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,