Marie Webster

   

Laura asked if I would like to see the exhibit of Marie Webster Quilts at the Indianapolis Art Museum. Absolutely! Not really knowing Marie Webster, but she had me at quilts and I was All In with going to an art museum.

  
 

I remembered seeing pictures of this beautiful sunflower quilt and I learned that Marie Webster was quite a quilt celebrity.

   

 

The appearance of Marie Webster’s quilts in Ladies’ Home Journal made her a household name. She was asked to write a book on the history of quilts and following the publication in 1915, was invited to exhibit her quilts throughout the country, to lecture on quilt making and to judge many quilt competitions.

  
 

Marie’s quilts were so popular that quilters were eager to replicate them and in 1920 she and her sister and two friends set up a mail-order business, the Practical Patchwork Company, in her home in Marion, Indiana.

   
Marie Webster’s pioneer mail-order business was one of the first of its kind and very successful. More than 25 different quilt patterns were available. Pattern packets included pictures, directions, fabric swatches, blueprints and tissue paper cutouts of the design. All for fifty cents! Tops with stamped patterns sold for $9. Finished quilts cost $85, which would be about $1100 today. 
   

What an entrepreneur! I bet Marie Webster would have stormed the Internet today!

The display of these quilts was extremely well done. The lighting was perfect and the inclusion of Marie’s personal items, history and information made the exhibit more meaningful. I kept thinking how much my friend Jane would enjoy seeing the quilts– and how difficult it would be to move her out of the rooms!

I wish I could come back in a few weeks. There will be a concurrent showing of new quilts made from inspirations chosen from Marie Webster’s quilts. Two members of the Indianapolis Guild brought their quilts to the workshop for me to see. I can’t show them because they won’t be unveiled until the exhibit opens but I can tell you, they are stunningly beautiful and incredibly imaginative and an absolute must see. I really hope there will be a way to view some of the quilts online. Or I just might have to drive back to Indiana. Maybe I can talk Jane into coming with me. 

 

   
 


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Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing these beautiful quilts. Amazing story about her business for the era.

  2. Christine says:

    These are all so wonderful. I can see adapting most of them in today’s style. What an extra plus to your trip.

  3. I can’t believe you didn’t know who she was! I have a book about her and am in awe how she was so inventive way back when! You know there would be ladies lined up around the block to get those BOM patterns!