Monday, February 8, 2010

Another Anna admirer's quilts

A while ago, I blogged about quilts by Anna Williams and heard from another Anna quilt admirer, Ethel White. Inspired by Anna’s style, Ethel made a series of quilts from her husband's discarded shirts. She has a passion for working with scraps of fabric and over the years she has saved about 50 of his shirts.

Ethel wrote that she started with the log cabin or housetop quilt above first. With scraps left over from that, she started to work on this quilt (below).

Ethel has not named these quilts yet. For this quilt she used the collars, cuffs, sleeve plackets and yokes from the collar. Once she sewed a row of strips together, she trimmed them to size (whatever was larger - example 3.5" or 5" strips). With whatever was left over, she would start another row. Her husband said this one was his favorite because it has a nostalgic look. (Ethel said she likes them all.)

Ethel said she worked with these shirts, “as if this was all the fabric I had and I tried to put myself back in the olden days to see how I would utilize what I had to make utilitarian quilt.”

“All of the quilts that I have made from the shirts except the shoofly and the nine patch I would start from the center and work my way out until I got the length and width I wanted,” Ethel wrote.

Here is the quilt she made with a traditional shoo fly pattern:

About her own style, Ethel wrote: “I'm a string quilter, our pattern is to take a square of any size and start on the diagonal of the block with a long string and sew another on top of that one, we call it sew and flip.”

Both Ethel and I have searched for the 1995 AQS book about Anna Williams. We’d love to see it republished someday: Anna Williams: Her Quilts and Their Influence. 

Ethel sent pictures of more of her quilts last week. Thanks, Ethel, for sharing with all of us. I'll post more soon. Thanks also to Ethel's photographer, Nadja.


  1. Deb,
    I love these quilts! What an inspiring collection! Thanks, Ethel for sharing the pictures and the stories.

  2. These are wonderful! I would also push to have Anna Williams book republished. I have also looked for it for a long time.
    Does anyone have any influence with AQS that would help???
    Thank you Ethel for sharing quilts and philosophy of using "found" materials.

  3. Love these! I have a large bag of collars and cuffs that I thought I'd toss out. Not now!

  4. I, too buy shirts at the Salvation Army and cut them up for scrappy quilts. Somehow it doesn't seem right to buy material to make a scrappy quilt. I love Anna's stuff and the one you are working on in the previous post. I am inventing a design using a center panel I made and some pineapple blocks I made and am having to figure it out as I go along. I am glad expert quilters like you do that too....even tho mine probably won't turn out as well....I will call it FOLK ART. :)

  5. woa! I'm no expert! I just love quilts. Yours sounds great!

  6. Ethel, you did a fabulous job. wonderful quilts. I'm particularly taken with the second and third ones. beautiful. I've certainly tried to get ahold of the book on Anna too, even tried inter-library loan. thanks for this post, Deb.

  7. Love all of these beauties, great inspiration! Thank you for sharing.
    ; )

  8. Hello - Any word on if the Anna Williams book will be republished?

    Thank you, Kyra