Wheel of Time, circa 1880 red and white hand quilted quilt made by Mary Tennessee “Polly” Copeland Neal. 
Gift of LeAnne Traybsza, TTU-H2018-056-001. Image courtesy of the Museum of Texas Tech University

Oklahoma Quilters Insure Family Quilt Gets Museum Care

By Marian Ann J. Montgomery, Ph.D.,
Curator of Clothing and Textiles, the Museum of Texas Tech University


The dream of every curator of quilts is to be contacted by someone offering to donate an absolutely beautiful quilt for the collection.  An e-mail of that sort came into the Museum’s general e-mail mailbox on April 23, 2018, while I was in the Netherlands looking at their quilted treasures.

When the pictures arrived I knew immediately that we wanted the quilt for our museum collection. It took some back and forth of e-mails before we worked out the details, and honestly, for a time I wasn’t sure we would be able to accept the quilt because the donor hid address and phone number information that we need for doing the gift agreement and other paperwork.  I was corresponding with someone about a quilt and wondering if it was somehow acquired in a manner that was not quite above board since I wasn’t getting contact information.  I’m sure then when she reads article she will laugh, but along with taking a month before she shared her mailing address, at times I wondered if the donation would truly be made.

The day the quilt arrived it was far better than the pictures we had received.  There are a few small stains, but they do not detract from the overall beauty of the quilt.  When you look closely at the quilt, it is even more magnificent.  The blocks are set on point and the feather quilting around the blocks makes the quilt look as if the blocks were put together with curved piecing. 

Detail of Wheel of Time quilt showing the curved feather quilting. Wheel of Time, circa 1880 red and white hand quilted quilt made by Mary Tennessee “Polly” Copeland Neal. Gift of LeAnne Traybsza, TTU-H2018-056-001. Image courtesy of the Museum of Texas Tech University.

As always with any donation, I ask questions about the maker and was very fortunate to find that it was a family quilt made by the great great grandmother of the donor. The family supplied an image and a print out of the information on the donor from Ancestry.com. What a gift! This valuable information enables the quilt to be a real tribute to the maker herself.

Mary “Polly” Copeland Neal, maker of the red and white Wheel of Time quilt. 
Image courtesy of LeAnne Traybsza.  

Mary Tennessee “Polly” Copeland Neal, maker of the red and white quilt, was born in 1858 in Overton, Tennessee. She married William Thomas Neal in Overton Tennessee on November 19th in 1882.  She gave birth to three sons who lived to adulthood and one daughter who died six months later after birth.  Polly Neal died (in 1889) eleven days after the birth of her fourth child (a son), most likely due to complications during the birth. She lived her entire life in the Overton, Tennessee area and where she created this beautiful masterpiece.  I’ve touched base with the Tennessee quilt historians to see how this quilt might fit into the history of Tennessee.  We forget how difficult childbirth was for women in the 19th century, until we learn about what happened to a particular quilt maker.  That final son left Tennessee at the age of 14 and eventually settled in Geary, Oklahoma. It is through his family that the quilt descended.



After I saw photos of the quilt I shared with the donor images of a similar quilt (on the left) in our Museum’s collection, made in Colorado City in West Texas about 1929 by Olive Pearl Wigley Price.  Olive Pearl likely got the pattern for her quilt from Comfort Magazine which was published in Augusta, Maine from 1888 to 1942 with the motto, “The key to happiness and success in over a million and a quarter homes – Devoted to art, literature, science and the home circle.” The audience for the magazine was rural Americans and was a source for quilt patterns.  Olive Pearl’s quilt layout is somewhat different with the stars, but the patterns are similar.  It is wonderful to have them both together here for comparison.

In correspondence as we wrapped up the donation process, LeAnne Traybsza said, “My mother I have been quilters earlier in our lives . . .. I just wanted to preserve the quilt so that it is not destroyed by someone who did not appreciate the workmanship in its quilting.  I felt that gifting it to a museum was my best chance at its preservation for future generations.”  Truly a woman after my own heart!  That is why I work in museums and have worked so hard to develop the quilt collection at the Museum of Texas Tech University—so that the wonderful workmanship and these objects of beauty, which were so important in their maker’s lives, can be preserved for future generations.  Thank you to all the quilt guilds and quilt related businesses for all you have done as a group to ensure preservation of our art form.  Oh and by the way, LeAnne did ask for visitation rights to the quilt.  Which of course we always grant… with a little advance notice.  I look forward to meeting LeAnn.

Learn more about the Museum of Texas Tech University Textile Collections.

Click here for related articles from the Museum of Texas Tech University Textile Collections.




