Mary Sorenson




Mary Sorenson




Mary Sorenson


Jo Francis Greenlaw

Interview Date



Houston, Texas


Rachel Grove


Jo Frances Greenlaw (JFG): Good morning. This is Houston, Texas. Friday, November 1, 2002. We are interviewing Mary Sorensen, S-O-R-E-N-S-E-N, of Florida. Orlando, Florida?

Mary Sorenson (MS): Longwood.

JFG: Longwood, Florida. The interviewer today is Jo Frances Greenlaw, J-O, F-R-A-N-C-E-S, G-R-E-E-N-L-A-W. The scribe is Theresa Ford, F-O-R-D. We are beginning are interview at 12 minutes after 11, Friday, November 1, and I guess that takes care of the introduction.

MS: Yes.

JFG: We are looking at a small version of a larger quilt that Mary has on exhibit in her booth today, and so we're going talk about this smaller Baltimore Baskets quilt in relationship to what she produced later as result of having worked on this. Well, good morning, Mary. What can you tell me about the quilt you with us today?

MS: Well, I teach, travel and teach, and I do handwork. Hand appliqué is what I love and what I do, and the Baltimore Album quilts I think are probably what have made appliqué so popular and brought everybody to it, and I started out teaching in a local shop, I asked the owner, 'Do you want someone to teach hand appliqué?' and the owner said "I think what would really go would be a block a month, Baltimore Album quilt.' This would have been in 1990 I think, and I said, 'Oh well, I can do that.' But I didn't want to teach from someone else's pattern, so I thought, 'Well, I should be able to draw this.' I went home, and I had the catalog from the Deana Katzenberg show that was in Baltimore in the late eighties and looked at all those Baltimore Album quilt and started drawing. I looked at the quilts, and I looked for common motifs to all Baltimore Album quilts, and then I closed the book and started drawing my own things. I had always appliquéd, but I'd never done my own pattern, and I started doing this Baltimore Album quilt. We did it as a block a month, and we hung it up in the shop, and people came in. I was in the Orlando area, people came from all over the country to--You know how quilters looked for shops, started seeing the designs as the quilt was going together and started asking me to come and teach, so it was really the way I started teaching from Baltimores. I did a large quilt, traditional, red, green, gold type of Baltimore Album quilt on a muslin--Not muslin. It was Fiesta Amish. Fiesta Amish background and it was very subtle. It was real low contrast. Then as I taught a couple years and started really working more with color and thinking more about what I was doing, I remade some of the blocks into smaller quilts and really started using fabric better, which now has become what I do. I don't do Baltimores anymore, but I love these designs, because they're the reason that I'm sitting here. They really are, so it's been really fun, and people still love Baltimore, which I can't believe. I thought the Baltimore Album quilt thing would be way over.

JFG: And you have hand pieced, hand--

MS: I hand appliquéd. I machine pieced, but I do minimal amount of hand piecing. I can hand piece, but I'd rather appliqué, and I hand quilt.

JFG: And you hand quilt?

MS: And I hand quilt.

JFG: And you have done all of this from beginning to end?

MS: Yes, yes.

JFG: Absolutely lovely, and the fabrics you're using are?

MS: Everything.

JFG: [laughs.]

MS: I mean literally. I buy everything, and I use everything.

JFG: And this one is cotton?

MS: All cotton.

JFG: All cotton?

MS: All cotton fabric.

JFG: And are they--

MS: This, the batt in this, I think is Hobbs Thermore.

JFG: And are the fabrics reproductions of old fabrics?

MS: No, I don't look for reproduction. The things that I look for now in fabric are--I look for value contrast, I look for visual textures, different textures to really engage in what going on, so I literally buy everything, and I buy as many different kinds of textures as I--I only buy quarter yards. I buy quarter yards only, but I buy every quarter yard, [laughs.] because I want choices. I want as many choices as I can have.

JFG: Well, what's going to happen to this quilt? Are you going to use it, keep it, sell it?

