Quilting Bee


One of the favorite activities of the Blandings boys is building forts in their rooms.  As any parent knows, the going up of the fort is far more interesting than the taking down and the putting away.  Fort building usually requires a lot of blankets.  Two of my grandmother’s quilts are available for construction.


I’m not a quilter, but as a needle pointer I feel a sort of kinship to anyone who stitches regardless of the medium.

My grandmother made quilts for each of her children when they married and each grandchild when he or she was born.  A harbinger of beloved things to come, mine is yellow.


Mr. Blandings maternal grandmother was a quilter as well.


My favorite parts are the signatures.

Anyone who holds any of these homemade treasures dear to their heart surely is interested in Gee’s Bend and the history those quilts and quilt makers represent.    
There are two new exhibits in Kansas City at the Belger Art Gallery.  The first, “Inspiration: African American Quilts from the Collection of Maude Wahlman” features quilts collected by Wahlman who has been gathering quilts and studying their symbols for decades.

The second, “Interpretation: Silver Screen Quilts by Sun Smith-Feret” who has studied Wahlman’s work and created quilts blending the traditional symbolism with elements of popular American movies.


I have not seen the exhibit, but I am always intrigued by any event the Belger is hosting.  The Belger Family owns Belger Cartage here in Kansas City, which basically moves big things.  It’s not uncommon for someone to use it in the vernacular here as in, “I spent so much my bill is going to be delivered by Belger Cartage.”  The Belger family has an outstanding collection of modern art that is displayed in their corporate offices.  In addition, they have dedicated themselves to collecting a vast amount of pieces of a limited number of artists.  They own one of the largest collections of Jasper John’s works in the country.  Last year I had the pleasure of being the only one in the gallery when the John’s collection was on display and received a charming and informative tour by it’s director, Mo Dickens.  His easy manner and subtle Southern diction enchanted me and eased any fear that he was judging my ignorant but inquisitive nature.
The Belger Arts Center is located in the Crossroad District and is open Monday through Friday from 8 – 4:30.  Private and small group tours are available by appointment by contacting the Gallery.
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20 thoughts on “Quilting Bee

  1. I don’t think I have it in me to be a quilter – so meticulous. With needlepointing, it’s mindless – I wouldn’t even consider “counting” out a canvas. My husband’s family’s are older, but in much better shape. Mine are shamefully worn.

  2. Ah, fond memories of the kids’ forts. It was always much more fun to build them than to take them down.

    My mother in law made quilts for each of our three children. They are treasures. The quilts, as well as the kids, tee hee. She lives in Kansas City, BTW.

  3. They are beautiful Mrs Blandings, how lucky you are!

    By the way, I’ve passed the Brilliant Blog award to you!

  4. There’s no shame in a worn quilt Mrs. B!

    I managed to make one quilt during my time at KU (textile design major, so there was always fabric around). Speaking as a maker, I’d much prefer to see it used and enjoyed, rather than rolled on an acid-free tube and handled only with white cotton gloves.

  5. aww, the pictures of the fort brought back some very fond childhood memories. nice to know that in the video game era, some childhood pleasures remain so simple and timeless.

  6. Not only am I impressed with the forts of those Blandings boys, those quilts are amazing. We have some wonderful heirlooms here that were used as part of the fort building and floor crawling. Mind you, they were and are used with love. How I wished I had kept them in a “hope chest.” Time for this busy bee to begin a “Quilting Bee.” Perhaps one with all my favorite blogs on each square.

  7. I just added the new ‘blog list’ feature to my blog, so now I can see right away when someone has updated!

    It is so funny to see all of the forts – the same scene plays out daily in my household with my girls. I keep putting the Lands End foam child chairs up in the attic, and they keep pulling them down for the forts. It also seems as if every single blanket in the house is pulled out for these fort endeavors.

    I went to a quilt exhibution from the women of Jeeve’s Bend (sp?) a few years ago, and particularly remember a spectacular quilt called ‘snowball’.

  8. This is eerie. I was thinking about doing a follow-up post about Diana Vreeland, Parish-Hadley and the Alabama quilters but so far I can’t find a picture of the wing chair upholstered with the quilt.

