Virginia Apgar © Gayle Ferrell

Virginia Apgar – developer of the APGAR scale

Gayle Ferrell

Midland, Virginia, USA/h4>

Artist Statement

As a relatively new quilter, I was intrigued by the idea of entering my work into an official quilter’s challenge. Other members of our quilting group had submitted quilts in previous challenges, and enjoyed their journeys in doing so. When I received a personal email invitation from one friend in particular to participate in this project, I started to believe that maybe I could do something like this, and it was then that I decided to take the challenge to participate in the HERstory project. There are two major areas that drove me to participate and complete this challenge.

First, I have always believed that women are awesome and should be recognized for their accomplishments much more than they are! The HERstory challenge gave me the opportunity to express this belief by making a quilt to honor a woman who has accomplished something no one else has. So many of us are mothers. The APGAR scale was used to assess our newborns. There was a time that babies weren’t given the attention they are now given in their first minutes of life. We as mothers and grandmothers must appreciate that it was due to the intelligence and perseverance of Virginia Apgar that new lives are being assessed, and therefore, many more newborns are living now than before 1953, when the APGAR scale was published.

The second aspect to my participating in the HERstory challenge is that it got me out of my comfort zone! I have only been quilting for a relatively short amount of time, and feel pretty confident in my ability to make a traditional quilt. I like the nine patch block, rail fence block, have made an Irish chain quilt, as well as other quilts that involve straight line rotary cutting and stitching. However, the idea of developing an art quilt was very intimidating to me . . . and learning how to free motion quilt? Not me – I can’t possibly do that! But as this quilt developed, I started to realize that I can do anything I set my mind to. I won’t pretend that I wasn’t faced with numerous roadblocks. I spent lots of time taking out LOTS of stitches, but in the end I can honestly say I enjoyed the HERstory project. I realize it will take lots of practice to get to a point where I feel confident with this new skill. However, I am proud of myself for taking the journey!

Woman’s Groundbreaking Accomplishment

Dr. Virginia Apgar developed a system to assess the medical condition of a newborn baby using these five areas: appearance, pulse, grimace, activity, and respiration. The APGAR scale has been used since 1953 and is still in use today and has saved lives of many newborns.


I used the method called “portrait quilt-making” for the newborn baby. This involves finding a picture to use, inserting it into a photoshop type applicaton (I used, posterizing it, having it printed and enlarged in grayscale, tracing onto freezer paper, numbering each skin tone, and then finding a fabric for each of the skin tones. Then after choosing fabrics for each skin tone, I fused them onto a piece of muslin using Steam-A-Seam 2, then used outline quilting (I used a walking foot and machine quilted here) to quilt each of the skin tones. I appliqued the baby, the postage stamp, and the stethoscope onto the background fabric, and then did free motion quilting on the blue/gold background fabric.


I used 100% cotton fabric for the baby’s skin tones, Precious Memories (printable fabric) for the postage stamp, and lame, felt, and the remnants of a lanyard for the stethoscope. I used Steam-A-Seam 2 for appliquing.