Favorites from the Dillow Collection

Favorites from the Dillow Collection

Favorites from the Dillow Collection

The Byron and Sara Rhodes Dillow Collection of quilts and fabrics includes historically significant and dynamic American quilts and unique international pieces. Sara, a collector and maker, loved flowers and birds—particularly the ones printed on early-nineteenth century fabrics found in the quilts she and Byron collected.  
Favorites from the Byron and Sara Rhodes Dillow Collection showcases these, while also celebrating the family’s long legacy of quiltmaking, which is illustrated in the 1865 quilt made by Sara’s great-grandmother Isabelle Rhodes and Sara’s quilt “Sunshine in the Garden.”

The Dillows, both graduates of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, made their home in Fremont, Nebraska. In 2008, the Dillow family donated the quilt and fabric collection that includes nearly 250 quilts and 175 printed cotton fragments to the International Quilt Museum as a legacy in honor of their parents.

Featured Media

Featured Media
Featured Media

Works in the Exhibition

Works in the Exhibition

One Patch
Maker Unknown
Dated 1839
Probably made in United States
106” x 106”
Byron and Sara Rhodes Dillow Collection 2008.040.0027

This quilt has a couple of inscriptions in the quilting. One is pictured above which has the initials “BP?” and then below, “1839.” Two other blocks have inscriptions but they have been difficult to read, except that the date 1839 is repeated in one of them.

Maker unknown
Circa 1830-1850
Possibly made in Pennsylvania
107.5” x 99.5”
Byron and Sara Rhodes Dillow Collection 2008.040.0054

The chintz border fabric’s design of a pheasant and palm tree is one of many similar designs that were sold to the American market. The chintz was likely printed in United Kingdom. 

Orange Peel
Maker unknown
Circa 1820-1840
Probably made in United States
96” x 91”
Byron and Sara Rhodes Dillow Collection 2008.040.0083

Maker unknown
Probably made in Weatherly, Pennsylvania
106” x 105”
Byron and Sara Rhodes Dillow Collection 2008.040.0086

Maker unknown
Circa 1880-1900
Probably made in Meyersdale, Pennsylvania
91.5” x 69.25”
Byron and Sara Rhodes Dillow Collection 2008.040.0125

Pots of Flowers
Lydia Ann Herman
Circa 1849
Possibly made in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
86.5” x 87.75”
Byron and Sara Rhodes Dillow Collection 2008.040.0128

This quilt was purchased from a Maryland quilt dealer with a note attached: "Made by Lydia Ann Herman in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1849 when she was eighteen years old." Without knowing when this note was written and by whom we cannot verify this information. Therefore we have assigned a circa date rather than definite date, and “Possibly made in…” 

The following was contributed by Connie Nordstrom, a researcher specializing in the Pot of Flowers pattern, Oct. 2013:
“If the family information is correct, this is the oldest Pot of Flowers quilt documented during the [my] research.  No birds appear on this quilt [as they do on many other variations of the design] and the pot is a more simplistic interpretation than seen on other examples.  The berries are heavily stuffed and the three distinct tulips create the bouquet.  The uniquely Pennsylvania style border of eagles and tulip pots is singular to this quilt.”

Whole Cloth
Maker Unknown
Circa 1800-1830
Probably made in United States or United Kingdom
75.5 x 63.25”
Byron and Sara Rhodes Dillow Collection 2008.040.0139

According to Lynne Bassett, an expert on early-1800s fabrics, this design is block printed. The printed parrot design dates from circa 1800 – 1825, and was likely printed in the USA rather than the UK. At this time cotton printing industry in the US was still in its infancy and printers typically were unable to achieve the same quality as European printers. The binding dates from 1820s - 30s. 

Lover’s Links
Maker unknown
Circa 1830-1850
99.25” x 97”
Probably made in United States
Byron and Sara Rhodes Dillow Collection 2008.040.0177

The Prussian blue striped fabric is called a fondue or rainbow print, a term used to describe the subtle gradation of the blue from dark to light and back to dark. The binding is a beautiful lavender calico. 

Princess Feather
Rebecca Gouffin Wilson and Isabella Irene Wilson Rhodes
Dated 1865
Made in North English, Iowa
84.75” x 84”
Byron and Sara Rhodes Dillow Collection 2008.040.0200

This Princess Feather quilt was being worked on in North English, Iowa, in 1865 when a rider came by to announce the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. The pattern name is attributed to the plumes on the Prince of Wales' hat and over the years the name has gradually become known as Prince’s  Feather or Princess Feather.  Other names for the design are Star and Plumes or Ben Hur's Chariot Wheel.

From Nebraska Quilts and Quiltmakers, p. 84
“Both mother and daughter were born in Ohio; later the family moved to Iowa. About 1871 Isabella (known as Belle) married John L. Rhodes, a native of Virginia. He was not only a farmer, but a beekeeper, a teacher, and a lay preacher as well. By 1875, when the second of their four children was born, John and Belle were settled in Nebraska, making their home near Beatrice in Gage County.”

Log Cabin, Courthouse Steps variation
Maker unknown
Circa 1890-1910
Made in United States
78.5” x 70.5”
Byron and Sara Rhodes Dillow Collection 2008.040.0216

Bricks [Reverse of Log Cabin]
Maker Unknown
Circa 1890-1910
Probably made in United States
78.5” x 68.5”
Byron and Sara Rhodes Dillow Collection 2008.040.0221

Sometimes the fabrics in a quilt what caught Sara’s eye. This Log Cabin quilt’s condition is poor and the quilt is similar to many quilts of that pattern at the time. Sara probably purchased this quilt for the fabrics on its back, however. The Brick pattern done in “neon novelty” fabrics from the same time period makes one wonder if the maker intended the subdued Log Cabin quilt to be the quilt’s back instead. These bright, almost fluorescent prints, including several designs that appear in multiple colorways. These fabrics were a fashion fad in women’s dresses.

Sunshine in the Garden
Sara Rhodes Dillow
Fremont, Nebraska
69” x 66.25”
Collection of Tim and Ann Dillow Crowley

Sara worked on this quilt for several years and finished it in 2006, four years after Byron had died. She grew coneflowers (Echinacea) in her garden. According to Byron and Sara’s daughter Ann Dillow Crowley, the quilt could also be called “Sitting in the Garden” because of her parents’ pleasure of sitting together to look at their garden.

Works in the Exhibition
This exhibition was made possible through funding from the Nebraska Arts Council and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. The Nebraska Arts Council, a state agency, has supported this exhibition through its matching grants program funded by the Nebraska Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment. Visit www.artscouncil.nebraska.gov for more information. Additional support provided by Friends of the International Quilt Museum.
Event Date
Friday, December 4, 2015 to Sunday, August 21, 2016