Anne Ore Asks, “What’s it Worth to You?”

You wouldn’t think that Honoree Anne Orr could spark a controversy, but I bet I can put a spin on her that will start a debate—or at least get you thinking about your own work.  But before I stir up trouble, let me give you the basics about this Honoree.

If Anne Champe Orr were around today, we’d probably call her a Steel Magnolia. 

She was born (on April 17th, so it’s her birthday month) to a wealthy family in Nashville Tennessee, married into society, and had debutante daughters, but she wasn’t just decoration.  Early in her adult life, she branched out from charitable and civic fundraising into the world of publications.  As editor of Southern Woman’s Magazine, she wrote about antique collecting and needlework and launched a successful national business in patterning crocheted, tatted, and other hand-worked household items.  From 1921 to 1940, she was the needlework editor for Good Housekeeping magazine, and her legacy continues with the re-publication of several of her pattern books by Dover Publications (available on Amazon, Etsy, and probably your local library).  Click this link to read more about Anne Orr’s career.  And if you are interested in a scholarly approach to Orr’s business acumen and marketing style, read Merikay Waldvogel’s article here:

Orr didn’t come onto the quilt scene in a big way until the late 1920s.  Her Good Housekeeping position opened opportunities for her to judge several quilt contests, including the Sears contest at the Chicago 1933 World’s Fair and the Macy’s contest at the New York Fair in 1939.  Orr designed a number of quilts, and although they account for only about one sixth of her output, to me her most recognizable style is a pixel rendering of floral images, like these:

The Quilters Hall of Fame is fortunate to have two Anne Orr examples in our online Collection, a top and a quilt, that you can see here:  and

But, she also designed applique patterns (called patchwork at the time) and you can see two examples in the Quilters Hall of Fame Collections at and at  

Well, did the history and eye candy lull you into forgetting that I promised controversy?  How could this sweet old lady/ successful business woman fan any flames?  It’s because of the quote on the Hall of Fame site, “Do your best in workmanship, design, and careful selection of color, so that the finished article will justify any work and be an heirloom to hand down for generations”. 

“Justify”?  Wait just a minute, quilting is supposed to be a hobby!  I generally try to do my best, but I’m from the galloping horse school and I subscribe to the idea that perfection is the enemy of production.  I know there is precision sewing going on elsewhere, and I admire it, but it’s not worth it to me to insist on achieving it myself.  Maybe it’s because I don’t have children and I know that my quilts won’t be passed down the generations.  Maybe it’s because I don’t feel like I’m making art; I’m just having fun.

So, do others share my perspective? Or are you someone whose points are never cut off and who will re-sew a seam as many times as it takes to get it right?  Would Anne Orr judge your work and find that you have made good use of your time and talent?  I’d be interested in hearing both sides.

In the meantime, April 28th is the birthday of another Honoree, Helen Kelley.  I’ll write about her next.

Your quilting friend,


Tuesdays aren’t just for tacos

I started writing this weekly blog to coincide with National Quilting Day, which was a Saturday.  But that timing doesn’t work for me very well, so we’re switching my posts to Tuesdays.  You would think that with the stay at home order, one day would be just the same as the next.  Well, it isn’t.  I guess I have too much in-grained sense of school days/ work week, and unlike the Dowager Duchess on Downton Abbey, I do know what a weekend is.  So, please check back on Tuesdays; it’ll be TQHF Tuesday instead of Taco Tuesday.

Your quilting friend,


Eye Candy

This lovely eye candy is quilted by Honoree Amy Emms. She is well known for having said, “We all have a gift of some kind, and mine is quilting.”

And wanted to let you know, Anna Harkins is switching her post day from Saturdays to Tuesdays. She will be here next Tuesday to share some thoughts on another Quilters Hall of Fame honoree. See you then!


Pining For Paducah

It’s that time of year when a quilter’s fancy turns to thoughts of THE quilt show in Paducah.  Even if you’re not going, you want to go someday, or you’ve been at least once, or you know someone who is going.  It’s THE BIG SHOW.  But not this year! Sadly, QuiltWeek is another Corona Casualty. (Don’t worry; QuiltWeek has been postponed, and other events are still planned for Lancaster, Grand Rapids, and Charleston.)

Despite those alternatives, we’re all going to mourn the loss of the annual week-long extravaganza that has become so much a part of our quilting psyche.    So, while we’re all sheltering in place and feeling like our foundations are being rocked, it’s a good time to look behind the scenes and learn about the prime mover for this iconic event: Hall of Fame honoree, Meredith Schroeder.

