“Treasures From the Trunk”

Eight women met Sylvia Dorney (Greenbaum’s Quilted Forest) late this afternoon

at the Willamette Heritage Center to walk through the nice show of heritage quilts curated by quilt historian Mary Bywater Cross…up until December 24th, one in a series of shows focusing on valley women.  Most of the quilts were completed AFTER the Oregon trail years, though several were thought to have been pieced on wagon trains in the 1850’s.  All the makers were pioneers or women important in the State’s history.  It’s a small show, but the karma is strong…especially for those of us who’ve sat piecing or quilting, with a quilt on our laps.

Here are some of the quilts on view with scant commentary by me, who had no pen or notebook to note the dates and makers’ names (girl reporter loses track of things…?).

I hadn’t seen this spiral pattern before and got kind of fascinated by the fact that it’s constructed only with squares and triangles, though the spirals look rounded

AND, it’s signed on the front

This one is from up the road in the Aurora colony and all the fabric  was hand woven by the colonists.  It is still vibrant, though showing some wear…

and here is the maker, Mrs. Will.

The quilts were arranged chronologically, and these gentle and faded ones still show a virtuosity of handwork, even though badly worn…

Some quilts, though, had been carefully put away as the “treasures” in the trunks of rural Oregon, and show virtually no wear, including this one from 1870:

and this pristine quilt amazingly quilted in a tiny 1/2 inch grid (informally, this was the favorite of many in the group)

the “building blocks” of this quilt are squares and rectangles with diamonds, but circles emerge…

Here’s an Applegate family tied quilt with fabrics from many wedding dresses, including the teal/turquoise fabric…our guide stated that white wedding dresses came in after 1900…

This somewhat amazingly outlandish quilt was pieced in 1869, and quilted in 1900 by Abigail Scott Duniway…the woman who those of in the west have to thank for voting rights…

and check the signature on this crazy quilt…

the group was in agreement about NOT sewing our ages onto the front (…or even the BACK…) of the quilt.

If you’re out and about this show is a welcome respite from carols and santas…and then we stepped out into the cold early evening…


  1. I love it! Thanks for sharing the quilts and stories behind them. Yeah, I’m not into sewing my age into a quilt, but what a history! I’m doing good if I remember to date or sign my creations.

  2. It’s hard to know which is best, the quilts that are used down to their threads (after all, that’s what quilts are for), or the gorgeous ones that have been carefully preserved. As you know, I own some of both types and love them all.

  3. Awww, Bonnie, you even mention Greenbaum’s! an old stomping ground! Nice show. As usual, I enjoy your photos. Have a happy holiday season!
    best, nadia

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