On Sept. 19, 1928, the Kansas City Star newspaper in Missouri ran their first quilt pattern called “Pine Tree.”
Publishing quilt patterns in the Kansas City Star newspaper was the brain child of Ruby Short McKim, a quilt designer and friend of Nell Snead, the editor for the women’s section of the paper. Quilting was gaining popularity at that time and the two women thought running weekly quilt patterns in the paper might draw in more female readers.
McKim was the first designer for the Star. She had a mail order business that she ran out of her home in Independence, Miss, and had previously been the home art editor for Better Homes and Garden magazine. This was a unique opportunity for local women to be given a free quilt block pattern since no other newspaper was doing this.
After McKim, Eveline Foland designed the blocks, followed by Edna Marie Dunn. Foland introduced series quilts to the Kansas City Star quilt pattern collectors, and Dunn was the first to solicit patterns from readers. The Star paid a nominal fee to the person who sent the pattern in if the paper used that particular design. The pattern had to be accompanied by a completed block made from fabric.
During the early years of the quilt pattern feature, the Star was the only newspaper that published the entire quilt pattern. Other papers required a person to pay for patterns, which would then be sent via the U.S Postal Service. In the latter years and during World War II, the patterns were run sporadically. The feature ended on May 24, 1961, with the “Fan” pattern.
The Kansas City Star now runs a “block of the month” feature, which began January of 2000. Barbara Brackman designed the patterns for the quilt she called “Prairie Flower.” A “block of the month” is a block pattern published each month throughout the year. After the 12 different blocks are pieced together there are enough to make a quilt top. The last month is usually instructions on how to set blocks together. Other instructions might include quilting, border and binding suggestions to complete your quilt.
Early in my quilting education, I heard about the Kansas City Star quilt blocks and saw several examples. They were usually simple blocks, many of which you see in the quilts made during the 1930s. These designs had to appeal to any new quilters just starting out on the quilting journey, as well as advanced skilled quilters.
If you do an Internet search you’ll find countless sites on Kansas City Star Quilt patterns. There are pattern books available with the hundreds of different blocks and series quilts published by the Kansas City Star. The Web site I recommend is www.pickledish.com. There you will find everything going on at the Kansas City Star Quilt location. Edie McGinnis, author and editor of the Kansas City Star Quilts, writes an entertaining blog every Friday.
If you are interested in block patterns published in the 1930s through 1960s check out those offered by the quilt designers of the Kansas City Star.