Terrie Newman




Terrie Newman




Terrie Newman


Judy Preston

Interview Date


Interview sponsor



Houston, Texas


Terrie Newman


Judy Preston (JP): I'm Judy Preston and I'm at International Quilt Festival 2000. We're interviewing Terrie Newman at the Save Our Stories Quilt Project. Terrie's quilt is "Sentimental Me" and she's from Hot Springs, Arkansas. Could you tell us about the quilt you brought today?

Terrie Newman (TN): Yes, I can. I've had this quilt in my head for years and finally was motivated to make it with the millennium celebration. The quilt is a pictorial quilt about my growing up years in a small town in Ohio. We lived in the country, so it shows the places that I used to play. There's a barn in the top left-hand corner of the central medallion and I have used painting to enhance the details on the barn. I have used quilting extensively over the quilt to show the detail in the different areas. There's a road that goes through. Fabric selection for things like the different plants and wildflowers, a tire swing, photo transfer cornfield and a paper pieced tree using five different fabrics that has a tire swing suspended from it. The focal point on the quilt is a little girl, lying in the grass with a photo album, and all you see is her legs and her hands around the photo album. I used the feature techniques for the appliqué, photo transfer for the family photos strewn on the ground, and paper-pieced Grandmother's Flower Garden blocks along the bottom left-hand edge. I have--in the right-hand corner--are cattails in a pond; we used to play in a pond as children. I have three sisters, and we spent a lot of time outdoors in the area. The borders have plaid Flying Geese going around the borders with Ohio Stars in the corners. I'm from Ohio and as I teach quilting, I have used the Ohio Star as my logo. The top right-hand corner has, in the centers of three Ohio Stars are my children and, in the bottom, -left-hand corner in the center of the Ohio Star is my wedding picture of my husband and myself. The back of the quilt is--is exploded. It's a pattern exploded. I've got Flying Geese on the back of the quilt in a large--larger format and one Ohio Star. And then I also in the back have included all- copies of all of the pictures, the family photos that are on the front of the quilt as part of the label. And then in the corners--or in the borders of the quilt on the front side I have quilted the names and relationship to me of all of the people in the photographs. It doesn't show as the quilting because it's on a print, but it is there. In the corners--the very corners of the border I have--the top left-hand corner is 01 for January, the top right-hand corner is 23 for January 23, and the bottom left-hand corner is 20; the bottom right-hand corner is 00 for the year 2000.

JP: That's pretty neat. How did you get started in quilting?

TN: Well, I began quilting in 1976 during the Bicentennial, and I'm--I'm not sure if that played a part in it--if it was the--the spirit of the--of the year or not but I did live in northern Michigan and had small children and I just felt like I needed to have an outlet for--for my artistic leanings. I didn't--I had painted before and done many crafts and a lot of sewing and had never quilted and never been exposed to quilting until that time. I think I maybe started seeing some quilts. And of course, there weren't very many books at that time, so I had to--I bought one book and learned by trial and error. I went to the local five-and-dime and got fabrics. I started the first quilt--I never finished and I started the first quilt that I did finish at that time. My first quilt was a Grandmother's Flower Garden the hard way. I had one template, traced around each, traced around the template for each piece, hand-sewed them together and used a variety of fabrics. I used my husband's shirts and used my daughter's dresses. I had made her dresses for school for kindergarten, and she decided that on the first day of school she did not like dresses because no one else wore dresses. They all wore pants, so I cut all of her dresses off and I made a flower from each one of those dresses and then put a scrap from my husband's shirts for another row around the flowers and bought fabric for the centers and for the leaves. I used diamonds around each one to separate them. And the terrible part is I used a percale sheet for the backing or for the background fabric, so it was very-- it was difficult to quilt because the sheet was so dense--the threads were so dense. And, anyway, that was the first quilt that I finished, and it was about a queen--a twin size. So, years later when she went off to school, she took the quilt with her when she left home and I know I taught her how to do laundry, I know I did, but what she did is washed it with a pair of new blue jeans and a new red sweatshirt and then she panicked, and she threw bleach in on top with no water. She called and she said, 'What am I supposed to do with this now?' And I said, 'Well,' I said, 'enjoy what you've got left.' [laughs.]

Then she then asked me would I make her another quilt? Well, she just got married and I made her another quilt. [laughs.]

JP: I want to go back to some details on your quilt. You said that the corn is a photo transfer?

TN: Yes, it is.

JP: That's the area behind the tree?

TN: Yes. And that--that was done by photo transfer of--the part to the left of the tree was the original size of the photo and then I enlarged it for the right-hand side to show that it was just a little bit closer, so I enlarged it about thirty percent.

JP: And that, that looks like you've painted to the right of the road? Is that--it has a little pink flower on it and then green and white--

TN: Oh, that is the fabric.

JP: That is fabric?

TN: That's--that's to look like milkweed plants along the roadside and then I embroidered the flowers--

JP: Okay, alright

TN: Onto the milkweed but--but that is a fabric that I used in there.

