Virtual Quilts: Viewing, Studying and Enjoying Them in New Ways

If you belong to a quilt guild, visit quilt exhibits, participate in workshops, take classes, or study quilt history, you have likely had an event canceled or postponed. If you are anything like me it’s been a lot more than one. This has left me wondering how I can fulfill my desire to view quilts and, equally important, to socialize and learn from other quilters. I miss my people! How can I get my quilt fix when everything I used to do is canceled or on hold?

Fortunately, I didn’t have to create the opportunities, I just needed to do some exploring online and within my own quilt-related groups. I’m going to share just a few of the experiences I found as examples of what is available now to satisfy our quilt viewing and socializing needs. These are just a sample. I’d like to use this blog and my Facebook group to share more events and quilt opportunities. So, keep reading to the end — or, just skip there now, I won’t notice — for how to share information about these “quilty” pleasures you think our community of quilters would enjoy.

Detail of mid-19th century mariner's compass quilt
Mid-19th century mariner’s compass

So, at the start of this post, I mentioned a few types of events that were canceled due to the pandemic that I had looked forward to attending. Even though this year has been challenging, we are still living in the 21st century and the internet connects us in some very positive ways. In my online investigation, I’ve discovered quilt shows I couldn’t attend even in “normal” times, viewed some excellent lectures on quilts from very knowledgeable presenters, and sat around a virtual table and talked signature quilts with fellow quilt history enthusiasts. A few examples follow.

Virtual Quilt Shows

Quilts are tactile, colorful objects that invite close looks and touching whenever possible. Museums and quilt shows already take some of the fun out of quilt viewing by roping them off and displaying stern signs that say DO NOT TOUCH! They have good reasons, but tell me you wouldn’t touch anything if you found yourself locked in a museum overnight all alone. Anyway, video isn’t seeing with your own two eyes but it’s a lot better than never seeing at all. Fortunately, the Road to California 2020 quilt show took place in January, pre-lockdown. Someone calling herself @JollyMollyTV on YouTube was there and videoed the whole show. You can enjoy a walk through of all the quilts, set to music. Because it’s YouTube you can pause on the ones you want to view longer and skip ahead if you don’t want to watch the whole 29 minute video. There are also at least two more videos where Jolly Molly TV takes more time with individual quilts and uses the zoom feature on her camera to good effect. Link to the first video above and then the others should show up as options or you can search for Road to California 2020 on YouTube.

Detail photo of 19th century hexagon quilt
19th century hexagons

Even if you live in Maryland, you can get a taste of the Sydney Quilt Show 2019 without benefit of an airplane or time travel. The 2020 show was, alas, canceled. Helen Godden of @helengoddenquilts does an 11 minute video walkthrough of her favorites. The video is well edited and I like the way she describes the details and talks about why she finds them special. My favorite of the group is the modern interpretation a mid-19th century Pennsylvania quilt by Michelle Law which you can see at the 5:49 spot in the video. Again, it’s YouTube so you can move the little slider right to that point to see what I am talking about.


Like many museums, the International Quilt Museum is closed until further notice. The upside of this situation is that museums still want the public to know about them and their collections so they’ve moved more activities online. The IQM has effectively utilized Facebook to let us know about what’s going on for those interested in quilts and to provide a variety of activities and events such as lectures, many high quality images of quilts on their Facebook page, Textile Talks on different topics such as the recent “Celebrating Modern Together,” presented by the Modern Quilt Guild, and something they call a Virtual Pop-Up Exhibit. The most recent pop-up exhibit, Partisan Pieces: Quilts of Political and Patriotic Persuasion, (say that 3 times fast) is definitely worth a view.

19th Century quilt on display at Elegant Geometry exhibit at Taft Museum
Elegant Geometry exhibit at the Taft Museum

The DAR Museum has been sharing their collection on their website since well before the pandemic lockdown. The quality is excellent but not all exhibits are thoroughly represented. Visit “A Piece of Her Mind: Culture and Technology in American Quilts” for a good 4-minute video and “Eye on Elegance: Early Quilts from Maryland and Virginia” for some exceptional quilt content.

