Rita’s Quilt

‘Rita’s Quilt’ Will Be Publicly Unveiled at The National Quilt Museum March 7th

January 21, 2020 -- Paducah, KY:  In September 2019, Shannon Downey purchased an unfinished embroidered map of the United States and a container of supplies at an estate sale with the intent of finishing the project.  The quilt had been started by 99 year old, Rita Smith before she passed.  Little did she know that this project would become a global phenomenon. 

Realizing that this would be a massive project, taking thousands of hours to complete, Shannon asked her Instagram community if anyone was willing to help finish the quilt.  Within a day, over 1,000 people responded with offers to help. 

The original artist, Rita Smith, had already completed two states, which Shannon used as a guide for thread thickness, color, and style of stitches.  Volunteers across the country were sent one of the 50 stars or 50 state blocks to hand embroider, with many stitching their state of residence.  As blocks returned to Shannon, they were washed, blocked, and cut to size.  Volunteers spent a day together in Chicago to hand piece the quilt top before it was longarm quilted by Sarah Evans and then finished with binding. 

The 'Rita's Quilt' project has become a viral sensation receiving media attention from hundreds of outlets, including CNN, BBC, ABCNews, NPR, and the Kelly Clarkson show.

The National Quilt Museum will have an unveiling ceremony at 1 pm on March 7, 2020.  The event is open to the public.  After the event, the quilt will be on exhibit at The National Quilt Museum through May 17, 2020.

 About The National Quilt Museum

Now in its 27th year, the National Quilt Museum promotes the growth and expansion of quilting by bringing the work of today's quilters to new audiences through exhibits, education programs, preservation, and advocacy efforts. Their primary campus in Paducah, KY, sees visitors annually from all 50 states and over 40 foreign countries.  Between in-facility and traveling exhibits, more than 150,000 people per year experience the art form in person through museum efforts.

The museum is committed to teaching the next generation of quilters, and its education programs annually attract more than 4,000 young people and adults. Educational opportunities include the School Block Challenge, Quilt Camp, and the museum’s acclaimed hands-on program, The Creative Stitch, in which people of all ages with no previous experience learn to make a quilt block.   

The National Quilt Museum has won the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for seven consecutive years, making it one of the top tourist attractions by visitor review in the world. The museum made Southern Living's "Top 15 Museums in the South" list in 2017, and it has been mentioned in Midwest Living, CNN Travel, USA Today, National Geographic, and many more.  Paducah, Kentucky, is a UNESCO Creative City.  For more information, go to www.quiltmuseum.org.  




Frank Bennett

CEO, National Quilt Museum