Maria Padilla




Maria Padilla




Maria Padilla


Karen Musgrave

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

The Salser Family Foundation


Boonville, CA


Kim Greene


Note: Molly Johnson Martinez volunteered to translate.

Karen Musgrave (KM): This is Karen Musgrave. It is March 6, 2007. I'm in Boonville, California doing a Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories interview with Maria Padilla. Maria, thank you for doing this with me and tell me about the quilt that you brought today.

Maria Padilla (MP): I made this quilt to be about things that happened in Mexico. Something that caught my attention was something that happen to a lot of women there and with kids too. I wish I could change what is happening here, and I don't think it is ever going to change. I don't see how it is possible for it to change.

Molly: Do you understand what is happening?

KM: No.

MP: She is expressing.

KM: She needs to express?

MP: What I want to put in this quilt is that ladies are always by themselves. Their husbands leave them and their children and then the ladies have to be mom and provide everything for the family too. The men come to work in the United States to make more money for the family, and the women stay by themselves. A lot of times the men never come back, they left their family and children for women they meet in the U.S.

KM: Describe a little bit about what is on the quilt.

MP: There are two women and they are walking freely in a market. I like the church here. [laughs.] Here she looks really happy because she has a husband, I hope he doesn't leave her. [laughs.] These are girls carrying firewood to their homes. So this isn't women's work, but they end up having to do it because the guys are there anymore, so women do all of the work. They even have to work in the fields. Even working in the fields in Mexico it is even worse than the fields here in the U.S. Sometimes the little tiny children have to work in the field too.

KM: When did you make this quilt?

MP: In August.

KM: In August. How many quilts have you made?

MP: Four I think

KM: Four, so what do you do with your quilts?

MP: They are at school with me.

KM: You have all of them?

MP: I don't have one, and that is because I sold one in Berkeley.

KM: How did that make you feel selling your quilt?

MP: I thought emotional. It was nice to know that somebody would like that. Something I really like, I like to put the little figures, I like to sew, and I like to think of the story.

KM: Very good. Is this typical, is this typical of what your work looks like?

MP: Si?. Little figures. I like to put things here, they are really hard.

KM: Very good. What is your favorite part of quiltmaking?

MP: This quilt?

KM: Any quilt?

MP: To form the story I want to do.

KM: To form the stories?

MP: I already have the story in my head and I want to--

KM: So you take the story and put it into fabric?

MP: Si?.

KM: What are your favorite materials to use?

MP: I like the texture in fabrics.

KM: You like the upholstery fabrics and the. Very good. What is your favorite part? Do you like quilting, or--

MP: My favorite part of this quilt is the colors. I like the texture too.

KM: You have a lot of texture and dimension in your quilts. I like that very much- three dimensional, which is very nice. Do you like machine quilting?

MP: Si?.

KM: Do you, now this is embroidery correct? This is all by hand?

MP: Si?.

KM: You sewed before?

MP: Si?. I did not do this kind of sewing, but I knew how to use the sewing machine. I was making clothes before on a sewing machine.

KM: Do you have a sewing machine?

MP: Si?.

KM: Sewing machine at home. Where do you sew at home?

MP: I only have one table, so I am on the kitchen table. [laughs.]

KM: I think we have all sewn on the kitchen table. I know I have. She has made four quilts, you sold one. What do you plan for your next quilt?

MP: I have had this idea and I have had it since we started, but I haven't been able. I know when I was at the house we were all very little. My mom worked in the fields. I have happy memory of us getting lifted up into this little wagon thing. She took us out to the field where my dad was working. We were all tightly packed when we were all lifted into this baby buggy. [laughs.] My mom took them out to the field where my dad was working. She took me out, besides just being with my mom, she took us out to this really beautiful mountain where they were working in the woods.

KM: That is going to be your next quilt?

MP: Very nice.

KM: When did you start making quilts?

MP: In August.

KM: Just August. You are very new at it.

Molly Johnson Martinez (MJM): And very good.

KM: I was just going to say that. Very good. You even do the binding very well. You like it very much?

MP: We lived on a ranch.

KM: How do you feel about being with the group? You like it?

MP: Si?.

KM: You come every Wednesday?

MP: I didn't really think I could do this, but when I got with the women, I saw what they were doing and I got ideas from them, and they helped me.

KM: How did you come to join the group?

MP: We were in the park and Molly and Emily invited me.

KM: Very nice. They just go out everywhere and grab people. What is your favorite technique?

MP: Thick fabrics. They have a lot of threads.

KM: Do you do this by hand or machine? Is this all by machine?

MP: First I tack it down by hand and then I sew.

KM: Use a machine over top?

MP: Um, hum.

KM: Satin stitching. That is what this is called, satin stitching. Is that basically what you teach? Do they like zigzagging also? This is a tight zigzag.

MP: Si?.

KM: How does your family like this, what do they think of you making quilts?

MP: My husband really likes them a lot. He helps me. He helps me draw the things, if I need to draw something he helps me draw.

KM: Very nice. He helps with the drawing. Do you have any other children?

MP: More.

KM: How many children do you have?

MP: Three.

KM: How old are they?

MP: Seven, four and two.

KM: Seven, four and two. What does your seven year old think of your quiltmaking?

MP: She loves to do this too.

KM: She makes quilts also?

MP: Ah, ha. Sometimes she cuts some things out and sticks them on there and displays them.

KM: Very nice.

MP: She says she will help me with that, but when we get it done I want you to give it to me for my birthday.

KM: Very nice. Are you going to make her one for her birthday? It would be a nice gift. Have you gone to any of the exhibitions?

MP: No. I went to one, no more. I went to one.

KM: How did you like that experience? Tell me about the experience?

MP: I had only been to one class and I was invited to attend the show. That was the first time. I said I had never seen anything so beautiful.

KM: Is there any other women in the group whose work you really like?

MP: Si?. Everyone does something beautiful.

KM: Everybody does something a little bit different.

MP: Si?. Almost everybody there is very talented and artistic.

KM: So you are the new one. How does that make you feel being brand new to a group that is kind of established?

MP: I understand that they can do things.

MJM: She learns fast.

KM: Very fast I would say and doing a good job too. Very good. Is there anything you don't like about making quilts?

MP: No.

KM: I love it. Most people don't like all of it.

MP: I'm not sure--I really think a lot about the things I'm going to put on before I put them on.

KM: Do you use a lot of fabrics that have bird, chickens, they are called conversation prints. Do you have a lot of conversation prints?

MP: First I tried to find fabrics like that are in our Hilos collection. I look for something like that, but now that I am gaining more confidence and learning more, I am designing my own, like if I want a chicken, I will make a chicken.

KM: Very good.

MJM: Transition.

KM: That is good, that means you are really learning quickly. You are doing a good job. Can you think of anything else?

MP: When I did the first one, I really liked it.

KM: Are all your quilts about this size?

MP: No. The other ones are bigger.

KM: Do you like bigger or smaller?

MP: I like to do smaller ones. I like to put a lot of detail. Bigger sizes are okay too, but need lots of details too.

KM: It takes you a long time to make them then?

MP: Si?. It is a lot harder to sew something really tiny than it is to sew something big.

KM: Do you think you will make quilts for a long, long time?

MP: I think so.

KM: Have you ever considered making quilts to sleep under?

MP: Si?.

KM: Is it fun to do one?

MP: Si?. I want to do one. I'm just thinking how to do it.

KM: Should we conclude and take a picture.

MP: Okay.

KM: Excellent. Thank you very much for sharing your quilt with us, and I will conclude our interview at 10:40 a.m.


“Maria Padilla,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed May 21, 2024,