Jane Howard-McClaugherty




Jane Howard-McClaugherty




Jane Howard-McClaugherty


Marlene McDerment

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Marin Hanson


Belmar in Lakewood, Colorado


Marlene McDerment


Note: Jane Howard-McClaugherty is not a member of the DAR. And while this is a DAR quiltmaker documentation project, membership within the DAR is not required for participation.

Marlene McDerment (MM): My name is Marlene McDerment, and today's date is March 15th, 2008, at 12:55 PM. I am conducting an interview with Jane McClaugherty at her home in Lakewood, Colorado for the Quilters' [S.O.S.-] Save Our Stories project. We are doing this through the American Heritage Committee of the Colorado State Society Daughters of the American Revolution. Jane is a quilter who belongs to the Lakewood Heritage Quilters. Jane, will you tell me about the quilt you brought in today?

Jane Howard McClaugherty (JHM): Why, yes. It's a quilt that has hankies that were my grandmothers, and I set the hankies off on individual squares, and then quilted them individually. To me it's just a special memory of my grandmother.

MM: You mentioned to me that there are some of your mother's in there too.

JHM: Yes, a few. I had to come up with two more squares to make it, at least, a full-size, so I added a few of my mother's hankies also. But, basically, it's my grandmother's hankies collection.

MM: When did you start quilting? Are there members of your family that quilt?

JHM: I started back in 1979 in San Diego, California. I saw something on TV and decided that was something I wanted to try. So, I went out and bought some books, and kind of taught myself. And come to find out, over the years, I have discovered that I have a couple of aunts that also quilt that I didn't know they quilted when I was younger.

MM: Do you have any of their quilts yourself?

JHM: Of my aunt's quilts?

MM: Yes.

JHM: No, they still have families, and they'll probably pass them on down to their children.

MM: Have you heard from them, or any other family members, if there are other ancestors that quilted?

JHM: I recently found a quilt that my grandmother made. I don't know the history of it. I just know that it was made during a time that my mom, and sisters, and brothers were growing up. My mom is now in her mid-eighties. To me it's kind of a neat find even though no one seems to know when it was actually made.

MM: That is special.

The quilt that you brought in today, you told me you had named it the Handkerchief Quilt. Is that right?

JHM: Grandmother's Hankies.

MM: Ah, lovely.

Are there any special hankies on there that you have fond memories?

JHM: The one that's in the very center of the quilt was actually my mom's. I remember her taking it on dates, when she was going out, when I was younger, cause she was a single parent. I remember her taking it with her. It was kind of a special little hankie she took. And then there's a few of the frilly ones that my grandmother had with her collection of hankies. They're not very practical hankies, but they're beautiful to look at.

MM: How do you use this quilt?

JHM: I snuggle up in it all the time. Sometimes when I'm just watching TV on the couch, I'll pull it up around me. It's so comforting.

MM: You're a member of the Lakewood Heritage Quilters. How did you get wrapped up with that outfit? [laughs.]

JHM: [laughs.] There was an ad in one of the little local newspapers. If you wanted to learn how to quilt, or be a part of a quilt group, to contact. There was a number and a person's name. So, I did that, and I just fit right in. [laughs.]

MM: [laughs.] I've talked to a couple of the other ladies in the group, and they all have a favorite part of quilt making, and a part of quilt making that's not their favorite. What are yours?

JHM: I think the favorite part is. When I've actually made the different squares, to lay it out on the bed and re-arrange it until I get just the right colors offsetting each other. I guess that's the best part.

MM: The designing.

JHM: Yeah, the part of putting the colors together.

Let's see, my least favorite. I know, basting. It takes forever.

MM: Now what is basting?

JHM: That's when you take your top of your quilt, and the back of your quilt, plus the inside. Whatever you decide to stuff it with. And then you have to baste all of the layers together in big, long stitches, to help hold your quilt somewhat steady so that when you do start quilting you won't end up with a lot of wrinkles on the back.

MM: Do you do that on a quilting frame, or on a table?

JHM: You have to do it on a table. I think that's the whole thing, because you're really stretching way out there trying to get to the center of the quilt with all the basting stitches. They all come out after you're all done quilting. It's just basically to hold it all together.

MM: What are your favorite materials?

JHM: Cotton. It has to be cotton, one hundred percent cotton.

I have thought about making a quilt with some velvets, and satins, and silks, but I'm still collecting pieces for that one.

MM: [laughs.] Speaking of collecting, are you like the other quilters that I've talked to, and the women who sew, who collect fabric? And the contest is to see who has the most fabric before they die.

