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Here’s a 1940-era sewist who started as a hobbyist, quilted at night, and searched for fabric to keep in her stash — sound familiar!? I love history (yes, nerdy!). So very cool!

I went to the Denver Public Library to do some research on the super secret project I’m working on for Fabric Bliss Denver. There are rows and rows of beautiful craft books, so of course I got distracted! I sat down with a few that cover the history of quilting in the West.

A highlight: Denver Art Museum Quilt Collection, a 1963 catalog of a collection I didn’t know existed at our very own art museum down the road! It turns out there’s a respectable number of quilts in the museum’s Textile Department. The collection was made possible in large part due to a donation of quilts by Charlotte Jane Whitehill.

The image on the book cover is a quilt square by Whitehill, one of many on her 1945 Brides Quilt. This particular quilt was one where friends each contributed an appliqued or pieced block to create the whole gift. The one in the museum’s collection is actually a replica, one of only a handful that Whitehill allowed to be made in her lifetime.

Charlotte Jane Whitehill started making quilts in 1929 as a hobby — sound familiar?! And most of her work was done in the evenings, since she had a day job (again, so very familiar!). According to the catalogue, she traveled for work and hunted for rare fabrics from place to place.

Used copies of the book are still available on Amazon — check it out if you’re interested in her gorgeous quilts.

I learned online that, though Whitehill apparently lived her last years in Denver, she sewed mostly in Kansas, as part of the Emporia, Kansas Phenomenon. She was part of this PBS special on quilt history. Look at this lovely photo of her!

Here’s a link to the gorgeous quilt mentioned on the PBS page, also in the Denver Art Museum collection.

It looks like the Denver Art Museum pulled out her quilts for an exhibition in the early 2000’s. I very much hope to see more of them soon. The catalog is lovely, but since it was printed in the 60’s, there are just two color photos in it — not doing justice to the fabric and color choices!

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