Ricky is going to be on the Quilt Alliance's StoryBee series. What is StoryBee all about? Here's the latest from the Quilt Alliance:
StoryBee is a new members-only web series from the nonprofit Quilt Alliance. It's a way for us to say "thank you!" to our members and to come together to enjoy stories from prominent quilt lovers across the country (and the world). Why StoryBee? Just like you'd bring your best thimble and your best stories to a quilt bee, we want to bring you little slices of life from across the quilt world.
They recorded the first section of Frances O'Roark Dowell's interview with Ricky prior to the devastating fire that surrounded Ricky's new home in La Veta, Colorado. In the studio tour that Ricky recorded after the fire, you can see the dramatic damage to his beautiful Autumn Rock acreage. Miraculously, his home and studio were spared by the fire.
If you'd like to watch Ricky's episode and all the other great StoryBee interviews they have coming up, make sure to join or renew your Quilt Alliance membership today! Memberships start at $30 ($20 for students). Memberships are renewable annually and tax-deductible. Wouldn't a membership make a great gift for your quilting friends?
Want to learn more about StoryBee? Here's a teaser from March featuring Alex's StoryBee episode.
The next episode of StoryBee will be released in mid September. Past interviews include: Victoria Findlay Wolfe, Alex Anderson, Emily Bode, Marin Hanson, Denyse Schmidt and Carolyn Crump. Upcoming interviews include Luana Rubin and Bonnie Hunter.



I hear it over and over again that we quilters just want to use up a fraction of our stash...but, then...it is hard not to be a hero! You ask what is heroic about building a stash??? Well, a fellow quilter shared this piece of philosophy with me and I am passing it on...

                 "I went to a fabric shop and liberated some bolts...so, I'm not a hoarder...I'm a hero!"

I love this and I feel awesome when I buy fabric now...hero sounds so much better than hoarder, LOL. With that said, I finished two quilts tops at retreat last week by using awesome big block patterns. One was called Turning Twenty and the second one was called Between Friends. You could buy yardage if you wanted to make these quilts, but I chose the stash buster route and it was sooooo satisfying! 

There are other ways to bust that stash so you can add some new fabrics! Yes, you could start gifting fabric to your quilting friends (they may groan when they see your gift)...or...you could do what my friend Cakers does, which is make reversible quilts. It is hard to make a reversible quilt if you are the type of quilter that needs to have every thing matchy matchy. I have heard over and over that scrap quilts are not stash busters because you tend to buy fabric to add for a specific look and sometimes you end up with more fabric than when you started. But, Cakers has solved the problem by making reversible quilts that are entirely different. The front does not match the back!  

The thing I love about her quilts are she doesn't fret if she runs out of sashing fabric...she just adds a new element. And her backs are always pieced and never match the front. How liberating!!!

Yes, this Hawaiian quilt is on the back of the quilt made with Marcia Derse fabrics. How wonderful to one day be sleeping under one quilt and then decide you want to dream about the island vacation and so flip it over. I really think she has something going here that could really be the answer to creating more space for new fabrics! What do you think? Would you put an entirely different quilt on the back of your quilt???


Click here for Anna's YouTube Channel.

Click here for Anna's blog.




Karlee's quilt, Disparity, won 1st Place Surface Design in Houston 2017. The subject matter is not something you might typically find in a quilt. Karlee writes, "This piece is my statement on the idea that beauty can come even from within the darkest of places." We believe that as well, Karlee's quilt is absolutely beautiful.


A luscious border print makes this simple block shine. Do you know what it's called? Play the game and find out.



The Sale ends tonight. What other great ideas did members use their 10% on?

Each trending item is a link so just click and you will go to that item or category.

  1. Cuddle Kits. You know you will have to give a baby gift this year so...
  2. Quilters Select Non-Slip Rulers: Need a new size?
  3. Mini-Mosaic Kits: We told Cheryl Lynch they are too cheap already...
  4. Replacement Rotary Blades. You'll need them sometime soon...
  5. Starter Kits that are already a great deal. Pinless, Appliqué...
  6. Rotary Blade Sharpeners. Pretty cool. Take a look.

What do you want to save your money on?


Minki from Minki’s Worktable (and WeAllSew) has a cute back-to-school project for that first day of school. Enjoy your last few days of summer with her Stationery Pouch project.

(This little pouch is good for adults too. Store your glasses...or maybe your rotary cutter.)

Click here to download pouch template.



This stunning award-winning quilt, Rose Parade II by Linda Thielfoldt, showcases her original quilting designs along with freehand work. The roses are beautiful, and definitely red, in this wholecloth garden.

80" x 80"

Learn from Linda in Show 1006 - Quilting for Garments: Watch and Wear.


Kathy worked with polychromatic prints (prints with lots of colors) and "super" color to create a sophisticated quilt that would show her customers just what you could do with these types of fabulous fabrics.

Watch Kathy Doughty in Show 2303: Free-Form Organic Appliqué & Twisting the Traditional Wedge.

ColorWorksbyKathyDoughty - 35 Pieces Non-Rotating

ColorWorksbyKathyDoughty - 99 Pieces Non-Rotating

ColorWorksbyKathyDoughty - 300 Pieces Non-Rotating

ColorWorksbyKathyDoughty - 35 Pieces Rotating

ColorWorksbyKathyDoughty - 99 Pieces Rotating

ColorWorksbyKathyDoughty - 300 Pieces Rotating

Original Photo: Mary Kay Davis


Kathy worked with polychromatic prints (prints with lots of colors) and "super" color to create a sophisticated quilt that would show her customers just what you could do with these types of fabulous fabrics.

Watch Kathy Doughty in Show 2303: Free-Form Organic Appliqué & Twisting the Traditional Wedge.

Original Photo: Mary Kay Davis