The Illinois Amish Heritage Center will host its third annual Sheep to Clothing to Quilts event on Saturday, May 14 (with a rain date of May 21st) from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. There will be a $5.00 admission fee.
The event will again feature activities to show how clothing and quilts were made in the 19th century and before. Even though woolen mills were making wool cloth by the 1860s, many families still spun their own thread and wove their own cloth. Worn out clothing was turned into quilts.
The Amish first began to make quilts about 1870. Before that they relied on blue and white “overshot” woven coverlets for bed coverings. Their early quilts were made from plain, dark colors. Although colors lightened up in the 20th century, plain fabrics were still used.
Early Amish clothing, quilts, and coverlets will be on display in the Schrock House during the event including a blue and white coverlet that was woven by the Diener family before they came to America. Also on display will be the 1870s-style suit worn by Daniel Schrock at the time of his death in 1892. Daniel Schrock built the house about 1882.
Also, the 1840’s era Campbell family quilt, made entirely from locally produced fabric, dyed from plants grown in the area, and then spun, woven, and assembled into a quilt by hand will be on display for visitors to see.
The event will feature demonstrations of all the crafts used from the pioneer times to produce fabric and clothing for the early pioneers. Visitors will be invited to try their hand at many of the activities being demonstrated.
Shearing of sheep will be demonstrated periodically during the day. Hand shearing along with more modern technology will be demonstrated for comparisons. Washing and dying of the wool will follow. Dying of wool was done with natural dyes before chemical dyes were introduced in the 1860s.
The actual spinning wheel brought by Moses Yoder to the area in 1865 will be on display. Spinning on both the smaller “flax” or “Saxony” wheel and the large “great” or “walking wheel” will be demonstrated.
Weaving will be demonstrated, and various examples of hand-woven wool cloth will be available for visitors to examine. “Over-shot,” “double-weave,” and “Jacquard” coverlets will be on display along with the Diener coverlet.
A quilting demonstration will be offered throughout the day, along with the cutting and piecing of the fabric that comprises the quilts. Visitors will have the opportunity to examine early Amish quilts and the Campbell quilt.
Also front and center will be the historic Amish houses that are being preserved at the Amish Heritage Center along with the historic Miller school that was moved to the site in 2021. Most of the event activities will be held in and around the 1882 Daniel Schrock house. In addition, tours of the house will be conducted by Owen Schrock, great grandson of Daniel Schrock. Having grown up in the house, Owen has many stories and memories to share.
Most of the exterior of the 1865 Moses Yoder has been restored and restoration of the interior is currently on-going. The house will be open for tours and visitors can learn first-hand what the structural research has told us about the house and how it will be restored. The 1860s Moses Yoder workshop and the ca 1900 Miller school will also be open for tours.
Other activities will include chair caning and period crafts, rope-making, activities, and games for the kids, pony rides, and the ever popular petting zoo.
Featured again this year will be a pancake breakfast that will be served from 7:00-10:00 a.m. Pancakes, sausage, and traditional Amish liverwurst will be served. After that, various food concessions will be available during the day.
In inviting the public to come see the event and progress on the site development, Wilmer Otto, Chairman of the Board, stated, “this kickoff event for the 2022 season will be delightfully educational, visually rich, and a gustatory pleasure for all who attend!”
The Amish Heritage Center will be open for tours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays this year beginning on Saturday, May 21st. Also scheduled this summer is the Steam Threshing show on August 5-6.
The Illinois Amish Heritage Center is located three miles east of Arthur, Illinois on Illinois Route 133. For more information visit www.illinoisamish.org or www.facebook.com/illinois-Amish-Heritage-Center. Or call Wilmer Otto at 217-721-9266.