    Anyway, your sunny yellow with hits of apple green, turquoise and red could not be more you. It’s wonderful! We have some similar to the one Mr. Blandings inherited, with the stylized flowers. I’ve always been drawn to those 🙂

  9. I have been dealing with a bedroom fort for weeks. I have to crawl commando style, in his room to put the laundry away. He begs me not to take it down.

    My mother and grandmother were quilters. I have recently been handed down scads of beautiful vintage fabric that was never used or was left over from quilting or sewing projects. I have some nice quilts as well.

  10. Wonderful quilts to cherish! I am so excited to visit the Belger Art Exhibit, as I have not been. You are a wealth of information! I had no idea about the Belger Family Jasper John’s Art collection. Coincidentally about a month ago I purchased a John’s Art Book!

  11. One of my favorite quilts was made by a great aunt- it has little girls with bonnets on it. And there’s nothing better than taking a nap under a quilt in the summertime!

  12. How amazing that you have these?! And I love that you share them and allow the kids to build forts with them…you’re giving them memories with those very special blankets that they will cherish when they are all grown.

  13. I was lucky enough to be able to purchase a bunch of quilts at very reasonable prices at lots of thrift shops on a cross country trip. They were one thing that I saved when I moved to the UK.

  14. My Gram Gram used to sit day in and day out with little fabric squares and stitch one quilt after the other. Now that she’s gone, they have become precious family heirlooms. Thankfully, she made quite a few over her lifetime, so there are enough to go around for all us girls 🙂 Thanks for sharing, it made me think of her.

  15. I love that you have so many personal stories to share. I worked with a designer once who hated quilts. She also hated brown. I mean, really, how can you hate a whole color. She also got down on the floor and had temper tantrums.

    We didn’t see eye to eye.

  16. Nothing better than a good fort!!!!! Please don’t take it down. Everyone needs a hiding place. We used to play with our Barbie’s under the fort.Much more fun that the Barbie dream house was. I must say I am surprised Rosie hasn’t captured the city. 🙂

  17. Ah, the memories of little boys playing in blanket-quilt-chair forts. What fun. My younger son slept in the upstairs loft outside of his bedroom in the blanket fort an entire summer.

    Two of my prized treasures are quilts made by my grandmother and great grandmother — the real Emma Ladoux. After trying my hand at quilting several times, I really admire the skill required to make beautiful quilts. I don’t know that I will ever master that.

    All this makes me go back a very long way into my childhood, to the ultimate blanket fort —- a quilt in progress, stretched into a quilting frame at waist height, in my grandmother’s living room, the quilt being hand finished by a room full of her neighbors. I’m 4 years old, hiding underneath.

    Thanks for the memories, Mrs. B. A wonderful post, as always.

  18. One more thing….run don’t walk to the Belger quilt exhibit. I took my mom and dad, and their best friends (a married couple) all in their 70’s, to see the quilts Saturday. I made sure to preface the trip with a disclaimer regarding viewing “unconventional” quilts to these very traditional people, the women quilters themselves. After a few of the expected “hrrrumpfs” about the quilts, even they settled in and appreciated the vivid colors, the unusual fabrics and combinations.

    Mo’s descriptions, in his cool Southern accent, make the designs so meaningful. At first, I only noticed the bandanna pieces, but then Mo’s explaination about ‘the Bloods’ and ‘the Crypts’ made that quilt come alive, and a little daunting.

    See if you can find the Marilyn Monroe quilt. It is so obvious when you know what the piece symbolizes. All pink, and glitzy.

    Altogether a wonderful exhibit, not to be missed. It’s here through early October, but don’t tarry.

  19. Emma – thanks for the preview! Now I can’t wait to see it. Mo is a delight, isn’t he? He did the same for me at the John’s exhibit. Apparently, John has used plates off and on for years. He’d create it, use it, then put it away for awhile – take it back out again. Mo walked me through the exhibit showing me where the plates had been reused and how. It gave the entire exhibit so much more depth.

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