Ruby Short McKim, 2002 Honoree

Ruby Short McKim developed her views of art at the New York School of Fine and Applied Arts. The driving principle was that art is for the average person and art should fill the homes of all. Ruby’s training in the arts opened the doors for her to flood the US and other countries with her own art in the form of quilts, embroideries, and dolls.

Ruby received her diploma from the school in 1912. In 1916, the Kansas City Star held a quilt design contest as a promotion to sell the new book of Bedtime Stories by Thornton Burgess. The stories were about his woodland animals who lived in Green Meadows. Ruby submitted her “Quaddy Quiltie Bedtime Quilt.” Ruby’s quilt was made up of twenty embroidered squares. Her needlework designs were published in the Kansas City Star. The stylized drawings of small animals were angular “so as to not scare the small child who would wake up to see a wild animal sitting on his bed.” The angular characters drawn on a grid became a signature trademark for her early work.

In 1928 Ruby published a series called “Story Book People in Paint.” With this project a child would trace the picture onto a piece of cloth and then color it with crayon, which was then set with a warm iron to create a painted effect.

Ruby was soon offering designs for adults too. Bird Life Quilt (1928), Flower Garden Quilt (1929) and Farm Life Quilt (1930) were published in newspapers, usually one block per week. Many times the newspaper held a contest to choose the best completed quilt after the series was finished.

McKim Studios offered their quilt designs as a pattern, the pattern plus the material, or the pattern with pre-cut material. Also, a finished top could be sent to the Studio to be quilted. If one wanted to buy a finished quilt, that could be arranged too.

The State Flower quilt was published in 1931. There were 48 blocks each with a state’s flower and the state stitched in the corner. By this time, Ruby’s work was internationally syndicated beyond the United States in both Canada and Australia.

To learn more about Ruby Short McKim, see her biography on The Quilters Hall of Fame website,

2005 Honoree Bets Ramsey

2005 Honoree Bets Ramsey has had a life-long love of the arts and needle crafts. The summer after her graduation from high school, she and a friend set up a dressmaking business in her parents’ dining room. After earning her B.A. with honors in Art, Bets focused on her marriage and raising her four children.
In 1970, Bets Ramsey decided to go back to school and get a master’s degree in crafts from the University of Tennessee. She selected quilt making from a list of research topics, never imagining where it would lead her. She studied all the quilt books in the library. As
she interviewed relatives about he grandmother’s quilts, the past and the grandmother she had never known became very real. This was the beginning of a new career path, and she has followed it ever since: making quilts and wall hangings; writing, teaching, and lecturing
about quilts; and curating quilt exhibits.
In 1994, Bets decided to make her own artwork her priority. “Finally, I could see myself as an artist,” she says. “I began to understand that in the past I had refused to claim the title and take the responsibility for living it. Now I know that I am an artist and this is my work.
I will continue to curate exhibitions, to write articles, and give lectures because that is what I do, but my studio work comes first.”
Bets’ work is characterized by low key yet animated colors and patterns and careful attention to technique, reflecting both her formal training in design and her love of art. Many of her pieces are pieced of historic textiles, adding to the uniqueness and stories of the pieces.
We will have some of Bets’ pieces on display at The Quilters Hall of Fame February 22 – May 7, 2022. Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. To 4 p.m. We’d love to have you stop in to see them.

Deb Geyer

Ireland Postcard Quilt

By Helen Kelley, 1999

Honoree Helen Kelley made a series of “postcard quilts” showing places that she had visited. Helen’s label card that came with this quilt says, “Ireland- The streets of Dublin are lined with Georgian homes, each with its bright colored door and brass knocker. The basement kitchen area at the front of each home is fenced with ornamental iron. You can seethe park across the street, that private outdoor green space that gives relief in an area where buildings come down to the edge of the sidewalk. At the top, quilted smoke curls from the chimney pots.”

This quilt uses a variety of fabrics to allude to the textures without actually representing them. Exceptions are a brick patterned fabric used as surrounds for the doors and foliage patterned fabrics used for the trees. The arches over the doors are pieced of a dozen different pieces of fabric to achieve the arch. Windows use a blue and white shaded fabric that gives an impression of reflection. Steps are made of several different shades and patterns of grey fabric. Fences are created by enhancing checks or striped prints with black stitching and French knots. Panels of the doors are defined in outline stitch in colors matching the color of the door. Black hand rails, door knockers, door knobs and letter slots are embroidered and the sidewalk in front of the park has brown linear embroidery. A narrow pale green inner border defines the scene. The date “1999” is quilted near the proper left lower corner. The quilt is machine pieced and hand appliqued and embroidered. The hand quilting in a variety of patterns outlined for architectural elements, curve-linear for foliage, lines and rectangles for sidewalk, cross-hatch diamonds for the roof and clam shell for the sidewalk and roads. The quilting is in white thread at about eight stitches per inch.

The white muslin back is designed like a postcard. Hand embroidered in dark blue chain stitch in the address position is one line: “Sure, it’s a little bit of heaven!”. The stamp cancellation is the name, date and number of the quilt in a circle: “Dublin Nov 1984 XIII”. This is done in dark gray stem stitch. The stamp is an appliqued green shamrock with a green border inside a diagonally striped added border and dark gray cancellation lines in stem stitch across the stamp.