Usually when I blog, I tell a little about the Honoree and then refer you to the Hall of Fame website, but today, I’m sending you straight there. Go to to learn about Meredith’s career.  The reason I’m short-cutting is twofold: first, because there isn’t much written about Schroeder—in fact, the Hall of Fame has no publications by her, and no artifacts or objects related to her.  And second, because I want to write a lot about the events and organization spearheaded by this very private woman which made her an inductee.

I say private, but that’s not quite right.  By all accounts, Meredith Schroeder is, for all her standing in the quilt industry, a very approachable person.  It’s said that you don’t have to go through layers of corporate bureaucracy to reach her.  (I didn’t try, but I believe it.) In my research, I found one article about how she gave tips to a local guild about setting up their quilt show.  And there are hundreds of articles linked to her name as awarding prizes (yes, big cash awards which she solicited from sponsors before anyone else had the idea). None of those articles headline Schroeder; they are all along the lines of “Local quilter wins at international quilt show”. 

That reminded me of a meme I’ve seen about how successful women build each other up. And that’s exactly what Meredith Schroeder has done over the past thirty-five years. She has created and sustained a platform for all of us to strive, dream and maybe even achieve in our quilting efforts. I remember seeing a nine-patch quilt at one of the Paducah shows I went to and wondered how it fit with the hyper-embellishments, precision piecing, true-to life pictorials and other spectacular quilts at the show.  I was told that the show organizers felt it was important to display all levels of skill so that all attendees would learn something or have something to aspire to.  Could you be more inclusive than that? Thanks, Meredith Schroeder, for reaching us all!

If you’re ready for a break and some eye candy, here’s a link to all the wonderful Best in Show quilts. Of course, there are several other things to thank Meredith Schroeder for: American Quilter’s Society (membership info here:  )  and The National Quilt Museum (not open now, but there are some very cool virtual “shows” up on the website), and the Certified Appraiser program (I took classes in 2012 and 2013—photos below–, and although I wasn’t certified, I learned a ton, and they started me on my quilt history road, so I’m grateful.)

The American Quilter’s Society also offers online quilt classes on their ‘iquilt’ platform, and is currently providing a free online code to preview on of their classes. The code is IQUILTFREE and can be redeemed until June 30, 2020. Perfect timing, since we’re not going anywhere soon.

Well, that’s it for Paducah, AQS, the Museum and Meredith Schroeder.  Except to say that her birthday is coming up on April 21st.  If you enjoyed reading this, or have enjoyed any of the quilting events/sites started by her, drop in to the AQS Facebook page (  ) and leave her a birthday message. And think about building up someone; be like Meredith.

Your quilting friend,


Back to the Future, Florence!

I was going to try to write something with an Easter/Passover theme, but even with 50+ Honorees, I couldn’t make the stretch.  But, not to worry; I stumbled across something that led me to Florence Peto.  I’ll tell you what I found after I introduce her.

Florence Peto was an East Coast gal (New York and New Jersey), and she was active in promoting quilting by participating at fairs and quilt expos, collecting quilts, writing for magazines, lecturing in person and talking on radio stations there. She also touched the mid-century quilt world by corresponding with quilters around the country and was a “Pen Pal” to several other Hall of Fame Honorees, and to Emma Andres, who isn’t in yet (but who produced some iconic quilts). It’s hard to tell who inspired whom in their letters.  She is famous for writing American Quilts and Coverlets (a book in every quilt historian’s library) and Historic Quilts (a book that is now too pricey for many, listing at upwards of $350 used). Here she is showing off some quilts. My Bee is working on Round Robins, and I think I can get some ideas from the one in her hands.

Read more about Florence Peto here

Peto was an excellent needleworker too.  She made samples of quilt blocks to use as visual aids for her lectures. If you want to see her in action, go to  And here’s a broderie perse block from the Quilters Hall of Fame Collection. (That technique is next on my list to try; I doubt mine will look as good.) Next to it is another of Peto’s applique pieces from TQHF’s Collection.

But what fascinates me about Florence is how she continues to be an “influencer” to this day. What lead me to write about her was that I discovered “she” has a Facebook page.  Imagine:  born in 1881, died 50 years ago, and still active on social media!  How “Back to the Future” is that?  Ok, she doesn’t write it herself, but there is so much of her eye candy, it’s almost like she does. Check it out. 

And if you’re a quilter yourself, you might be interested in trying to recreate one of Peto’s designs.  There is a website where you can purchase patterns for four of her designs and even some reproduction fabric taken from or inspired by her quilts.  (You can also find these on Etsy.) Here’s the site, and no, the Hall of Fame and I have no connection to it.  But since I’m giving them a free plug, they shouldn’t mind if I show you a picture or two.  This is from the “Calico Garden Crib Quilt” (49″ x 39″) by Florence Peto,1950. Pieced, appliqued, and quilted cotton. Shelburne Museum permanent collection.  The original has some fabulous old fabric.

