Spotlight Columns

The best quilt exhibit Susan Laird ever rated: Folsom History Museum delivers a true ‘Bundle of Joy’

By From page B2 | June 04, 2014

On Saturday, May 31, the Folsom History Museum opened its 34th annual vintage quilt and clothing exhibit, “A Bundle of Joy.”

I got a sneak preview of the exhibit the day before. And this collection took my breath away.

In the five decades I’ve attended quilt shows — starting at my mother’s knee — this is absolutely, hands-down, the best quilt exhibit I’ve ever attended. I believe it rivals the Amish quilt exhibit in San Francisco some five years ago.

This show is remarkable for the tiniest of reasons, yet the greatest: babies — the emphasis is on childhood, motherhood and grandmotherhood.

One can — and should — expect at least one baby quilt in any good quilt show or exhibit. These are works of love. As such, more time and thought went into their creation. A child’s quilt is something that is meant to be special. It is supposed to carry the love of its maker to future generations.

The FHM exhibit contains more than 60 quilts. Of all sizes, colors, eras and design.

Some quilts draw their inspiration from quilt block designs that were published in newspapers during the 1930s. Other designs were pre-printed in the 1800s. Still more patterns were iron-on transfers that were lovingly embroidered. Still more were hand-pieced.

The quilting skill levels vary from quilt to quilt, but each quilt is a stunner in its own way. And each one is a quality item.

Imaginations soar in this artwork. One quilt from the 1950s features colorful animals and the counting rhyme “Over in the Meadow.” Another quilt, “Fairyland,” is a storybook quilt from the 1960s.

There is a “Quaddie” quilt — each embroidered block is a perfect square and so is the quilt itself. A colorful yoyo quilt anchors the back of the exhibit.

Quilts line the walls, punctuated by maternity dresses, cribs and toys.

My favorites include an alphabet quilt based on appliqué blocks by Nancy Page dating back to the 1930s. My father’s baby quilt was based on the same pattern. Another personal favorite is of embroidered kittens. My mom embroidered a pillowcase for me when I was little with the same kitties.

In addition to the quilts, there are abundant examples of vintage garments, including wedding gowns (with photos of their wearers) from eras past, maternity wear and lots and lots of christening gowns and baby wear. There are also many crocheted items.

Local artist Jan French donated her talents to create painted faces for the exhibit of handmade baby bonnets.

Children’s toys will bring back memories for many parents and grandparents. These include some vintage pull toys and a display of antique children’s sewing machines.

This year’s exhibit is dedicated to the memory of Martha Flanagan, who died last year. Martha worked tirelessly on the museum’s annual quilt exhibits. She was an active member of the Folsom Quilt and Fiber Guild.

This exhibit will evoke powerful memories of childhood to anyone who visits it. Expect to spend over an hour. The museum provides white gloves so you can gently handle many of the quilts without soiling them.

Trust me, you will want to touch these beauties.

Good quilt shows often draw crowds from around the region, and I have every confidence that this one will do so. If you have friends or relatives who love quilts, I want you to know: I am giving this exhibit the highest “thumbs up” I’ve ever given to ANY quilt show.

It is highly likely there will never be another children’s quilt show of this caliber in our lifetimes. Get your friends to see this exhibit. Buy plane tickets. Stay in a local hotel. Travel from the Eastern seaboard if you have to … but come see “A Bundle of Joy.”

You won’t regret it.

“A Bundle of Joy” is on exhibit through Aug. 31 at the Folsom History Museum, 823 Sutter St. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is $4 for adults, $2 for youth, and free for kids younger than 12. Parking is available in front and in the parking garage across the street. Call (916) 985-2707 for more information.  

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Susan Laird


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