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 Patchwork and Progress

Patchwork and Progress logo Quilt exhibit photos

The invention of the sewing machine during the mid-nineteenth century changed women's lives. Godey's Lady's Book praised the sewing machine as "the queen of inventions," noting that "it will do all the drudgeries of sewing, thus leaving time for the perfecting of the beautiful in woman's handiwork." Patchwork and Progress, a special exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum, 15th & P Streets, Lincoln, offered a look at quilts and sewing machines from the Nebraska State Historical Society's collections. Although the sewing machine never replaced hand quilting, women took advantage of this new technology to apply bindings or assemble blocks and backings.

The thirteen quilts on display ranged from entirely handmade to combinations of machine and hand stitching to completely machine-made, showing how progress has affected the art of patchwork. Four sewing machines from the 1850s to the 1890s complemented the quilts on display while an additional ten quilts, many of them too fragile to be hung, were displayed in drawer units.

Nebraska native Grace Snyder's famous Flower Basket Petit Point quilt, completed in 1943 and composed of more than 85,000 pieces, was again on display. Snyder's quilt earned honors as "One of the Twentieth Century's One Hundred Best Quilts" at the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas, in 1999.

Other quilts featured included a red and green Star and Plume, 1840-50, an all-silk Baby Blocks from about 1844, a Nine Patch (Postage Stamp), 1876-96, that included American centennial print fabric from 1876, and a Century of Progress quilt made for a competition at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair.

The exhibition ended December 29, 2000.

Quilt exhibit photos

Nebraska History Museum

Exhibits Archive


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Last updated 5 January 2001  

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