MS: I'm not going to--I don't sell. It takes me too long to do things, so I just don't sell them. I use it as a pattern, and I use it to promote my teaching and my pattern business. This year I had the great misfortune of having seven of my quilts stolen this last summer, so what I have left I'm holding on to pretty close. [laughs.] Yes, yes. So, this is staying with me, and I don't know. You don't know want a whole bunch them. I've got to say I don't have much sentimental attachment after that happened to me, because you never know. You can't love them too much, because they could go away.

JFG: Well, does this one hold any special meaning then in spite of the fact that-- [laughs.]

MS: Oh, oh. Well, yes. Like said because I think it was the first time, I really felt like I was getting the colors, the color thing, the way that I wanted along the design.

JFG: Well, you mention drawing your own patterns. Are you an artist?

MS: I wanted to major in art in college. I went to college in 1968. I started college, and my dad said, 'Be a teacher. You'll always be able to get a job,' which was probably the worst piece of advice for someone who graduated in 1972. There were no jobs, so I went to college to be a home ec teacher, which I did for what I still refer to as the worst year of my life, and then I went back to grad school at the University of Minnesota in textiles and clothing, and I worked in industry. I worked in the garment industry for about 15 years. I worked as a technical person. I worked for Sears in their development lab, and then I worked for Angelica Uniform Group, which is a uniform manufacturer, and I was liaison between fiber manufacturers and mills and our marketing people working with new fabrications and weaves and that kind of thing, so you know I always say, I don't know how to dye two yards in a bucket at my house, but I know how to dye and finish a hundred thousand yards of fabric,' and I then went to purchasing, and this for somebody like me was the best job of my life. Somebody paid me to spend 750,000 dollars a week. Can you imagine as a shopping woman? It was on work pant fabric and knit shirt stuff, but while I did that I always was interested in artistic stuff. Then when I started teaching, I just decided if I was going to teach a class, I was going to use my own patterns. I just decided I would, and I love it. I draw my own patterns. My things now aren't like this. They're more, more--They're not contemporary. I don't know what they really are. They're elegant kind of stylized floral types of things, and I have such a good time. I have so much fun designing and then choosing the fabric. I have no interest in finishing anything anymore. All I want to do is design and then figure out--Once I can tell what it's going to look like I don't care anymore about it.

JFG: Well, it sounds like career has given you some good overall knowledge. You know fabrics. You know what they'll do.

MS: Yes.

JFG: Do you sell your designs other than through a class?

MS: I have a pattern line.

JFG: [inaudible because talking at the same time as Mary.]

MS: Yes, I have a pattern line, and I've been selling patterns--Actually I've been selling patterns since about '93 or '94 just in class, but I was here at market, started selling at market, so I--and surprisingly, because I didn't know before. We really--apparently appliqué is quite popular in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. Yes, because we had a lot of contact with people from those countries, which was very exciting. It's very exciting to do that, but yes, I've had really good response to the patterns. I think I have eighteen patterns in my line now.

JFG: Well, tell me how you even got interested in quilting. Where did you begin?

MS: I was living in Chicago and working for Sears in the Sears Tower. I worked in their development lab. I worked in the third subbasement of the tallest building in the world, [laughs.] and I'm the middle three sisters. My older sister worked--also was in the Chicago area, and she lived downtown. This would have been the late seventies. She said, 'You know I found a quilt shop in my neighborhood, and we should take a class. They have an evening class in beginning quiltmaking,' and we'd always sewn our own clothes and that kind of thing. She said, 'Well, you could stay overnight with me, and we could take this class, and then you could back to work the next morning, and then go home that--You know it would be a nice thing to do,' so we took a beginning quiltmaking class. This was back when you did everything by hand. You didn't even piece by machine. You were a bum if you used a sewing machine. We took this beginning class, and we loved it. We liked the people there, and we liked the atmosphere of it, and we just took classes and took class and had fun, and I liked handwork right away. After I had been quilting maybe a couple of years, I had the good fortune to take a class from Nancy Pierson [sp?] who is here, and Nancy was just starting to teach hand appliqué, and I like to appliqué, but she kind of gave me the confidence to know that I could do anything. All I needed was a needle and thread, and I could do anything, and that really got me to believe in what I could do, and I started stitching, and I didn't see Nancy for a number of years, and when I started teaching again, we kind of reconnected. We had dinner together last night, and I really love her [inaudible.]. She really gave me the basics to get where I am now, and I credit her. A lot of people who are hand appliqué people credit Nancy Pearson with giving them the basic knowledge to get them started.