Helen Kelley was inducted into The Quilters Hall of Fame in 2008. See her biography at:

The Quilters Hall of Fame is currently working on a virtual tour of the Marie Webster House featuring quilts from the collection. This quilt will be included in the virtual tour, soon to be posted!

Twins and a Few Poppies

We’ve recently honored our veterans, and there were lots of poppy memes and photos going around the internet.  Deb Geyer shared these from The Embroiderers’ Guild of Victoria:

And I found this beaded example by Crystal Behn, A Dine and Carrier artist:

The first Embroiderers’ Guild shot looks like a quilt, so I’m somewhat on topic, but since this is the Hall of Fame blog, I’d be remiss if I didn’t show Marie Webster’s Poppy quilt (The above version was made using Quiltsmart printed interfacing). You’ve all seen it in red, and maybe pink; this is a rather rare colorway from the collection of Suzanne Hardebeck:

Photo: TQHF

Marie’s design has inspired many interpretations.  Here are two that have been exhibited at the Quilters’ Hall of Fame. The one on the left is “Love Returns” by Susie Goodman, and the one on the right is from Bonnie Browning’s lecture at Celebration 2013.

I could tell you that the takeaway here is “Poppies are popular”, but my real intention was to provide a segue to an idea that struck me when I was at the Milwaukee Museum of Art a little while ago: twinning art and quilts. I thought it would be fun to see how many paintings would put me in mind of a TQHF Honoree.

You may be familiar with the story of how TQHF Honoree Jonathan Holstein noted the connection between the work of artists like Josef Albers and Amish quilts, and went on to mount the seminal exhibit of quilts as art at the Whitney Museum fifty years ago. Here are two Albers compositions from Milwaukee, and you can readily see the similarity between them and a log cabin quilt.

The paintings also made me think of the progressive color bands in the American Tapestry (Trip Around the World) kits sold by Heritage Honoree, Mary McElwain.

Ranville, Caro. The American Tapestry. 1995. From Michigan State University Museum, Michigan Quilt Project. Published in The Quilt Index, Accessed: 11/15/21

These were just the first connections I made.  When I turned the corner, I came across another potential pairing, Georgia O’Keefe and Ruby McKim. What different interpretations!  Where O’Keefe is organic in form, piecers have to be more angular. I personally find the painting to be almost sensual, but I also love the orderly arrangement of the quilt.

Next up was a fun artist who was totally unfamiliar to me: Cleveland Brown. I thought at the time that he and Honoree Yvonne Porcella would probably be kindred spirits.  Their work shows a real sense of whimsy and action. Contrast these two treatments with Ruby McKim’s “take” on a circus. (I’ve put them one after another because I couldn’t figure out how to create a three-ring circus and still show detail.)

Cleveland Brown. “George Melly at the Circus.”
Porcella, Yvonne. “Keep Both Feet on the Floor.” Photo: The Alliance for American Quilts.
Ruby Short McKim. “Roly Poly Circus.” Photo from McKim Studios website.

And finally, another Porcella/ painter visual connection can be made with Yvonne’s first quilt, “Takoage”, and an intriguing 3-dimensional piece by Israeli artist Yaakov Agam, “Union II”.   The painting is done in such a way that it changes colorway as you move in front of it. First the quilt, and then a left-center-right view of the painting.

Yvonne Porcella. “Tacoage.” Renwick Gallery of the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

The painting also makes me think of Honoree Michael James’ early work.  Here’s one of his quilts in the same colorway as the right view of Agam’s work.

Michael James. “Aletsch.” 1990. National Quilt Museum.

If I count an O’Keefe/ Webster poppy match, I’ve linked six Honorees with paintings (some with multiple connections): Marie Webster, Jonathan Holstein, Mary McElwain, Ruby McKim, Yvonne Porcella and Michael James.  I’ll bet you can think of more.  I invite you to try to try this fun exercise the next time you visit an art gallery or museum, and let me know what you find.

Your quilting friend,


Marti Michell: 2021 Honoree

Marti’s quilts were featured at The Quilters Hall of Fame July 27 – October 2, 2021. See them all in this virtual tour!

Karey Bresenhan: Great Expectations

I’ve been taking a break from writing because for the first time since last Spring, I’ve been able to travel for quilting events. In early July, I got together with my local study group, the Northern Illinois Quilt Study Group, to look at a member’s collection of doll quilts.  Then a week later I was at the Quilters Hall of Fame Celebration where Marti Michell and Mary Gasperik were inducted as honorees.  And I’ve just returned from the American Quilt Study Group’s annual Seminar in Harrisonburg (Shenandoah Valley), VA. Next up for me is a four-day session on Red and Green antique and vintage quilts at the end of September.  Phew!  I feel like I’ve waited so long for this, and I’m going to make the most of every opportunity.

Well, not every opportunity. The one that will have to stay on my bucket list for another year is the International Quilt Festival in Houston Texas, an annual event begun and produced for over 40 years by Hall of Fame Honoree, Karey Bresenhan.  You can read all about Miss Karoline at the link below. (I don’t think anyone calls her that, but it seems so politely Southern, and this lady deserves all the respect I can give her.) I can’t go to Houston this year, but that shouldn’t stop you; and if you can’t go either, let me give you an armchair tour.