Florence Peto’s influence doesn’t stop here.  So many people have written about her, including Virginia Avery, who was the topic of last week’s post, and Hazel Carter, who is one of the founders of The Quilters Hall of Fame. And, like so many Honorees, she’s been the topic of a Quilt Show episode.  Quilt Historian, Joyce Gross wrote about her, and later donated several Peto-made or related quilts to the Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin: Winedale Quilt Collection, Florence Peto Collection; you can see some of these quilts on The Quilt Index.  And if you weren’t in quarantine, you’d find Florence Peto quilts held by the Shelburne Museum in Vermont, the Henry Ford, the Newark Museum, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

So, taking a cue from Florence Peto, who do you think is an influencer today, worthy of becoming an Honoree of the Quilters Hall of Fame? There must be writers and quiltmakers out there who are reaching a wide audience and having an impact on the quilting world. If you can identify someone, why not nominate her or him?  The process isn’t hard (I’ve done it, and will tell you about my experience in a later post), and the form to get started is here .

That’s it for this week. Wishing everybody Dayenu for Passover, or an Alleluia for Easter; and if you don’t celebrate, just wishing you good health.

Your Quilting Friend,


Entrepreneur Marie Webster

This week Deb Geyer teamed up with Matthew White, a fourth grade teacher here in Indiana. We recorded this interview about Marie Webster and her quilt business to reach out to young entrepreneurs. Enjoy!

Jinny and Wearable Art

I’ve been sewing masks this week, as many of you have, and it got me to thinking about my days of garment sewing (BQ—before quilting).  I didn’t learn quilting from my mother or gran, but I did make a lot of clothes in high school and the early years of my marriage. And no, I’m not sharing a photo of my home-made prom dress, but I will say that the sprigged voile sleeves were difficult.

I wonder how many current quilters followed the same route, from garments to quilts?

Someone who did was Hall of Fame honoree Virginia Avery. But Jinny, as she was known, took it to a whole new level and pioneered what we now call “wearable art”. She taught herself to sew clothes– without a pattern– at age twelve, and then, when the Bicentennial quilt craze came along, she started teaching others to quilt, even though she herself wasn’t really a quilter.  This can-do attitude carried her through life, and maybe explains why she wore a signature rhinestone pin that spelled, “It’s OK”.  Words to live by these days.

Avery seemed to love not only rhinestones, but all things flashy and improvisational.  Her quilted jackets were made in sumptuous fabrics like Thai silk, African cotton and gold moiré. One jacket, a tribute to New York City, had subway tokens stitched into it.

It’s hard to imagine in these quarantine times having a place to wear fancy garments, but it’s still nice to dream.  Or think about taking your socially-distance walk wearing this cape that Avery made. 

This is “Of Thee I Sing Baby”, a circular cape made as an invitational piece for the birthday of the Statue of Liberty, sponsored by the Museum of American Folk Art in New York City, 1986 – from March 1998 issue of Quilters Newsletter Magazine.

These book covers, from the Hall of Fame library or available on Amazon and sometimes e-Bay, give you another taste of Avery’s fashion flair.  She wrote three other books, all of them “outside the box”.

How did she come to be so creative? “We are all surrounded by designs every day of our lives,” is her answer to where her inspiration came from. “We just have to learn to open our eyes and see.” The coat on the cover of Wonderful Wearables was inspired by Avery’s own life.  I won’t say what the connection was in this post;  you can read more , and see her modeling the piano coat here: .

So, my takeaway from Virginia Avery is that I can use this externally-imposed and internally-accepted quiet time to open my eyes.  I don’t see myself ever going totally free-form, but maybe I’ll find an architectural detail that will become a shape for a quilt block. But even if all I see is a different way to look at color combinations, “It’s OK”.

And I’ll close with a picture of my own wearable art, Covid-19 style. Look close, it has horses (because as we learned from Dr. Dunton in last week’s post, and we saw with Virginia Avery, you should have more than one hobby.) Stay well, and be creative!

Your quilting friend,


Museum Status

Due to the continuing health risks of Covid 19, The Quilters Hall of Fame is remaining closed. We would like to be open so you could come in and see our current exhibit, de.light/FULL by Studio Art Quilt Associates! We miss very much seeing all of our visitors enjoying the quilts and talking quilts!

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We hope that you are staying safe and healthy. Thank you to all of you that are busy sewing face masks for those that need them!

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