One of the nice things about living in Chicago is getting to enjoy the exhibits from the Art Institute of Chicago's textile collection (and the Art Institute in general, of course). I think I have now seen four exhibits there, of varying interest to me, but I always am excited to see what's there and usually make it my first stop when I go.
The current exhibit is one some of you have probably heard about, entitled Fabric of a New Nation. Follow the link for a better description than I could give, but basically it addresses American textiles and textile traditions in the years immediately following the independence of the United States.
There are some quilts in the exhibit, such as this:
I found this star quilt fascinating, particularly because the stars are (from what I could see anyway) pieced from four 'V' shaped pieces of fabric rather than from eight diamonds - the pattern of the fabric is uninterrupted across the 'V', which is how I could tell:
The Star of Bethlehem was clearly a show stopper - still very very bright and vibrant and a fascinating sampler of period fabrics. Plus it is easily king sized.
Love the fabric!
I was also very struck by some of the embroidered pieces, both samplers and embroidered wool bed spreads.
I have been toying with the idea of doing a sampler for some time, particularly because there is a certain quote I want to immortalize with needle and thread (you'll have to wait, possibly forever, to find out what quote). I have had a hard time figuring out how to plan and execute it, however, since the only samplers I've ever made were counted cross stitch and from a pattern. This exhibit gave me a lot of ideas, though, so maybe I can actually move on it.
This was my favorite sampler and the one closest to the way I envision what I want to do:
Probably my second favorite - I'm so smitten with the pond!
Detail of the pond!
One of the embroidered coverlets:
Close up of the embroidery - click in to flickr and choose all sizes if you want a closer view.
I have also played with the idea of doing something like this, too - at least if not in this style then a similar approach or technique. Another example:
There are more pictures of the exhibit, with many other examples and close ups, here. Overall I really enjoyed it and found it gave me a lot to think about...