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Heidelberg’s Busy Bee Signature Quilt, 1895-96

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Click on a quilt square to view a close-up of that square, and add your comments

Heidelberg’s Busy Bee Signature Quilt

Did your ancestor sign the Heidelberg quilt?

Almost 140 names are embroidered on this large signature quilt (height: 247 cm; width: 213 cm) as well as dozens of initials, decorations and place-names.

The quilt records the result of fundraising efforts by the Busy Bee group at Heidelberg’s Scots Church.

Contributors lived in various Melbourne suburbs and elsewhere in Victoria. They came from church groups, community organisations, businesses, government and through family and social networks. Many signatories were Presbyterians but some were members of the Church of England. Other Christian denominations may also be represented.

Explore and contribute!

Do you know more about the people, places and organisations represented on the quilt? We are gradually adding the results of our research. Please add your knowledge to ours, by commenting on individual squares.

How was the quilt made?

For a summary of the quilt’s history and a detailed description of the embroidery, fabrics and construction, visit the quilt’s listing with Australia’s National Quilt Register.

Our exhibition of the quilt

The exhibition at our Museum in the Old Heidelberg Court House was on show from May 2019 to May 2021. It explored five themes:

The exhibition was shortlisted and commended in the Collaborative Community category of the 2019 Victorian Community History Awards.

We were delighted to host occasional demonstrations by the Banksia Lace Group. These members of the Victorian Branch of the Australian Lace Guild showed visitors how the quilt’s lace insertions were crafted, using pins and bobbins.

Any questions?

If you have questions about the quilt or the Society’s Museum, please contact Heidelberg Historical Society:


This information and the photographs have been supplied by the Heidelberg Historical Society Inc.

Research into the quilt and its contributors has been conducted by members of the Heidelberg Historical Society since late 2018, with kind assistance from many others (including descendants of several of the people whose names are on the quilt). The research is ongoing and we welcome help from anyone willing to volunteer their time and expertise.

A Local History Grant from Public Record Office Victoria in the 2020-2021 round of the Local History Grants Program enabled professional conservation of the quilt during the first half of 2022. The conservation treatment included cleaning, repairs and increased protection for delicate sections of the hand-made lace. Heidelberg Historical Society gratefully acknowledges the support of the Victorian Government and Public Record Office Victoria for making this project possible.

Comments by visitors:

These heirloom items should be preserved for future generations to appreciate.

Submitted on 10th November 2021 at 12:35 PM

One comment.

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Heidelberg Historical Society home page

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