JFG: Where did you take a class with her?

MS: In Chicago.

JFG: In Chicago?

MS: She lives in the Chicago area, and there were a couple quilt shops around there, and I took a class from her there, and then when I was working industry, when I had one of those jobs where you actually have benefits and a paycheck and that kind of stuff-- [laughter.] Yes, really. When I was doing that, I would try and teach a class at night once in a while somewhere, because I like to teach. You know I had that teaching background, and I'm very good at it. I have a logical though progression, and I'm good at translating the material for other people, and I always try to teach a class at a time. When I moved to Florida there was no garment industry for me to work in, so I just decided, 'Well, I teach a little bit.' I had no idea I was going to be this. I just thought I'd teach a class, and it just ended up that I had something to offer that people enjoyed.

JFG: How has this impacted your family? You've mentioned your sister. I presume she's still quilting.

MS: No, she's not quilting anymore. In fact, a few years ago she sent me all her fabric. She UPSed all her fabric to me, and she isn't quilting anymore. She was working in a folk-art program at the Museum of American Folk Art. She moved to Connecticut, so she still is interested from the decorative arts point of view, but she doesn't quilt anymore. My younger sister who has never quilted--I'm the middle of three girls, and my younger sister who has never quilted and I just formed a company this summer. She is taking my pattern business as a business, and I'm keeping the teaching as my own business, because I can't--having tried it for two years I can't travel and teach and ship patterns, and so she's taking all the unglamorous part of the pattern business. She's down on the show floor now selling.

JFG: That's your sister?

MS: Uh huh, and she's doing packaging and invoicing, and all I have to do now is draw and sew and then write some instructions, and she's going to take care of everything else. It's a wonderful thing. I don't come from a heritage of quiltmaking in my family, but I have a close family although none of us--my sister--that sister lives in Michigan. My other sister lives in Connecticut, and I live in Florida, but it's really a wonderful thing that we have this that we can connect.

JFG: There wasn't a mother, grandmother, aunt--

MS: Not quilting. You know we had in our house; we've had those thirties and forties Double Wedding Rings. I don't even know who they came from, but we've had them for years, but no, there's no heritage of quiltmaking at all in my family, and but we all sewed when we were girls, and so I think we were all kind of had the fabric lover bug, that kind of thing.

JFG: Is this an income source for you?

MS: Yes.

JFG: You make your living--?

MS: Yes, if I didn't do this I would in fact have to do something else. I'm married, and I have a husband, but do need to have some kind of income, and if I wasn't doing this, I always say I'd probably be a barista at Starbucks or something. [laughs.] No. I would have to have some kind of work, yes.

JFG: Is your husband involved in this business at all?

MS: He was very involved in me getting ready for market, because he was stuffing patterns in envelopes for me like crazy. In fact, we made him his own parking space in the garage with a nice employee of the month sign, because he had to rescue my car twice in one day [laughs.] while I was running around. I was getting ready, but his only involvement has been--He's been great manual labor, but my business is totally separate entity from anything that he does. He doesn't ever travel with me. He's never gone to a show. He's very supportive of what I do, and he enjoys looking at the quilts, and I'd always traveled in my other job. I traveled quite a bit to New York and to mills and things like that, so the travel is never--we don't have children. We have two cats, so it's very easy for me to pick up and go, and he's very self-sufficient, and it makes it very easy for me to do really what I want to do.

JFG: Do you consider yourself a traditional quilter?

