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Empire Quilters Sew Quilt for Dyckman Farmhouse Museum

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Dyckman Farmhouse Museum's Oak Leaf & Reel Applique Quilt
Vintage Oak Leaf and Reel Quilt

Portion of the original Oak Leaf & Reel quilt owned by the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum.

© Hamlin Rose Digital
In about 1784, William Dyckman built a Dutch Colonial style farmhouse at what's now Broadway at 204th Street in Manhattan, in New York City. Today, the house sits within a park, a small piece of the land that once made up the farm's several-hundred acre tract.

The Dyckman family owned the farmhouse until the 1870's. In 1915, ancestors of William Dyckman purchased the house and restored it before presenting the house to the city the following year, and the Dyckman Farmhouse has been open to the public ever since.

An Oak Leaf and Reel quilt was one of the belongings found in the house when it transferred to the city. The quilt's history is not known, but the photo reveals that it was in poor condition, too far gone to save. Take a close look at the museum's Oak Leaf quilt and you'll see that it's a variation of the traditional pattern, with four crescents that arc away from the midpoints of the center "reel."

Museum staff felt that a replica of the quilt would be the perfect cover for one of the vintage beds in the farmhouse. They wanted something colorful, light and airy to brighten the room, but with fabrics that resembled those in the original quilt.

If you think the scenario sounds like the perfect opportunity for a community service project, you're absolutely right. Many members of the Empire Quilters guild decided that designing and assembling the farmhouse quilt would be fun, educational -- and a way to create a lasting heirloom for the museum.

Judith Hoffman Corwin drafted the quilt block and the quilting. Another member, Diane Rode Schneck offered to teach her hand applique method and checked blocks as they progressed. Everyone worked together to make the quilt a reality.

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