Marjorie Escher




Marjorie Escher




Marjorie Escher


Christy Velasco

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Sandra Anne Frazier


Yucca Valley, California


Gladys Kovaleff


Christy Velasco (CV): I am conducting an interview with Marjorie Escher in Yucca Valley, California [January 6, 2009 at 12:30 p.m.] for the Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories project we are doing this through the American Heritage committee of the California State Society Daughters of the American Revolution Marjorie Escher is a quilter and is a member of the Joshua Tree Chapter DAR. Welcome.

Marjorie Escher (ME): Thank you

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

ME: The quilt I brought in today is probably fifty percent of material [pauses 2 seconds.] from everybody else's quilt.

CV: What special meaning does that have for you?

ME: Well I can look at it and I can see [pauses 3 seconds.] different quilts in it [pause 2 seconds.] to whom it went [pauses 2 seconds.] it also was entertainment.

CV: What do you mean by that?

ME: Well [pause 2 seconds.] I put it together by hand I quilted it by hand and it gave me something to do.

CV: Why did you choose this quilt to bring in today? [inaudible.]

ME: Because [pause 2 seconds.] this was the one I had I make a lot of quilts I don't necessarily have them for myself.

CV: What do you think someone viewing your quilts might conclude about you?

ME: That's very interesting it is very geometric and yet I'm not [pause 2 seconds.] a person who has things totally precise so I have no idea.

CV: How do you use this quilt?

ME: It's on my bed in the spring in the fall anytime that I don't have to have my electric blanket.

CV: And do you have any plans for this quilt that you would like to share with us?

ME: Just to put it back on my bed.

CV: Alright, tell me about your interest in quilting.

ME: [pause 3 seconds.] Well the first quilt I ever made was actually quilted was for my niece when she got married and I decided that it would be something that I would do for each one of [pause 2 seconds.] the children the next generation as they got married and I did for [pause 1 second.] my sisters three, my other sisters two, my children and I have now gone to the two married grandchildren.

CV: At what age did you start quiltmaking?

ME: In 1972, how ever old that made me. [laughs.]

CV: From whom did you learn to quilt?

ME: Well, a women, who I'm not sure was self taught or not, or what it was a women's club, and we decided that we were going to have a welcoming tea for perspective members and we thought it would be a wonderful idea if we made these quilts so it was kind of like a quilting bee type thing. None of us had a clue what we were doing except the women whose garage she had put this quilt out and as she explained that--she said technically that if you were going to show something it should be seven stitches per inch which to me is not etched in stone because they are not all seven per inch. You also start in the middle never on an end and from there we started quilting. And then I decided that was a wonderful idea, which that next year was when I made the first quilt for her oldest daughter when she got married.

CV: Do you have another specific memory of making that first quilt that stands out to you?

ME: Absolutely I took over my daughter's room. I had a very primitive way of doing it. I had two two by fours one end in her bookcase the other end on a saw horse with C clamps and I would wrap the two by four and baste it together and put the edges on it and roll it up and someone had to be there because it had to be taunt underneath and I would roll it up and it took me three weeks beginning to end.

CV: How many hours a week do you quilt now?

ME: If I have one that I am quilting, [pauses for 3 seconds.] I don't I don't sit that long I quilt in front of the TV which is the only thing that keeps me anchored I will sit for maybe a hour or two then I am up doing something else but I will go back to it during the day.

CV: Are there any other quiltmakers in your family?

ME: No.

CV: Have you offered to teach anyone to quilt?

ME: No.

CV: How did your quiltmaking impact your family? What does it mean to them?

ME: Actually [pause 2 seconds.] they use them that is their blankets. I have made quilts [pauses.] several for the children and they all use them--the grandchildren. It really depends when you're making it really depends on who it's going to. Is it something they are going to keep and take care of? If not, I won't waste my time.

CV: How you said you have given your quilts to other members of the family.

ME: They all have quilts innumerable quilts I have make over fifty quilts I have very few.

CV: Are you aware how they view the quilt that you gave them?

ME: [pauses.] Well, they have taken care of them through the years so I would take that to mean they do enjoy them I do know that that's all they use for blankets.

CV: Have you ever used quilt to get through a difficult time?

ME: Yes, as a matter of fact I have.

CV: Do you want to elaborate on it a little bit?

ME: Well my husband's father died in ‘82 and I was very close to him so I decided I would sit and occupy my mind as well as my hands and I made a small quilt well its actually [pauses.] not quite as big as this and I did it all by hand it was a fan um I don't know what you call it-- Grandmother's Fan or somebody's fan. Anyway, it's a fan pattern and right now its sitting on my table we eat there so I use it for other things but I did it all by hand totally occupied my mind and that's basically the only time.

CV: Do you have an amusing experience that has occurred from your quiltmaking?

ME: Other then disasters no.

CV: Can you tell me about a disaster?

ME: Well sometimes they don't always come out the way you think they are going to and you just don't finish or you put the pieces away I save everything I don't throw anything away as you can see there are little pieces.

CV: What do you find most pleasing about making quilts?

ME: I think it's very therapeutic. It puts you in a different space puts you in a different time it. [pauses.] It's very therapeutic.

CV: What aspect of quiltmaking do you not enjoy?

ME: Sticking my finger, I cannot use a thimble.