MS: You know here's why--I mean obviously the quilt I brought is a very traditional quilt. Everything I made from here on out has gotten less and less and less traditional. We have these discussions about shows--You know entering things in shows and that. I consider myself a traditional quiltmaker, because I use traditional methods of appliqué. I use needle turn appliqué methods done all by hand, and also because I work traditionally. I don't set traditionally like this. I use asymmetrical types of sets and that kind of thing, but they are sets. You know I use a block set format when I make quilts, so I think I'm a traditional quiltmaker. I kind of fall in some no man's land when you look at teaching and conferences and things like that. I teach at some of the more artful types of venues, and I teach at a lot of the traditional types of venues both, which is wonderful for me, because in what I do, the best part of it--I know I should say the best part is making the quilts.

JFG: [laughs.]

MS: But the best part is meeting the other women who are doing this and talking with them about what they're doing. Everybody is so smart and so creative. Not just in quiltmaking but in everything. To be able to sit, relax with a group of women that are doing what I do and just talk with them is--It's just--it's the best. It's the best. The first time I went to a conference outside of Florida and taught was in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and I sat in a room late one night with Libby Lehman and--

JFG: Houston. [laughs.]

MS: Who has been wonderful ever since and a couple of other people, and it was just like having an out of body experience. It was like I was looking down on me thinking, 'How did I get this fortunate?' So that to me is really the best part. Don't you walk around and say, 'How do people think of these things?' I do. I do, and the people, the women who have this kind of creative outlet, whether it be traditional or innovative types of quilts, whether it be handwork or machine work or fused work or whatever it is. Who else gets the opportunity to have these kinds of outlets and this kind of wonderful feedback and validation that they're worth something and they're doing something great. I mean it's just stunning to me that we get this.

JFG: I wish I was going to get to keep your tape.

MS: [laughs.]

JFG: You are saying a lot of things that I would like to take into teaching in the museum world, because--

MS: Yes. I mean--yes.

JFG: I think a lot of what you're saying is so true, and people miss it in the quilting world.

MS: Yes.

JFG: Well, I've got to ask you then since you are a wonderful traditional quilter and love that way how you feel about these unbelievable artistic quilts that are showing up. Machine quilting and [inaudible.]--

MS: I love every--

JFG: You just--

MS: Yes. I will tell you, if I could do machine work, I'd be there, because we hand people--there is no way anymore that we can compete in output. There's not a chance that we can compete now, but like I said this year having seven of them stolen--which was about five years' worth of work, and I don't have that big a body of work to begin with. There's no way that we can compete. I love--basically because I am actually a pretty lazy person, I like sitting in a chair and stitching, and I would not be happy sitting at a machine, but the idea of everything that's out there to do painting, embellishing--I think some people are taking it a little over the edge, but it will come back. I mean you find out new ways to work by trying some of these things. I see a lot of 'me too' type of stuff there. In classes I see a lot of people coming in and with six pieces of hand dyed they're an artist.

JFG: [laughs.]

MS: You see a lot of that, but there are a lot of wonderful things out there, and it's being appreciated so much more. I was with--and I want to say it was Judy Dales, but I'm not sure--a couple years ago out in the Seattle area. We were at a conference, and she said something that really made sense to me. It's a place where women without threatening anybody--because basically it's sewing, so it's women's work--where women can really be creative without threatening people, and it's kind of a tricky way of being really creative. I think that was incredibly smart, and it really got me thinking. You know when I first started if you didn't do everything by hand, you weren't really a quilter. You never hear that anymore. You never hear anything like that. Just because I don't fuse has nothing to do with what I think about that. I'm blown away by everything that I see. Well, not everything. I saw a quilt made out of sugar packets, and I thought that was kind of silly, but you know--[laughs.] Okay, but I just think it's a wonderful time. When I started in the late seventies, I never thought that people would still be quilting now. Much less what they're doing. I feel like the most fortunate woman on earth that I can tell you this, and you'll tape it, [laughs.] and then I get to be here, and that actually somebody pays me to teach here. Oh, I know the other thing I wanted to say. I made the IQA raffle quilt for next year.

