Sandra Kosch


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Sandra Kosch




Sandra Kosch


Lynn Forster

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Moda Fabrics/United Notions


Houston, TX


Nathaniel Stephan


[Note: background noise is very much in the foreground of this interview.]

Lynn Forster (LF): [tape begins mid-sentence.] …two thousand and one. It's three fifteen p.m. and I'm conducting an interview with--

Sandra Kosch (SK): Sandra K Kosch of Shelby, Nebraska.

LF: For the Quilters' Save Our Stories project. Would you please spell your name for the record?

SK: Sandra, S-A-N-D-R-A. K-O-S-C-H. Kosch.

LF: Tell me about the quilt you brought in today.

SK: Today I went ahead and I was showing a quilt that I had sewn in honor of the September the Eleventh Event the terrorist attacks against the United States. I had sewn the pattern of the wreath and then on the wreath I have different images that depict symbols that represent the United States. I have thirteen stars for the Original Colonies and the belief that our forefathers had forming this nation are the laws, the beliefs, the values that are even held yet today. And that is what makes America part of the country that it is. I have on it a Purple Heart because I said, 'Our spirit was wounded but yet we live on.' There's an image of the United States because we are united like never before. I have a Silver Star and that is to honor those who were in combat. That day, that the events happening whether it's the airplane, in the towers, wherever it was. I have two hands on the wreath and one is reaching out and one is reaching down and we've had so much help from so many people. Everyone across the world even wants to help. There's the yellow ribbon and that is for the soldier; if it's our Friend, our Father, the Mother, the Stranger; we don't know whose gone from their home, but yet they're not forgotten in our heart. Hopefully, they'll have a save return. What else? I think that's it. It was the wreath in honor of the victims.

LF: The special exhibit here at the International Quilt Festival in Houston [Texas.]. How did this come about and how were you selected to do a quilt?

SK: A friend had heard of this project on the internet and so she sent me the email and she said, 'Do you want to try to do this?' We had planned the trip since June. We wanted to come down to Houston here to the Quilt Festival last year and were not able. So there are four of us traveling from the small town in Nebraska. We just thought, 'Well, this is such an honor for us to have anything here and it was such an honor for us to be involved with it so we thought that we could do this and we had about a week to go ahead and begin, sew, and complete the project.' They aren't very big but they do come from the heart.

LF: Truly. Tell me about your interest in quilting. When you got started and how you got started?

SK: I became interested in quilting about thirty years ago. My grandmother at the time was alive and so I said, 'Well, Grandma will you show me how to quilt?' because she had made quilts. She had made quilts for each of her children and then she was always quilting for other ladies and at the church and so I would go down there every week and at that time my first born was just learning to walk, so as she was learning to walk she was toddling under the quilting trays and by the time we had completed the first quilt she had mastered it and then eventually, she was bumping her head on the quilting frame. I remember that to this day. Throughout the years, I got busy. I've always turned back to the quilting. It is just such an outlet for a person using colors to create with either following a pattern, or creating your own pattern.

LF: What kind of quilts do you like to do? Do you do them by hand or by machine?

SK: I like to hand piece. I love to make a miniature because I think a miniature quilt you can put in as much work, all of the delicate stitches if it is going to be there. It is not going to be misused by the children. ([laughs.] Jumped on, thrown on the floor. That type of stuff.) So I really do appreciate the miniatures. I just love those. There's so many variations that you can create with the paper piecing, foundation piecing, just plain piecing and then I do like the hand quilting.

LF: How much time do you spend a week? How many hours of a week do you get to quilt?

SK: It just depends on the activities of the family members and what's going on in our life, our community. It's a strong focus but that are many things that maybe have a stronger priority. It's very relaxing, you know.

LF: How does your quilting impact your family?

SK: Well, my husband--I have two younger children at home so my husband is now more responsible at this time while I'm gone, for their care [laughs.] and activities of the home. Throughout the year, I do live in Nebraska, and we are limited on the activities that we have with the sewing and quilting but yet we do have the guilds that have their quilt shows. Our guild, the activities that we have, and then the road trip that we make, even though our fabric stores are farther apart, these are all factor that impact us quilters. We have to travel a greater distance than if we lived in a big city like Houston here. There's fabric in Nebraska [laughter.] and quilters.

LF: Have you ever used quilting to get through a difficult time?

SK: Yes, I did. I know even when my father was dying, I was working on the tie pattern; the bowtie pattern and I used his ties. I remember I was showing those to him and then that next morning he had passed away. I was so glad that I was able to show that to him.

LF: What's the most pleasing aspect about quilting to you? What do you like about quilting?

SK: I think it's just the other quilters that you meet. You just have such a good guild-- you can go ahead and learn and share from one another and especially at conventions

Just the atmosphere here at quilt shows is so inspiring.

LF: What is it that you like least about quilting?

SK: Probably the least thing would be completing a project. [LF laughs then clear her throat.] It is so much fun to get started on that new item and get it started and even to get a quilt top finished and then it just takes so long to get it quilted. I know a lot of people that love their quilts, but really if you can have the time to complete it by hand quilting it, that really does complete your quilt.

