I'm just home from my third happy visit to Kalona, IA, to revel in quilts and quilt history. I highly recommend this group! The 2-day meetings are graciously hosted twice a year by the Kalona Quilt & Textile Museum. The photo above is part of the frieze of quilt blocks that decorates the front porch of the Museum. (On the same grounds are the Kalona Historical Village and the Iowa Mennonite Museum & Archives, also well worth a visit.) And the people who come are the warmest, most welcoming bunch I've ever walked into.
This time, the programs were presented by Margo Krager, proprietor of my favorite place to buy fabrics for my quilt repairs - Reproduction Fabrics. I always say that one of my favorite things is to be in the presence of someone who has found their niche, absolutely loves what they do, and radiates that love and excitement to everyone around. Margo is one such person! She has been researching fabric history for 25 years, has tons of knowledge about fabric and dye history, and is super generous in sharing what she knows.
The highlight of it all was the opportunity to see, up close and personal as they say, some of Margo's collection of antique fabric swatch books. When I say antique, I mean **antique**. Her oldest book dates to c1830 - that's nearly two centuries old! The fabrics retain all or much of their original color, having been shielded from light, use, and washing all these years. Margo uses these swatches as inspiration for the line of reproduction fabrics she designs.
Photos of pages from two of the books are on her website: the Dargate book c. 1830 and the Delaines book dated 1849. This is absolute treasure, folks!
The meetings always include a fundraiser silent auction, where folks bid on one another's donations. Here's what I bought:
On the left, a quilt top that had been dismantled, now a bag full of triangles from the 1910s-30s. On the right, a bag of assorted blocks and odds and ends of fabric. In the back, my big splurge, a good-sized piece of a c. 1860 cotton, detail below. Gorgeous!
I came home happy and inspired, by quilts, people, and also the lovely Iowan farmland. Just the thing, right?