Cut and piece: Quilts come out of the closet

Circles of 19th century women with nimble fingers gathered around sitting room fires crafting masterpieces fine enough to display as art. Because this was utilitarian “women’s work,” however, these quilts lay hidden in out-of-the-way places, decorating only the household’s beds.
The Frontier Culture Museum now reveals these works of art in their annual “Hearth and Home: Quilt Show” taking place in the Dairy Barn October 4-13. Visitors can view nearly 80 quilts created by artists from all over the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia. The show includes both contemporary and antique pieces and everything from small wall hangings to full-size bed quilts and clothing. A special attraction this year is a display of antique sewing tools, including vintage buttons, pincushions, tape measures, needle cases, and thimbles.
According to museum interpreter and quilt show coordinator Lisa McCumsey, quilt making was a cherished tradition in the Valley. “In the early days when life was one form of work or another from dawn to dusk,” she says, “making quilts was one of the few ways a woman had to express herself creatively.” Modern quilts may just as likely be made by a man and are displayed on a wall as often as on a bed.
During the show, visitors can watch as women on the museum’s American farm demonstrate patchwork piecing and quilting. On October 5, the ladies will gather for a quilting frolic, a party of sorts in which frontier families would get together to swap stories and catch up on the news as they sewed. During the frolic, the men on the farm will be hosting a corn husking in the barn, and afterward everyone will kick up their heels with a barn dance. The public is invited to help husk the corn, enjoy traditional music, and cut loose in celebration of the quilt’s emergence from the closet

Hearth and Home: Quilt Show takes place October 4-13 from 10am-5pm. Admission for the quilt show only  is $5 adults, $2 children 6-12. Combined admission for both the quilt show and the museum is $10 adults, $9.50 seniors, $6 children 6-12. The barn dance takes place on the American farm on October 5 from 1-2pm. The husking bee and quilting frolic start at 10am. The Frontier Culture Museum is on Rt. 250 west in Staunton. 540-332-7850.