Mary Avant was born October 14, 1909 at Tate County, Mississippi. Mrs. Avant lived in Champaign and was the mother of eight children. She was featured in the Covering our Heritage: African-American Quilts of Champaign-Urbana exhibit held at Krannert Art Museum in 1994. She started quilting when she was ten years old. She would sneak and use the sewing machine when her mother went to work. One of her earliest sewing experiences was when the needle of the machine got caught in her finger and she never told her mother about it. She has quilted over 100 quilts using old scraps of clothing that her children had outgrown. The patterns that she used were some she had seen and remembered and she also made some up in her mind. She has made quilts for all her children and some grandchildren.