A collection of 20 quilts and counterpanes made in Virginia before 1840 is on exhibit through Oct. 18 at the DAR Museum, 1776 D St. NW.

The quilts were made by women living in two regions of Virginia: the counties bordering the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, where most quiltmakers had an English heritage, and the counties near the Maryland border stretching into the Piedmont and along the Valley of Virginia, where some quiltmakers were of German heritage and several were Quakers.

The quilts have pieced and appliqued designs made from French and English copper-plate, block and roller-printed linens and cottons. Small-scale floral and geometric motifs were common.

The quilt shown above combines a pieced Star of Bethlehem design and appliqued floral corner motifs. It has 12 stitches to the inch.

The intricate stitching used by Virginia quiltmakers creates elaborate patterns as well as tight boundaries for areas of decorative stuffed work. Many Virginia bed covers are unquilted, or thinly lined with locally grown cotton, a reflection of their use in a southern climate.

The museum is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays.