Wednesday, June 25, 2008

NEW Quilt History website

Dear Readers, I am pleased to tell you about a brand new website dedicated to Illinois's quilt history. Illinois Quilt History . Included are the avenues and links available online and by mail for researching this states many contributions to the field.

The Chicago Tribune was home to patchwork pattern columns, such as Nancy Page. The 1933 Century of Progress Sears Quilt Contest was in Chicago. Two quilts made by Bertha Stenge were included in the 100 best quilts made in the 20th century. The Mid-western Amish quilters reside in Arthur, Illinois. There is more history originating in Illinois than this, and Illinois presented their documentation project in 1993 and other books about Illinois quilts followed.

As one of the founders of the Illinois/Iowa Study group, today Susan Wildemuth lives in southern Illinois. Her interest in quilts and research started a long time ago when she was growing up in Iowa. On Saturday mornings she took her Barbie suitcase with her notebooks, pencils, library cards, pop money, and little brother in tow to the Davenport Public Library in Davenport, Iowa to set about finding out the answers to her many questions as she was a very inquisitive girl- a researcher in the making!

Hand piecing and quilting came into her life in 1985. After the first class, her oil paints retired to the “things I’ll never do again” shelf in the basement, and quilt making became a permanent part of her life. Sue shares, “it just felt right.” Her interest in Quilt history came later after attending an Illinois Quilt Research Project Day at Bishop Hill, Illinois.

Thanks to her neighbor Betty Angus, who gave Sue all of her mothers quilt paper items, this then twenty-something quilt maker fell in love with and began collecting vintage quilt ephemera. It should be noted that Sue turned down stacks of vintage 1920s and 1930s fabric in mint condition, but reports she has recovered from that brain malfunction and now never meets a yard or fat quarter of fabric she can’t find a use for.

Susan Wildemuth is a city-raised Iowa native who has lived most of her adult life in Illinois on a grain farm near Geneseo with her husband, son, and an assortment of dogs. She considers herself a writer and researcher who loves quilt history and so a web site seemed like a perfect fit for a soft-spoken soul with an inquisitive nature

Sue developed this website for several reasons-

1. To encourage Illinois Quilt History Research
2. To document and save the history of the “everyday Joes and Josephines,” individuals who did or didn’t make the papers, but went about the business of creating quilts that have an Illinois connection.
3. To give people a forum to share Illinois Quilt History stories.
4. To provide tips to people doing research in the State of Illinois
5. As a collector of quilt ephemera, Sue wants to introduce or re-introduce this artful and educational collectible to others.

Not only is her website pretty, informative and easy to understand by any quilt researcher, beginner to accomplished, but it fills a need (gaping hole) in our field's efforts to grow in understanding and documenting a region's quilt history. Just think if every state had a website such as this, with links and recommended places to search for information from a distance, how much more we could accomplish in a shorter period of time. It's a brilliant idea whose time has come. It's the next step in developing our field and building our resources with the general public as the end user.

Check out Sue's website Put her on your links page if you have a website that would coordinate with hers and let us know what you think by posting a comment here or to Sue at Enjoy!

As always -Piece to you and those you quilt with,

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Your comments, questions and answers are welcome! It may take a little while for them to show on my blog - I like to see them first. Thanks for sharing.