Antique Pioneer Quilts

Antique Quilts THis is the Place Heritage Park

One of our favorite places to visit in the summer is This is the Place Heritage Park in Salt Lake City. We volunteered there a few summers ago. It’s a recreation village of historical houses and businesses of the pioneering-era of the American West (mid-19th Century).

One of my favorite stops (and fortunately the kids indulge me) is the old hospital building with a floor dedicated to displaying the large collection of antique quilts from the Utah Quilt Guild. I love the space that it’s in – a big open, airy space with lots of natural light. Each year there’s something new on display as well as some perennial favorites.

Antique Applique quilt

This one might have been my new favorite. The applique and quilting was amazing. Plus, I love those colors.


Star of David, late 19th Century. I love the diamond patterns in this one – I’d love to recreate this pattern, but probably on smaller scale.

Vintage crazy quilt

Crazy Quilt, Log Cabin and Bow-Ties quilts from the late 19th-Century.

Vintage Pine Burr quilt

I loved this one! This block is called Pine Burr. I’ve seen variations of this and love how striking the pattern is! Another late 19th Century quilt. (Don’t mind the creepy-ish looking doll…)Ocean Waves vintage quilt

This was my other favorite. All those little half-square-triangles! This is a traditional Ocean Waves pattern made my a Mrs Juel in Cape Cod, Massachusetts sometime in the 1870’s.

Vintage 19th-Century Ocean Waves Quilt

Here’s a close up of those prints. Some fabric trivia for you: Did you know that the pink fabrics in this quilt (called Double Pinks because they were often tone-on-tone prints) are post-Civil-War fabrics? Pinks printed prior to the Civil War have faded to browns in antique quilts. A new dye process was introduced around that time that has helped later pink-prints stay pink. So there you go. Impress your friends. 😉

Vintage penny rug

A late 19th Century wool penny rug. In the background on the left you can see the infamous “Squirrel Pelt Quilt”. (Yes, it’s really made of squirrel pelts. Eww. I’m sure necessity was the mother of invention and if you were living on the frontier and just needed something to keep you warm at night, you used whatever was available… but I’m glad I don’t have to sleep with that one.) You can see pictures of past visits to this quilt museum here.

Brigham Young Farmhouse

In addition to quilts, there are lots of beautiful old structures. This is the Brigham Young farmhouse. I always love this old, pink house with the gingerbread trim.

Quilt on the porchAnd last, my favorite spot – this is the porch of the house that we sat on as volunteers a two summers ago. Every year the volunteers at that house piece a new quilt and hand-quilt the pieced quilt from the year before. Once a week we’d get dressed up like pioneers and my kids would roam the village and I’d get to sit on that spot and visit with guests and stitch. It was always a lot of work to get us dressed, lunches packed, and drive the 45 minutes to get there, but as you can see, it was always worth it. (Unless it was hot, lol.) Isn’t that a dreamy-looking spot?


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  • Reply
    September 22, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    This is definitely one of my fantasy jobs! We have a historical village near me and one time the lady in charge of textiles came to our guild and it was heaven.

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      September 22, 2015 at 1:43 pm

      Yes! Me too! I love stuff like that! I’d really love to become an expert in dating fabric and quilts. I feel like I’ve got a lot of the basics, I can look at an antique quilt can have a good guess about what era it was made in, but I’d love to learn all the “whys” of the reasons those quilts evolved during their particular era.

  • Reply
    September 22, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    What a treat! Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply
    Sandra B
    September 22, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    Beautiful quilts!! I love them all, but my favorites are the Pine Burr quilt and the Ocean Waves quilt. Both those patterns are on my “to do” list….I just love looking at old quilts, and appreciate so much all the time and effort that went into creating them! And, also appreciation for those who preserve these quilts, and make them available for viewing today!!
    Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Reply
    Karen Seitz
    September 22, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    I concur with your new favorite. 🙂 Those colors are so fresh and modern, aren’t they? If it’s an old quilt, I wonder if the colors were typical of the time period or if people were wondering what the quilter was thinking – lol.

