Virginia Quilt Museum showcasing WWI textiles

HARRISONBURG, VA – The Virginia Quilt Museum is bustling with activity this summer, with multiple phases of an exhibition of antique and vintage quilts available for viewing now, and supporting event slated for this summer. Below are descriptions about elements of the exhibition, and the examples of some pieces on display.

The Virginia Quilt Museum, 301 S. Main St., Harrisonburg, Virginia, is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. General admission is $7, for students it is $5, and admission for children under the age of five is free.

World War I Quilts Tell Historic Tales

1918 Red Cross Quilt

Close-up view of 1918 Red Cross Quilt from Central Ohio, which was inspired by a pattern that appears in the Dec. 1917 issue of Modern Priscilla Magazine. (All photos courtesy of Virginia Quilt Museum)

The current exhibits, available for viewing from May 30 to August 26, 2017, include:

“WWI Quilts” curated by Sue Reich
By the turn to the 20th century, traditional styles and modern design and patterns were blending.

Benefitting greatly from the quilting efforts of this time: Soldiers and the Red Cross. The initial source of the iconic Red Cross quilt pattern is Modern Priscilla Magazine’s December 1917 issue. In turn, quilt-making aided fundraising efforts for the Red Cross war relief efforts. Seeking to cease spread of the pandemic flu of 1918 a ban put a halt to people gathering in groups. As a result, quilting bees and Red Cross work came to a virtual halt. As male ancestors fought on battlefields, female ancestors made benevolent contributions on the home front. Many quilts exhibited in this collection give a glimpse into the struggles of World War I.

Virginia Quilt Museum Celebrates Turn-of-the-Century Quilts

“Treasures From the Vault: Early 20th Century Quilts” Gloria Comstock, VQM Curator and Registrar

In addition to the World War I era quilt collection seen in Sue Reich’s exhibit, many examples of the expanded period of the early 1900s appear in this selection from the Museum’s own collection. Leading popular trends of the time: Outline embroidery, as well as pieced quilts using shirting and prints. Poppy quilts are on loan from private collections.

“Windchimes” by the Fiber Artists @ Loose Ends

Organized in 2005, the Fiber Artists @ Loose Ends encourages its members to explore new ideas and techniques, providing departure to a creative exploration of the fiber art medium. Its ten members created this eight-part installation, featuring the four seasons and the four elements of Fire, Water, Air, and Earth. Various techniques involving traditional quilting and painting on silk to fusing fibers are evident in these works.

Examining Antique Examples of Needlework

“Something Old is New Again: Needlework of the 20th and 21st Centuries” by The

Fiber art windchimes

“Windchimes Water” by Fiber Artists @ Loose Ends.

Shenandoah Valley Chapter of the American Needlepoint Guild, curated by Gretchen Janesak and Laurie Kelly

This exhibition explores another fiber art revival – utilitarian and decorative needlework, dating back 100 years, or newly made. The study of needlework objects provides insight into our history, and the everyday lives led by our forebears. Some items in the exhibit are members’ family heirlooms; the majority are new works, designed to be true to the time period the exhibit seeks to portray. These contemporary works of art will, in turn, become the family heirlooms for the generations that follow.

Related WWI Textiles Symposium

This summer features the third annual symposium about textiles held at the Virginia Quilt Museum is “Friction, Fray, and Fabric: Textiles in the First World War. Six unique lectures related to WWI textiles and tours of regional locations with ties to WWI are set for July 27-29.The cost to participate in all events during the two-day symposium is $150 for non-members of the Museum and $120 for members. There are options for attending individual events for singular fees: Learn more about the participation options:

For more information about this special event or the Virginia Museum of Quilts, visit or call 540-433-3818.