Artist(s): Mary Vida Schafer
Material(s): Cotton, Polyester filling
Technique(s): Hand pieced and hand quilted
Dimensions: 96″ x 81″
Date made: 1966
Place Created: Flushing, Genesee County, Michigan
Collection: Great Lakes Quilt Center/Michigan State University Museum
Photo Credit: KEVA
This is Mary Schafer’s most celebrated quilt and was made during Mary’s “Challene Period.” The complexity of piecing the Clamshell pattern, due to the connecting of convex and concave edges, made this historically a quilt with a high level of difficulty. Noted quilt author, Delores Hinson called it “One of Mary’s best!” — Mary Worrall
This quilt won Best Pieced and Viewer’s Choice awards in 1971 at the first National Quilt Association show, Greenbelt, Maryland. It was also exhibited at the Whaley House Museum and the Sloan Museum in Flint, Michigan, and included in the exhibit Mary Schafer Collection: A Legacy of Quilt History from July 29-December 31, 2001 at Michigan State University Museum. It was illustrated in Delores Hinson, A Quilter’s Companion and Gwen Marston and Joe Cunningham, Mary Scafer and Her Quilts (figure 16, page 16). — Beth Donaldson
Several years back, I discovered this quilting book by accident during my travels to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for International Quilt Market. I’ll never forget that trip for many reasons – it was a trip there and back of never ending problems and weird experiences! Regardless, I found this book in a very out of the way quilt shop that I search high and low for – drove many miles off the beaten path to get too it – arrived and it was closed (no I did not call first). As I turned away from the door – a gal from the inside unlocked the door and asked me if I needed something….
My first thought was to be a real smart-aleck and retort with something on the lines of the journey I had come to visit this shop, only to find it closed even thought the nice sign just to the right of this lady claimed they should be open. Instead, I was pleasant and said, I had came to shop and didn’t realize that you were closed.
Well – long story short – she wasn’t happy and wasn’t very nice, but said I could come in and look around as long as I was “quick” about it. Holy Moly – I felt like I was in a thrift store. Much disappointment from that shop – but I came away with one treasure – this book.
Mary Schafer… American Quilt Maker by Gwen Marston. Oh my – I love this book. It’s great to read all about Mary. I love seeing all her quilts. The story of her life is wonderful.
Isn’t this photo of Mary enduring? This is how she quilted – sitting on the floor with no frame. I’ve read, she pieced that way too because she was most comfortable and had great lightening from that window in her Michigan home.
Here are some other books that feature Mary:
She was in Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine:
Mary is definitely one quilter on my list I would to have loved to have met. I enjoy reading and re-reading all of the materials I own about her. I spent the evening last night re-reading and looking at her beautiful quilts in the first book I spoke about. It was a wonderful evening.
Here are some more links with photos of her exhibits and accomplishments!
Here’s an exhibit with photos of her quilts:
This is one of Mary’s quilts shown on The Quilt Index and the information provided there –
Information on Mary’s pineapple quilt can be found here:
Mary’s Whig Rose quilt can be found here:
In fact – here’s a link to a bunch of Mary’s quilts on
A lot of these quilts are in the first book I mentioned above!
Here’s more information on
Mary was quite the lady!