmother, quilted in the 1930s and the second one was by her mother from the early 1940s.
Her grandmother began a quilt during the Great Depression, but didn’t finish it. Mitchell stored it until 2001 when she decided to finish it herself.
As she worked, she enjoyed the tangible connection to her grandmother.
“I was just happy to have something of hers,” Mitchell said. “I was just thrilled.”
Must of the cloth was frayed around the edges of the quilt.
“The materials in the Depression were not that good,” Mitchell said. “The sashing (the strips of fabric between quilt blocks) was worn out, so I ripped it apart.”
Quilts have changed since the days Mitchell’s grandmother and mother were piecing together pieces of worn out clothing. Today, quilts are made from purchased and collected pieces of fabric and sewn into dramatic wall hangings worth thousands of dollars.
“It’s evolved from a necessity of the early pioneers to an art form,” Mitchell said.
The Pioneer Village Museum carries a book titled “The Quilt That Walked to Golden” by Sandra Dallas.
The book tells the story of a pioneer woman who traveled from Columbus, Ohio to Colorado with another couple. The women wore all their clothes, layered, because they didn’t want to leave anything behind.
“As her dresses wore out,” Mitchell said, “she made quilts. That was the story of the pioneers.”
On Friday and Saturday, the Grand County Historical Association will host a quilt exhibit that will include pieces from the days of the early pioneers who came West to the modern day quilt artist.
As many as 90 quilts will be on display at the Cozens Ranch Museum, located next to the entrance of Rendezvous between Fraser and Winter Park.
The exhibit will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days, with a tea reception at 2 p.m. Saturday.