Kansas City Star Quilts
September 7 - December 4, 2018
Edie McGinnis began her career at The Kansas City Star newspaper in 1987 and became an advocate for reviving The Star’s tradition of publishing quilt blocks. This collection of vintage quilts were made from the newspaper’s original 1928–1961 patterns.
About Kansas City Star Quilts
On September 19, 1928, The Kansas City Star newspaper published the “Pine Tree” quilt pattern. There had been no fanfare, no promotions, no notice that The Star would begin to publish quilt patterns. Readers simply opened their morning newspaper and there in the women’s section was the pattern.
The pattern was complete with instructions and templates. There was no need to send in a nickel or a dime to get all the information needed to make the quilt. It was quite a departure from the way other newspapers handled quilt patterns.
Edna Marie Dunn was the first designer to solicit and publish patterns contributed by readers. When a design was accepted by the paper for publication, the contributor was paid $1.50. Along with the design, the reader also had to submit a completed block made from fabric.
Dunn was in charge of the patterns until The Star decided to discontinue the feature in 1961. In May of that year, the last pattern, A Fan of Many Colors was published. Between the beginning and the end of the feature, over 1,000 patterns were published. Some have the count at 1,065 but because the patterns were published in three different editions, an exact count is unknown. At least 57 patterns were printed only in the Oklahoma and Arkansas editions and circulation was around 30,000 at that time. The possibility of other patterns lurking in someone’s scrapbook is relatively high.
It wasn’t until 1999 that any attention was paid to the wealth of quilt patterns and the rich heritage The Star had with the quilt industry. In 1999, The Star created a book division. The Star’s archive of quilt patterns were books just waiting to happen.
The Star reprinted a few dozen of the patterns as a book to discover whether or not the patterns continued to be popular with quilters. In less than two weeks, the first printing of 5,000 books had sold out. That was before they even reached the warehouse.
Under the brand Kansas City Star Quilts, over 100 quilt books were published by various authors, thereby re-establishing the historic “Star Quilts” brand. In 2015, Kansas City Star Quilts was sold and became part of C&T publishing as an imprint.