JFG: Oh.

MS: I designed it and made it. They asked me to do it, and you know it's good news/ bad news. The good news is they asked you. The bad news is then you actually have to do it, and I went back and looked at the last few years, and I knew Becky Goldsmith and Linda Jenkins were going to do this year's, and I know the kind of work they do, and I thought I wanted to go back and make a real traditional quilt. I've never made an old-fashioned four block, those big thirty-two inch four block quilts, and I decided that I wanted to make one of those, because I was giving it away, and I didn't have to worry about going, slipping to back onto the real traditional side, and it would be a beautiful quilt for IQA, and I knew, I think, two years ahead that I was going to do it, so the proposal was presented at the board meeting last October, so of course October first I started drawing. [laughs.] It was after September 11 last year, and you know how that made us all reflect on what's important to us and that kind of thing, and I thought about what was going on in the quilt world, and I designed a very traditional quilt, but I asked a friend of mine who is a really fine machine quilter, not long arm--On her little Bernina to be the quilter on this quilt so that we could take design from over a century ago and marry it with what people really are doing now, and it broke my heart really to have to give the quilt away. It turned out really nicely, and I just think it's a really good kind of statement about the fact that everything is valid now.

JFG: And you have combined two procedures?

MS: Yes, yes. Right, right, and we showed it last night at the board meeting or at the general meeting, and people really seemed to like it. But it was really fun to be able to kind of make a statement, because I've had more people say, 'Well, of course you're going to hand quilt that if you hand appliquéd it.' No, no. We going to just say everything is good, and it all works together, and it does.

JFG: Everything's valid.

MS: Yes.

JFG: Well, do you have a hard time letting quilts go? You mentioned it was hard to turn this over to machine quilter.

MS: That one was, yes.

JFG: But do you sell the quilts you make?

MS: I don't sell, because I'm slow at what I do. I don't sell. I can as a business sell the patterns. I don't sell the quilts, and I don't know what'll happen to my quilts. I guess--I don't have kids, and my nieces value what I do. I have two nieces who are sweeties. One is just in her last year of college, and the other one's in high school, and I guess they'll get them, but I haven't really thought about it that much. You know I guess you need to think about those things, don't you?

JFG: Later.

MS: Yes, later. I'm still in my fifties. I can wait. [laughs.]

JFG: Well, what do you think makes a really great quilt?

MS: Visual impact.

JFG: Visual impact?

MS: Design impact for me. Yes. I don't think you notice--If you don't get a visual 'pow' to begin with, you never notice workmanship or anything, and I am a teacher of technique, but to me that's why I could never judge a quilt show. I would take whatever really blew me away when I walked in, and that would be what would win, and if it was falling apart, I would say, 'Well, it's a shame, but that's it for me.' That visual impact for me is definitely interesting.

JFG: Well, how do you feel about quilts going into museums? Do you like the idea that [inaudible because talking at the same time as Mary.]--

MS: Oh, I think it's--Yes, yes. I think it's a wonderful idea.

JFG: And never used? Never loved and--

MS: I think there are quilts that should be loved, and I think there are quilts that should go in museums. I have to tell you I have always said in traveling with my quilts and checking them on airplanes and shipping them places--I have always said, 'You know you can't do this job if you're not willing to let your quilts go, and they are in fact quilts. They are things no matter how much time you spend on them. No matter what they've done or where they've been, they are things. When my quilts were stolen last summer, I was really glad to find out that I actually did mean that. I was mad.

JFG: Yes.

MS: However they are just things, and they're wonderful things, but I feel like I have [4 second pause.] the doors that were open for me by making them, the experiences that I've had, and the people that I've met, and I think when you can share quilts in a museum or any kind of wonderful gallery venue or anything like that, that's a great thing. Not all quilts need to be that way. But I mean have you seen the--You probably have--the Australian quilts, the old Australian quilts downstairs?

JFG: That's next as soon we finish your interview we're going to go. [laughs.]

