Clothing · Sewing · Textiles & Fabric

Pioneer Cosplay

Heritage Day Logo_SB
Logo by Simone

Recently a few of us here were involved in the Heritage Day Celebration, honoring the early pioneers in this valley. It happened last Saturday, on a mildly hot day.  Good day to be wearing all these layers, right?

pioneer dress 2018.jpg

Didn’t Thoreau say something like “Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes”?  I think the dress looks like a cross between Mary Poppins and the mother from Little House on the Prairie, an ancient TV show that forever colored our view of what women in the 1850s wore around the farm, and notable for the final show: they blew up all the set houses with dynamite to keep them from the local evil corporate guy.

We hosted a “quilting booth” but instead of that tired old trope of setting out a quilt top so people could mangle it with their stitches, we ran a hexie booth, based on the research I found that quilters at the time were doing English paper piecing.

Quilt of the Mormon Migration_EPP (1)(1).jpg

We had some work to do.  We, meaning, several of us who have attended our quilting group for many years, plus some others we conned into asked to participate.


First, combine four patterns to make a pioneer outfit (seen above). Then start working on the demo goods: hexies.

Pioneer Hexies_1Pioneer Hexies_2

I appliqued them to a tote bag I picked up a couple of years ago at Quilt Market, figuring the “maker” theme was a good fit for hexies.

Pioneer Hexies_0
l to r: Julie, Melissa, me, Laurel, Simone, Lisa. (PS Simone doesn’t really look like this. She likes to pull faces. Her texts always make me laugh.)

Pioneer Hexies_0aPioneer Hexies_0b

We figure we glued up about 500 hexies, total, between this and what Leisa did later on.  It was so good to have these!


It was a team effort: our friend Dennis brought us tables and chairs, and Leisa was the “set decorator,” using quilts from near and far. We arrived at 7:10 a.m. and left at 2:20 p.m., the right amount of time.


We also had some modern hexies there to entice the participants; that is Laurel’s beautiful Modern Millefiore Hexie quilt on the left, with Simone’s hexie pillow (pattern here), and other props.


We had Color-A-Quilt pages for the littlest visitors, as well as create your own quilt block (below).  We had to remind them that it was a visual treat–take a photo with your phone sort of thing–as people kept walking off with my design boards.  That is Julie’s hand you see there, making a mock-up.  She kept these two sections rolling the whole day.


from l to r: Cindy, Julie, Denese, me, Laurel and her husband Ralph, Leisa, Simone

The original crew, plus my husband, Dave (who is taking the photo).  We swapped out two for four others mid-day; we were swamped, so were glad to have them.  Here are some photos from our day:


We were suprised by the number of teens — and teen boys — who sat down and made a three-hexie patch from start to finish.

Pioneer Hexies_3.jpg

Most did not look like this–they sewed them up properly, although sometimes with an interesting twist or two, but we thought this won the prize for “Most Interesting Hexie” of the day.  We had to teach many how to tie knots (about half had no idea how to do that), and we saw that lots of youngsters (and oldsters) liked to be able to sit and sew, a skill not often available to them in other places.


We had a sample quilt set up in a hoop in case anyone wanted to try hand-quilting.  Most were more fascinated by the hexies.  And most wanted to pick through the baskets of cut fabric squares and glue their own shapes, too.


Wee Pioneers


I love sharing our craft with some new quilters!

tiny nine patches

Stats: 3,000 paper hexies purchased
60 needles (only 35 were brought home–don’t know where the rest went)
3 needle-threaders: one from Clover, my friend Laurel, and my husband Dave
2 ten-gallon jugs of water
4,000 cut squares prepped up: fabric donated by Paintbrush Studio and Primitive Gatherings
Project boards that are not dusty: 0
Number of pioneer outfits that will never be used again: 7

11 thoughts on “Pioneer Cosplay

  1. “Number of pioneer outfits that will never be used again: 7” This made me laugh out loud. 🙂 Thanks for the recap. Looking back, it was really worth the effort. My favorite part was introducing kids – and some of the adults – to the world of sewing. Sitting down and sewing with a group of friends, along with reading yourself to sleep, are two of the great, comforting joys of life.

  2. Looks like it was quite a success. I’m sure someone somewhere will be happy to have some pioneer outfits. Love seeing all the girls in bonnets. I may steal this stitch a hexie idea for our next guild show. Great way to get people involved!!

  3. Great effort! My hat is off to all of you for your work/creativity in pulling it all together and wearing the outfits too. My local modern guild has participated in a STEAM fest the past 3 years teaching kids to sew strips together into blocks. They get to write their name on a plain strip and can take their block home or donate it. We use the donated blocks to sew into charity quilts for kids. It’s been a great success.

  4. What a fun day for all! Thanks for sharing. Are there many famous male quilters? Maybe this is a new trend.

  5. Loved reading the final stats! It looks like a wildly successful day for all age groups. The setup with all of the pretty quilts looks so nice. I’m sure that sharing your love of quilting with so many was the best part.

  6. Come now. Surely with that creative bunch, you can come up with some other use for the pioneer outfits. Cut strips. Make pet beds. Donate to a school costume collection for drama classes and productions, use the apron in your own cooking, shorten the skirts, and wear them . . . . ❤ ❤ 😎

  7. Great planning led to great participation. So good to see all age groups and guys participating. My guys always add something to my quilts. A good way to include everyone.

  8. The problem with doing such a fantastic job is that you will surely be asked to do it again, and by the time the next such event rolls around, any bad memories of this day may have faded and you you might be tempted to say yes. Don’t get rid of the pioneer dress.

  9. Ah yes, the good old days! Layers and layers of fabric, no matter the weather, little if any indoor plumbing, monthly inconvenience (or curse, depending on your point of view…) But in today’s world, you can make it look fun and a bit romantic. Good work to you and the others conned into helping. 🙂

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