I cannot count my day complete
'Til needle, thread and fabric meet.
~Author Unknown

Sharing a common thread with those who love the art of hand embroidery

Thursday, March 11, 2010

In Between The Stitches.........

I am still in the middle of finishing the pillowcases and dozens of other "UFO'S" . I think, from reading all of your blogs.........you all know what I mean? {:
So in the meantime..........as I am still stitching away..........I wanted to share with you a little history about those wonderful newspaper patterns back in the "30's" in which every housewife would look forward to getting the next new quilting block to complete a quilt. Do any of you remember these? I came across some of the patterns years ago and after researching them, fell in love with them. I want to share the history of Ruby Short McKim and her wonderful patterns.It is women like this that has made the quilting era what it is today...........thank goodness for them! The above photo shows all of the State Flower quilt block patterns as to how they would look put all together for a quilt.
Here is just a look at one of the patterns. Along with the patterns, there is a wonderful story about the flower itself. These were used for hand embroidery. I have the State Flower patterns and I also have the patterns for a "The Flower Garden Quilt" which has flowers and then a white picket fence appliqued around the flowers. So pretty! I plan on using the patterns in different projects instead of for a quilt. Below the next photo, there is a biography about Ruby Short McKim, written by her eldest granddaughter. So I hope you enjoy reading and have a wonderful weekend!

Ruby Short McKim, 1891-1976, was the prototype for today's modern woman. Artist, author, businesswoman, wife and mother - she excelled in all areas. A graduate of the Parsons School of Design in New York City, Ruby returned to Independence to become the Art Supervisor for the Kansas City Public Schools. After her marriage to Arthur McKim, she began her work as an advisor to Child Life Magazine and created a continuity strip that was one of the first in syndication. This feature in the Chicago Daily News ran for many years. As a couple, the McKims opened a mail-order outlet, McKim Studios, which specialized in needlecraft items and in antique and foreign dolls. At this same time, Ruby was Art Needlework Editor for Better Homes and Gardens.

It was while working in the public schools that Ruby first designed animal quilt blocks for fifth graders. Later designs came as a result of her newspaper syndication and were constructed so that a quilter could complete a block each week. McKim Studios not only sold the quilt patterns but would also sell pre-cut material to those who wished to save some steps. Ruby always had one quilt in each pattern made up; some she did herself as she and her husband sat in their bedroom sitting room; he would read a current novel out-loud, Ruby would listen and quietly do her needlework. This ritual, carried out for 30 minutes after breakfast, an hour after lunch, and for about a half-hour before bed was a daily routine seldom broken, even on vacations. Visiting grandchildren could sit quietly and listen, and if so inclined, could pick up a needle and be taught how to make tiny, even stitches.

The publishing of One Hundred and One Patchwork Patterns was a natural outgrowth of Ruby's artistic expression and the demand for her creative designs. Some quilts in the book were rearrangements of older designs, several were originals. All had detailed directions that even a novice could follow and all were charming! In 2002, she was posthumously inducted into the Quilters Hall of Fame.

In addition to the quilt designs, Ruby was an accomplished artist. Her charming watercolors and oils are among the family's prized possessions as they depict vacations and events within their lives. Her art talents also found good use in the family business, Kimport Dolls, with the publication of a bi-monthly magazine, Doll Talk. This publication was a catalog for customers world-wide.

Because of her work with dolls and quilts, Ruby had the honor of being included in the first edition of Who's Who Among American Women. To her children and grandchildren she was an example of how a person, man or woman, can set and achieve goals. She believed in living life to the fullest, taking time to enjoy the beauty nature has to offer. She shared that beauty with family, friends and all who came to know her work. She was a woman ahead of her time, and one that will be remembered by many for a long time to come.
— Christina Fullerton Jones
Eldest Granddaughter of Ruby Short McKim


the rusty cupboard said...

how cool I didn't know any of that thanks for sharing

Jane Smith said...

It's funny that in school, I hated History class. When seeing it on a personal level, I love it. I enjoy learning how people used to live.

GardenofDaisies said...

Ruby!!! She designed the quilts for the Kansas City Star for a long time too. My Grandmother made Ruby's Three Little Pigs quilt when my dad and his two sisters were little. That quilt was passed down to me and I treasure it!

Conni said...

Very interesting article - thanks for posting it.

Pat / Silver Thimble Quilt Co. said...

I know about the blog reading and posting = no sewing...it's a full time job and a great addiction!

Love the post and article. Thanks so much.


Val said...

I would love to see the designs for that flower quilt...how lovely!

Very interesting history as well. I am always amazed when I think of all the things that women have accomplished throughout history, while still being feminine, creative blessings to their families. Thank God that we can combine our love for beauty with industrious hands!