Rebecca Anderson – Apron Designing Woman



By Kathryn Millhorn

seven inlets spaAs the daughter of South American missionaries, local sewing pattern designer Rebecca Anderson began sewing partially to save money but mostly as a creative outlet.  At 8, she was making doll clothes out of the hand-me-downs from her large family and the donations they received from churches state-side.  Almost 10 years ago, she moved from the Chicago area to Olympia to be near family and the beautiful Puget Sound region.

rebecca ruth designs
Rebecca Ruth launched her sewing pattern business in 2008 after the recession ground her traditional employment to a halt.

Anderson credits the recession with launching her business.  In 2008, she and her husband saw their publishing services business come to a standstill.  “We didn’t know what to do.  Then I remembered the sewing patterns I had tinkered with over the years,” says Anderson. “To my surprise I had 10—just enough to launch a business.”  After “lots of walking into quilt shops and asking them to try my patterns” Rebecca Ruth Designs are now carried by major chains and distributors in the US, Canada, and Australia.

Her range of more than 40 patterns includes retro-inspired aprons, quilts, skirts, purses, decorative table runners, children’s capes and throws, and jointed toys and dolls.  Each includes full-sized patterns and fully illustrated instructions.  Being local, available, and willing to go the extra mile, Anderson also follows up with questions submitted on design or clarification issues.  Recent additions to her catalog include e-Reader and tablet computer cases, children’s smocks, and a range of boy-themed quilts like trains, trucks, and ships.

She makes sure to hire local models and assistants for her growing business and draws inspiration from Puget Sound daily life.  Her quilted ‘Ships Ahoy!’ pattern features tugs and ferry boats, and she offers runners with apple leaves, swallows in flight, and frolicking fish.

Her patterns range from the simple: a stuffed hen that requires only scissors, recycled wool, a needle and thread, to intricate twined-leaf table runners that involve such techniques as paper piecing and hand quilting.  Of her aprons, “Gussie” is the best for beginners, with its vintage feel but simple patterning.

rebecca ruth patternsRebecca teaches and lectures as well.  Her popular talk “Aprons: Functional & Fancy” uses a collection of 60 aprons from 100+ years of American history to show how changing times are reflected in work-a-day wear.  She has presented this lecture at Canvas Works, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, and many other local gatherings.  Her own apron patterns were some of the first published and feature differing levels of difficulty, a range of available sizes, mother/daughter matched sets, and toddler-friendly smock designs.  The “Smock Monsters” best seller has teeth, eyes, and an infinite number of design possibilities.  She also consults, helping quilters find solutions to their “UFOs”—unfinished objects!

Rebecca’s quilts have appeared national quilt shows, including the American Quilter’s Society (AQS) show in Nashville, the National Quilting Association (NQA) show in Chicago, and the International Quilt Festival in Houston.  In 2004 she won second place in the hand quilting division of the Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine contest, “Quilts: 35 Years of Inspiration, Information, and Imagination.”  She has written for Better Homes and Gardens Quilting Ideas, Country Sampler, Decorating Ideas, and contributed to the book Better Homes and Gardens Kids Room Projects.

Ruby Street Quiltworks, (100 Ruby St SE, Tumwater) carries Rebecca’s full line of patterns.  Other local shops carrying Rebecca Ruth Design patterns include Canvas Works (525 Columbia St SW, Olympia), Annie’s Quilt Shoppe, (2505 Olympic Hwy North #220, Shelton), and Jo-Ann Fabric (2725 Harrison Ave NW #500, Olympia).

To view her full range of products or order patterns online visit her etsy shop or


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