Quilts, Costumes, and More!

February 27, 2014 · Collections ·

Last week I had the kind of day that I simply adore!  They come around rarely, but when they do, I enjoy them so immensely.  It was last Thursday and Lynne Bassett came to research in our collection for a very special presentation / program she is involved with here at CHS.  And that meant we spent an entire day pulling out quilts, costumes, fabric fragments, incomplete quilt blocks, textile sample books, and everything else we could think of that might help in her program…


Wholecloth Quilt. 1750-1775. Gift of Mrs. Sophia Burdick. 1963.11.17.

On Tuesday, March 11th, Lynne is giving a presentation on early New England quilts and the labor of quilting.  Informed by extant items and diaries, Lynne will provide us with a bit of insight into this early art form that is still practiced widely today.  


Pieced Quilt. 1840-1860. Gift of Robert T. Gault. 2009.120.1.

Although the Tuesday night presentation will not include examination of extant items, there will be plenty to see if you come the next day to the Quilt Study Day!  On Wednesday, Lynne is providing a rare opportunity get up close and personal with some terrific items in the CHS collection, while being guided by an expert in the field (Lynne of course!).

And this goes to the root of why last Thursday was my favorite kind of day.  In order to fully illustrate the topics Lynne plans to discuss…things like: how costumes and quilts go hand-in-hand, textile printing techniques, sewing technique identification, etc…we had to go on a hunt through the collection to find extant illustrations of all of these things. 

We found children’s clothing,


Girl’s Dress. About 1850-1860. Bequest of George Dudley Seymour. 1945.1.65.

pieced quilts made of fabric bolt ends (a quilt worthy of its very own, very LONG, blog post!),


Pieced Quilt. 1825. Gift of Helen F. Newton. 1962.2.1.

women’s clothing,


Dress. About 1775-1785. Gift of the Lyman Allyn Museum, New London. 1959.54.4.

and many more items, like pockets, housewives, and needlework.

Lynne and I delved into boxes of textile and costume items that I had never seen.  They are pieces that were catalogued long before I started working at CHS and had not previously needed to be viewed.  This is good because it means they have been safely living in their acid-free, environmentally controlled homes in peace.  However, it is always fun to look in on those pieces and really see what is hiding in all of the boxes, rather than just seeing a text-heavy catalogue record.  Nothing replaces the real thing.

So, if you are interested in seeing some of the “real things” that Lynne and I pulled, join us for the Quilt Study Day on March 12th.  You can find out more information on it at www.chs.org/calendar.



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To support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, the Connecticut Historical Society will temporarily close now through April 22. We will re-evaluate the situation at that time. All public programs and tours are canceled during this time. We hope to reschedule some of the events if possible.