Gretchen’s Other Quilt: The Betsy-Tacy Quilt

Betsy Tacy detail from quilt

Meet Betsy and Tacy!

If you followed the tale of my Cousin Gretchen’s first quilt, you may recall that I mentioned she actually made another quilt along the way as well. Are you familiar with the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace? Many of us grew up reading these fabulous stories. There are thirteen books in the Betsy-Tacy series, published between 1940 and 1955. In many families, they have been passed from generation to generation, and are still being enjoyed today.

The books are written by Maud Hart Lovelace, and each volume grows up with the characters, as well as increases in reading difficulty level. The books are well described by the comments on the Betsy-Tacy Society website:

Maud Hart Lovelace

Maud Hart Lovelace

“These captivating stories of small town life, family traditions, and enduring friendships have captured the hearts of young and old for over 65 years . . . The honesty and detail of these books makes them interesting historical and social documents of the period, as well as entertaining reading for all ages . . . [and] represent a rare example of turn-of-the-century [1900] literature written from a child’s perspective.”

Betsy and Tacy were bff’s long before the texting slang for best friends forever came to be. Throughout the books, we see Betsy grow from a five-year-old child to an adventurous young woman. From her first ventures beyond her own neighborhood to her trips abroad and, eventually, her wedding, the experiences in the fictional life of Betsy and her friend Tacy are drawn from the coming of age stories that Maud Hart Lovelace heard as a child.

In the 1990’s the books were re-released and offered as gift sets. One of the most charming features of the books are the illustrations by Lois Lenski Lovelace. And this is where we pick up with Gretchen and this quilt.

Betsy Tacy Houses courtesy of Betsy-Tacy Society

Located in Mankato, MN, the Betsy-Tacy Society welcomes visitors to Maud Hart Lovelace’s childhood home, the setting for many of the stories.

The Betsy-Tacy Society is a surprisingly large group, with headquarters in Maud Hart Lovelace’s hometown of Mankato, Minnesota. They own and operate a museum at the childhood home of the author, clearly the setting of Betsy’s childhood throughout the books. With chapters around the country, about every ten years there is a national gathering. It was at a meeting several years ago that Gretchen found a set of quilt blocks based on the Betsy-Tacy books. Twelve illustrations representing the books were printed on cloth, with instructions for coloring them in with fabric markers. (Note: the Betsy-Tacy Society no longer has these quilt blocks available, but I encourage you to let them know if you wish they did!)

Gretchen immediately loved the idea of a quilt. The books had meant so much to her that she named her daughter Betsy. Gretchen, along with her daughter, her four-year-old granddaughter, and other family members spent time coloring in the quilt squares. Once they were all colored in Gretchen assembled the quilt, which now belongs to her granddaughter.

I want to thank Gretchen’s daughter Betsy for sending me these great pictures (following) of the finished quilt. Click on any of the photos to get a closer look. I also want to thank the Betsy-Tacy Society for supplying background information for this post. If you haven’t read the Betsy-Tacy books, you might want to check for them at your library. They have stood the test of time, and are an interesting glimpse of the past.

Betsy Tacy Block Detail 1 (c) Betsy Tacy Block Detail 8 BT playhouse (c) Betsy Tacy Block Detail 2 society (c)
Betsy Tacy Block Detail 7 and Tib (c) Betsy Tacy Block Detail 6 downtown (c) Betsy Tacy Block Detail 12 Big Hill (c)
Betsy Tacy Block Detail 5 a Junior (c) Betsy Tacy Block Detail 3 world (c) Betsy Tacy Block Detail 11 in spite of (c)
Betsy Tacy Block Detail 10 heavens (c) Betsy Tacy Block Detail 3 world (c) Betsy Tacy Block Detail 4 B&J (c)
Betsy Tacy Block Detail 13 wedding (c) Betsy Tacy Block Detail 9 label 2 (c) Betsy Tacy Hand Colored Quilt (c)

You can see another version of this quilt at Elizabeth’s Original Custom Quilting!
Needle and thread line copyright The Curious Quilter at WordPress dot comSignature© 2012 by The Curious Quilter,, All rights reserved.


About thecuriousquilter

Quilter, sewer, writer, gardener, mother, sister, friend, always learning, always curious.
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4 Responses to Gretchen’s Other Quilt: The Betsy-Tacy Quilt

  1. Pingback: The Quilt that Gretchen Made: the finish | The Curious Quilter

  2. J.Johnson says:

    I loved those books, actually still have my worn-out old copy of Betsy Tacy and Tib! Thanks for sharing, I will write to the BT Society about bringing back the quilt blocks for sale!

  3. Fran says:

    Really sweet quilt!

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