Photo from Quilts, Inc website,

The International Quilt Festival, Houston is back in 2021. The festival runs from Oct. 28 to Oct. 31 2021. Preview event is on the evening of the 27th and classes and other events start from the 25th. One day admission fee is USD 15 per person.

What will you see if you go? Quilt Show Categories for IQF 2021 are:

Hands All Around

In Full Bloom

In The American Tradition

Landscape Quilts

Tactile Architecture™

For $10.00 you can attend a lecture on current-interest topics ranging from Featherweights to creativity and everything (hexies, quilt restoration, judging, tension, pictorial quilts and more) in between. And for a higher fee, let me “point” out some of the classes:

  1. Mandala Madness- Muriel Mandala design using Appliquik Rods for turning the appliqué pieces, taught by Kyra Reps.
  2. Barn Quilt Block Painting- Taught by Margaret Atkins with Rhoda Gersch.
  3. Sunstars- A Kaleidoscope Class, two days taught by Paula Nadelstern.

Or if you’re looking for something curvy instead of spikey, try one of these:

  1. Teeny Tiny Flamingo Collage- Laura Heine
  2. Quilted Texture from A to Zen- Bethanne Nemesh
  3. Turned-Edge, Layered Hand Appliqué- David Taylor

These are just a few of the classes listed on the first page of the website; there are 15 more pages with something for all interests. You can view them all at the link below.

Is October too soon for you? Don’t worry; you’ll have another chance August 4-6, 2022 when Quilt Festival moves to Long Beach CA for a summer session.  Here’s a photo of the venue, the Long Beach Convention Center.  And check out the background: there’s a cruise ship on the left and what looks like an ocean-going steam vessel on the right! You could arrive by sea.

Long Beach Convention Center. Photo from Quilts, Inc website,

If running the world’s biggest quilt show wasn’t enough to merit Quilters Hall of Fame recognition, Karey Bresenhan could still be an honoree, and I’d still have interesting things to tell you about her. Did you know she read “Gone with the Wind” before she was ten years old? Or that Bresenhan shares a common profession with Ruth Finley (see my February 3, 2021 post)? Karey holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Sam Houston State University and a master’s degree in journalism from The University of Texas at Austin, and Ruth went undercover to write exposé. Karey’s writings are a bit more tame than Ruth’s; she wrote for corporations, and later put her word-craft to use in writing quilt books.  But, still a connection.

My first introduction to Karey’s written work was what turned into her magnum opus, “Lone Stars: A Legacy of Texas Quilts” which she wrote with her cousin, (and life-long quilting collaborator) Nancy O’Bryant Puentes. Growing out of the Texas Quilt Search -which followed Kentucky as just the second quilt documentation project in America—”Lone Stars” eventually covered three volumes. There’s a link below to an article which showcases a selection of ten quilts, and a second link to all 144 of the books’ quilts on the Quilt Index.

Let me show you one which is my favorite because it embodies Karey’s love for her home state and its quilting legacy.

Patterson, Jewel Pearl C. Founder’s Star Quilt. 1986. From Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin, Texas Sesquicentennial Quilt Association, Texas Quilt Search. Published in The Quilt Index, Accessed: 08/29/21

This quilt, made by Karey’s mother with the help of her aunt, cousin, and Karey herself, is quintessentially Texas. It’s a Lone Star of Texas executed as a feathered star, set in medallion format and framed by a sawtooth border; the next border features four-pointed stars known as Texas Tears; the outer border is a row of Battle of the Alamo blocks, (per Karey) “named in honor of that Shrine of Texas Liberty”. Quilting motifs include Texas wildflowers such as the bluebonnet (the state flower), feather quilting and a row of five-pointed Texas stars.

Karey wrote several other books– “America from the Heart: Quilters Remember September 11, 2001”,

“Hands All Around: Quilts from Many Nations”, with Robert Bishop and Nancy Lehman, and these titles:

I started off telling you that I have deep respect for Karey Bresenhan, and here’s why: I don’t think I could write this blog without some of the resources Karey has had a hand in. She co-founded the Alliance for American Quilts (now the Quilt Alliance—see link below) which has promoted the safeguarding of American quilt history through projects such as Quilters S.O.S. (Save our Stories), Boxes Under the Bed, and Quilt Treasures. I often poke around on these sites to find information, photos and videos to share with you. She was also one of the forces behind the 1999 Ultimate Quilt Search which resulted in the selection of quilts for “The Twentieth Century’s Best American Quilts”, and she had most of those exhibited that year in Houston. I often find information about honorees in that book.  Thanks, Miss Karoline.

And I’m not the only one who thinks highly of Karey. When put out a call for quilts honoring strong women, this one featuring Karey Bresenhan was submitted.  It, along with dozens of others, hung at the International Quilt Festival in Houston in 2017. It looks like Karey and captures her love of all things Texas.

Can I end this by paraphrasing Winston Churchill?  Never have so many quilters owed so much to one person, and that person is Karey Bresenhan.

Your quilting friend,


Bio info.

Houston classes.

Lone Star selections.  (You only get two free views at this site.)

Full Lone Star collection.

The Quilt Alliance.

Jeffrey Gutcheon: Renaissance Man

What 12-year-old sends his classic piano teacher of five years packing after he hears Fats Waller’s boogie style?  And later goes on to collaborate on the Broadway musical tribute to Waller, “Ain’t Misbehavin’ “? 

