The Keeper of Kansas City Star Quilts: Edie McGinnisSissy's Quilt Designs
Edie McGinnis is one of our pattern writers here at Missouri Star. Some of her amazing Kansas City Star quilt collection is currently on display until Dec. 4 at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY. Read on to learn about how Edie started quilting, collecting quilts and her time at the Kansas City Star in her own words.
Before I began working as a pattern writer at Missouri Star Quilt Co., I spent many years of my life working for The Kansas City Star newspaper. I began in the composing room making up pages of the newspaper, bounced into the photo department, where I learned how to work with digital photos using Photoshop, then on to the newsroom where I answered phones and worked as the editor of the Star’s Block of the Month program as well as editing other quilt books and writing a few of my own.
Just before going to work at The Star, I had decided that I would like to have a quilt. My mother-in-law had lovely antique quilts, and there was always one on the bed in the guest room. I had never been around handmade quilts before. And it didn’t take me long to fall in love with those pretty old scrappy things that I could never look at enough. Every time I looked, I spotted a different fabric that I’d not noticed before.
Surely I could make one! I knew how to sew and even though I didn’t own a sewing machine, I could stitch them by hand. After all, that’s how quilts had been made forever, right? I gave it a whirl and loved every step of the process. So began my quilting journey.
When I first began quilting, I had no idea that my work life and my hobby life would collide and turn into another career.
One day a friend of mine brought about 10 feed sacks to my home that her mom had saved from the 30s and 40s and gave them to me, thinking I might be able to use them to make a quilt. I thought and thought about how to use them, what pattern to use, what might look perfect for fabric from that era. While at the grocery store, I picked up a quilting magazine and found the pattern for the Whirligig Hexagon quilt. The magazine article talked about it being one of the patterns that had been published in The Kansas City Star. Wait! What? The Kansas City Star had published quilt patterns?
Yes, indeed they had, over 1,000 of them beginning in 1928 through 1961. I was so excited to learn all I could learn about the patterns. I found original patterns that quilters had cut and saved in scrap books and boxes. I collected all that I could find and I thought it would be wonderful to redo the patterns and put rotary cutting instructions with them and add in a seam allowances whether anyone else thought that was necessary or not.
I haunted the office of each publisher as they came and went. I told each inhabitant of that office that everyone was making money off of the Kansas City Star patterns but The Kansas City Star. Usually the response would be along the lines of, “Well, you know, my grandma used to quilt …” Or, “Yeah, well, we’re a newspaper and we don’t have much to do with quilting in this day and age.”
Then in 1999, The Star began a book publishing division and suddenly, those old patterns became books waiting to happen. And there I was, the only person at The Star who knew how to quilt. Kismet!
I became an advisor, then an author as well as an editor. I got to go to Quilt Market, set up the booth, recruit other authors and became the editor of The Star’s Block of the Month program. Eventually I worked solely for Kansas City Star Quilts and became the Associate Editor.
And when I could, I picked up an antique Kansas City Star Quilt. One at an antique shop here or an auction there or maybe even while cruising through eBay. Antique dealers at quilt market were a great resource. How I loved going through their stacks of beautiful quilts! So many choices in their booths!
I kept adding a quilt here and there and before I knew it, I actually had accrued a nice collection. They weren’t always pristine and many were a long way from perfect. But each represented the pattern from which it was made. The saddest part of my collection is that the quilts have no provenance so I don’t know who made each particular quilt.
Word got out about my collection and this spring I received a call from Frank Bennet at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky. He wanted to know if I had at least 32 Kansas City Star quilts. I told him I thought that was possible. Then he asked me if I would like to curate an exhibit of Kansas City Star quilts at the museum this September.
How could anyone say no to such an opportunity?
The exhibit opened September 7 and runs through December 4. The museum is located at 215 Jefferson Street, Paducah, Kentucky, and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday all year long. March 1 – November 30, it is also open on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
And me? I still barely can believe I’m getting to do this!