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Old Sturbridge Village, Exhibit Early New England Quilts

June 1 - June 17

Opening June 1, the Village’s newest exhibition – Early New England Quilts: Repurposed, Refashioned, and Reused – will highlight and explore some of the creative ways women reused, repurposed, and refashioned materials into quilts. Advice book author Lydia Maria Child dedicated her American Frugal Housewife, to “those not ashamed of economy.” Women in the early 19th century applied this adage to a ubiquitous textile found in many New England households, quilts.

Early New England quilt makers salvaged materials for a new sewn creation by incorporating recycled material from old garments and household textiles into “scrap” quilts. Some took perfectly serviceable older garments and gave them new life by refashioning them into bed quilts. Sarah Snell Bryant noted in February 1830 that she “began to piece up some old callicoes [sic] for bed quilting,” likely referring to old calico dresses. Sentimentality governed reuse on occasion as old garments belonging to a beloved family member could be included as a remembrance. Commemorative textiles, specifically those dedicated to patriotic sentiment, were integrated into quilts. One example from the Arnold family of Rhode Island includes a Declaration of Independence handkerchief. In many instances, a quilt was recycled after it outlived its primary function, and quilts appear as backings for hearth rugs, cut into strips for hassock (footstool) cushions, or even cut down to fit a smaller bed.

New Englanders let nothing go to waste as they applied the principle of Yankee frugality to their quilt production. Be sure to visit the Village after June 1 to see these inventive quilt creations!

Gardening season is here! Next time you visit the Village, be sure to visit the Parsonage, Bixby, Salem Towne, and Freeman Farm gardens to see what’s starting to grow and to talk with costumed historians about heirloom plants

If you’re planting any heirloom plants in your garden this year, save the date for the 2018 Home Gardener’s Exhibit this fall: October 6-8.


June 1
June 17


Old Sturbridge Village
1 Old Sturbridge Village Road
Sturbridge, MA 01566
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(800) 733-1830