Photo source: Wikipedia

That would be Quilters Hall of Fame Honoree and Renaissance Man, Jeffrey Gutcheon.

Jeff was one of the pioneers of then-modern quilting in the early 1970s.  He helped move us away from the orderly block style (which still appeals to me) and into dimension, shading and texture on cloth.

You can read more about Jeff and quilting at the bio link below.

Jeff’s musical prowess rivals his quilting career, and he embraced a variety of genres including jazz, country, blues and pop. His non-quilting book about improvisational piano appears to be well-valued; it’s available on Amazon for $902.81 (or $34.79 in paperback).

Jeff also played piano for Steve Goodman who was a favorite funky-folk personality in Chicago (my home town) in the mid-1970s, I probably heard him perform with Steve, and I remember so much energy, humor and variety in those shows. What an exciting time it was! There’s a link below to an obituary that reads as Jeff’s musical resumé.

But you don’t get to be called a Renaissance Man with just two areas of interest. So, I’ll add the entrepreneur aspect: the fabric line he produced with his wife Beth. Let’s go shopping.

The center would provide some texture, and the one on the left, available on Esty, might pair well.  I’d add a white and maybe try to match the pale green. Or maybe I’d be better off with the center and the colorway on the right.  Or not; I don’t need another UFO!

And now for something completely different from eBay; this one seems to combine the concept of Escher’s tessellations with the now-popular Australian Aboriginal sensibility.  It’s happy and lively—like Gutcheon’s music. It has a modern feel even though he designed this fabric around forty years ago. (And let me detour to put in a plug for Phyllis Hatcher’s lecture about Aboriginal fabrics to be presented during the upcoming Hall of Fame Celebration. There’s a link below.)

Back to Jeff and the final area of interest to make him a Renaissance Man: architecture. Theres’ a connection for sure between quilting and architecture.  The woman who taught me to quilt said that her sons spent hours finger-tracing shapes from the quilts on their beds; now one is an architect and the other is a professor of design engineering and architecture. Gutcheon had formal training in this field, earning a degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1966.  He then taught architectural design at MIT and worked a bit in private practice.

He designed the music studios for The Hit Factory located at 353 West 48th Street in New York City which some say John Lennon visited on the day of his murder. Lennon and Yoko Ono definitely collaborated to record “Double Fantasy” there, and were regular clients.  The space is now occupied by Sear Sound, and the last photos show the original layout and the current Studio A.

Photo: Germano Studios The Hit Factory

He also designed homes for himself and for friends on Deer Isle, Maine. Here’s an exterior shot of the one that was his until his death; a spectacular north woods getaway.  The property is now available for rental, and you can see more photos and get pricing info at the link below.

Photo: Island Rentals

With so many talents to talk about, I almost forgot to talk about his quilting.  Here’s just one example of how he put his own innovative views into cloth.

Gutcheon, Jeffrey. Cape/ Original. 1978. From Massachusetts Quilt Documentation Project – MassQuilts, Massachusetts Quilt Documentation Project, MassQuilts; New England Quilt Museum Collection. Published in The Quilt Index, Accessed: 06/13/21

Wow! This guy was certainly creative in so many outlets.  A true Renaissance Man.

I’m going to close with an invitation to join me (and some other more important people) at The Quilters Hall of Fame Celebration next month. Details are in the link below; you’ll see that I am giving a lecture and I’m really excited about sharing new information about my favorite Chicago quilter, Mary Gasperik. Please come for the fun and fund-raising which supports all that The Quilters Hall of Fame does.

Your quilting friend,



Music resumé.

Aboriginal fabric lecture.

Deer Isle property.

Celebration schedule.

Coming Soon…

I’ve read that the French have no good expression to say “I’m excited about….” A direct translation “Je suis excitée” would more often be understood as talking about physical arousal—not appropriate. This vocabulary gap is most unfortunate because they would have no way to tell you about how happy I am that there will be an in-person Celebration this year. There’s a link below for an interesting article exploring the different cultural outlooks behind this linguistic issue, but don’t go there yet; we’ve got quilt-related things to talk about.

Celebration is going to be pared down—no meal events, social distancing arrangements, etc.—but it’s happening. Yippee! You may remember that I wrote about taking part in the nomination process for our 2021 Heritage Honoree, Mary Gasperik; I’m super excited now to see her inducted. I have seen some of her quilts in person, and I’m looking forward to seeing more. She made one masterpiece that was on display in the Smithsonian for a year, and I hope that one comes to visit at the Hall of Fame. You can get a preview of her work on the Quilt Index; but it would be better if you can come to Marion and see the real things. (Link below.)

We’ll also be inducting Marti Michell whose acrylic templates have made it possible for me to attempt a Seven Sisters quilt (no photo; I said “possible”, not “done”), and recognizing the Lutheran World Relief for their charitable work. No live auctions, but there will be small lectures. As excited as I am about the inductions, it’s a toss-up whether I’m more excited about seeing quilting friends. This will be the first non-Zoom, live get-together I’ve had in almost a year and a half, and I know most of you are in the same position. Come if you can and we’ll have a great time. Stay tuned for more details on the website.