JHM: Isn't that what it's all about? [MM laughing.] You have to have something to be creative with. So, the more you have to be creating with, the more fun it can be.
I haven't tried any of the newer processes like tea staining, or painting on material yet, but who knows. Maybe in the future.

MM: Have you learned how to do those techniques yet?

JHM: No, not yet. I've just read about them.

MM: Describe for me, your favorite place to work on a quilt.

JHM: I guess wherever it's kind of peaceful, and quiet. There can be background noise, the TV could be on, but I'm not really watching it. You just have to be in the right frame of mind because it's something you have to pay attention to. You have to have a lot of patience. Can't be frustrated. So, you have to be in the right frame of mind to be able to quilt. I don't think it really matters where you're at, just so long as it's peaceful.

MM: Do you use a quilting frame while you're working on a quilt?

JHM: I have a huge frame that's for a king size bed. Right now, my place is a little small for that. But I hope to move to a newer home soon and have a room just for quilting and doing crafts.

MM: Tell me a little bit about how you balance your time, so you do have the opportunity to quilt.

JHM: Balancing time right now is between taking care of my mom, working full-time, and then my sanity day. I should say, sanity day is more than one day a week. That's the time for me, and for me to try to complete stuff I like to do.

MM: We all need to take care of ourselves that way.

JHM: Absolutely.

MM: What do you think makes a great quilt?

JHM: A great quilt could mean different things to different people. Some people might like an abstract art type wall hanging. Where another person might want to be something that brings them closer to their past. Like, maybe, the scene of the farm, the country. Another person might want to do something different like I did with the hankies. I'd seen a different idea with the hankies where they cut the hankies and made butterflies out of them. But I just couldn't bring myself to cut the hankies. They just were too special.

MM: I understand that. I find it difficult to crop a photograph for scrapbooking. [laughs.]

JHM: Yes. [laughs.] Except for something you don't want in there. [both laugh at the same time.]

MM: Do you sleep under a quilt?

JHM: Yes.

MM: One, two, many?

JHM: In the summertime maybe one. [both laugh at the same time.] In the wintertime maybe a couple.

MM: Are there favorites on your bed?

JHM: Oh, I kind of switch them out. It's just whatever I'm in the mood for. If I want to change the color in the room.

MM: What kind of quilts that other people do are you most drawn to?

JHM: I'm drawn to quilts that are by Georgia Bonesteel. She just has really colorful and artistic quilts. And she uses them in such unusual ways. I had never seen a table cover, an actual quilt top, put on top of a table as a table cover. I had thought about you see them draped over chairs, and over couches, and things, but I guess just the idea of it. Like wow, I never thought I could do something like that. That would be kind of fun. Just to drape the quilt over a small table and maybe put an arrangement of flowers on it. You can do anything with them.

MM: Have you looked at that as a project for the future?

JHM: Oh, I've always got a million projects in my mind. I've even sketched out a few ideas of layout patterns, and things that I've bought material for that I want to do. It's just, you know, as they say, there's a lot of stitches but not enough time.

MM: [laughs.] Is that a quilter's saying?

JHM: Well, that one might have to do with sewing, too. [both laugh at the same time.]

MM: How do you feel about machine quilting versus hand quilting?

JHM: I almost thought it was sinful when I heard that somebody had used a sewing machine to quilt their project. But it just seems to be something that is becoming more and more common. I guess I'm still stuck in the old fashioned. I like the hand quilting.

MM: Why is quilt making important to your life?

JHM: I think it helps keep me sane. [both laugh at the same time.]

MM: You wrote on your questionnaire mellow. What do you mean by mellow?

JHM: You know, mellow, sane. Aren't they kind of the same? [both laugh at the same time.] Taking care of my mom, I have to things that make me mellow.

MM: Have you been taking care of your mom for a long time?

JHM: Pretty much since 1989 when I came back to Colorado from Tennessee. She didn't need a whole lot of help then, but she needs a lot of help now. She lives with me now.

MM: Speaking of your mother, that leads us into the history of women. In what ways do you think quilts have a special meaning for women in history?

JHM: As we've all grown up, we have memories of things from the past, and certain types of materials or outfits we used to wear. I think if we had those materials to put into quilts, that would be fun. And I think one of the things about making quilts is they can be anything to anyone.

I know that my mom used to make quilts. She just did the--I don't remember how big the squares were maybe four, five, six inch, squares and just a mixture of material. She would make them, and she and I would tie them, and then she would donate them to the mountain rescue teams. Cause when they came upon an accident, they need something to help cover people, keep them warm, while they're waiting for an ambulance to show up.

