The A-to-Zs of Central Oregon: Q is for QUILTS

This week we're talking about QUILTS! Central Oregon is crazy for quilts, and the area is rife with ultra talented fiber artists and delightful fabric shops. 

Photo by  Russell Lee

Photo by Russell Lee

History of Quilt-making in Oregon

Quilting in Central Oregon is largely linked to our pioneer history and the early western settlements. As more and more European-American settlers made the long journey across the country, quilting was a way for pioneer women to provide art, connection, and warmth for their families and friends. 

The pieces reflected a variety of themes: the landscapes around them, the stories of their local heroes, and stories of their own lives. These functional objects often became an opportunity for expression. 

If you want to read more about the history of quilting in Oregon, definitely check out the book Quilts of the Oregon Trail by Mary Bywater Cross.


Did you know that the largest quilt show in the world happens in Sisters every year during the second week in July? It's an amazing event, and thousands of quilt-enthusiasts and casual admirers alike travel from all over the world to attend! 

The mission of the SOQS is "to educate the public about the art, skill, and heritage of traditional and contemporary quilts and fiber arts, while enhancing the cultural vitality of the community of Sisters and Central Oregon."


The Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show (SOQS) started in 1975, and became a non-profit organization in 2005. The Quilt Show Day is always on the second Saturday in July, and people hang their quilts from fences and walls all over town. This event has always been free, and Quilt Show Day attracts roughly 12,500 visitors. Since the normal population for Sisters is only about 2,500, this is quite a big day for this little town!

The nonprofit associated with this event organizes classes and workshops to be taught the week before the Quilt Show Day. Check out their 2018 lineup here, and keep an eye out for information about the 2019 SOQS!

Photos from the  Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show

On Quilt Show Day, hundreds of quilts are displayed from all over the world. These "show-and-tell" exhibits are from first-time and amateur quilters, displayed at various sites throughout the town of Sisters. The exhibitors range from age 10 to age 92!

Many of the quilts on display can be purchased with a portion of the proceeds supporting SOQS, a 501(c)3 non profit organization which produces the annual, free, Quilt Show and fiber arts activities year-round.