We’re having some pretty nice weather here in the Chicago suburbs, and I’ve been out in the gardens. Maybe I can post some photos when things start blooming. In the meantime, how about looking at some flowering quilts? We can tiptoe through the many variations of tulips and then see what else I can find.

First, let’s see some real tulips.  These photos are taken from the backyard of the Quilters Hall of Fame Museum which operates at what once was the home of Honoree Marie Webster.  According to her granddaughter Rosalind Perry, Marie loved gardens and many of the quilt patterns she sold were floral designs.

Thanks to Comfort Landscapes, LLC, Marion, Indiana for their years of help caring for Marie’s garden!

Marie Webster had more than one tulip design for patterns or kits which she sold by mail order from her upstairs bedroom, placed in department stores like Marshall Field in Chicago, or distributed through the shop of another Honoree, Mary McElwain. 

Here’s one of Marie’s trade publication showing a graceful arrangement called “Windblown Tulips”, along with an actual quilt in that pattern from our collection.

From the collection of The Quilters Hall of Fame
From the collection of The Quilters Hall of Fame. Pieced, appliqued and quilted by Mollie Belle Vancil Mitchell and friends in Carbondale, IL.

The design looks different in the next quilt—there’s sashing, corner-stone borders, and a variation of the tulips in the borders—but you still get the sense of flowers bending in an early Spring breeze.

Crowner, Bertha E. (1891-1972. “Tulip Time”. Late 1930s. From American Folk Art Museum, New York Quilt Project. Published in The Quilt Index, Accessed: 05/02/21

The breezy look disappears in Webster’s “May Tulips”. It’s pure Art Deco, and would have been so “on trend” when it first came out.

From the collection of The Quilters Hall of Fame

In the 1930s-50s, Honoree Mary McElwain operated a quilt shop in Walworth, Wisconsin (in what was then a high-society resort area) and another in swanky St. Petersburg, Florida. Here are two pillow kits from the Wisconsin shop that I just recently cataloged (they’ll be searchable as soon as I can do the data entry). “Dutch Tulip” has the blue border and “Tulip Plant” is in peach.

Dutch Tulip could be repeated to make a bed-sized quilt like this one shown in a trade “card” from another distributor, BOAG Company of Chicago.

The final McElwain tulip offering we’ll look at borrows an element of movement from Webster although Marie was not the designer; it’s called “Tulip Swirl”. This version really makes a statement, and I think it should have an award for “Best Use of Rick Rack Trim”.

Quiltmaker, Unknown. “Tulip Swirl”. 1935. From Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum, Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum. Published in The Quilt Index, Accessed: 05/02/21

Here are three blocks made by Honoree Mary Schafer. I’m puzzled by the fat stems in the first one (although they make a great secondary daisy), and I wonder about the green petals in the second, but these are all readily identifiable as tulips. 

That isn’t always the case. Look at these blocks from the collection of Honoree Cuesta Benberry, who may have acquired them in a round robin exchange. That first one has more of a poppy leaf and I just don’t understand the layers of petals (maybe it’s a parrot tulip). The second makes me think of angel wings and halos. But these are both cataloged as tulip blocks.  The last in the group clearly qualifies as a tulip; it’s from Cuesta’s “Always There” quilt.

Honoree Ruby Short McKim did some tulip designs too. The first photo shows the one in her “Flower Garden” quilt, and the second is from her “Flower Baskets”.

Detail of Flower Garden Quilt designed by Ruby Short McKim Circa 1930 made by Oma Greer Morris (Mrs. C. T., b. Oct. 20, 1894 in Comanche County, TX, m. Charlie Thomas Morris in 1914, d. Feb. 11, 1985, De Leon, Comanche County, Texas). Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Wayne Pierson (Leslie), TTU-H2021-006-002.
Detail of The Quilters Hall of Fame Opportunity Quilt 2017.

Tulips weren’t just popular as quilt motifs in the 1930s. Here’s one from fifty years before that which was collected by Honoree Mary Barton.

Detail of: “Tulip variation” Quilt, c. 1870. Gift of Mary Barton. In the Farm House Museum Collection, Farm House Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. 80.3.2

And they continue to be popular as seen in this panel of blocks made from a 2003 pattern in the magazine of Honorees Marianne Fons and Liz Porter. (Okay, the center block has daisies, but I didn’t want to crop.)

Section of “Jubilee Album” by Sue Nickels and Pat Holly. This quilt was the block-of-the-month for “Love of Quilting” and was on exhibit at The Quilters Hall of Fame in 2019.

That’s a pretty good romp through the tulips of our Honorees. But wait; there’s more. I’ve put more than one tulip on a quilt myself. These are somewhat stylized—they must be hybrids.

The Quilt Index claims 834 entries under the tulip motif. (Some look more like lilies or roses, but who am I to question?)  Lots of those are straight set like Webster’s  “Windblown Tulips” and the red McElwain “Tulip Swirl”, but many are grouped in fours. This first one has no leaves and makes your eye jump from the “x” of the actual block to a secondary pattern with a quatrefoil center.

Alexander, Esma Lea Brow. “Tulip Baby Quilt”. 1950-1975. From Indiana State Museum, Indiana Quilt Registry Project. Published in The Quilt Index, Accessed: 05/02/21

Here’s another layout that fools the eye; the stems of the satellite buds make a hashtag/pound sign design. (Why are those buds round? Unopened tulips are ovoid.)

