Winter Warmth: Coverlets, Quilts, and Clothing

 In Past Exhibitions

WINTER WARMTH:

COVERLETS, QUILTS, AND CLOTHING

October 27 – December 30, 2018

Before the mid-20th-century advent of electric blankets, smart wool, and micro fiber, people fended off chilly winters with goods handcrafted from natural materials. Layers of wool and flannel drawers, petticoats, skirts, vests, and jackets topped by handknit scarves, hats, and mittens, protected wearers from the elements.

Transportation in unheated sleighs and carriages required comforters, quilts, and blankets to stave off the cold. Furs were especially helpful both as blankets and clothing. Fur coats, muffs, and stoles provided strong and fashionable protection against rain and snow. At home, batting-filled quilts in pleasing patterns and colors, mostly created by women, adorned beds. Woven coverlets safeguarded sleepers during cold winter nights.

These practical and functional items, meant to warm the body, also delighted the eye. For the modem viewer that is still part of their charm.

 

Still, half-cloudy day. Snow eighteen inches deep; a fall of several inches during the night. The air is always delightfully pure after a fresh fall of snow, and to-day this sort of wintry perfume is very marked. Long drive, which we enjoyed extremely. We have put on our winter livery in earnest, and shall probably keep it, with a break here and there, perhaps, until the spring equinox.

– Susan Fenimore Cooper (1813-1894), Rural Hours, 1887, Diary entry December 31

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