Thursday, May 26, 2011

Gilbert Historical Museum

Remember the days when quilting bees were part of most communities?
An almost forgotten era where women would sit down together with needle in hand, often donating their time on a quilt to gifted away.
I experienced a day that felt like going back in time, with a visit to the Gilbert Historical Museum, located in the Heritage District of Old Downtown Gilbert, Arizona.

Here a group of ladies have worked for 10 years intermittently donating their time Tuesday through Saturday, hand quilting quilts for the public.

Anyone may bring in a quilt to be completed, although be prepared that there is a waiting list of 2 years.

The group charges approximately $5 a square foot (plus supplies), with all proceeds going directly back to the museum.

And anyone may join them! The group is always looking for more volunteers.

The Gilbert Museum is house to the original Gilbert Elementary School built in 1913. Now preserved as a historical landmark, the adobe structure very much resembles it's common nickname The Alamo.

The interior is well preserved, with artifacts and displays showcasing the rich history of what was once an agricultural town just South of Phoenix.

It was delightful to sit with the ladies for a while, to watch them stitch, and to hear their volunteerism.

Delores Jenisch explained to me how they work year round, with two quilts on the frames at a time.

More than half of the quilts they work on are 50-100 years old. People often bring in a vintage top that is a family heirloom or found at an estate sale, and desire to have the quilt finished properly.

Darlene Reid spoke of the fulfillment in the work their provide. "Every time we finish a quilt there is a quilter dancing up in Heaven because she knows her quilt is finished."

She also added "A lot of good woman talk goes on around the quilting frame."

Isn't that true? We become the dearest of friends with those we quilt with.

Whirling Fans (C1930?) was purchased by Museum board member at a craft sale for $35.
I always stand in awe of people who manage to find vintage quilts at such amazing prices.

I've never been very good at hand quilting, and have always had the desire to improve. The ladies suggested I come back and spend some time with them, where they will teach me their techniques.

I will be taking them up on their offer, because looking at the perfection in their work I can see I will be learning from the best.


Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

that sure looks like fun! I wonder how they start with that frame -by starting with the quilt rolled up to the very middle first I would think. That is a nice way to pass an afternoon by.

Material Mary said...

I have to tell you that I would love nothing more than to have the time to learn and do this. Maybe at a later time!!

Meredith said...

That is really neat that they do that. Hand quilting is only really learned by doing. That is a great that they were willing to let you learn from them.

Nanette Merrill said...

The fan quilt is amazing, lovely, moving with so much color and motion. It would be worth a 2 year wait to have it hand quilted.

em's scrapbag said...

How cool is that. Yes you would be learning from some great quilters. I love the fan quilt and the image of a quilter dancing in heaven is delightful!

Cindy said...

Gee I better get my quilt on their list. I'm having fun making a Grandmothers Flower Garden Quilt. Since it is 100% hand stitched I really want it hand quilted. But I don't think I could 'sit' thru that task! Maybe with a deadline I would finish my quilt!

Lynette said...

What a neat setup! Wish there was one near to me!

mamammelloves said...

This is really close to me. I should go sometime and learn how to hand quilt! :)

quiltqueen73 said...

I'm anxious to go to Gilbert before the show ends. Thanks for sharing this information. I doubt if these fingers ever hand quilt, I like speed.

life in red shoes said...

I just love this, passing a wonderful gift on to someone else.
Isn't it funny how skills like quilting seemed to have skipped a whole generation? My Mother didn't quilt, and neither did any of her friends. Yet today, there is a whole new generation of young women that are loving it :)

Char said...

Thank you so much for sharing. I really enjoyed this post.

Melissa said...

You should TOTALLY join them!