Mary Schafer Collection: A Legacy of Quilt History
Mary Shafer's First Pieced Quilt
appears in many forms; in 1956 Mary Schafer found hers while cleaning
out the trunk of her car. Her son had recently returned from military
service, and the homecoming was celebrated with a beach party. Picking
up after the event, Mary discovered a wet and dirty unclaimed quilt
that had been used as a beach blanket. Wanting to honor the quiltmaker,
Mary washed and repaired the quilt in attempt to restore the piece
to its glory days.
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She then created a classic red and white reproduction featuring
an original border and quilting designs—elements that became
Mary’s trademarks. This was Mary’s first pieced quilt.
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Mary's Linden Mill
Mary researched to find the name of the pattern, she became a subscriber
to Aunt Kate’s Quilting Bee and began to amass every reference
to quilting she could find. Unable to find the pattern’s name
and because the design reminded her of a mill wheel, Mary named
it “Linden Mill” after the only nationally registered
historical site in her home of Genesee County at the time.
|Through quilting magazines,
Mary discovered “round robins,” the practice of swapping
patterns through the mail. Subsequently, Mary participated in numerous
round robins, often becoming involved in as many as five at one time.
Through these exchanges of letters, patterns, and blocks, important
friendships were formed and Mary became a part of an active network
of quilters. Among Mary’s correspondents were Joy Craddock of
Denison, Texas, publisher of the 4 J’s; Glenna Boyd,
publisher of Aunt Kate’s Quilting Bee; Delores Hinson,
one of the founders of the National Quilt Association; and National
Quilter’s Hall of Fame Inductee Cuesta Benberry.
|These quilt blocks are of patterns typically exchanged
through round robins. Round robins often had a theme, for instance,
participants only exchanged Kansas City Star blocks. Women quite often
belonged to several circles simultaneously.
|Letters and patterns such as these circulated among
round robin members. The letters served as vehicles for quilters to
share information not only about quilts but about many aspects of
their daily lives.