Museum London preserves a significant number of quilts, comforters, and spreads. Under Cover: Quilts from the Collection features 14 quilts that date from the 1860s to the 1950s. Each quilt is beautiful, revealing the vision and skill of the woman (or women) who made it.

Under Cover also explores quilts as repositories of family memory. As memory keepers, women stitched their family’s history into the quilts with their choice of fabric and pattern. Some of those histories were passed down from mother to daughter, between female relatives, and finally to Museum London. For example, Irene Cushman shared a story about the fan spread she donated. Her grandmother, Elizabeth McGregor made it with satin velvets and other fabrics obtained from her dressmaker daughter, Margaret – also Cushman’s mother.  

The exhibition also illustrates how a closer look at each quilt can uncover broader economic, social, and cultural developments. For instance, cheater fabrics like that used in the four patch quilt illustrate an impact of industrialization: quilt makers gained access to a wider variety of less expensive fabric, some designed and printed expressly for their craft.

To enhance appreciation and understanding of the 13 quilts hung on the walls, Under Cover also includes a small selection of unfinished quilts, quilt patterns, quilting templates, and sewing tools. 

Image: Katherine “Katie” McDougall Westman, Crazy Quilt Spread, 1896, silk, cotton. Collection of Museum London; Gift of Harriet Westman, 1962