MS: I just walked by them, and there's a book, and if they're out of it, I'm going to be so--Yes, but you know I really do love everything. I love old quilts. I love contemporary--I mean I don't love every quilt, but I love looking at old quilts and contemporary quilts. [3 second pause.] I think Gwen Marston --When I first started quilting, I was in a guild with Marston [inaudible because of increasingly loud noise.]

[tape recorder shut off and turned on again.]

JFG: Returning from the noisy banging on the pipes. This is still Mary Sorenson being interviewed by Jo Frances Greenlaw and scribed by Theresa Ford. Okay, back to the--[laughs.]

MS: Okay. When I first, like the first couple years I was a quiltmaker I was in a guild in the Chicago area, and interestingly another new quiltmaker in that guild was Caryl Fallert.

JFG: Oh, oh.

MS: Yes, yes, which was really, really interesting. She was on disability leave from the airline that she was working for, and she started making quilts. It was really a very neat situation now looking back on this, but Gwen Marston came to our guild, and she said, 'If you want to get ideas for making quilts, look at old quilts. Even if you--' and of course this was the seventies. There wasn't a lot--Contemporary wasn't very happening. There was a little pictorial. Chris Edmunds was doing beautiful pictorial, but there wasn't that much contemporary stuff, but she said, 'If you want to learn how to make a great quilt look at old quilts.' Carol and I, last summer or two summers ago, were both teaching at Quilting by the Lake with Gwen, and both of us said probably one of the most important things we ever heard for our quiltmaking lives was Gwen saying that back when we first started, because it's true no matter what kind of quilts you make. There is so much information about color and fabric usage and setting things and even quilting from these old quilts. You know if you look at them--like not look at them as quilts, but go through and look at quilts, because the kind of books I buy are collections of old quilts or collections from Quilt National or museum catalogs. Those are the kind of books I like to buy, but when you go through those books and look at them. Not look at the quilts, but say, 'I'm looking for ideas about using fabric,' and just look at the quilts from the point of view of what fabrics are--You're looking at the book, the collection of quilts, a whole new way or just looking at them for how they quilted them. You're looking at them a whole new way, and it really works for--Even contemporary quiltmakers I think will admit that there's so much information back--You've got to start somewhere, and [3 second pause.] that's why it's really wonderful here. You see those old quilts, and you see those new quilts, and you see people who have progressed from one thing to another.

JFG: You have mentioned some really well-known quilting professionals.

MS: Uh huh.

JFG: In your opinion, what makes these people uniquely great?

MS: What I admire is people who have developed over time. I think of people that when I started were famous, were the famous quiltmakers when I started. Carol wasn't one of them. Carol was another quiltmaker with me, but Katie Pasquini who was a kid, because I'm older than Katie--Katie Pasquini was famous when I started making quilts, and Katie Pasquini has changed what she's done and developed and thought of new things and sold her work and taught and been out there. It's stunning for me. Ruth McDowell is another. The three quiltmakers I admire most as an appliquér are Ruth McDowell, who pieces; Jane Sassaman; and Velda Newman, who's very contemporary. Well, actually all of them are, but people who have changed and developed and sold their work and imparted what they know to other people. I think those are the kind of people that I really, really admire. [3 second pause.] I don't know how they do it. I'm pretty tired today, [laughs.] so I guess that's why. You know and that would be my goal. My goal--actually my goal as a quiltmaker and a professional teaching quiltmaker is to be well thought of over the long time. That's really what my goal is and have people enjoy what I do. I'm not competitive as far as winning awards and that kind thing. I'm not incredibly innovative as an art type quilter, which I think is the direction things are going, but I would like to be there to help people get the tools they need to go ahead and be that next person standing in front of their quilt with a check for 15,000 dollars. [laughs.] Really. I really--I mean that makes me feel wonderful, and I enjoy doing pattern work. One of the things that's really been the most fun for me is to see people who--I come to guilds and things like that--people who take my patterns and do something terrific with them and are excited and they're great in their guild show. I mean it's wonderful to win at Houston of course, but how many of us are going to? I did it once, and it was stolen. [laughs.] That was one of the quilts that was stolen.

