With no end in sight to Delaware’s recent spate of frigid weather, it’s a tempting thought to grab a book, a mug of hot chocolate and to curl up beneath a favorite old quilt.
That is, after all, what quilts are for. America’s early settlers, faced with a paucity of material and with new fabrics being almost prohibitively expensive, sewed together odd bits of cloth, producing practical, sometimes spectacularly decorated, blankets designed to ward off the cold.
Although the practical need for such work has long since abated, the practice of quilting lives on, particularly with the nine members of the A Stitch in Time Quilt Guild.
The nine-member group will display a number of their quilts beginning Friday at the Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village on North Dupont Highway, Dover.
Held in conjunction with Black History Month, this year’s program, “Music: Past, Present and Future,” will highlight the African American experience with a musical motif.
While many of the quilts come from published patterns, just as many are original creations, said President Ellen Harmon.
“A lot of times we don’t do designs from books,” she said. “We just enjoy making them up ourselves.”
“You know quilters, we all collect fabric for our ‘stash,’” said guild member Myra Nevius. “Then we just use what we need for that particular type of fabric.”
The quilt displays are an important part of the museum’s outreach program and help show the history of America, said Museum Director Di Rafter.
“At one time, every household had two or three quilts,” she said. “Not everyone could sew, so people bartered and traded for them.
“They were real pieces of art,” Rafter said.
Each of the guild ladies will have several of their own creations on display, and will be available on opening day to talk about the ideas and the work that went into each quilt.
But the women of the guild don’t make their quilts just to hang on museum walls. Year-round, they can be found sewing together miniature quilts and lap throws for patients at veterans hospitals, nursing homes and for others in need.
Some of the quilts put on display also will be offered for sale to interested buyers, Harmon said.
Past displays have been a major success, as well as a good fundraiser. All proceeds from the Friday event will be donated to the museum.
While the quilts are on display, school students on field trips to the museum will have the chance to learn the art of designing quilt patterns and cutting out and sewing together the different pieces of cloth needed to complete a quilt.
“Some of these students make some very interesting designs,” Harmon said. “I tell them they may just think they’re scribbling on paper, but we show them how it can be made into a design and they get really excited about that.”