Winter’s the quilting season

Posted by | January 20, 2017

“I like to garden and travel . . . I’m an outdoors person,” says Lura Stanley. “And so I don’t quilt in the summertime. Winter, when you have to stay in, when the roads are bad and the weather’s bad. That’s when I do my quilting . . . I sometimes quilt all day long . . . But it gets you in between your shoulders, and I have arthritis.”

Mamie Bryan quilted during the winter months, setting up her frame in the living room near the fire. Quilting provided a pleasant way to keep busy and productive while her husband was working in West Virginia or out foxhunting at night.
Zenna Todd usually starts quilting during the winter, after Christmas. She sets up her frame in the bedroom and leaves it up until she has quilted four or five tops. It usually takes her about a week to quilt one quilt. “When I get started, I just go at it . . . I’d put maybe eight, nine hours on it. You can do a right much in that length of time.”

During the summer Ila Patton had a lot of gardening and canning to do, so she generally quilted in the wintertime. She recalled that because the house was heated by the fireplace or a wood heater, there were three or four quilts on each bed to keep her family warm at night.

Maggie Shockley did her quilting in the winter months, when she had fewer farm responsibilities. She made quilts while her children were small. She typically put her quilt in the frame at five o’clock in the morning, when her husband left for work, and finished it by the time he got home in the evening. When the three boys were in school, she sometimes quilted “about all day long.”

Donna Choate recalled that she generally quilted during the wintertime, after Christmas. After making several quilts in one winter, she developed bursitis in her arm, which made quilting painful. Her house [at the time of this interview] was warmer than in the past, so she and her husband did not need as many quilts at night. She had given many quilts to her daughter and grandchildren, keeping “just enough to cover the beds if I have company.”

Blue Ridge (VA) quilters
Interviewed by Laurel Horton, July, 1999

2 Responses

  • Lela Moore says:

    I am looking for a book on appalachian quilting … stories, history, etc. I met a woman several years ago with a wonderful book… wish i had bought one then… any suggestions or help is much appreciated… Lela Moore

  • Carletta Bush says:

    I, too, love to quilt. This is a new pastime of mine, but in taking up my quilting needle, I am following in the footsteps of many of my grandmothers. Quilting is so soothing. When I am working on the big frame, I feel like a pianist whose hands move across the keys, back and forth, at different tempos. Like these women, I don’t get much time to quilt until after Christmas. Since I spend most of my days on the computer as an online instructor, I certainly relish the time that I spend without technology. Machine quilting is not for me! When the ground thaws and the flora begins to come to life, I am back outside, like Lura, working in my gardens. I love being an Appalachian woman!

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