October 27, 2021

Educt Geria

The Devoted Education Mavens

Photo essay: The ‘lost art’ of the Tutwiler Quilters

TUTWILER — It’s been a 32-year journey for Mary Willis Mackey, Quilt Director of the Tutwiler Quilters. Mackey’s passion for quilting began in 1989, a year after Sister Maureen Delaney of the Sister of the Holy Name Order started the quilting program for women in the community to get out of the house, come together and make money.

It was a way for friends to get together and share stories, laughter, and of course, stitching. Once she started, Mackey caught the bug. She studied patterns and how to lay them out, working with cardboard cut-outs as her patch shapes before ever taking scissors to actual material. She taught herself how to use a sewing machine too.

“It’s a lost art and I want to keep it going,” said Mackey, who is passing the tradition down to her granddaughter. “She just came to me one day and said, ‘Grandma, I want to make a quilt.’ And that was it. She took right to it.”

Mackey can be found every Saturday morning at the Ruby Armstrong Brown Resource Center in Jonestown passing down her knowledge to a quilting class of nearly 80 ladies.

“They’re really enthusiastic to learn,” said Mackey. “We usually run on past the time class is supposed to end because no one wants to stop. They all want to see that quilt take shape.”

Today, the Tutwiler Quilters program serves as a way for people, women especially, to learn a quilting style specific to the Delta and create art that they can use to support themselves.

“It takes patience though, and a lot of love,” said Mackey. “And I love it. I absolutely do. The learning is in the head, but you do it from the heart,” she said, while storing away all manner of quilting materials donated by a woman who traveled with a friend from Iowa.

“One day, what I’d really like to do is get me a little bus or van, and travel around to communities all over the state and teach people how to quilt. Keep a long tradition going, Plus, it really is a whole lot of fun,” Mackey said.

We want to hear from you!


Central to our mission at Mississippi Today is inspiring civic engagement. We think critically about how we can foster healthy dialogue between people who think differently about government and politics. We believe that conversation — raw, earnest talking and listening to better understand each other — is vital to the future of Mississippi. We encourage you to engage with us and each other on our social media accounts, email our reporters directly or leave a comment for our editor by clicking the button below.



Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

X

Republish this article

Unless otherwise noted, you can republish most of Mississippi Today’s stories for free under a Creative Commons license.

For digital publications:

  • Look for the “Republish This Story” button underneath each story. To republish online, simply click the button, copy the html code and paste into your Content Management System (CMS).
  • Editorial cartoons and photo essays are not included under the Creative Commons license and therefore do not have the “Republish This Story” button option. To learn more about our cartoon syndication services, click here.
  • You can’t edit our stories, except to reflect relative changes in time, location and editorial style.
  • You can’t sell or syndicate our stories.
  • Any web site our stories appear on must include a contact for your organization.
  • If you share our stories on social media, please tag us in your posts using @MSTODAYnews on Facebook and @MSTODAYnews on Twitter.

For print publications:

  • You have to credit Mississippi Today. We prefer “Author Name, Mississippi Today” in the byline. If you’re not able to add the byline, please include a line at the top of the story that reads: “This story was originally published by Mississippi Today” and include our website, mississippitoday.org.
  • You can’t edit our stories, except to reflect relative changes in time, location and editorial style.
  • You cannot republish our editorial cartoons, photographs, illustrations or graphics without specific permission (contact our managing editor Kayleigh Skinner for more information). To learn more about our cartoon syndication services, click here.
  • Our stories may appear on pages with ads, but not ads specifically sold against our stories.
  • You can’t sell or syndicate our stories.
  • You can only publish select stories individually — not as a collection.
  • Any web site our stories appear on must include a contact for your organization.
  • If you share our stories on social media, please tag us in your posts using @MSTODAYnews on Facebook and @MSTODAYnews on Twitter.

If you have any other questions, contact Audience Development Director Lauchlin Fields.

1