Saturday August 2nd 2014

Virginia Avery

We quilters lost one of our foremothers yesterday–Virginia Avery. She was just a couple weeks shy of her 100th birthday.

Jinny was one of the quilt world’s pioneers. Back in the early 70s, she decided people needed someone to teach them to quilt, and that person was going to be her. She was good at sewing clothes. Never mind that she really hadn’t actually made a quilt. Years later she’d tell funny stories about her life as one of the first traveling quilt teachers. My favorite: She’d put a slice of cheese between two pieces of bread, wrap it in foil, and pack it in her carry-on bag. When she got to her hotel room, she’d iron the package until she had a grilled cheese sandwich.

Virginia was already a legend the last time I saw her in person. It was in Houston at Festival, probably in 2004. I’d been invited to join a big group of mostly magazine people for breakfast. Jinny was the sparkliest, most wide-awake person in the room (and she was in her 90s!) She was wearing a bright red jacket, her trademark big, rhinestone “IT’S OK” pin, and a chunky bracelet made from mah jongg tiles. I was in awe. Later on a few of us agreed: When we grew up, we wanted to be just like Virginia Avery.

Thanks for so much inspiration, Jinny, in so many ways. RIP…Jan Magee, The Quilt Life

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