CV: Do you belong to any art or quilt group? [ME gestures.] Have advances in technology such as sewing machines and the different computer graphic programs have they influenced your work?

ME: Well, I do not own a computer so that would be out the machine I have. [pauses.] In the past, I have used my machine to put together because of space and time. I don't have the time. A lot of the quilts are tied rather then carefully hand quilted.

CV: Do you have a favorite technique that you like to do?

ME: No.

CV: Or a way of finishing your quilt? Or--[both speak at the same time.]

ME: Sometimes I don't really measure anything other then the back I prefer sheets for backing because they are all in one piece and they are sturdy so it depends on whose bed I am making it for if it has to be a king size, a double or queen or whatever so it depends. [pauses.] This particular quilt the backing came up over. Sometimes the top will be bigger then the backing so it goes under or sometimes they come out even then I just put binding of the material itself around or the design is the strips that have gone around.

CV: Describe the place where you work on quilts.

ME: Right in front of my television. This has been in the past ten years and I quilt on a big hoop, a stand hoop, and it pretty much takes up the corner of the living room. I cannot quilt during the holidays because it can't be in the way and I sit right in front of the TV, it keeps me grounded

CV: And is that where you cut your materials and everything?

ME: No, I cut my material on an ironing board so I can stand.

CV: Do you use a design log or how do you design your quilts--[both speak at the same time.]

ME: Actually [pauses.] sometimes I have used standard patterns like the fan sometimes it just depends a lot of it depends on what the material is as to what I want to do with it some are not conducive to uh a specific design so a lot of it depends on a lot of it depends on what actually I feel like at the moment.

CV: What pattern is the quilt that we have in front of us?

ME: It's just a Nine Nine Patch.

CV: Nine Patch.

ME: Yeah.

CV: All right we are going into aesthetics and craftsmanship and your thoughts of that and the first question here is- what do you think makes a great quilt?

ME: I can't honestly say if any one quilt is great nothing is etched in stone it's the time and the effort that the person has put into it what pleases them I can't honestly say what makes a great quilt.

CV: What would make a quilt appropriate for a museum or a special collection?

ME: Well, I think it would depend on number one where its going if it's a museum they may do something [pauses.] embroidered names specific places and time events whatever.

CV: If you were to put together a special collection what types of quilts would you want to see hanging?

ME: I can't honestly answer that I really can't I think it depends on what the person has put into it.

CV: Have you ever been to a quilt show?

ME: Yes.

CV: What type of quilts are you drawn to at the quilt shows?

ME: Nothing specific I have no favorite colors I have no favorite designs. [pauses for 3 seconds.]

CV: How do you feel about machine verses machine quilting verses hand quilting?

ME: I think it depends on the person if they have no time to sit and quilt quilting is very time consuming. If they want something in a hurry, if their limited to space, if their limited to time then that's fine. I have the time. I have the space.

CV: Why is quiltmaking important to your life?

ME: The enjoyment I get out of it and the enjoyment I get when I give the quilt.

CV: In what way do quilts reflect your community or region?

ME: [pauses for 3 seconds.] I can't honestly say I don't belong to anything that in the community that would give me a true answer for that.

CV: What do you think about the importance of quilts in American life?

ME: I think its very important its been around for a very good long time and I think its important that its that it continues for a few years quite a few years quiltmaking was something that was not done you could go to the store and buy a blanket you could go the store and buy quilts already made but I think its very important that its not lost.

CV: In what ways going along with that do you think that quilts have a special meaning for women's history in America?

ME: Well, I'm sure there is. Maybe some men out there who have quilted but historically it's always been the women who have spent the time.

CV: In what ways do you think quilts can be used?

ME: Oh well I have had old quilts I've cut in half and made curtains out of I've used them for tablecloths when my children had to evacuate Big Bear I even donated one who had seen its last days to her pig to keep him warm they can be used for a great deal of things.

CV: How do you think that quilts can be preserved for the future?

ME: Basically just taking care of them.

CV: What has happened to some of the quilts that you have made for those friends and family we know there still on beds to-- [both speak at the same time.]

ME: They're still there. They're still used when I make when I first started making quilts for my children. They came with instructions how to wash them. How not to wash them. Never pull a quilt from the top lift it from the bottom because it will pull it apart. Be careful how you fold it. I mean these aren't something you wrap in tissue paper and [don't use.]. I expect them to be used but basically take care of them.

CV: You mentioned the evacuation of your children in a fire do you have a story about one of the quilts in that?

ME: Well they lived in Big Bear and evacuated five years ago and my daughter and Wayne, son-in-law, and two girls and their animals came down to where I live. The chicken the dog and the pig--and it was the pig who slept in the garage. It was very chilly the chicken was fine because the chicken slept on top of the pig so that was not a problem but the pigs get very cold and I had this old quilt and I donated it to keep him warm.

CV: What do you think is the biggest challenge confronting quiltmakers today?

ME: Biggest challenge time women don't have time young women don't have time older I say older ones that have the time to stay home who are able to stay home [pause 1 second.] they maybe interested in it but a lot of it is time they don't have the time.

CV: Marj is there anything you would like to add to this interview? Anything you would like to share with us that we haven't asked?

ME: I can't think of anything.

CV: I would like to thank Marjorie Escher for allowing me to interview her today as part of the Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories our interview is completed at 12:53.


“Marjorie Escher,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed June 21, 2024,