Lahr, Elizabeth; Strawser, Jenn. Tulip. 1880. From Michigan State University Museum, Michigan Quilt Project. Published in The Quilt Index, Accessed: 05/02/21

This one has lost its stems and gained a four-lobed center, but it still has that diagonal symmetry that is so pleasing.

Blair, Mary M. Dickerson. “Tulip”. 1940. From University of Nebraska – Lincoln, Nebraska Quilt Project (Lincoln Quilters Guild). Published in The Quilt Index, Accessed: 05/02/21

But I’m also pleased with this quilt where symmetry has been ignored. (Dare I say “tossed out”? It does have a nice, tossed appearance.)

Unknown, quilt. Tulip Applique. 1850-1875. From Rutgers Special Collections and University Archives, The Heritage Quilt Project of New Jersey, Inc. Published in The Quilt Index, Accessed: 05/02/21

And there’s always someone who is totally unconventional. This quilt has an appealing vining border design and blocks where the stems form a circle instead of a cross.

Vaught, An. “Applique and Tulip”. From Indiana State Museum, Indiana Quilt Registry Project. Published in The Quilt Index, Accessed: 05/02/21

Most of the tulip quilts on the Quilt Index are constructed as blocks, but here’s an unusual medallion setting. The layout is similar to what you see in Webster’s “Poppies” and “Sunflower” (that’s for another day), and the stems have taken on an interesting Art Nouveau curve.

Maker, Unknown. “Tulip”. 1930-1949. From International Quilt Museum, International Quilt Museum; Ardis and Robert James Collection. Published in The Quilt Index, Accessed: 05/02/21

Here are two more curvaceous ones.

And finally, an overall layout from the 1970s. This “first quilt” was made from a quilt kit purchased from Lee Ward’s Craft Company in Illinois.

Grzyb, Albina; Kasprzyk, Sally. Terry’s Tulip Quilt. c. 1972. From Arizona Quilt Documentation Project, Arizona Quilt Documentation Project. Published in The Quilt Index, Accessed: 05/02/21.

And with that we’ve come full circle from Marie Webster’s kits, so it’s a good place to stop.  We never got past the tulips, so before I go, I want to show you Marti Michell’s “Wild Rose”.

You can consider it a floral teaser for either Celebration or another blog, or maybe for both.

Your quilting friend,


French language.

Quilt Index Gasperik quilts.

Georgia Bonesteel: Lap Quilting

I don’t know about you, but January is a time for me to draw in, reflect, and simplify. This has become especially true this year since the pandemic is still limiting my social life and activities. So, I’ve been thinking about quilting in the days before we had so many gadgets and tools, and that led me to Honoree Georgia Bonesteel.

Georgia’s quilting career spanned the time when TV shows and video tutorials were the rage. (Now we just go to the internet.) She started with crazy quilt handbags as a guest star on Sewing is Fun, a local New Orleans show, and went on to have her own PBS series in 1976.  By 2003, she had made twelve more 13-part series. She really enjoyed combining quilting and teaching. You can read more about Georgia’s life in the bio link below, and you can find many of her segments on YouTube.

I watched the first video she ever made, just to get a sense of her as a person for writing this blog. But guess what? I picked up a few pointers which I’ll be trying on my next big project (Edyta Sitar’s Alaska quilt, which uses templates). You can watch it at the link below.  Sometimes it’s good to go back to the basics. 

She has also authored a number of books based on her “lap quilting” method: piecing and quilting small sections and then sewing the quilted sections together at the end. It was innovative when she introduced it, and as her last volume says, it still “lives”.

Take a look at the quilt on the cover of “More Lap Quilting” (top row, middle).  Here’s the original quilt which is now in the Quilters Hall of Fame Collection. You can view closeups of this quilt and read why Georgia “cherished” it at the link below.

From the collection of The Quilters Hall of Fame

Georgia has been a good friend of the Quilters Hall of Fame, and a regular attendee at our Honoree Celebrations each July. In 2004 her son, Paul, recorded video footage of the grand opening of the Marie Webster House.  The following year, Paul turned the video into a film for PBS featuring Georgia’s quilts and telling the story of quilting from Webster forward.  It also includes great views of the Hall of Fame, along with an interesting panel discussion among Honorees Barbara Brackman, Joyce Gross, and Cuesta Benberry along with quilt historian Connie Chunn.

“The Great American Quilt Revival” is sold out in Georgia’s online shop, but it’s still available through The Quilter’s Hall of Fame. Here’s the link to the store: . If you use the code “BONESTEEL” when you order, you’ll get a 20% discount on any one Georgia Bonesteel item. And you might find some other things to purchase while you’re there.

We are also privileged to have several other objects from Georgia in our collection. One of my favorites is a wall hanging titled “Three Banners: The Street Where Quilters Live”. It was made by Georgia and some of the famous quilters she met while producing her TV shows.

From the collection of The Quilters Hall of Fame

It depicts an imaginary house for each of 36 quilters, most made by the quilter, and three made by Georgia in addition to her own, where she supposed they might live according to their respective quilting styles. I love the fact that she took the time to reflect on their personalities and to put some individual element into each block. For example, you may remember from my April 4, 2020 blog about Virginia Avery that she was not only a quilter, but also a jazz musician.  Here’s her block showing “Sunday Jazz at Folly Farm”.