JFG: Do you recognize your own patterns when you're out? [inaudible because talking at the same time as Mary.]

MS: Yes, you know that's the good thing about appliqué is that's one of the reasons that you can--If you have some talent in appliqué, because it's pretty recognizable, your style. Your style is recognizable. You can get known fairly well, so I recognize my stuff. I recognize Becky and Linda's stuff. I recognize a lot, you know the number of people whose stuff I recognize, but there's no bigger thrill for me than to have somebody e-mail me and send me a digital picture, and say, 'My quilt won best of show in my guild show,' or somebody e-mailed me who took a class from me last year here, and she took the block, the one block, added, made a quilt out of it, entered it in the show, got fourth place. Now that is really cool. I was jealous, [laughs.] because I didn't have a quilt finished to get in the show, but you know what--Isn't that--I mean that's really wonderful.

JFG: Yes, I'm hearing you say that women and the sharing, which is so important to quilting, is so marvelous, because you can [3 second pause.]--I might just say this--That you can grow with each other, and you are [2 second pause.]--I don't even know how I'm saying this, but it so nice to listen to you talk about the point where all these gals were sharing. Have you ever met anybody that doesn't share? [laughs.]

MS: Oh, yes, of course I have. I mean this is one of those things, and I say this, 'Don't tell anybody.' [laughs.] But here's the thing: most people are good. Most people are nice, but it is general population just like everything else. There are women who will steal your ideas and steal your designs and be tough to deal with and not nice to get along with. Just like there are--You get bad checks; you have people not pay for things. It's just like the rest of life. There are good people, and there are bad people, but I think there are a lot more good people than bad people, and you know I can never understand sometimes we get--Especially when you're here. People kind of get into an ego thing, and the 'I invented this.' You got a needle and thread and you're trying to sew a piece of fabric onto another one. Eventually we're all going to figure out the same thing, so I kind of think that's a bunch of baloney to be honest with you, but what's wrong with saying, 'Here's what the key was.' I always say--Yesterday I did appliqué day in the morning and afternoon. I stand up in front of the group, and I say, 'Nancy Pierson taught me to appliqué.' [3 second pause.] What's wrong with crediting somebody?

JFG: [inaudible because talking at the same time as Mary.]

MS: You know I get a lot of--I get really nice letters and e-mails and things from people who have success. Couple years ago--I teach a fabric selection class, and I had a gal from south Florida send me a photo of a quilt she made that was a winner at Houston. Very contemporary, and she sent me this terrific note that said, "I made this quilt after I took your color class. I never could have done this unless I'd took that class in fabric selection from you, and I won a ribbon for it,' and I look at this photo, and I think about my color class, and I look at this photo, and I think about my color class, and I think, 'My color class had nothing to do with her making this quilt.' [laughs.] It's nice she thinks so, but--so you never know, but I don't see a reason why we can't say who helped this along the way or who gave us the key.

JFG: You know it's interesting. We're only meeting people like you when we're interviewing--

MS: I don't think people who'd do an interview--

JFG: I didn't mean what they--Maybe so, maybe they don't want to give up. Well, we are at the end of this tape, which means that we will conclude. Have we missed out on any on any great knowledge or--?

MS: Oh, I don't think I have any great knowledge. [laughs.]

JFG: Anything that maybe didn't ask--

MS: No.

JSG: Or you'd like to--

MS: No, I just feel like one of the most fortunate women on earth that I can do this and have as much fun at a job as I'm having right now. I have to say it's just--I really feel fortunate. I have fun everyday, some days more than others. [laughs.]

JSG: This is Mary Sorensen being interviewed today. She is an absolutely wonderful asset to the quilting field, and I hope that everybody can learn from her. I certainly have today. We are concluding this interview at 11:50 on Friday, November the first, 2002, in Houston, Texas at the Quilt Festival, and the scribe was Theresa Ford. The interviewer was Jo Frances Greenlaw.


“Mary Sorenson,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed May 27, 2024,