Update to original post: I want to share an outstanding museum exhibit link that I just found. The Connecticut Historical Society in Hartford, Connecticut, had an outstanding exhibit, “Pieces of American History: Connecticut Quilts,” curated by Lynne Bassett earlier this year. They have just posted the virtual show that allows you to walk through a 3-D space and view the quilts on your computer at your leisure. It’s incredible technology and so very necessary when travel is limited.

I can’t conclude this section without a totally unsolicited plug to support your favorite museums if you can. Cultural organizations have been slammed by this pandemic so consider showing your support for your favorites by joining as a member and/or giving a monetary donation.

Quilt Organizations

I’m seeing more and more quilt guilds using platforms such as Zoom to hold their meetings online. I belong to the American Quilt Study Group (AQSG) whose mission is to support the study of quilts and quilt history. My favorite part about belonging is the camaraderie I enjoy by socializing and talking quilts with like-minded individuals. In June, I hosted a couple of virtual roundtable discussions on Zoom and a total of 36 of us shared signature quilts we were interested in researching. It was the first time in months that I had actually seen good quilt friends and it was an emotional boost I can hardly describe. We talked quilts, got some excellent research tips and advice, and laughed like we were in the same room. I tell you about this because you can sign up for a free Zoom account and use it to get together with your quilting buddies and have some fun. Or, you can join AQSG and attend some rountable discussions yourself. Leave me a comment if you would like more information.

Detail of dated 1850 signature quilt from Cayuga County, New York
Detail of signature quilt from Cayuga County, New York, dated 1850

AQSG is embracing the opportunity to learn quickly about the technology necessary to virtually further the mission of an international educational quilt organization. There will be programs for both members and the general quilting public via their AQSG Members Only Facebook group and the American Quilt Study Group public page, as well as YouTube. Coming soon is a virtual quilt show on New York quilts.

Women in museum taking picture of antique quilt on display
Quilt paparazzi

How to get the word out about your virtual quilt events

AQSG’s “coming soon” events I just mentioned bring me to my next steps. I’ve listed a very few quilt-related activities here but I know the list is growing quickly. I also have a Facebook Page, Reproduction and Antique Quilt Lovers, and will be sharing links there as they are suggested or uncovered. Please feel free to join in and share the links you find with our quilt community.

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  1. Hi, I love the pattern on your July 10,2020 post in red and green. Could you provide information on this pattern and where I might find it. Thank you. Leta

  2. I love making quilts. I’m still a newbie, as I haven’t figured out the triangles, yet, but I will some day. Right now it seems that my quilt days are limited to summer. I’m looking foward to retirement one day where I can quilt any time of the year. I love these quilts and the stories that are shared.

    1. Hi Annette,

      Everyone starts somewhere! I’m still working out triangles and recently have tried a different technique and find I’m liking them much better. How great is that? I am also looking forward to retirement but I do like the steady paycheck so hope to keep plugging away at the day job as long as possible. I keep think summer with be “downtime” but each year I’m so surprised when it is not. But, I’m determined to keep working on carving out “me” time in each day. My next post is one more attempt at that. Join me, if you wish. We can encourage each other! 🙂

  3. I just love quilts. We have an Amish community in Maine that sells them. They are gorgeous.

  4. I love quilts! I love all of the different designs that are possible and they are just cozy!

  5. Wow, I wouldn’t have thought there were museums devoted to quilts. It’s so awesome that there are virtual shows going on right now. The last time I made a quilt was in High school!

  6. I bought Hidden treasures, quilts from the Poos Collection. All pre-1850.

  7. Just beautiful! I wish I could do something like this – maybe one day – but I think seeing more about quilting and stitching during this pandemic has gained a few new followers!

  8. I have never done quilting before, I sew on an amateur basis, but do enjoy it. Have you been to the national quilt annual thing in Paducah KY?

  9. My mother is a fierce quilter! She is VERY talented! I forwarded her this link! She is going to LOVE this and appreciate the history!

  10. Wow I had no idea there were virtual quilt shows. I love quilts and always feel like I’m wrapping a piece of history around me when I use one.

  11. What a beautiful concept! I can get into this as I don’t have the patience for the actually quilting itself I REALLY appreciate the craft!

  12. I have a friend that is a quilting fan and will share these virtual events with her.

  13. It’s amazing how much life has changed lately. Disappointment at missing events, and opportunities for new experiences at the same time!

  14. Love all the hard work that goes into quilting and how no two are the same! I have some lovely patterns in my house too!

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