The Averil Colby Legacy

  • Averil Colby Samples

Averil Colby (1900 – 1983) was one of the most influential quiltmakers of her time. Gardener, quilter, designer and author, this formidable lady was particularly known for ‘foraging’ fabrics and her use of the traditional English hexagon shape. She did not believe in using a sewing machine and thought patchwork was an excellent way of teaching plain sewing. When she died, some of the items from her workroom were given to The Quilters’ Guild. Perhaps the most cherished of these was a collection of the floral fabrics she used, some of which represent the ‘cream’ of 19th century cotton printing. Now catalogued, these fabric samples, dating from 1780, have proved invaluable in helping quilt historians date old quilts. This is especially important since many historic quilts were never signed or dated. A selection of the Averil Colby fabric samples will be included in the exhibition being staged in the Bailey Gallery. They are being presented in a special display case purchased by the Quilt Museum with funding from Yorventure.


1. Averil Colby was born in Yorkshire and educated at Cheltenham Ladies’ College. She studied horticulture at Studley Agricultural College in Warwickshire and had a brief spell in the Land Army during World War II. Her published works include: Patchwork (1958); Samplers (1964); Patchwork Quilts (1965); Quilting (1972); and Pincushions (1975). She was chair of the Handicrafts Committee of the Federation of Women’s Institutes from 1956 to 1961.

1. Yorventure is an independent non-profit environmental body that distributes grants through the landfill communities fund with landfill tax credits generated by Yorwaste.