Appliquéd quilt in the Little Women pattern, made and hand quilted by Ruth N. Miller Hake (Mrs. William) circa 1972, Gift of Bobbie Robbins, TTU-H2019-063-001. Image courtesy of the Museum of Texas Tech University.
Little Women Applique Quilt
By Marian Ann J. Montgomery, Ph.D.,
Curator of Clothing and Textiles, the Museum of Texas Tech University
The Museum of Texas Tech University recently received two lovely quilts made by Ruth N. Miller Hake (Mrs. William) of York Haven, Pennsylvania. Her granddaughter, Bobbie Robbins, lives in Texas and thought they would make a good addition to the Museum of Texas Tech University. One in particular is timely with the release of the movie Little Women as it features appliqued scenes from the novel.
Ruth Hake was born on April 5, 1911 and died on October 3, 1996. Between about 1966 and 1982, she regularly entered her quilts in the East Berlin, Pennsylvania Quilt Show and the Historic York County Fair. Granddaughter, Bobbie, was born in 1961 and spent much of her childhood with Ruth (who taught her to thread a needle) and her husband. Bobbie loved looking at all of Ruth’s ribbons and awards Ruth won, her favorites were “the many big, purple ribbons for Best of Show.”
As a farm wife, there was always something to do; chickens to feed, eggs to collect, nuts to shell, meals to prepare, as well as canning and baking. Busy as she was Ruth also held a variety of office positions in the Society of Farm Women of Pennsylvania and made time each evening for quilting.
The original pattern for the Little Women Applique quilt was designed by Marion Cheever Whiteside and first appeared in1950 in Ladies Home Journal. Ruth made her quilt in 1972, when Bobbie would have been about 11 and the perfect age to be reading Little Women. The pattern was published again the Summer 2015 issue of Quilter’s World magazine. Marion Cheever Whiteside (later Newton) designed story book quilts between the years of 1940-1965.
Marion was a trained artist who in the late 1940s turned a successful career in art to designing story quilts many of which were published nationally by the Ladies Home Journal magazine. More information on her can be found in an article in the 1995 issue of Uncoverings from the American Quilt Study Group.
The Little Women Applique quilt pattern depicts scenes from the novel by Louisa May Alcott. The detailed images from the first three rows are(left to right) Father’s Letter from the War, The Christmas Party at Laurie’s House and Jo Brings Kittens to Laurie’s House; Second row (left to right) Meg Preparing to go on A Fashionable Visit, Laurie’s Picnic; Third Row (left to right) Beth Plays for Mr. Laurence, Marmee Receives a Telegram—Papa is Ill in a War Hospital, Jo has sold her hair to help Marmee visit Papa in War Hospital.
Fourth row(left to right) Meg cuts her Wedding Cake, Beth Dying, Fifth row left to right: Meg rocks Daisy and Demi, Amy and Aunt March Abroad, Amy Engaged to Laurie, Bottom Row (left to right) Jo Writing in New York, Mr. Bhaer Proposes to Jo.
This quilt surely won ribbons for Ruth with its beautiful hand quilted feathered wreaths in the alternate blocks. What a treasure and what a good time to look at it again.
Quilt maker Ruth Miller Hake (back row, second from left) with the Miller family who were Dairy Farmers in Newberry Township, Pennsylvania, circa 1930. Image courtesy of Bobbie Robbins.
Learn more about the Museum of Texas Tech University Textile Collections.