LF: Do most of your quilting by hand or machine?

SK: I have always hand quilted but I'm trying to learn how to machine quilt. It just takes a lot of practice.

LF: What's motivating you to do that?

SK: Probably just the need to complete some projects so I can start some new ones.

LF: What do you think makes a great quilt?

SK: It would have to be the color and the stitching; the design.

LF: What do you think would make a quilt appropriate for a museum or special collection?

SK: Oh, wow. We've been through museums and looked and I think it is--I suppose say like the personality of the quilter coming out in the quilt form- be it the design that they've chosen, the use of the fabric, or the stitching that they have even used on it. There are just so many things that--and some of these quilts you'll go to a museum or you'll go to like a festival here that they're having and you know that all of those quilts have taken so much time and so much effort but yet there can only be one that wins in this division or one that wins in that category. They're all truly just beautiful.

LF: How do you think you've learned how to put colors together? Or design your own work? How have you gone about doing that?

SK: I have become a member of two guilds. They are just good to go ahead and they have different workshops. The different members are instructors. I've tried to attend different events throughout the state or different activities that are going on and we've traveled a few times out of state to festivals like this. Just getting the exposure to these national teachers, international teachers, the magazines, the articles. There's so much to learn and so much to see.

[10 second pause.]

LF: In what ways do your quilts reflect your community or your region or do they? I mean obviously the one we saw downstairs was representative [SK: Well.] of the United States and your feeling about that.

SK: I think each area is really different. I hadn't noticed until we had taken a summer vacation to another state two states away. I noticed in their quilt shops that they had different patterns, different fabrics. So I do think there are the big stores that provide nationwide fabric that way. I think when you go ahead and go to the quilt shop that is closest for us that, that owner probably has their own taste of say flannels. When you go to the other quilt shop that's forty miles away maybe they have their selection of their favorite Thimbleberries or whatever the brand is. I think whatever you see and start to go ahead and to use, you're going to incorporate their tastes too into yours just by the selection of fabrics that is available. I mean, there are some times that you are just looking for just that right color and maybe you can't find it and have to go ahead and take something that's there. I think it all works hand in hand. [laughs.]

LF: Have you gone online for any supplies or communication or inspiration?

SK: I think I have gone online with other guild members but I have not really used the services to go ahead and get into the ordering of the fabric or items.

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

SK: Gosh. I think that quilts have always been able to go ahead and hold a secret message not only in women's history but the countries history. The quilts that are downstairs in the Nine Eleven Exhibit are quilts right now that maybe a hundred years ago people will look at and be able to gain our history from them just as I cherish a quilt my grandmother made of feed sacks. I have no concept of the use of the feed sack or how it was so important to these farmers but I'm so thrilled that I have hers. As a child I did not live in Nebraska, I lived on the west coast. I missed all the stuff about the feed sacks. So when people go on and start talking about this, it is just a cherished item that I have, the one that my grandmother made. She gave it to my parents and then, they gave it to me. So having a quilt it's just like it can survive a hundred maybe to two hundred years and we can look back. I guess it's just being able to touch it and know it existed at that time and it is still there today.

LF: Was it one of her special quilts?

SK: Well, she had made a quilt for each of her six children so it's a special quilt because it was made by Grandma. It was a Dresden Plate made of all those feed sacks so there's oodles and oodles of colors and fabrics and different prints. I think my grandmother lived on the farm and she used the fabric that she had, it wasn't her style that she would go ahead and appliqué or piece that quilt and use it once during the year, when she made something that was going to be used and it was to be used. It wasn't to be hid away. I do have it on display. We really don't use it too much.

LF: Are your own quilts ones that are used?

SK: Yes and I have given my children quilts to use but as I said the miniatures are really my favorite. There's so much work into them and yet there is beauty shines and in that way, I think people can enjoy them too. [laughs.] Appreciate them.

LF: Is there anything else you would like to say about your quilting, family--

SK: Well I think that this is a great project that has been started and going for a few years as I understand it. [LF: hums yes.] I think it is really important that we do document either the quilt, how they are affecting or being affected by the events going on, the people who have made them. It's so important for people to put labels on their quilts to go ahead and have that connection that, that was my great grandmother that made it or Aunt Lou who went ahead and did that just for me. Just something so we know and document that for others to know because hopefully, with the proper care, quilts can endure for very, very long time. Many, many years. [laughs.] That's about it.

LF: I'd like--my time?--Okay, to thank you Sandra for allowing me to interview you as part of the two thousand and one Quilters' Save Our Stories project. Our interview concluded at--[unidentified person in the background: three fifty five.] three fifty five p.m. on November third.

SK: Well this was great so thank you.

LF: Thank you.

[tape ends.]

Note from Interviewee on Edit:

Following the printing of "America from the Heart," this small wall hanging was selected to tour nationally and internationally for 2 ½ years. It will be documented with a fabric label which is printed with all the locations of the traveling exhibit. How honored I am.


“Sandra Kosch,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed June 23, 2024,