  • Reply
    Karen @runsewfun
    September 22, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    I love these posts. My favorite, this time, is the Pine Burr quilt. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    CaRol g
    September 22, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    Always something interesting from you, Amy. Ocean waves has been on my to do list for a very long time

  • Reply
    Mary Baker
    September 23, 2015 at 5:55 am

    Love seeing your photos. I am hoping Place Heritage Park is open in January. Our family will be meeting in SLC to ski. We are hoping to go a few days early to poke around SLC. My family (children age 10 and 12) have never been to Utah. Thank you for the inspiring post. Other suggestions for DON”T MISS places to visit in the area?

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      September 23, 2015 at 1:20 pm

      I just checked – it is open in January! I love downtown Salt Lake. Definitely visit Temple Square – there’s lots to see there and it’s so unique to Salt Lake. The City Creek mall across the street is beautiful with lots of great shops and restaurants. There are some great quilt shops in the area, but not really any downtown. If you’re skiing in the Cottonwood Canyons, Elaine’s Quilt shop is at the bottom of Big Cottonwood Canyon. It’s great. The University of Utah has a great Natural History Museum and Fine Arts Museum. My kids those same ages love the Natural History museum! There’s also an aquarium in Sandy – about 15 min south of SL that my kids love too.

      • Reply
        Mary Baker
        September 26, 2015 at 11:21 am

        Thank you for the info!

  • Reply
    Rosemary Bolton
    September 23, 2015 at 6:17 am

    Amy, thank you for sharing this. I loved the tour. I love the quilts, The Pink House is so pretty.
    Gosh, what a wonderful post to read this morning.
    Thanks bunches.
    I have so little time to do big adventures since I am caring for my 92 year old parents, but this looks so nice.
    happy Wednesday!!

  • Reply
    September 23, 2015 at 8:37 am

    Such a wonderful place, such beautiful quilts! I will put this on my wish-list for one of our next trips to the US! Thanks for all these pictures!

  • Reply
    September 23, 2015 at 8:42 am

    do you happen to know what the name of the quilt is on the porch? love that one!

  • Reply
    Peggy quinlan-Gee
    September 23, 2015 at 11:23 am

    i was wondering if you know once a quilt is loaded onto the frame to be hand quilted can it be unloaded if it isn’t done? Long story that goes with this question, but just trying to find solution. thanks Amy! Your blog was the first blog I ever started following. You are so inspiring!

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      September 23, 2015 at 1:14 pm

      I’m sure it can be unloaded. You might want to baste the unquilted parts, just to keep the layers together for quilting later. Thanks for your nice comment, Peggy!

  • Reply
    Jodie Zollinger
    September 25, 2015 at 2:22 am

    Oh I meant to visit that place when we visited SLC a few years ago, I would have loved to see this exhibit. The quilts are beautiful and the space is ideal for showing quilts. That is certainly a lovely one, that Pine Burr, almost looks modern with all the white space around the blocks, I love it. Though the ocean waves quilt is pretty impressive too. Thanks for sharing Amy!

  • Reply
    September 25, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    Gosh, I love that appliqué too! It’s timeless and wonderful. Looks like you had a great visit!

  • Reply
    Rosemary Bolton
    September 26, 2015 at 6:31 am

    Hi Amy, This page sat open in my browser for a few days now. Thank you for sharing these quilts.
    What an absolutely beautiful collection. I am thrilled that there are places like this where treasures are well cared for.

    • Reply
      Amy Smart
      September 26, 2015 at 12:59 pm

      I’m so glad you enjoyed them as much as I did!

  • Reply
    Shena B
    October 6, 2015 at 9:51 am

    Oh, I love antique quilts. I found a book last week on Mennonite Quilts and it has so many gorgeous, inspiring pictures of antique quilts and the stories behind them. Of the ones that you’ve posted, I like Pine Burr and Ocean Waves the best. Do you have any idea how Pine Burr was constructed? It’s such an interesting design!

  • Reply
    Melanie C
    October 6, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    I’m always amazed at the creatively and talent woman had when creating their quilts! Handstitching it all…eek!

  • Reply
    Fall Break 2015 - Gorgeous Scenery and Antique Quilts - Diary of a Quilter - a quilt blog
    October 19, 2015 at 9:07 pm

    […] made by Janet’s mother (also Janet, just to be confusing). It’s really similar to the Pine Burr quilt in this post. I need to try and get up the guts to make […]

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