And here’s one that uses the Seminole piecing which Cheryl Bradkin was noted for. There’s a link below if you want to see more of the blocks.

I don’t know whether Georgia Bonesteel was the first to make this kind of album quilt—a step up from “signature”/ name-inscribed quilts that have been around since the 1840s– but she wasn’t the last. Our 2021Quilter’s Hall of Fame Inductee, Marti Michell, assembled a similar quilt representing many quilters (not houses, but each block represents the quilter in some way.) Here’s the block in Marti’s Silver Star Friendship quilt made by Cheryl; it’s the cover of her Seminole piecing book.

Photo by Marti Michell

Here’s another example of a Bonesteel group quilt with components made by all of the teachers on a quilting cruise. This one is also in The Quilters Hall of Fame collection. Check the link below to see who the teachers were. I think Doreen Speckman must have made the “Peaky/ Spike” block in the lower right sail; do you agree?

From the collection of The Quilters Hall of Fame

Like many of us, Georgia Bonesteel started sewing clothing for herself and her family.  And once she was into quilting, she didn’t forget her garment-making roots.  She participated in the Fairfield Fashion shows (see my Jean Wells blog), and donated several items of clothing to The Quilters Hall of Fame collection. She gave a four-piece ensemble comprising a dress, belt, vest, and (yes, you’re seeing that right) cover for her Bernina machine.  The title? “Have Machine, Will Travel”.

From the collection of The Quilters Hall of Fame

Her gift of the “Harbor Light” group represents the flame of the Statue of Liberty’s torch. And the final item, just identified as “Jacket” is the most sophisticated of the collection.  You can read full descriptions and see more pictures at the links below.

These are the pieces we’ve kept for TQHF’s collection. Our storage space is very limited, so we’ve culled a representative bit and have passed on the rest to The International Quilt Museum in Lincoln.

I’m going to backtrack a little and return to books because Georgia has continued to write. And her more recent ones are often self-revealing. Do you see the bird on the black quilt on the cover of Quiltmaking Legacy? As of 2014, Georgia has kept chickens at her house, and is a member of the Hendersonville Hen Society.  And I know the block on the lighter quilt has a different name, but in this context, I can’t help thinking of rooster combs.

And here’s Georgia’s most recent effort in which she shares family history and gives you a peek at her furniture. I have to admire someone who is so willing to share not only her technical expertise but also her personal information. Quilters are reputed to be giving, but we’d be hard-pressed to find one more generous than her.  Thanks, Georgia Bonesteel.

Your quilting friend,


Bio info.

Spinning Spools object record.

First video. Georgia said, “This instructional video was produced in 1988 by Oxmoor House publishing and sponsored by Bernina USA. This was the first (and only) VHS video created to teach my “lap quilting” technique outside of the PBS studios of North Carolina Public TV. This video teaches how to make three quilts including the “Carnival” “True Blue” and “Garden Party” quilts.”

Three Banners quilt.

Cruise quilt object record.

Have Quilt object records.

Harbor Light object records.

Jacket object record.

Rose Kretsinger and Carrie Hall: Part One

By Deb Geyer

Rose Kretsinger and Carrie Hall are best known for the book they co-authored, The Romance of the Patchwork Quilt in America, published in 1935. Their influences on the world of quilting earned them each the honor of being inducted into The Quilters Hall of Fame in 1985. Carrie Hall had a romantic and poetic manner of describing the history of this American art and Rose had a way of encouraging beauty and order in everyday living.

On the occasions of Rose’s birthday (November 29) and Carrie’s birthday (December 9) I’d like to share with you what I have learned about Rose and Carrie and their influences on the world of quilting. Their stories have taught me much about the world of the early 1900s and have given me a greater appreciation for the Arts and Crafts movement.

Rose Kretsinger

Rose Francis Good was born November 29, 1886. Growing
up in Abilene, Kansas, Rose was surrounded by creative people. Her mother
painted china. Her grandfather made pottery and built carriages. Her
grandmother was a quilt maker. An Emporia Gazette article reported Rose as
saying her grandmother taught her to make her first stitches on a quilt, but
she said that she abandoned the craft as soon as the lessons were over. However
disinterested she may have been in quilting, her early years were full of creativity
and adults that encouraged her creativity.

After graduating from high school, Rose went to
Chicago to work on a degree in design at the Art Institute of Chicago. The
program at the Art Institute placed emphasis on the Arts and Crafts movement
which promoted traditional craftsmanship using simple forms based on nature.
Followers of the arts and crafts movement sought to create a style based on
simplicity of design, quality of craftsmanship, attention to detail and
integration of art into everyday life. Rose graduated with honors from this
program. Over the next six years she designed fabric for Marshal Field Department
Store, designed jewelry, taught at the Art Institute, and studied Architecture
in Europe for a year.

At the age of 28, Rose retired from her design career, moved to Emporia, Kansas and married William Kretsinger, a well-to-do widower who was an attorney as well as a rancher. They raised two children, William and Mary Amelia. Rose kept busy adding beauty to their family’s home and the ordinary objects it contained. She did cross stitch, petit point, embroidery, and appliqué. During the Colonial Revival, Rose took up quilting at the age of forty. That year, 1926, Rose made three quilts, Snow Crystals, Democrat Rose, and Antique Rose. While they were all based on traditional patterns, Rose’s artistic skill and professional competence gave the quilts a distinct sophistication.