JP: Oh, you embellished it.

TN: There's--the little knots are the embroidery.

JP: Oh, the French knots, oh.

TN: The French knots are the embroidery. ["It's beautiful" says a passerby.]

JP: And on the tire you have some writing. How did you accomplish that?

TN: Well, the tire which is really kind of funny--it's a--it's a photo transfer also. I took a picture of my dad's tire when we went to visit a year ago last summer and, as it turns out, it's a Firestone Wilderness tire.

JP: Oh. [laughs.] That would make it historic to remember.

TN: Well, the reason--the reason that I picked the Firestone tire is because most of my family did work for Firestone. I'm from the Akron, Ohio area and even I-- myself worked at Firestone Tire but all of our tire swings were always a Firestone tire so that's why I have that particular tire for that.

JP: [laughs.] That's wonderful. Okay. Well, is there anything about--more about the quilt you'd like to tell us before we do the background interview?

TN: Well, it was just something that as I said before I really felt I had to do. I had been wanting to do it. I had sketches of it for years and I just tried to put every technique into it that I knew how to do and learn some others. I've used quilting to enhance the--the grassy areas and the--the areas where there's soil and sand and rock and in ripples in the pond around the cattails. And then I used a lot of quilting in the sky to--to show textural areas in the clouds and the fields in the background and the barn.

JP: How old was your family as you were doing this? Were they?

TN: Well, that's very interesting. The pictures of my children in the centers of the Ohio Stars one--the one in the corner is my daughter. She's the one who was just married. She's 31 now. She was 4 in the picture. The one below that is my--my first son who is 26 now and he is three years old in that picture. The one to the--the left of my daughter is our youngest son, and he is our adopted grandson, and he was 2 in that picture. He's four years old now. Then the other photos I have a picture of--of my [background noise from the floor.] grandparents on a fishing trip and they have their catch with them. I have my husband's and my graduation pictures. Mine was in 1966, his in '64. I have a picture of my--my three sisters and I in our poodle skirts. [laughter in background.] My dad reading to me when I was about 2. My mother holding me when I was learning to walk my other grandfather in his cornfield. He was very proud of his corn and my grandmother who was crocheting.

JP: I'm sure your family enjoyed it as it came--as it developed, too.

TN: Well, only one grandmother is alive to see the quilt and she was just thrilled with it and all of my family just loves the quilt.

JP: Okay. Thank you. We'll go on for the rest of the interview. Terrie is holding up the back of the quilt and is going to describe it a little bit for us.

TN: This is the back of the quilt. As I said, I exploded the border pattern. I've got large Flying Geese and an Ohio Star, and the Flying Geese are going--pointing toward the Ohio Star. I'll hold up the other side now to show the label of the quilt. And on the label, I have used copies of the photo transfers of the family members and then I have a--a formal label that gives the details of the quilt and also shows what is quilted in the borders on the front of the quilt; it gives the names of all the family members.

JP: Thank you. [returned to booth for remainder of interview.] Well, we saw your wonderful quilt. Now can you give me some background of how you got into it, and do you teach?

TN: Yes, I do. I began quilting in 1976, as I mentioned before, and people saw the work I was doing and wanted to learn so in 1978 I started to teach, and I've been teaching since then. I don't have a particular specialty except that I do like to teach beginners because I learn a lot from beginners. Over the years I can't count the number of quilts I've made. I've tried to document everything I've made. I am very interested in documentation of quilts. I try to keep all material that relates to my quilts. As far as the patterns, most of them are original patterns. I keep patterns, fabric swatches, pictures and instructions that I've written out, how I've made each quilt. We've moved around quite a bit and so I've always got new students and new inspiration and have a tendency to be very structured in my quiltmaking so I try even when I--even when I design my own patterns, I still seem to be very structured, so I really make an effort to try to loosen up a little bit. I take classes when I can so that I can learn different techniques and then I try to incorporate those in the quilts.

JP: What do you use for inspiration other than your students? Do you go to nature or just your family as in this quilt?

TN: I get inspiration from a lot of places. Sometimes it will be from a challenge, either a guild or a contest challenge. Sometimes it will be--I have a tendency mostly to do pieced quilts and very traditional quilts. I love plaids. That's something new for me. It seems like I collected plaids and the more quilts I make with it the more scraps I have so I have to make more plaid quilts. I've worked with some of my own designs. One of my quilts, called "Bouquets!" was on the cover of the show program here at quilt festival in 1995, and that was made as a response to a challenge called "Salute to Quiltmakers of the Past". That was sponsored by RJR, the Smithsonian, and Quilter's Newsletter Magazine, and that was a large flower basket with dimensional flowers and had a fan border and a black border around that. It won a Judge's Choice award, so I was very surprised when I found it on all the advertising when I got to Houston because they didn't tell me it was going to be there. That was really a nice surprise. Another time I entered a contest for a small quilt contest and I'm not remembering the name of the magazine right now, but it did win first place and it was something I had never done before. It was just making a little landscape with a frame around it, and I used a lot of techniques. I try to use as many things as I can, as many techniques. I used Broderie Perse and beading and paint and layering fabric for the leaves.

