Magic in Ilwaco!

Mar 20, 2011 | 4 comments

“Dressing The Part”

     Yesterday we spent a magical few hours at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum enjoying the Peninsula Quilt Guild’s 16th Annual “Quilting at the Beach” exhibit.  Why in the world haven’t I gone before?  I loved it!  I could have spent all day wandering, looking, admiring, enjoying.  And next year I intend to do just that.
     I don’t know which part I loved most.  Was it the patterns, the colors, the marvelous designs that drew me in and kept me entranced in room after room?  Or was it the actual construction – the intricacies of the quilting and trying to imagine how such beauty was actually and physically accomplished?  Or was it the stories behind each quilt – ‘the why’ it was made and ‘the what’ it represented?
     For me, the “real” quilts had the greatest appeal – especially the old ones that I could imagine being used on cold winter nights, snuggled under by a sleeping child, perhaps.  I particularly liked the stories of quilts that had been “rescued” from the rag bag or the dog’s bed and lovingly repaired for use by another generation or two.
     One quilt, “Dressing The Part” by Renee Newstrum spoke loudest to me, probably because it was, in fabric form, what I try to do with my writing.  This is what Renee said about it:
     My love of vintage clothing and a box stuffed with scraps from my grandmother’s attic inspired the block for this quilt.  Among the 99 little dresses is my mother’s wedding gown and bridesmaids and countless other garments from years before I was born.  I kept the overall style of the quilt simple to focus on the wonderful assortment of prints.  Each block is backed with a reproduction print and assembled in a quilt-as-you-go-method.
     Even hung for display, the quilts exuded warmth.  I felt surrounded by the caring, loving women who had created such beauty out of scraps and imagination.  I came away from the exhibit somehow reassured that at least a part of our world is still on track.  I also got to thinking that I’d like to be a quilter when I grow up…


  1. Stephanie Frieze

    How long does the show last, Sydney? I love quilts. I have some that my grandmothers and a great grandmother made. When I was a child my grandmother would tell me where the various fabrics had come from. “This one was a dress your Aunt Sandra had when she was a little girl. This one came from a flour sack we had when your dad was little…” I have a quilt top that I am ill prepared to quilt and need to find someone I can pay to do it. It was stitched by my grandmother. For several years I worked for a teacher who actually finds quilting relaxing! The year my first grandchildren were born she made me a beautiful purple quilt. Next time you’re at my house I’ll show it to you along with the book about the quilts of the Aurora Mills women.

  2. Rosemary Hickman

    Stephanie, the Quilt Show is only up one more day. The Museum opens at noon and the show will close at 4 p.m today. The Quilt Guild does their show every year at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum on the third weekend in March. This year is the biggest and in my estimation the best. Talk to Andi at Jelly Bean Fabic in downtown Ilwaco about finishing your Grandmother’s quilt.

  3. MaryBeth Kelly

    I changed my schedule to get here to the show.

  4. Kathy Hearn

    I am obsessed with vintage quilts. I love the idea that these women were usually making something from scraps and old clothes. I find it facinating to look at the patterns and how the women put it all together. Whenever I fix and finish a vintage quilt top I hope the woman who started it is watching from heaven and smiling.


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