Colonial Patterns Inc.
In the 1930s, during the early years of the Great Depression, Jack and Clara Tillotson started the Colonial Readicut Quilt Block Company in Kansas City. The company began as a cottage industry specializing in cut-to-size quilt blocks and patches. Due to the tough economic climate it became more feasible to sell paper patterns for a dime each rather than finished quilts or pre-cut quilt kits.
The Tillotsons began advertising their designs around the country in newspapers and magazines. The ads resembled a normal newspaper column but included some charming quilt lore and instructions for buying a pattern or booklet through the mail from the couple’s newly renamed business, The Colonial Company. The company’s nom-de-plume, Aunt Martha, became their trademark after a Chicago editor decided the newspaper features needed a grandmotherly name with the right touch of Colonial history. Aunt Martha reminded readers of both Martha Washington and everybody’s quilt-making Aunt.