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Quilts of all colors, patterns and ages will be on display at the annual Spring Quilt Show in the Historic Fort Steuben Visitor Center from April 3 to 14.
The exhibit includes several 60 year old completely hand-sewn quilts to more modern, machine-stitched pieces. “Quilts are an excellent reflection of their times,” noted Judy Bratten, director of Historic Fort Steuben. “Most were created by women using what they had available. But as families became more prosperous, the women purchased fabrics specific to the designs they were incorporating in their quilts. And as technology improved sewing and quilting machines, those tools became popular.”
“Part of our history in the Valley was the preponderance of woolen and textile mills. This history could have been forgotten if not for collectors and museums who appreciate the historic value of quilts and garments made locally,” Bratten added.
As a way of highlighting the importance of the subject, on Saturday, April 8th, Angela Feenerty, president of the Historical Society of Mount Pleasant, will speak on early textile manufacturing in the area and the impact of abolition on textiles. In the early 1800s Mount Pleasant had three times the population it currently has and was a center of commerce. Much of what is now Union Street housed numerous businesses. Mount Pleasant could boast silk, woolen and flax mills along with cabinetmakers, carpenters, dressmakers, milliners, shoemakers, saddlers, blacksmiths, five churches and its own bank. It was well known for its high quality and award winning livestock and silk fabric. Feenerty will have samples of Mount Pleasant silk that was produced at the time. The program will begin at 1:00 pm.
Bratten added that quilting is a theme in literature as well as history. “There are a series of mystery stories where the heroine has to ‘pick up the pieces of her life’ to solve a murder while learning more about herself as well as the art of quilting. Several of those books are on sale during the exhibit.”
The exhibit will be open from 10am to 4pm, Monday-Friday as well as on Saturday, April 8. Admission is free but donations are welcome. The Visitor Center is located at 120 S. 3rd Street in Steubenville.