Sunday, December 12, 2010


While visiting my husband's parents in the Omaha area this past week, I decided to venture over to nearby Lincoln to visit the International Quilt Study Center and Museum. I wanted to see the Mary Ghormley doll quilt exhibit before it ended this weekend. What a treat it was to visit this beautiful facility. Just outside the exhibit area was a wonderful display of antique sewing tools on loan from a private collector. I snapped the following photos. Sorry for the glare but it couldn't be helped as they were all encased in glass.

I've seen these thread boxes at antiques shows from time to time. I love learning about the history behind old things and the display included some interesting historical tidbits on these sewing needfuls. Here is the info that accompanied the thread box display: Thread boxes typically contain spindles to hold spools of thread in place and sometimes contain numbered eyelet holes so that you do not have to remove the thread from the box. Many thread boxes were made as marketing items for thread companies and contain an advertisement on the inside of the lid. Three of the most popular styles of thread boxes were produced in Scotland from the early 1800s to the 1930s and were Mauchline ware, Tartanware, and Fernware.

These fancifully shaped thread winders caught my eye. I would love to happen upon some of these at the antiques shows or flea markets I frequent.

The exhibit also included an array of pinwheels—also known as disc pincushions, pin pocket books, sandwich pincushions, or pin safes. They are made of three layers and the pins are inserted into the middle layer around the edges.

As you have probably noticed from past posts, I like to rehabilitate old sewing machines and display them around my home. So I was delighted to see these charming Willcox and Gibbs models. Founded in 1857 by James E. A. Gibbs and James Willcox, the Willcox and Gibbs Sewing Machine Company was famous for producing the best single-thread chain stitch machines. James Gibbs patented a special revolving hook that created a better chain stitch than other sewing machines and he sold his machines for approximately half the price of others. As a result, Willcox and Gibbs models were one of the best selling machines of their time. 

After admiring the collection of sewing trinkets it was on to the doll quilt display. I had enjoyed seeing many of Mary Ghormley's doll quilts a couple years ago at the Toy and Miniature Museum in Kansas City. Merikay Waldvogel's book, Childhood Treasures: Doll Quilts By and For Children, which features 80 antique quilts from Mary's collection, had just been published that year. 

The complete Mary Ghormley Doll Quilt Collection comprises more than 300 quilts made between 1800 and 1950. The International Quilt Study Center acquired her treasure trove of pint-size treasures in 2008. I was delighted to find out that photos were allowed as long as no flash photography was used. 

Interspersed among the doll quilts were several endearing doll beds from Mary's collection. I was especially enamored with this one.

I loved the little wooden hutch stacked with fabrics that accompanied this sweet little bed. 

Doesn't this comfy bed, washstand, and rug set an inviting scene? 

All of the many beds were beautifully staged with little quilts and other charming accessories that any doll would love.

There was also a display of mini quilts on cleverly crafted beds made of cigar boxes, tin cans, clothespins, and leftover wooden slats. Talk about ingenuity!

I was fortunate to obtain one of Mary Ghormley's doll beds a couple years ago. When she and Merikay Waldvogel gave a talk at the Toy and Miniature Museum in Kansas City back in 2008, Merikay mentioned that Mary would be holding a sale of some of her quilts and doll beds in her Lincoln, Nebraska, home the following week. Since Lincoln was within a reasonable drive of where I live, I decided to check it out. I purchased this antique doll bed and the large blue-and-white quilt behind it at the sale. The strippy doll quilt on the bed is one that I made a few years ago. 

I took many other photos of the quilts while visiting the museum but didn't want to inundate you with too many at once! I hope you'll come back later this week to see photos from another quilt exhibit that I saw while at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum. If you enjoy whole-cloth quilts, you might be interested to see my snapshots of the exhibit on French whole-cloth needlework traditions. 


  1. Thanks for all the pictures. I missed it again. :( The sewing tools exhibit looks like it was wonderful, too.

  2. Wonderful. I can't wait to come back!Lucky girl living withing driving distance of the IQSC.

  3. What interesting things. Thanks for the photos! I love your doll bed and its quilt. Very pretty.

  4. Thank you for a very interesting post! I enjoyed all your photos.

  5. What a lovely post. I so enjoyed seeing all the sewing weakness. :) Thanks for sharing your trip with us!

  6. Thank you for sharing. I have heard so much about the museum and would love to visit. Now I can virtually! The thread boxes were interesting and I would love to run across one as well. The doll quilts were precious, but the last one with the stripe and four-patches is my favorite. Cannot wait for the sequel.

  7. I'd love to visit there some day. I love seeing all those old sewing items.

  8. Wow, thanks for sharing the photos. I would love to see that exhibit, but just a little too far away here on the east coast. I love the doll beds as much as the quilts.

  9. What a wonderful post!

    thanks for sharing, so very interesting!

  10. Thanks for sharing all the great pictures! I look forward to seeing more,♥

  11. I loved seeing this exhibit through your photos! Thanks for sharing them with us all.
    Can you tell me what the pattern of the blue and white quilt in the last photo is? I really like it!
    Thanks, Kimber.

  12. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful photos. Those little doll quilts and doll beds are so charming...what a treat!
    Sandy :)

  13. I would have loved to see the wonderful doll beds and quilts! What fun little accessories they were displaying too! Great post about a wonderful subject. I LOVE doll quilts!

  14. Thank you for the virtual tour of the exhibit! I love all the charming doll quilts.
    Your blog is beautiful, and I've become a follower.

  15. Also got to these little beauties, wish I could have stayed in the US longer, well hopefully I can visit again.


  16. I would love to attempt sewing a couple of these beautiful little doll quilts. So inspiring.

  17. Oh! There can never be too many pictures with such a charming subject! Thank you for sharing!


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