When you look at a handmade quilt, do you ever stop and think about the history behind the quilt? Who made it for whom? Was it for a special occasion or milestone in someone’s life? What were that person’s joys, strengths, and trials that they were going through as they lovingly sewed the quilt? To think of the collective love, hours, and history that a simple quilt fair can represent is a bit overwhelming. What a great way, to look into the past and appreciate the lives of the women that created these handmade gifts of love.
Every year our church holds a Women’s Conference in our area, across several wards and branches (congregations). For this year’s Women Conference, we decided to hold a quilt fair. It turned out to be an amazing event! Looking around our church and seeing the love and dedication that was put into each quilt was unforgettable! Between the quilts on display and the quilts made to be donated, we had over 400 quilts at the event.
So if you are sometime inspired to hold a quilt fair in your area, here are some ideas on how to display those priceless treasured quilts.
As we began searching for our props, the first thing that came to mind were old trunks and benches. I loved displaying the quilts on both of these as you can add more than one on each prop. Adding some accents like washboards, crocks, and greenery throughout the quilt displayed added nicely to the vintage ambiance.
One of my favorite quilt props was the easels we used from our church library. These were great for patchwork quilts where you wanted to highlight the intricate details!
Since we were lucky enough to have a stage in our building, we put it to good use by just folding the quilts and draping them off it. Throughout the display areas we had also sprinkled tulips in vintage glass jars and pitchers among the quilts.
Believe it or not we just used good ole’ regular tacks to hang the quilts on the carpeted walls or bulletin boards (with the permission of the quilt owner, of course).
A very helpful prop was a quilt frame, which we didn’t think of using until the very end, as we try to think of a way to divide our large gym. Along the accordion room divider, where we could not use tacks, the quilt frames came in handy, as did a movable chalkboard.
I loved how amazing the quilts looked draped over ladders and treadle sewing machines!
Additional Ideas for your Quilt Fair
We handed out a quilt entry form for the entrants to fill out, which included their name, unit (congregation), and the story or inspiration behind the quilt. These forms were then typed up, printed, and mounted on cardstock for the quilt display. It was inspiring to read the insight and history into the quilts that were on display. Click here to read a few of their stories.
We held our quilt fair as an open house. During the event, we had an area sectioned off for refreshments. In a different area we had speakers and musical presentations that performed at designated times throughout the open house.
Besides displaying quilts at the quilt fair, we encouraged the girls/women to make lap quilts individually or in groups to donate for children in Foster Care as well as to our county’s homeless shelter for teens. It was my great privilege to drop the donated quilts off to the centers. I was personally able to meet and to give a few quilts to young men at the homeless shelter; the smiles on their faces were radiant – the feeling – priceless!
We had two quilts that had been made to be given away in a drawing at the quilt fair. They were all done, including the bindings, with the exception of needing the ties put in them. Anyone who came to the fair could put a few ties into the quilts and then enter their name into a drawing. At the end of the fair, we held the drawing for the completed quilts – one for the ladies and one for the girls.
Each quilt holds a piece of history, of someone lovingly stitching bits of material together , creating a blanket that literally is wrapped with love. From quilts made to display at this quilt fair to quilts from the 19th century, each one was an inspiration to see – every quilt made beautiful by design.