Quilts Piece Together Missouri’s Heritage

Photos by L.G. Patterson

As part of Missouri’s bicentennial celebration, the State Historical Society of Missouri found the perfect way to weave the state’s heritage into a piece of artwork: the Missouri Bicentennial Quilt. In late 2018, the State Historical Society of Missouri and Missouri Star Quilt Co., in partnership with the Missouri State Quilters Guild, teamed up to create the Missouri Bicentennial Quilt.

The Missouri Bicentennial Quilt is made up of one-of-a- kind blocks representing all 114 Missouri counties and the independent city of St. Louis, designed by quilters from or associated with each county. In Boone County, resident Willie Morris’ design was chosen to symbolize the county.

“We had to have the design idea sent in September 2019. I saw a beautiful photo of the Burr Oak tree and thought it might be perfect to represent the county,” Morris says. “I thought with all the talented quilters in our area, mine probably would not be chosen.”

But Morris’ entry was selected and she got to work executing the quilt block design. The style is called a confetti block. The Burr Oak tree branches were appliqued, and then the leaves were laid out as pieces with a fragment of tulle on top. She then quilted over the tulle to make sure the pieces stayed in block. “It was my first attempt at that type of block,” she admits. Morris has been quilting for years, but “picked up quilting seriously after I retired,” she says.

While the bicentennial celebration may have ended in 2021, the quilt exhibition continues to tour throughout the state. The quilt can be seen on display for the remainder of 2022 at State Historical Society of Missouri research centers in Rolla, Springfield and Kansas City, before it is loaned to the Missouri Quilt Museum for long-term display in fall 2022.

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