Two weeks ago, I visited the American Museum at Bath. I have wanted to go there to see their collection of historic quilts for some years. The museum has recently undergone a period of restoration and the last time I was in the South-West of England it was closed for work to be done.
However, a fortnight ago, it so happened that we were in Cornwall for three days (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) for a family reunion (my husband is Cornish and we gathered in his beautiful home village, Cawsand).
We made a plan to visit the newly-reopened Museum on the way home. The Museum is closed on Mondays, so we stayed overnight with a friend in Oxfordshire, doubled back to Bath the following day, finishing our long journey from Bath to Durham after the visit. It was quite a trek, but the Museum was well worth a visit.
There is currently a special exhibition ‘Quilts in America’ consisting of quilts designed by Kaffe Fassett, using his fabrics, and which are inspired by historic quilts in the American Museum collection.
This was held in a separate pavilion. The exhibition runs until 3 November 2019. I wrote here about once inadvertently missing a Kaffe Fassett quilt exhibition, so I was thrilled to catch this one! Do go and see it if you have the opportunity.
As you would expect, the quilts are full of saturated colour; a side room with quilts using lots of blues and purples was a particular favourite.
The quilt that appeared on the cover of this booklet (which accompanied Quilt Now issue 62) was on show, a real stunner!
I loved the quilts so much that I bought the ‘book of the show: ‘Kaffe Fassett’s ‘Quilts in America’, published by The Taunton Press.
The ‘baby blocks’ quilt in Kaffe’s fabrics on the cover of the book was inspired by a ‘baby blocks’ quilt from the museum. They have used a photograph of the historic quilt to make pennants for the pillars just near the cafe.
The Kaffe Fassett exhibition shows the new quilts close to the original historic quilts that inspired them. The American Museum has a collection of over 200 quilts, some of which are on display at any one time, in large glass-fronted display panels that can be moved from side to side like the pages of a book (a very large book!). I went to have a look at these in the main Museum building. It was inspiring to look through the glass at stitches made centuries ago. Hattie Kort and others embroidered their names on blocks in a signature crazy patchwork quilt (see below). A good reminder to always add a label when you make a quilt – you never know where your quilts might end up!
A final delight for me was seeing these beautiful hand-made sewing boxes, made according to principles of simplicity and functionality. There is so much pleasure in seeing vintage sewing equipment. What did this maker sew, I wonder?
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This is the pattern I wrote for a hand-stitched patchwork quilt (piecing over papers) and which used Kaffe Fassett fabrics for the centre of every rosette. You can find it here.
This is the website for the Museum: https://americanmuseum.org/