JP: Do you use the traditional all cotton fabrics?

TN: Yes, I do. Yes, I do. I use all cotton fabrics. I hand quilt almost exclusively. I prefer hand piecing, but I will make an exception. Some quilts just need to be pieced on machine.

JP: Do your quilts reflect your community? I know they do your family.

TN: Yes, I do try to take some inspiration from the communities that I live in but mostly, mostly it's--I guess, I'm influenced by a lot of things but mostly I think if I see a certain pattern or a certain color then I will try to work those things in and work my design around those things. It depends on--on the motivation at the time if I have a beautiful piece of fabric, I know I've got to make something with it so then I'll design something and use that fabric.

JP: Are you a teacher of regular school? Or, or were you a teacher?

TN: No, I always thought I wanted to be a teacher when I was in high school. First, I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher then I thought, English, but my English teacher in high school ruined me for literature. I didn't like literature after I finished her class in high school. And as it turned out I think that I'm probably in the best place that I could be as far as teaching because I think my patience level with really small children in a large classroom setting would not be good. I really enjoy teaching older people, teaching adults.

JP: Can you describe your quilt-related activities? In addition to teaching? Have you had offices in quilt guilds?

TN: Yes. When I lived in Lufkin, Texas, for about seven years and helped to start a guild there. They didn't have a guild, but they had a large quilting community, and that guild is going very well now. That was about twelve years ago. I moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas, last year--five years ago and joined the Arkansas Quilters' Guild and then from there we started--a group of us started a new guild called Q.U.E.S.T. Quilters so I was on the ground floor of that one also--starting that new guild and have been active in all the guild, most guild activities.

JP: What do you think makes a great quilt?

TN: Well, a great quilt, I think, is in the eye of the beholder. I think that you've got to have a theme. You've got to have an idea and be able to express that idea. And techniques--the techniques you use, you've got to be able to just express that idea and I don't think that the size of your stitches, necessarily, makes a great quilt. I think it's how you get your idea across, and maybe it's big stitch, maybe its, you know, as long as you use your quilting effectively or you use your fabrics, color and hue, color and your values. You need to have good contrast in your quilts.

JP: In what ways do you think quilts have special meaning for women's history, and experience in America?

TN: Well, I think that quilting, first of all, is a great comfort and started of necessity and now it's a really good artistic outlet for women. So, quilting actually has evolved-- started, you know, with whatever people had in most cases. There were few times I think that people were actually able to buy fabrics specifically for a quilt, but it has evolved and has let women express themselves. And when women are able to express themselves, I think they become more confident in other areas also.

JP: Thank you. Do you make wearable art in addition to quilts?

TN: Yes, I do. I tend mostly to concentrate on either traditional bed quilts or wall hangings, but I do work with wearable art a little bit. I've taught classes in different fabric manipulation techniques.

JP: Have you given them as gifts? Or just for your own?

TN: Well, both. I have several vests and a couple jackets and I have given the wearables as gifts. I also do not sell my work. I will give--I will make quilts specifically for people for the birth of a child, for weddings. I just finished my daughter's quilt for her wedding in October. And I--for family events, for anniversaries but I mostly well--I do give only to family, and I do not sell my work.

JP: Have you ever worked in a quilt shop?

TN: No, I haven't. I worked for So-Fro [fabric chain store.] when I lived in Texas. I taught quilting classes for So-Fro Fabrics which since has gone out of business in Texas I understand, but I have not worked for a quilt shop or owned one.

JP: Do you collect any sewing memorabilia, or collect other quilts?

TN: I have some quilts that I've collected just incidentally. I have one quilt that my husband's great-grandmother made for his grandmother for her wedding. It's a Carpenter's Wheel in blue and white. It's beautiful but it's very fragile. I have another one that I bought in an antique store because I loved the colors and it's made, I believe, from all flour and sugar sacks. I have another quilt that I got at a garage sale at my neighbor's house. They had no family, and they were selling their quilts, so I went over, and I picked--she had one that was very--I think it was eaten by rodents and he had two knit ones and then he had one made from flour sacks and that's the one I took.

It's the Broken Dishes pattern and nothing--no seams match and it's just a wonderful quilt.

JP: When you've done your quilting teaching, have you done that out of town or just at home, in your hometown? Or do you travel to teach?

TN: Well, I've lived a lot of places, so I've taught in a lot of states. I do teach for guilds. I have traveled to some guilds in the Texas Rio Grande Valley. I have traveled around Arkansas teaching quilting.

JP: Well, Terrie, thank you very much. It's been a wonderful interview. This is Houston Quilt Festival 2000, the S.O.S. Quilt Project. Thank you very much.



“Terrie Newman,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed June 16, 2024, https://qsos.quiltalliance.org/items/show/1256.