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‘Quilting Through the Ages’ presented at SY museum
Sarah Chamberlin Bottoms and her husband, Ben, hold up a quilt made by her great great aunt Carlotta Norton Smith. This Stars and Blocks pattern was shown in the 1893 Columbian Worlds Fair. //Contributed

Quilts in all shapes, sizes and design patterns have played a part in so much of early American life that they have become iconic symbols of home and hearth to many. Quilts and the art of quilting remain the interest of many collectors and artisans throughout the nation, so much that quilt shows and shops are quite popular and draw a large following. It is the iconic quilt that is the centerpiece of the newest exhibit “Quilting Through the Ages,” opening at the Santa Ynez Valley Historical Museum on Sunday, Sept. 26. A festive opening reception will be in the Museum courtyard from 2 to 4 p.m. that day.  

The idea for the upcoming exhibit, which features a look at quilting from the 1800s to contemporary times, was born early this year when longtime museum volunteer Cheryl Morris stopped in at the Creation Station Fabric Store in Buellton and was amazed at the array of quilts and fabrics on display. Morris immediately thought that an exhibit of historic quilts from local valley families would be a perfect fit for the historical museum. The idea was then presented to Museum Director Chris Bashforth, who agreed the museum could mount a quilt exhibit.

Morris agreed to be the curator of the exhibit, which she titled “Quilting Through the Ages,” and set about finding quilts owned by locals that could be displayed in an interesting and educational exhibit.

In Morris’ search for quilts, she discovered that there are many historic quilts in the community that have been lovingly preserved by longtime valley families. She discovered that many of the quilts carry fascinating histories and a genealogy of the families who owned them through the years.

“I was so amazed to find that behind every quilt is a unique story,”  said Morris.

In her quest, Morris also met many local people who collect and create beautiful contemporary quilts. She knew that the museum exhibit would be a perfect avenue to show the love these people have for the art of quilting. Thus, many of these people have lent their quilt creations to the exhibition.

In addition to local residents, the exhibit features the quiltwork of three Santa Barbara women, two who are in their 90s. One of the ladies restores old quilts, giving them new life, and the other makes baby quilts for various philanthropic organizations.

The museum’s “Quilting Through the Ages” exhibit will feature quilts of every variety, along with vintage clothing, period sewing machines and irons and interpretive information about many of the local families who donated the items.

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At the opening, a quilted car cover that was made for a museum member by a group of friends will be draped over the car parked in front of the museum entrance.

The exhibit will run through Monday, Nov. 1.

The museum is at 3596 Sagunto St. in Santa Ynez and is open from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

For more information, call 688-7889 or visit