Shore Excursion: National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky

Yep, the name is funny. And these gals certainly have a fun time. But they are really serious about what they are doing and why.

The National Quilt Museum is a mecca for quilters around the world.

The famous Yo-Yo Club was sitting at The National Quilt Museum when the American Queen docked in Paducah, Kentucky. I watched as the four club members made yo-yos and discussed the age-old art of quilting.

“We’re not talking about the little round toys that go up and down on a string,” member Charlotte Roberts said with a laugh. “Our yo-yo’s are made of fabric and are stitched together to look like a little round circle.”

The yo-yo circles are then sewn together to make a beautiful quilt or some other object. One of the popular creations is to glue the yo-yos on card-stock paper to make a flower design on a greeting card.

“We got together 13 years ago and decided we wanted to do something for our community,” Charlotte said. “None of us belonged to a quilt guild or anything and they asked what we could do. We said we can make yo-yo’s, so in 30 seconds we had a club and a name.”

Organized 13 years ago, the Yo-Yo Club has raised $80,000 for local charities.

Since then, the hard-working Yo-Yo Club has raised $80,000 for local charities. They also meet at the National Quilt Museum to demonstrate how to hand quilt.

“My aunt taught me how to quilt when I was little,” said Anita Manning. “So many people now do machine quilting. We show how to hand quilt.”

One of seven girls growing up, Pat Lewis remembers her mother sewing dresses for the sisters. “But it was a woman I got eggs from who taught me how to quilt when I was 35 years old,” she said.

Quilts must be treated with care to survive for generations, the Yo-Yo’s said. “I was doing everything wrong 13 years ago but now I know how to take care of a quilt,” Charlotte said.

Quilts should never be stored in plastic or in cedar chests. “Don’t let them touch wood,” Charlotte said. “If you are going to hang them on a wooden quilt rod, put a towel under the quilt so it doesn’t touch the wooden rod.”

The best way to store quilts, Charlotte added, is to place them unfolded on a guest bed. “They will last a long time if you take care of them.”

The National Quilt Museum has quilts of all sizes and designs.

Founded in April 1991 by Paducah residents Bill and Meredith Schroeder,  The National Quilt Museum is a mecca for quilters from around the world. “It is the world’s largest and most prestigious museum devoted to quilts and fiber art,” said museum spokeswoman Jewel Reid. “Paducah is known as Quilt City USA.”

Located in a 27,000-square-foot facility in historic downtown Paducah, the museum has three galleries featuring a huge variety of quilts and fiber art. The museum also offers special events and workshops. Each spring Paducah hosts the huge American Quilter’s Society Annual Quilt Show and Contest, which draws as many as 35,000 international and national quilters.

“As long as our fingers work and our eyes work,” Charlotte concluded, “we’ll keep on quilting.”

Fore more information: Contact The National Quilt Museum of the United States at (270) 442-8846,

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