Historical Society summer exhibit will feature quilts made in Milford

“Threads of Milford History: Quilts from 1830 to 1990” is the title of the Milford Historical Society’s summer exhibit that opens the weekend of June 2 and 3 from 1 to 4 p.m. and will be on view every Saturday and Sunday through Oct. 7.

Free docent-led tours of the society’s three houses will be held every weekend at the Milford Historical Society at 34 High St., not far from the town dock.

As an added attraction for the opening, the Milford Environmental Protection Initiative will be selling raffle tickets for a quilt with the blocked in pattern made by Sherri Belden.

The Milford Historical Society summer exhibit showcases more than 20 quilts ranging from the 1830s to the 1990s and most were sewn by Milford homemakers. The quilts are a tangible connection to the past, society members said.

“Whether it’s a stunning quilt or a simple one, every stitch speaks to the creativity and hard work of the maker; history is threaded into every design,” according to an exhibit description.

“One quilt on display that definitely falls into the stunning category is a mosaic-pattern quilt top that consists of 4,725 pieces, all made over paper patterns, with no piece larger than a quarter,” the exhibit description continues. “It was pieced by Mrs. R. A. Winston who did not live to see it completed. It became known as ‘Winston’s Folly.’ It was finished in the late 19th century, but some fabrics date from 1830.”

Also on display is a multicolored yo-yo pattern covering that was made by Jennie DiBiase and donated by her daughter, Virginia Hoagland.

Sally Stowe Clemence and Joan Stowe donated a silk and velvet geometric quilt with a wide handmade lace ruffle. It was made by Susan Giddings Merwin in the 1860s.

Quilt books, quilts squares and quilted sun bonnets from Eileen Charman will be on display, along with an antique sewing basket and needlework tools.

“Quilting is an ancient art that originated in the Far East and was brought back to Europe by the Crusaders,” society members explained. “Later the English, Welsh and Dutch New World settlers brought quilting work with them, and Americans have been quilting ever since.”

The introduction of manufactured, less expensive, colorfast cottons at the end of the 1700s set the stage for the widespread growth of the American quilting tradition in the 1800s. The growing number of textile mills meant fabric was becoming available to most households. Only then did quilting become a common way for American women to express Yankee frugality and creativity while providing comfort and warmth for their families.

“Their diaries tell us that fine needlework was usually done in the daylight hours of spring and summer,” the exhibit description states.

The Milford Historical Society opening day quilt raffle is the Milford Environmental Protection Initiative’s annual fundraiser to provide money for grants. In the past, they have funded such projects as revitalizing Wilcox Park with native plants and installing bluebird nesting boxes throughout the city.

The rain date for the raffle is June 3.

For more information on Milford Historical Society events, go to milfordhistoricalsociety.org, Facebook or telephone 203-874-2664. To learn more about the Milford Environmental Protection Initiative, go to mepimilford.org or email the group at mepimilford@gmail.com. Membership applications are available at the Country Store counter.