Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Anne Orr

One of the things I bought on our recent road trip  was an Ann Orr quilt top, pattern and fabric.  Published by Good Housekeeping Magazine, there are enough squares to complete the top and yardage to add the border.

This photo shows the top on a hotel room bed.  I bought it in a box filled with all kinds of needlework and patterns.  I think the maker was very comfortable working from charts.  She had fillet crochet patterns and counted thread designs.

Page Measures 7.5" x 10.5"

Ann was an female entrepreneur who found financial success in needlework even through the depression years of the United States. She didn't sew herself, she designed and employed other women to stitch for her.  She often designed complimentary pieces; a quilt, bureau scarf and doily might all reflect the same floral basket from a chart.

This is the chart included with my purchase as well as the instruction sheet.  The basket design is 43 squares x 53 squares = 2,279 squares.  The floral bow for the pillow area is 11 squares by 39 squares = 429.  That's 2,708 for just the design section.  There are instructions given to sew in large strips between the designs and out to the border.  For a quilt, the instructions suggest a 3/4" finished square with the template square measuring 1.125" square.

85" x 96" Finished Heirloom Basket Quilt
Includes the Blue Border

The instruction insert offered a pattern for the hand quilting motifs for 28 cents.  You could also write to her and she could arrange for the quilting.  Her quilting designs were very elaborate.

Also available for mail order were the fabrics to make the quilt.  The first suggestion was to match fabrics yourself to the colors on the chart.  To purchase the fabrics you mail in $4.55, if you wanted the backing fabric add $3.51.

The instruction sheet states, "To hand down to our daughters and grand-daughters, nothing would be lovelier than this basket design"

The entire instruction sheet is about 5 paragraphs.

Creased paper page from Ann Orr Pattern page

The pattern sheet also includes instructions for the Oval Wreath Quilt, Star Flower and Debutante's Pride Quilts.
Ann Orr patterns also offered ideas for matching accessories like towels.  The same charted motifs were suggested for use on other linens.
"Several of these designs are practical for quilts as well as for cross stitching"

Also included was an alphabet for adding monograms.

Ann Orr Squares for Quilts

The maker of my top appears to have had plans for making the full quilt.  Also in the larger yardage box was this candy box filled with squares hand cut from the yardage.

I placed a pencil there to give you an idea of the square size.  Remember, this is before the days of rotary cutting fabrics.

The top is entirely hand pieced.
Very nicely stitched.  For now I have no plans to finish it.  I think with all of the components seen together it makes a nice study set.

Loving applique the way I do, I can't imagine making a pixeled top.  I love seeing all of the approaches available to make a quilt.  I have dome lots of needlework from charts and like all of them.
 I appreciate Ann's business model and reading about her success was fascinating.

Do you have a finished Anne Orr quilt?  A Kit?  Cross stitched towel?  I would love to hear about it.

Have a great week!

Anne Champe Orr Tennessee Encyclopedia HERE
You can read more about Ann Orr at 'The Quilter's Hall of Fame HERE.
Also read:  'Softcovers For Hard Times' by Merikay Waldvogel Rutledge Hill Press
Anne Orr Star Flower Quilt for sale HERE
Anne Orr Books HERE


  1. I'd never heard of her before...this was fascinating....and the prices! How times have changed.

  2. I have nothing by Anne Orr, though I have seen her work in books. These patterns fascinate me. Thanks for sharing this with us--what a find!

  3. What a great find and study opportunity. Have fun.

  4. What a super find. I'm so glad you were the one to rescue it. The last Ann Orr designed quilt I saw was on Vinalhaven (an island of the coast of Maine) and it too was still in the "top" stage. I think quilting through all that seam allowance must have been a daunting task. Maybe that is why there are so many unfinished tops. Thanks for sharing, it is lovely.

  5. What a fabulous treasure you've found!
    Thank you for sharing Anne Orr's story - it was fascinating to learn!

  6. Fascinating read - thanks for the links too. I cannot imagine making that entire quilt from tiny pieced squares but isn't the basket lovely? A great study piece indeed! EPP addicts might find that a great project and I guess if the quilting was too difficult through all the seams you could still have a lovely coverlet. Thanks so much for sharing this Dawn.

  7. What a wonderful find. Thank goodness for a rotary cutter! I made an Ann Orr pattern with baskets and square flowers. Her designs are always so interesting.

  8. So special, I had never heard of her or seen something like this before! Very interesting blogpost.

  9. Thanks for all the links. I was not familiar with Anne Orr. You have picked up some real treasures on your travels.

  10. I have long admired the Anne Orr basket design. I used to have a few plates with the basket designs on them. They looked like needlepoint or cross stitch.

  11. Great find! I don't think I've ever seen one of these finished.

  12. Oh my gosh, what a treasure! That is so fantastic! I think your idea of just keeping all the component parts is great. What a lovely record of the quilter's work and her plans for the quilt. Thanks for sharing -- I loved seeing everything! I've seen this quilt in pictures and heard the history, but never seen one or part of one like this before. Very cool!

  13. I never heard of her, but today, in goodwill I found her Quilting with Anne Orr book. In it is the "pattern" for your quilt and an appliqué quilt called JONQUIL. I googled her name and found your blog, it's nice to see an "original" color picture of the quilt


Thanks for your comments!