As she continued her quilting, Rose ignored commercial trends, focusing instead on quilts of the past. The patterns and kits of the day resulted in a predictable product; a quality Rose criticized. “Women are depending more upon the printed pattern sheet to save time and labor. These, having been used time and again, often become very tiresome.” Rather than buying her patterns from magazines, she found most of her ideas in old quilts, borrowing family heirlooms from friends and sketching museum quilts. Her quilts honor the accomplishments of those who came before her and are evidence that her philosophy to study the work of others was practically applied to her own work.

The success of Rose’s quilts lies in her reworking of
the old designs. With her design background she knew how to reorganize compositions
to focus attention, how to use color and value, and how to use quilting to add
line. Rose’s unique combination of traditional standards and modern design
earned her local and national fame as she won prizes in contests from Lyon
County, Kansas to New York City. Rose did all the hand appliqué work on her
quilts. She designed and laid out the quilting but hired others to do the hand quilting.

Rose would occasionally accept payment for quilt designs, but she did not have a business. Her daughter Mary said, “All she did was for the joy of doing it. She had unlimited energies for passing patterns and help around to other quilters.”

For her part in The Romance of The American Quilt, Rose wrote Part III, “Quilting and Quilting Designs”. Rose dedicated this section to her mother, Anna Gleissner Good. This section includes a short history of quilting and goes into detail on quilting designs. She expressed discontent with the commercialization of quilting in her day, which she felt lowered its sincerity and individuality as a needle art. Rose promotes quilting as valuable for the display of individual taste and self-expression.

“It has been said by different disinterested people: ‘Why spend so much time and labor making new quilts and worrying about designs when you already have a number which are never used?’ Perhaps it is for the same reason which prompts the planting of flowers in the alley, back of the garden fence, or the landscaping of our gardens in places seen only by a few; because of our love for beauty and regard for order in everyday living. It is in us and must come forth and become a material artistic expression.”

Rose suffered a paralyzing stroke sometime before her death in 1963. During the 15 years before her death, Rose had spread Paradise Garden, the last quilt she finished, on her bed only on special occasions. But when she was confined to bed after her stroke, she asked her daughter Mary to put it over her. The quilt was needed to bring her joy. Rose had written, “We are always well repaid in making something lovely, for ‘A thing of beauty is a joy forever.'” Rose died June 23, 1963 in Wichita, Kansas, at the age of 76.

In 1971 her daughter donated twelve quilts made by Rose to the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas.

Selected Quilts: Click on the quilt titles to see photos on the Spencer Museum of Art website.

Indiana Wreath, 1927- This quilt was inspired by a quilt used for the frontispiece of the early editions of Marie Webster’s book, Quilts: Their Story and How to Make Them, published in 1915. Made by Elizabeth J. Hart, the original Indiana Wreath quilt has inspired many excellent quilters to create their own interpretations of the challenging design.

Orchid Wreath, 1928- Rose’s daughter, Mary, said she saw a Coca Cola poster with orchids on it in a local soda fountain. She asked her mother to make an orchid quilt for her bed. Rose asked for the poster and used it as a design source for the quilt. This is the only quilt that Rose made with an original design and was included in the exhibit America’s 100 Best Quilts of the 20th Century at the International Quilt Festival in 1999.

Paradise Garden, 1946- Rose designed and appliqued this masterpiece, inspired by a quilt made in 1857 by Arsinoe Kelsey Bowen, which was illustrated in Ruth Finley’s book, Old Patchwork Quilts and the Women Who Made Them. This was Rose’s last quilt.

Selected Reading:

Brackman, Barbara. “Rose Kretsinger.” The Quilters Hall of Fame: 42 Masters. Minneapolis, MN: Voyageur Press, 2011.

Brackman, Barbara, Jennie A Chinn, Gayle R Davis, Terry Thompson, Sara Reimer Farley, Nancy Hornback. Kansas Quilts & Quilters. Lawrence, Kansas, University of Kansas Press, 1993.

Carter, Hazel. “Evolution and New Revelation: The Garden Quilt Design.” Blanket Statements, American Quilt Study Group, no. 71 (Winter 2003).

Gregory, Jonathan. “The Joy of Beauty: The Creative Life and Quilts of Rose Kretsinger.” Uncoverings, American Quilt Study Group, Vol 28 (2007).

Hall, Carrie A., and Rose G. Kretsinger. The Romance of the Patchwork
Quilt in America
. Caldwell, ID: The Caxton Printers, Ltd., 1935.

Leman, Bonnie. “Two Masters: Kretsinger & Stenge.” Quilter’s
Newsletter Magazine
, no. 128 (January 1981).

“Rose Kretsinger, Appliqué Artist.” Quilter’s Newsletter
, no. 97 (December 1977) (Interview with daughter Mary Kretsinger
of Emporia, Kansas.).

Shankel, Carol, ed. American Quilt Renaissance: Three Women Who
Influenced Quiltmaking in the Early 20th Century
. Tokyo: Kokusai Art,