Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Quilt Pageants

 I think we are all in need of a dose of simplicity and sweetness these days.  So I wanted to feature a slice of a bygone era.  If you are anything like me, you hear the word "pageant" and some interesting images come to mind...

I have a file on "Quilt Pageants" with a different meaning.  Quilt Pageants appear to have become popular during the Great Depression and began to wane off during the 1960s and 1970s.  I  speculate that this time coincides with the rise of quilt guilds and when I read more articles on pageants, I wondered if quilt guild programs derived from these kinds of events. 

Of coures there were always quilt shows:
1932, Iowa

But the pageants appear to be quite different. They were meant to be entertaining, informative, and for the public.  Quilters went all out at these events and the programs included songs, poems, dances and history.

I know that for some people making a performance out of quilting might seem hokey and even ridiculously sentimental but it was a different era.  In most areas around the country, people purchased a piano because it provided entertainment.  Folks did not feel self-conscious about singing together and entertaining themselves.  My brother and I are probably the last generation in my family to experience this.  As a child, I would play at the piano at family gatherings while my father and grandfather (both tenors) sang tin pan alley classics and Irish ballads.

Historical pageants were very common during the Colonial Revival era and I'm sure that the quilt pageants were a natural by product of that kind event.  Wallace Nutting made a living selling photographs that depicted this kind of thing:

I thought you might like to read a bit about quilt pageants so I scanned some articles that you might find fun to read.  The performances are so interesting because often the women placed special meaning not only to the quilt but the pattern:

From Bangor Maine, 1934:

 Vineland, NJ, 1934:

Elizabethtown, Illinois, 1941:

Have you made a quilt that you would be comfortable featuring in a quilt pageant?  If so, what quilt is it and what entertainment would you like as the quilt was exhibited?  Humor me with thoughts or photos at allentownquilter@gmail.com

Have a safe and happy day!

1 comment: