Yolanda Ibarra




Yolanda Ibarra




Yolanda Ibarra


Karen Musgrave

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

The Salser Family Foundation


Boonville, CA


Kim Greene


Karen Musgrave (KM): This is Karen Musgrave and I am in Boonville, California with Yolanda Ibarra, and we are doing a Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories interview. It is March 5, 2007 and it is 11:39 in the morning. Thank you so much for doing this interview with me.

Yolanda Ibarra (YI): I am glad to be here.

KM: Tell me about the quilt you selected for the interview.

YI: This one, my daughter actually gave me the idea of what she wanted. She is seven and she wanted a pond, she loves fish, so actually she kind of helped me organize it. She helped me with the fishes and she liked the color we picked, almost everything on it except for the bird. It didn't look very nice. I picked that one.

KM: I like the bird.

YI: [laughs.] What else did she do, let's see. She helped me pick the outside of it.

KM: The border?

YI: Yeah, because that would bring it out, actually it worked out nice. So now I have some of her other opinions on my other quilts that I'm making. [laughs.] Lets see what else, the flowers, she didn't think those were very dark, but there was too much color on it already, so just to give it less here and up here for the sky, and so, that's mainly about my quilt.

KM: It was made for her.

YI: Yes, it was made for her. So this one is actually for her, and I made one for Molly. It is almost like it.

KM: You machine quilted it?

YI: Yes I did.

KM: With variegated thread.

YI: Yes, I thought that would go good with all the colors that I had on it.

KM: So this is your first quilt? Your very first quilt?

YI: Yes, my very first one yes. It is, I think it turned out very good actually. For being my first one.

KM: Does it hang in your daughter's room?

YI: I haven't had time. Molly [Johnson Martinez.] hasn't let me have it yet because it has been touring with our quilt shows for the past two years since I made it. [laughs.]

KM: So Molly has had the quilt, so you haven't had the quilt. What is your plan for the quilt when you get it back?

YI: It does in her room.

KM: It is going to hang in her room?

YI: It is going to hang in her room. We are planning to make a Tinkerbelle for her, that is our next one.

KM: Making Tinkerbelle.

YI: Yes, because she loves Tinkerbelle. So we will see how that one turns out.

KM: Is that going to hang in her room also?

YI: Yeah, she wants two.

KM: So she is going to have all the quilts?

YI: No, just two, I told her just two. The other one that, the other one is Molly's. I'm working on my third one actually, which is my husband's home town in Puruandiro, and we had, he had this picture from his house and that is where I'm going to get the.

KM: The inspiration from, very nice.

YI: So we will see how that turns out. It's got buildings. This other one has buildings, not just flowers and all that. So we will see how it turns out. But I think it will turn out pretty good if I take my time.

KM: Tell me about your interest in quilting.

YI: I used to sew a long time ago. My mom put me through sewing class when I was a kid, and then I did my sister's clothes later on, and I have sewing machine. Then I quit. I was working, I had the kids and all that stuff so I didn't do much. Then this came up and I was disabled for a while, I was in a car accident, so Molly says, "Why don't I come to a quilting class and I got back into sewing?'

KM: You like it?

YI: Yeah, I have always liked sewing. It was just that I didn't have time. I put my sewing machine away I didn't know where it was. [laughs.] Had to dig for it. And now it is out again and I really like quilting. I don't do much sewing of clothes or anything, I just do the quilts now.

KM: Me too. Tell me more about the quilting and how you feel about it.

YI: I think it is neat how you get to put all the different colors on there, all the different materials. You don't even realize all the different colors you can put on a quilt and it just brings it life. It brings it alive from every angle. Even when I look at other quilts, it is amazing how they figure out the little details that you don't even know from material, they brought out that picture. It is really interesting.

KM: So you find working with color, is that the most pleasing part of quilting?

YI: Yeah, and then all the colors just brings out the design you are trying to figure out. Even for little, little person, a little thing you have so many colors on there, the hair, the eyes, the clothing, the shoes and all that stuff. I find it very interesting.

KM: We had a note passed us. Passing notes in class. [laughs.] I am now restarting my interview with Yolanda and we don't remember where we were, but we are just going to keep going.

YI: We were describing the quilt.

KM: The other ones you are making. We talked about your influence of your family. So what do you like best about making a quilt?

YI: The end of it, how it turns out. [laughs.] Because once you put it on there and you haven't sewn it, it is one thing but after you keep changing this and that it always comes out different than what you first put it out to be. That is interesting too.

KM: You used tulle on here right?

YI: Yes.

KM: Is this tulle on here on top?

YI: On the whole thing I did. That is the first one, the first class we came to Susan showed us how to use that.

KM: Why was she telling you to use tulle?

YI: I don't know.

KM: Do you like using the tulle?

YI: It kept my pieces together.

KM: That is a good point.

YI: I really liked that because that was my first one. It like, all these little things I put on here, it was easy for it to stay.

KM: Do you still use on your work?

YI: No we don't.

KM: Why did you decide not to use tulle anymore?

YI: I didn't come to class for about three months, and when I came back they stopped using it. I liked it because it kept the small pieces together, but then now it is easy for me to do it. I don't know, we use, now they told me a could use a little fabric glue for little pieces. It keeps it in place.

KM: I just use regular, you don't even have to use fabric glue, I use a glue stick.

YI: Oh really, does it work?

KM: Yes, very well. It is water soluble so it.

YI: I see it on top when you sew it.

KM: Right, it will not, regular just little glue sticks will make it very easy. It just holds it in place until you sew it. It is not stiff and it doesn't change the fabric, how things look or the color.

YI: Or the color. That is what happened to my second one I did, the same one as this. I was putting the little fishes and I put glue and it changed the color.

KM: Glue stick.

YI: Oh thanks.

KM: Just use little bit of glue stick. I love glue stick. They are cheap, they are so much cheaper than fabric glue.

YI: My daughter.

KM: Right, when you have children you always have school glue.

YI: Thanks.

KM: Just the little glue sticks. Just a small amount.

YI: You don't need much.

KM: Would you use tulle again? Would you want to use this again?

YI: No. I like it better without, because this kind of changed the colors.

KM: I agree.

YI: Because it looks, see how pale this is.

KM: I have this fabric, so I know how bright this fabric is.

YI: The other one I just did, I can tell the difference. I used some colors the same in it. It is more bright.

KM: You like bright fabrics? Do you think the group as a whole likes bright fabrics and that is why they stopped using the toil?

YI: I didn't even ask them when I came back.

KM: I was just curious.

YI: But I like it without it. It looks better. I like the colors.

KM: This is nice though. Good.

YI: This one, see I didn't put a back to it, you can see all the stitching. The ones we are doing right now, they are putting on a back so you can't tell the stitching, otherwise you can see stitching on the back.

KM: I wonder why is that?

YI: They say it just looks better.

KM: This doesn't bother me to be honest with you. I don't mind the stitching on the back.

YI: I don't either, because I like the colors. [laughs.]

KM: This is, you used a variegated, it looks like. I like this. I don't think you have to do what they tell you.

YI: I won't tell them you said that. [laughs.]

KM: You can say that Karen said. I feel that everybody needs to do what they need to do.

YI: I did this on my own. These little things.

KM: The tabs on the top.

YI: Instead of these right here. That is my own on this one.

KM: Did you do it again? Have you done it again?

YI: No. I did it on the one, my stamp I told you. I did it again on that one, because I like it, it looks better when I'm hanging it. At least I think it does anyways.

KM: If that makes you happy, that is what you should do. I think that is the great thing about.

YI: Your own little.

KM: Making it your own and doing.

YI: On the other one, the second one I did the same pattern as this one, I didn't do this, I put a sleeve in the back and it looks different too. That is my opinion but. [laughs.]

KM: How do you feel that your work, your work is different from the other people, it shows that you are a strong individual.

YI: Well, they are doing their culture different. All the quilts I've seen, most of them, almost of them, they are doing Mexico, the borderline, which I think is very interesting, but I don't think I can do it. Because I tried to do a little boy playing soccer and didn't turn out nothing. So that's, I'm just always thinking. My daughter has been very interested in the stuff she does in school and here and there and she keeps me going, because I was in a car accident, so she keeps me going, so really it is just she comes home and looks at it and sees what I'm doing and if she says, 'Mom I think this would look better', you know, she is the one that gives me ideas. Like the stamp. I bought this book stamp, she always look at my stamps when I'm doing my bills and she says she likes this one for a quilt. So, here we decide we pick the colors and we made it.

KM: Is it small or big?

YI: No, it is.

KM: Oh it is pretty big.

YI: She picked the colors and I thought maybe this one doesn't look good right here and stuff like that. So we made the kids, and we had the most fun making that Hershey Kiss for it. But it's just that whatever she brings up ideas. But the one I'm working on now is my husband from Puruandiro, and that's really the one that is going to be a big challenge for me. I don't know how it is going to turn out, but I'm sure it will turn out fine because it is a building and it's got a little donkey and a little garden in front.

KM: So this is very different from what you did before. That means you are stretching.

YI: I think so too.

KM: And growing and trying new things.

YI: I see all these other ones, they are so nice. I told myself that I'm going to try and see how far I go. But I think it is going to turn out good. I have the building already and everything so.

KM: Very nice.

YI: I'm afraid to bring it.

KM: Very nice.

YI: I'm afraid to bring to class.

KM: Why is that?

YI: I like to bring done.

KM: Done, oh.

YI: Because I just want to bring it done. I don't know, it just makes me--I come in and pick out the materials and then I take it home and work on it there.

KM: You like to work alone?

YI: I guess. But I like to help. I know sewing and I know the machines, and I help them out.

KM: The other women?

YI: The other girls. That just makes me feel good, helping Molly out too. But I like to do it, I like my quilts. I got my sister started.

KM: Really, she is just now making quilts too?

YI: She has only been here for about a month and a half, and she already did one, and we did some postcard, like this big, and she did two. She got her little girl interested in doing it. Her little girl did one, she did one, and I did one. Mine was of a desert. It was at nighttime, and I put the moon, the stars and the little desert thing with cactus.

KM: I like making postcards. I do like making postcards.

YI: It was fun and it was neat the way the lady, Deanna [Apfel.] taught us how to do them. That was the first time I did them. She did it with this iron.

KM: She fused them.

YI: Yeah.

KM: So you are now into fusing. Fusing is fun.

YI: It was interesting. Then she taught us how to use that paper that you cut out and you can iron it on.

KM: That fusing. It is a fusible web.

YI: That is neat. I like that. She was trying not to go like you were telling me and just do that instead, but I find it easier with the glue.

KM: I think it makes a different, it gives a different feel. Fusing is much stiffer so it's not as soft and pliable. It depends on what you are doing and what you want to accomplish, but don't you think that is true about all quiltmaking. It is whatever. So it depends on what you want to do and how you want to do it. Fusing is a lot more expensive than a glue stick.

YI: Definitely. I didn't buy one because it was too expensive.

KM: Exactly. So there are ways of doing things depending on circumstances too. Do you think you will ever make a bed size quilt?

YI: I want to.

KM: Do you want to sleep under a quilt?

YI: I want to. I knew this lady, she was my ex-boss and she does beautiful quilts. I never did get to make one although she tried to encourage me. I just saw them and I loved them. She has tons of them and they are beautiful and she does a lot of quilts and I wish I could. One of these days I want to do a baby quilt to get started. I want to do a baby quilt. I have, I have a picture of a little doll and that is my first one I want. But, I don't know, time will tell. Little by little.

KM: So you are getting your sister to come to class?

YI: Yes, she is already coming to class on Wednesdays. I got her to come to classes on Wednesdays. She did a Curious George one. And it turned out well. But you know what she did, she washed it, because she said the white, she put a piece of white fabric and she got it really dirty and she washed it and turned out, it ruined it.

KM: Oh no.

YI: So she took over to my house and we worked on it, and we stretched here and there and got it back into shape. I didn't know that would work out.

KM: It is called blocking.

YI: I am learning something. [laughs.] She actually said here, let's pull on it and see if it work. We are pulling it and it was going back to shape. It was really neat. So now it is fine, just some stitches came undone or where the glue, she didn't get the stitching right, but everything is back to normal. So we are going to bring it in on Wednesday. Her little daughter wanted Curious George too.

KM: Is this the one that is going to be in the book?

YI: This is the one that is going to be in the book, my first one, yes.

KM: Your first one is going to be in the book. How do you feel about the book?

YI: I think it is neat and looking at all the pictures. Because I went with Molly to the photographer [John Blaustein.] and looking at all the pictures, how they are going to turn out, it is just amazing. It is so neat. I watched everything. He would let us see every single picture that he was taking.

KM: How nice.

YI: You could tell him. You could see every little thing on it.

KM: Did you ever think you would be in a book?

YI: No. No way. I still can't believe that this is going to be in a book.

KM: That is wonderful.

YI: I told Daisy, and she said when am I going to get it in my room. I said as soon as Molly gets done with it. [laughs.]

KM: Do you think Molly is done with it yet?

YI: I think that was the last thing, get it in the book. So, I guess I probably get to take it home pretty soon.

KM: That is good. It has been exhibited?

YI: This one has. They wanted to buy it, but I told them no. I had about three offers on it the first time, but this is, but I told her it was for Daisy. So that is why she made me do a second one.

KM: The second one is for sale?

YI: The second one is for sale.

KM: Very good, very nice. How long, have you been here since the beginning of the group?

YI: No.

KM: No, when did you join?

YI: Probably, well almost, about two or three months after.

KM: How did you come to be part of the group?

YI: I came to, well Molly of course. I told her that I wasn't going to give her my cell number so she wouldn't bother me. But I just fool around with her. But she is the one that got me. First we did a knitting class, and after that.

KM: Did you like knitting?

YI: Yeah.

KM: Do you still knit?

YI: Well I do. My mom taught me how to do it. But I didn't do it because I didn't have time. Now I have all of this time on my hands I'm finding everything. The only thing I don't like is doing one thing over and over. Like doing the same thing. It gets boring. It does. I mean it, I just try to do one thing and then finish it and work on another one.

KM: Do you trade off between knitting and quilting?

YI: Yes.

KM: Do you do any other kind of crafts?

YI: I do the two needle and then the one needle, the crocheting. I do all three of those, and um I did, I know how to do that, I don't know what you call it, it is criss cross?

KM: Cross stitch?

YI: Cross stitch with x's?

KM: Yes. Cross stitch.

YI: I did that, my mom taught me how to do that. So I do that, but it is boring. That one gets boring too.

KM: I gave that up.

YI: I rather, this is more interesting now. I do more of this.

KM: You like to quilt the best?

YI: Because, I don't get work, because you are working on one thing and you know if you get tired of this you can work on another part of it. It is not like you have to finish this one before you can go to a different part of your quilt and that is what I like. I don't get bored.

KM: Very nice. So what do you think about the movie that is being made about the group?

YI: Well actually I was in it. I didn't really want to.

KM: Why didn't you want to?

YI: I don't know, I'm just, it's embarrassing. [laughs.] I don't know why, but she finally talk me into and I finally did it.

KM: Were you asked questions?

YI: I sit down and we just discuss. We sit down at a table and we just discuss between each. There was four of us and it was just conversation.

KM: About the quiltmaking?

YI: Actually it was about a book.

KM: About a book. What book, which one?

YI: Oh, what book did they have? They had a book there that we were suppose to be reading and asking questions to each other. Just pretending to be. I don't know if that is the same one you are talking about. Maybe, I don't know. But she was filming us, that was the one I was in. [laughs.]

KM: I think it is great that all of these things are happening to the group. I think it is really fabulous.

YI: It is, and I got to meet more people and get out and meet more people. I like to meet new people to see what, you know, what you know what they are about in the quilts. Because they are doing their family, their culture, all this stuff and it is on the quilt. That is what is more interesting. See mine are nothing like compared to other ones they are making in class. It is really neat.

KM: I think it is good that there are a lot of differences. While there are similarities, there are a lot of differences, which I think is also good. It wouldn't be any fun if everybody made exactly the same thing.

YI: I'm not good at making people. I tried it, I'm not. The little boy didn't turn out to be nothing. [laughs.]

KM: Could you just put it aside?

YI: Well we did this quilt for the salsa book teacher [Barbara Goodell.]. I did a boy with all the salsa stuff with a basket of tomatoes, jalapenos, cilantro, onions. I put everything in that needs to be in salsa, I did that and it turned out really good. And so I did that. Now we are doing one for the office at the elementary here. Here I was trying to do a little soccer, little kids playing soccer. Well it didn't turn out. I changed it. [laughs.] I changed it because the little boys did not turn out to be little boys. I don't know what they looked like. I said forget. All the pieces went to my, I have a little bag with all of the little pieces. I can use them later for something. So now I, Molly took a picture for me from the front of the school, and that is what I'm doing. The little museum. I am doing the elementary school.

KM: So you like things that are more, not human.

YI: [laughs.] There you go.

KM: For lack of a better word. I think that is okay.

YI: It is turning out really good. I am going to bring it Wednesday and I will show it to you. I am almost done with it. It has little windows, because I didn't like the windows. I used that glue I was telling you it was so thick, and now when I'm sewing it my needle can't go through it. I am afraid it is going to break. I broke one already. So I am going to use what you told me.

KM: Just use a glue stick. So what kind of sewing machine do you use?

YI: I have. It is an old sewing machine. My mom got it for me. It is the one that I have. It is a Kenmore sewing machine from Sears. It is pretty good. I just send it in to clean it because it was put away so long and I took it in to get it clean and it looks fine. It works. [laughs.]

KM: You sew on a little table.

YI: In my kitchen.

KM: In your kitchen.

YI: I have to put it away every time.

KM: When you cook.

YI: That is my biggest table that I have, because of my back, I like to have a high table.

KM: I think it is good.

YI: For my back, so. That is where I keep myself. My husband will say to put it away and I say that as long as it is on the side it is not hurting anybody. The whole other table is all yours. [laughs.]

KM: He likes your work?

YI: Yeah. Actually he is helping me on this other one.

KM: That is good. It is good to get your family involved.

YI: He is helping me cut some leaves for a tree I'm trying to do on the quilt.

KM: How big is your next piece? Is it bigger than this one?

YI: It is bigger than this one. It is almost, like that big. That is how big it is right now.

KM: That is good. So do you put it up, or do you leave it? I mean do you hang it up to look at it and decide what needs to be done next? Where do you.

YI: I just have him hold it up for me. Or him or my sister, just to see how it looks. Then you know what I do, I cut paper first and then decide if that is where it is going to go. That is my.

KM: So you are doing it from a photograph?

YI: Actually it is from a tee shirt that he bought over there.

KM: A tee shirt.

YI: It is on the back of this tee shirt he bought in Mexico.

KM: Did you transfer it to a drawing or are you just looking at the tee shirt?

YI: I am looking at the tee shirt.

KM: Very good.

YI: That is why I don't know how it is going to turn out. It looks good so far. We will see at the end.

KM: How much time do you spend quilting in a week on an average?

YI: Well sometimes I stay until, because I can't sleep, so I stay up and before I know it is 1:00, 2:00 a.m. and I say by 2:00 I put my stuff away. But I still can't sleep, so here I am thinking what is going to be next. Because I have problems not falling asleep. So it is really in the evening when I do my sewing and when I come here to class I get a little bit done. Let me see, how many times, I don't know, two, four, I would go eight.

KM: A week? That is good.

YI: Not counting weekends, because on Saturday my kids are there and my mess is just everywhere. When I'm by myself I can just say nobody touches this, nobody touches that. So usually during the week I do most of my sewing. That is why I take too long to finish them. But slowly I get them done.

KM: You have plans for more.

YI: Yes I do. I am working on that bigger one.

KM: Do you have plans to make more to sell or not?

YI: The ones I'm making to sell. Then I want to make a baby quilt. That is the next one.

KM: Do you have a baby in mind?

YI: No. Just a baby quilt. [laughs.] Just a baby quilt. I don't have no babies coming up now, nobody that I know.

KM: Is there anything else you want to add?

YI: No. I really like the class though. I like that everybody does, they donate fabric, and I love it, everything counts. Everything we get. It is free for us, but you know we can put it to use on our art pieces that we do.

KM: Thank you very much.

YI: Thank you.

KM: I am going to conclude our interview today.


“Yolanda Ibarra,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed May 21, 2024, https://qsos.quiltalliance.org/items/show/1514.