The Haunting of Quilt House

The Haunting of Quilt House

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Something quilted this way comes . . .

The International Quilt Museum will share some of its most boo-tiful and spook-tacular pieces in “The Haunting of Quilt House,” a pop-up exhibit celebrating Halloween, October 27-29.

In addition to viewing specially selected pieces, there will be a scavenger hunt available, with answers hidden in the quilts. Visitors who come wearing their Halloween costumes will receive free admission and they can Trick or Treat at the front desk on their way out.

Displayed in the Byron and Sara Rhodes Dillow Conservation Work Room, guests can take an up-close look at where the museum cares for the world’s largest publicly held quilt collection.

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Works in the Exhibition

Works in the Exhibition

Probably made by Members of the Old Order River Brethren
About 1875-1885
Probably made in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania
Cotton; hand-quilting and applique

Although trick-or-treating for candy is a 20th century phenomenon, the chrome orange baskets adorning this quilt evoke the Halloween tradition, as well as the fall harvest. This 19th century Mennonite quilt is partially machine sewn, thus quite unusual for the era. Commercial sewing machines, although available as early as 1847, did not become commonly used for decades longer, particularly for applique

Light of Egypt
Maker unknown
Dated 1941
Cotton; hand-quilting and embroidery

An adept needleworker employed thousands of stitches and knots in order to depict a mix of occult, astrological, Freemasonry, and Ancient Egyptian imagery in this quilt. The embroidered title, “Light of Egypt,” refers to the 1889 doctrinal text of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Light. Much like the enigmatic sect which inspired it, the maker of the quilt and their reason for quilting an homage to an obscure branch of occultism remain shrouded in mystery. 

Sunbonnet Sue variation
Maker unknown
About 1930-1940
Cotton; hand-quilting, embroidery and applique

Sunbonnet Sue quilts generally follow a formula—individual portrait style Sue ordered into a rectangular grid—but something is off-kilter with the Sue featured on this quilt. Instead of holding a spray of flowers, or a watering can, each Sue is holding an embroidered short sword, or machete. The brightly dressed but deadly Sues present a rather paradoxical image--deadly weapons aren’t often combined with childhood innocence

Wendy Huhn
Dated 2003
Cotton; hand-painted

The physical layering of textiles, thread, beads, and paint echoes the complexity of the imagery created by Huhn. Nursery rhymes and sleepwalking figures collide with entomology, Miyazaki films, the work of 19th century printmaker Jose Guadalupe Posada, and of course, the artist’s own vivid imagination. We are left with a lingering question: who is the eponymous sleepwalker--the mother, child or the viewer?

Spider Web
Maker unknown
Dated March, 1936
Probably made in Union County, Ohio

Though spiderwebs often make appearances in late 19th and early 20th century crazy quilts, this 1930s wool quilt features an unusual all-over radial design. While many one-shape wonders (such as the postage stamp or one-patch designs) fixate on a single repeated shape, the maker of this quilt fixates on a single block to create an entire quilt. This quilt’s design originates from a single Pineapple Log Cabin block at the center.

Maker unknown
About 1880-1900
Silk; hand embroidery

Although 19th century social and cultural mores tasked women with creating warm, peaceful, “nest”-like homes, the chaotic look of crazy quilts speaks to underlying tensions. These dark, disordered decorations stood in direct contrast to the prim, symmetrical bedcovers of the preceding decades. Yet, each square contains a neatly ordered, balanced or symmetrical composition.   The array of printed and woven designs (jacquards, velvets, and a few lithographic printed ribbon) as well as embroidery stitches found in this crazy quilt speaks to the maker’s obsession with silk and needlework.

Maker unknown
About 1880-1900
Probably made in Florida
Silk; hand-quilting, embroidery and applique

From ancient Roman palliums to rectangular palls of the Middle Ages to embroidered and quilted casket covers in rural Black communities and Appalachia, the desire to decorate the bleakness of a casket extends beyond floral arrangements. This quilt coffin cover follows these aforementioned traditions, but is also typifies the Victorian era from which it emerged. The material and techniques are akin to Crazy quilts, the regularity and repeated motifs defy classifying this a true crazy quilt. 

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 for more information. Additional support provided by Friends of International Quilt Museum.
Event Date
Friday, October 27, 2017 to Sunday, October 29, 2017