A Stitch in Time quilt show popular at museum

DOVER — The annual Black History Quilt Show has been happening at the Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village longer than Di Rafter has been director.

Count her among those anticipating this year’s A Stitch in Time Quilters’ show.

Di Rafter is director of the Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village in Dover. (Delaware State News file/Dave Chambers)

Di Rafter is director of the Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village in Dover. (Delaware State News file/Dave Chambers)

“They change it up every year with different quilts, and everybody is eager to see what the theme is.”

The exhibit has evolved over the years from being a way to expose visitors to A Stitch in Time’ Quilters’ works to being a fundraiser for the museum. All proceeds from the $6 admission fee go to the museum.

Ms. Rafter, who has been director for 10 years, described the show as a “collaboration” between the museum and the quilters. They are able to display their quilts while the museum benefits not only from the monetary donation but also from the opportunity to welcome visitors who might not have considered an agricultural-themed museum as their cup of tea.

“We get people in to just see the quilts,” Ms. Rafter said Thursday afternoon. For example, “a senior group from Cape Henlopen is coming to see the quilts in March.”

The show draws people who appreciate the labor and artistry of quilts. Regular visitors to the Ag Museum also appreciate that they see a different exhibit, she said.

The theme of this year’s show is “Quilting Through the Ages: Saluting the Military” and officially opens Feb. 6 with a 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. program that will include a presentation by Fredric Minus of Smyrna on African-American soldiers, prizes and refreshments.

The museum is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For information, call 734-1618 or visit www.agriculturalmuseum.org/.

Members of A Stitch in Time Quilters donate handmade items to the Delaware Agricultural Museum’s gift shop. (Delaware State News/K.I. White)

Members of A Stitch in Time Quilters donate handmade items to the Delaware Agricultural Museum’s gift shop. (Delaware State News/K.I. White)

While Ms. Rafter isn’t sure of precise numbers, she said the museum definitely sees an uptick in visitors while the quilts are hanging. This year’s show runs through the end of April.

The exhibit originated as a diversity project tied to February being Black History Month. The timing is good, though, because people who will be at the second annual Winter Indoor Flea Market on Feb. 19 and 20 and the museum’s major auction/dinner fundraiser on March 5 can enjoy the quilts, and possibly buy what catches their eyes.

“About 75 percent are for sale and we get 25 percent of the sale,” Ms. Rafter said.

The Stitch in Time Quilters has sewn up a special place in Ms. Rafter’s heart.

“The guild also makes a quilt for us to auction off in March,” she said. “They make us stuff for the gift shop — pillows, eyeglass cases, sewing baskets, table runners.”

All are donated with 100 percent of the sales going to the museum.

The relationship between the museum and guild is “a positive thing,” Ms. Rafter says. “It’s great.”

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