As Mrs. Danner explained in her books, she didn’t really get
“into” quilts, it “got her.” After several years of teaching school in Missouri and Hawaii, she came home in 1929 and her
sister was making quilts to sell. She had done other kinds of needlework but thought quilts too difficult. She made up a “Double
Wedding Ring” though, and sold it for $35. Then she decided to make two, one still a Wedding Ring and one a Pieced Double
Tulip. These sold for $45.
The following year she had a display at Innes Store in Wichita, selling finished quilts.
Many wanted only patterns, so she took orders and came home and cut them by hand.
All summer she pondered about whether
it was better to keep her designs, exclusively, or have patterns made to sell. In September she went to the Kansas State Fair
and decided to have another quilt display and pattern sale in El Dorado and then in other cities of Kansas. She printed Booklet
No. 1 in 1932 and No. 2 in 1934 illustrating the designs.
She and six other young ladies traveled to department stores
all over the US and Canada for the next 6 years. Each had a set of quilts, block samples, basted tops, patterns and booklets.
It was very strenuous; too much, so she sold 123 of her 125 quilts and for seven years lived in the San Francisco Bay area.
her father died and she came back to El Dorado, to be with her mother. She had continued to receive letters but refused them
until 18 years after she sold her quilts when she had Catalog No. 3 printed and began to advertise in magazines. In 1958 book
No. 4 appeared, and in 1962 she reprinted Books 1 and 2. Patterns had to be redrawn and reprinted.
Mrs. Danner believed
in Borders and quilting, and thought of the design of the total quilt, not just one block as so many other pattern-sales businesses
do. Thus, some of the old-traditional patterns are combined with a custom-designed border. Also, there are original designs
not available elsewhere: The “Wedgewood,” “Field of Daisies,” Princes’ Feather,” “Pansy,” “Wild Rose,” and of course “The
Ladies Dream.” In Books 1 and 2 are the large designs I spoke of in the previous paragraph: “Horn of Plenty,” “The Dolly Varden,”
“Basket of Roses” and “The Morning Glory.” I’ve seen examples of these that are truly stunning.
She believed in using
only the best materials, cutting and piecing or appliquéing with care, and hand quilting. That way the product is truly an
Heirloom from you, to the next generations.
I began to learn about the quilt making tradition in 1962 and spoke about
the history and creation of patterns to local clubs. I began soon to make quilts of sewing scraps and in 1967 discovered Mrs.
Danner's patterns in El Dorado, Kansas, 50 miles from where I live. She sold me her business in 1970 and I have continued
and expanded it from 100 to 200 quilt patterns, still in the Traditional Quilt Making focus. Just as Mrs. Danner did, I still
receive orders from all parts of the world.
I have made over 200 quilts, have received Best of Show awards at many
state and regional fairs, have lectured and given workshops throughtout the USA, and was named a Kansas Master Folk Artist
One development I’m most happy about is that quilt making is now an acceptable activity of young women, not
just grandmothers and maiden aunts. Extension groups and individuals are teaching quilting, and Quilts are being exhibited
in Art Museums. The Quilt has been accepted as a medium of Artistic expression.