Documenting a Smithsonian Heritage Quilt kit.

One of the things I was lucky enough to bring back from the US, due entirely to my friend Sherry’s generosity, thank you :-), was a quilt kit from the Smithsonian Institute.  I will make it up but instead of just ripping it open (my usual M O) we talked about documenting it as it was unpacked.  At over 20 years old this is quite an interesting piece of quilt making history so that is what I am going to do today, in real time, that is I will photograph and upload after each stage of seeing what is actually in there.  I’ll only hit publish at the end though, that would be annoying to get copious posts in quick succession wouldn’t it.

So here goes, this is what came home with me

image of Smithsonian Institute Quilt Kit

American Heritage Quilt Collection, wall hanging.

It cost $64.95 at the time, which seems pretty steep to me.  Especially for American prices and this is 20+ years ago but it is the real deal from the Smithsonian, bearing their logo.

image of American Heritage Quilt Collection

It's authentic with the Smithsonian's logo on the packaging.

I’m going to slice along the bottom of the packet to open it, rather than cutting the top off.

Now that it’s out of the packet you can see the cover better

image of American Heritage Quilt Collection

Tulip Garden, Wall Hanging with backing 40" x 40" Pre-stenciled wholecloth quilt.

I knew what to expect in regards to fabric in the kit (tho I haven’t got that far yet) but the first thing I saw gave me an “oh this is interesting” moment.

image of History of the quilts

The History of the Quilts (Provenance)

Here are the five quilts which the Smithsonian licensed to be kitted up and their provenance.  I didn’t know the Maltaville Album Quilt was one chosen, here titled Floral Album Applique ~ second from top.  Mine is called Tulip Garden Applique.  Click on the above image to zoom in closer.

The reverse of the above page shows the pictures of the different quilt kits available, 11 in all.

image of Quilt kits available

Five are wholecloth "white on White" kits and six are applique.

 I wasn’t intending for this to be a post about the Maltaville Album Quilt, but this just came out of the packet, it’s real time remember :-)

So, the Maltaville (here called Floral Album Applique) was available as a quilt 88″ x 114″ 12 blocks with one large centre block and surrounded by applique borders  or  as a wallhanging 40″ x 40″ .

Wow :-0

Also included in the paperwork is a 7 page set of general instructions prepared by  Holice Turnbrow.

image of general instructions set

I’m up to revealing the fabric, unless there is something else folded up inside.

image of applique background fabric

Sorry, these two would have to be the most boring photo’s, pretty much all white.  In the photo below I accidently hit auto on the image adjustment but a happy mistake as it does show up the printed applique pattern better. However it makes the quality of the fabric look terrible when in fact it is a very nice quality.  I had wondered if I might substitute a different backgound but after seeing it I am happy with this.  That’s both the backing fabric and the printed applique background you see.

image of applique patternAfter zooming in on the photo I think there’s elements of a pomegranate there.

I’ll fold that back up and see what else there is.

image of binding supplied

Pre-cut binding supplied

Before folding up again, I just had a look inside the backing fabric and there is the pre-cut binding, one continuous piece, even joined at a 45 degree angle.

image of kit contents

A bag of fabric and some more instructions by the look of things

Now we’re down to the applique fabrics, I knew these were fabrics I had seen before because of course I could see them from the back of the kit when I saw it for the first time.  I had remarked to Sherry about the coincidence of these being from the same range my LQG used for our very first raffle quilt for our very first exhibition in Castlemaine, Vic. November 1992.  So these fabrics would have been 1991 or early 1992 in to Australia and purchased from our local quilt shop Threadbear Quilters.

image of applique fabric

Applique fabric and a label

There’s a half yard (18 ” x 44″) of the red print by Marcus Brothers Textiles Inc.

12 ” x 22″ of the green print also by Marcus Brothers,

Bias cut strip of the green is included ~ pre joined,

and a plain cheddar piece, 11″ x 6″.

And a label.

Another set of instructions, these one specific to this project and again by Holice Turnbrow.

image of applique instructions

I think I would really like to make this up, but would prefer to keep this kit intact.

It would be great to make it in some RJR Smithsonian fabrics and I always have plenty of plain background on the shelf.

 I’ve just had a look on the book shelves for a photo of the original, sure enough I found one.  If you have  Mimi Dietrich’s book Quilts from the Smithsonian, That Patchwork Place publishers 1995 you’ll find a photo on page 40

I had better get a move on, it’s that same LQG’s first meeting for the year in about two hours, I want to go as I haven’t been for a couple of months.

til soon

thanks for visiting



  1. What a wonderful treasure. Love the way you have savoured every step and let us be included.

  2. Fascinating – thank you for sharing! Ady

  3. Thanks Ady and Sharon, glad you enjoyed it :-)

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