Happy Fourth of July!
A long time ago I lived in Washington, DC for a year, and our quilt guild (Mt. Vernon, a chapter of Quilts Unlimited of Virginia) was pretty active. We met in the community center, next door to the Variety Store (which had great fabrics) and someone organized a tour to the Smithsonian quilt archives in the National History Museum.
They took us downstairs into a room with tons of these large, flat drawers, and a docent pulled them out one-by-one to show us these historical quilts. This was in the days before our phone cameras, which take great photos effortlessly, so many of my photos are sub-standard. But a few fun things stood out for me, from that tour.
Gloriously colored applique, using ombre-shaded fabrics.
The teensiest logs in this stellar Log Cabin quilt (the use of the plaids interspersed with solids and other plaids is brilliant, I think).
Stars that are each their own character.
And this quilt, which looked like it was English paper-pieced out of felt, but it was wool from Civil War uniforms, carefully cut and pieced, and made by a soldier.