Early Twentieth Century Quilt Authors

In the early and middle of the twentieth century, there was not much going on in the way of quilt making on a national scale. Of course, local households were making quilts for warmth and some for show. But there was no one like Bonnie Hunter or Jenny Beyer around.


The first quilt author I am writing about was more of a lecturer but she also quilted. Florence Petro made blocks of all the quilt squares she ever saw and would speak about them at guild meetings. She wrote American Quilts and Coverlets and Historic Quilts. Some of the quilts that she made were out of 100-year-old fabric. These are now in the Shelbourne Museum. Florence is one of my very favorite designers. I have two of her patterns which I will make one day when I get enough vintage fabric!!


The second woman author of the early 20th century was Ruth E. Finley. She wrote Old Patch-work Quilts and the Women who made them. Ruth Finley was out of touch with what was going on around her. “She believed that no popular pattern developed after 1880s. She had no idea of the Double Wedding Ring and Sunbonnet Sue quilts were in feverish production as she wrote.” Her book has endured because of its basic course in quilt making and the many chapters on patterns are an important reference on the names and structure of the designs. Terms she used such as “framed medallion” and “one-patch” are stilled used today. There are hundreds of patch work patterns pictured in her book.


The third women of the 20th century are Carrie A. Hall AND Rose Kretsinger who wrote The Romance of the Patchwork Quilt in America. This book is done in three parts: Part I: Origin and History of Quilt making with Photographic Reproductions of Patches; Part II: Quilts of Colonial Ancestry and of Modern Design; and Part III: The Art of Quilting and Quilting Designs. Carrie A. Hall also made quilts blocks, she wanted to make one of every known pattern, little realizing the magnitude of the undertaking.


The fifth woman I would like to speak of is Marie Webster. She wrote Quilts, Their Story and How to Make Them. This was America’s first quilt book, first published in 1915. “Marie Webster took up quilt making with enthusiasm. Since geometric pieced quilts were not to her taste, she decided to work out her own designs. Inspired by the traditional Rose of Sharon pattern, she appliqued petal cuts from soft shades of linen, adding a graceful curving trellis to unify the design.” Pink Rose and Wind-blown Tulips are two of Marie’s most popular applique designs. You could purchase these designs in kit form. Her patterns appeared on the inside of Mountain Mist batting labels years later.


Think about purchasing these books for your quilt reading pleasure. They are a great source of pattern names and quilt making for every quilter, traditional or modern!!!!