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!

Fan Medallion Quilt

By Marguerite Ickis, c. 1930-1940.

Honoree Marguerite Ickis made this quilt from pieces of costume fabric leftover from theatrical plays made possible by the WPA Federal Theatre Project, for whom she was a consultant. The Federal Theatre Project organized and produced theater events. It was an effort of the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to provide work for unemployed professionals in the theater during the Great Depression.

The quilt has a black satin background with fan blades made of various shades of red, yellow, blue, magenta, purple and pink, in satin, velvet and crepes. All fabrics are solids, no prints. The batting is a very thin sheet cotton. The quilt is pieced, appliqued and quilted by hand and has a straight grain binding of black satin attached by machine and sewn down by hand. The features, color scheme, and arrangement give the quilt an “Art Deco” flair.

For the quilting, there are feathered wreaths in large plain areas. Each fan blade has one line of quilting running through the center lengthwise. One row of stitching follows the shape of applique. On the triangular ground opposite the fans there are eight petal floral motifs. Heavily feathered vines fill the sashing.

Marguerite Ickis was inducted into The Quilters Hall of Fame in 1979. She loved to tell people, “I’ve led nine lives, and I’ve loved every one of them.” She was a botanist, worked for the Girl Scouts, was an editor, a dean, writer, quilter, researcher, an innkeeper, and upon retirement a painter.

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!

Aunt Thankful’s Sheets

While doing some research today, I came across this story in Ruth Finley’s book, Old Patchwork Quilts and the Women Who Made Them. While discussing antiques and their ability to defy age, wear, and tear, Ruth writes about her Aunt Thankful’s sheets.

There is scattered among the members of my family a set of twenty-four sheets, discolored but unworn, spun and woven from flax grown in the Connecticut hills. The pair that belongs to me is marked No. 12. Under the numbers are embroidered a heart and the initials T. S. The whole marking is so delicate that it covers, in the upper right hand corner of each sheet, less than a square half-inch of space. It is executed in cross-stitch done in a woman’s hair.

Thankful Smith was the twin sister of a greatly removed grandmother. The two girls each spun, wove and marked for their dower chests twelve pairs of linen sheets, while waiting for their lovers to come back from war. The betrothed of the twin who was my ancestress came home. She was married; and her children and her children’s children wore out her dower sheets. But Thankful’s lover never returned. Visiting among the family households as the patient drudge that was the role of the spinsters of her day, Thankful had no need for the domestic linen of a home. The dower sheets she had marked with bridal hearts in her own hair were never used. They are today as smooth and fine and strong as the day they left her loom.

Finley, Ruth E. Old Patchwork Quilts and the Women Who Made Them. Philadephia: J.B. Lippincott, 1929. Reprint 1970, pp 24.

If you would like to read more about Ruth Finley her biography is here:

The Dogwoods are Blooming in Marie’s Garden

Marie Webster loved the flowers of the Dogwood tree, among the earliest to bloom each spring. She loved them so much she designed two quilts featuring Dogwood flowers.

White Dogwood, pictured above, was first published in January, 1912 in Ladies’ Home Journal. Instead of a traditional square block format, White Dogwood has blocks set on point with the center block reserved for special quilting. The on-point blocks create a lattice of intersecting branches dotted with pink-tipped blossoms. The background is pale green linen, the branches are of heavily textured linen suggesting bark, while the petals are of smooth white cotton. This was her first quilt with a scalloped border. More information and the pattern for this quilt can be found in A Joy Forever: Marie Webster’s Quilt Patterns by Rosalind Webster Perry and Marty Frolli.

Some 15 years later, Marie was once again inspired by the dogwood’s beauty. “Pink Dogwood in Applique for the Bedroom” was featured in the Ladies’ Home Journal issue of September 1927, pictured on a four-poster bed. In this strong design four large baskets anchor the corners of the quilt. Light pink flowers tumble out of the baskets to form a large wreath, surrounding a neat arrangement of dark pink blooms in the center. In the border, garland of light and dark blossoms echo the curves of the scalloped edges. The pattern for this quilt can be found in the book Marie Webster’s Garden of Quilts by Rosalind Webster Perry and Marty Frolli.

The Quilters Hall of Fame has one example of this quilt in its collection. Unfortunately, the maker and date of construction are unknown. The quiltmaker creatively added purple to the handles of the baskets. Hand quilting runs 9 – 10 inches per inch. The binding is pink and is echoed along the inner edge by a half-inch band of pale pink bias fabric. The fabrics appear quite faded and the binding is worn, but it is a lovely quilt nonetheless. Thanks go out to Shirley Nowakowski for the generous donation of this quilt.

It is the mission of The Quilters Hall of Fame to honor our honorees for their contributions to the world of quilting. If you enjoyed this look into Marie Webster’s garden and Dogwood designs, please share this post with a friend.

Happy Quilting!

Deb Geyer