Making Quilts - This article recently featured in Dee's Life and Beyond Blog
I had wanted a hand quilted quilt for many years and in the 1960’s I checked out every book that our library had to study about making a quilt. I was still busy at that time working on the Rock Island Railroad as a billing clerk so didn’t have time to get started on one.
In September of 1969 my job as a billing clerk and Dale’s job as a telegraph operator were abolished. At that time we had 4 school bus routes and I told Dale I would drive a school bus if we could stay in Ponca City . We had almost finished a new house at 442 Fairview and we had our old house at 437 Fairview to sell. We decided to stay in Ponca City and go in business for ourselves.
Dale went to the Supt of Schools and applied for a job and he was going to work in maintence, but then other things happened. The Federal Govt started the school lunch program and Dale got involved in that. He went to Bartlesville and checked out their program and came back to Ponca City and told the Supt how their program worked. The off shot of that was that the schools had 2 central kitchens and they made all the school lunches for the grade schools. Dale proposed that he purchase an insulated truck and that the school purchase insulated carriers for the food.
Dale was a school employee and the truck was leased to the school. This allowed us to have health insurance and so Dale started that and so he had a job again.
In the meantime I started driving a school bus route for grade school students going out north of town and east of town. I think that same year I drove a route for native American children going out south and west of town and then into White Eagle. Part of my pay was lunch at liberty School.
I continued driving that route for a couple of years and then Dale found someone else to do it. At that time we were beginning to get a lot more sport activity trips and so I did the Junior High sport trip driving. I found that I had lots of time waiting for the teams to get over playing football and basketball and so I started to embroidery table clothes while waiting for the games to be over.
About 1972 I decided that I was going to start making a quilt. I had a McCall’s magazine that had a picture of a Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt in it. I though that was so neat and decided that I would make it. Now I had been sewing since I was real small so didn’t think I would have any trouble with making it. I had sense enough to cut my material on the grain line and didn’t run into any major trouble. I would cut out enough pieces for one or two blocks and then I would hand sew them while waiting for the children to finish their games. There for I made most of the blocks on the school bus. Well I got the 29 blocks made and then put the quilt together. By the way it was made out of cottons that I had used for making blouses and dresses for Gail. Now those were 1960 prints.
Now I had to quilt it and bear in mind I had never quilted or put a quilt in a frame and didn’t have anyone to ask about it. Well I bought a quilting frame from Sears and I put that sucker together and started quilting it. Don’t remember how long it took but probably the better part of a year. Gail helped by drawing all of my quilting designs. Well I finished it up and took it to the Blackwell Fair and won a 4th place on it. I brought it back home and Gail said “Mother that ought to be my quilt as you used my dress material in it.” Well she got the quilt.
Now since I had made one for Gail I had to go ahead and make one for Hugh. I found an appliqued quilt pattern on the outside cover of Family circle magazine so I decided to make it. Now this was around 1976 and we didn’t have much choice in cottons. When I would go on a out of town trip I would look for different cotton material for this quilt. I found different cotton material in about 4 different towns. So I sat down and did this Maple Leaf quilt. Think I finished it and the quilting in about 1978. I took it to the Blackwell Fair and won a 2nd place on it.
Then I got interested in making a star quilt. I though, well I have conquered the hexagons so now I will try the diamonds..I made a small diamond wall hanging and it turned out fine. It was all hand pieced. I thought ‘There has to be a better way to do diamond quilts”
I looked and looked at how the diamond quilts were put together and came up with the idea to strip piece lengths of fabric together. I made a sample and saw that it would work. Then I had to make 6 different strips and cut them at a 45 degree angle and be sure that my cutting on the angle was accurate. I started on Sunday evening and had a nice large Lone Star put together by Saturday. I didn’t get all the squares and triangles sewed on for a month or two. Think I just admired my handiwork for a while. Well I took that top to the Blackwell unquilted and it won a blue ribbon.
I made a couple more diamond quilts and then I saw a picture of a Sioux Diamond quilt in a magazine and the picture was about 2 inches square. So off I go and decided to design that into a full sized quilt. I made a sample wall hanging and quilted it and think Gail still has it. I made the big quilt and it is still waiting to be quilted.
Then in 1979 I was asked to teach a quilting class out at the Marland Mansion. This was before the craze for quilts had begin. I think I had 6 students and I taught some and we all taught each other. I had to keep ahead of the class , so had to have something new every week.
In 1982 or 1983 I read in one of the magazines that there was going to be a quilt show and classes at the University in Albuquerque New Mexico. I knew that I needed to learn a lot more so I made reservations to go. Bought my round trip ticket and changed at Denver and then on the way back changed at Dallas-Ft Worth. Was carrying two suitcases and made it fine. I took a class from Diane Leone on doing Fine Hand Quilting as asked if I could use her instructions. She said ‘Yes’ as long as you tell the students that it was her instructions.
At that time there were several nationally known teachers that gave speeches. We had Pat Morris, Judy Matthiessen, Ginny Beyer and Helen Young. I was fortunate that I was able to hear them at that stage of my quilting. They had a dress show and I wore my black dress with the diamonds around the bottom or the skirt. Had lots of good comments on that dress and I later took it to the State Fair at Okla City and won a blue ribbon on it.
I then begin to teach other classes in the area. I taught at Stillwater , Blackwell, Bramen ,Ark City, Enid and back to Stillwater again. I also taught classes out at the bus shop and later taught at the Senior High two or three times. Also worked with Camp Fire girls and had them do simple piecing.
Probably in the mid eighties I begin to work on Log Cabin Quilt as you go quilts. I made one in Christmas colors that my son and daughter in law have. I took it to the fair in Okla City and won a Blue Ribbon and a pkg of batting I made a small Log Cabin baby quilt for Amber and that would have been in 1985. I also made a full sized Seminole Cross Log Cabin Quilt and it won a Blue ribbon at the Okla City Fair. Amber has that quilt and I saw it on Derek’s bed in June.