MM: Was that in the mountains here in Colorado?

JHM: Yes. She did that quite a bit when I first got here in eighty-nine.

MM: That sounds like a really interesting endeavor. And who would know.

JHM: My mom has amazing qualities about her. She's done a lot of different things over the years. I know that she used to make quilts when she lived in Alaska for the same type situation up there. For wilderness search and rescues.

MM: Mmm, very interesting. Do you have a collection of quilts?

JHM: Oh, who doesn't? What quilter doesn't have a collection of quilts? I have several baby blankets that I've made. I keep hoping I'm going to have a grandchild one of these days. Who knows?

I've made lots of baby blankets for people I've worked with, that were expecting their first child. It's something fun to do for someone else.

MM: Along the lines of collecting quilts, what about the quilting supplies that go along with quilt making?

JHM: [laughs.] Well, I think I have most everything. [laughs.] I keep seeing there's new things being invented all the time for quilting, quilters. I purchased a few things, I'm not sure how to use them yet, but I'm sure I'll get the opportunity once I get to retire, which will be soon.

MM: You had mentioned that to me, that you are able to take early retirement from your job. Who do you work for, and how old will you be when you get to take this retirement?

JHM: We're not suppose to tell ages, are we?

MM: Oh, sure you can.

JHM: Okay, I'll be the big six o [60.], and I work for the Federal Government.

MM: What do you do?

JHM: I'm a secretary.

MM: Excellent. In what division?

JHM: In the Department of Transportation.

MM: I'm sure the listener would be happy to know you're not in IRS. [both laugh at the same time.]

JHM: When you say you are part of the Department of Transportation, they're not quite sure what we do.

MM: What do you do?

JHM: We help build the roads through the National Parks and Forests in thirteen of the states.

MM: Oh, so that certainly explains why you do have a real challenge balancing your time. [JHM laughs.] With your job, which I'm sure takes a lot of mental agility, taking care of your mother that takes a lot of physical agility, and what does quilting take?

JHM: Quilting helps to make me feel better about me, and relax, just calm down. It's a very calming experience to quilt.

MM: You belong to the Lakewood Heritage Quilters, which are considered a quilting bee.

JHM: Um, huh.

MM: Tell me about your experience with that group.

JHM: We have fun. We meet weekly for approximately three to four hours. We are actually working on the other person's quilt top that they might have found in the attic when cleaning out grandma's house. We finish the quilts for the family, cause the family may not know how to quilt.

MM: Do you think quilting has become a lost art?

JHM: Oh, no. I see so many more innovative ways coming out where quilting is becoming more a piece of artwork. I'm amazed at what some things people can do with material.

MM: What stands out in your mind as you're thinking about that? What stands out in your mind as an exceptional quilt that you've seen recently?

JHM: Wow, there's so many. There was something at one of the museums. There was this amazing quilt, and I don't remember who made the quilt. It was definitely a person who was very artistic because of the color combinations, and the whole style of the quilt.

MM: On the questionnaire that we gave you, you did check that you would respond to, what do you think is the biggest challenge confronting quiltmakers today.

JHM: Absolutely, finding enough time to learn new techniques and experiment with different materials, such as flannel and felt and wool etcetera. And those are all future type projects for me. Right now, I will probably continue to use the cotton material. There's always something new.

MM: Do you have a favorite material in your collection that you're planning on using rather soon, and how are you planning on using it?

JHM: Actually, I found this really pretty piece of material that has pink roses and I think there's some bluebells in it. It has pink and blue and there's a little bit of yellow in it. I have an idea in my head of doing something that's more appliqué and using it as background around the appliqué. Who knows, maybe I'll become a new artist.

MM: I've seen a couple of the quilts that you've done. You showed them to me today, and I just think they're beautiful. I think that you have an exceptional talent.

JHM: Thank you.

MM: Well, you do. I'm intrigued by the handkerchief quilt. Thinking back, what possessed you to start that quilt? What made you decide to put those handkerchiefs in together in a quilt?

JHM: I think it was because I was organizing things, and helping my mom at her house, and we were going through grandma's stuff. I kept coming across all these different little hankies. I kept thinking, oh, they're so cute. Oh, this is so pretty. Oh, look at the lace on this one. It just popped in my head. I just thought, well, I could do something like that. I could make a little quilt.

MM: Interesting that you still have hankies.

JHM: I do, and I keep them in the living room right in my little basket over there. [laughing.]

It was really a hard decision on which hankies to put in this particular quilt. I think I found most of them that had the pink colors in them. They just all kind of went together.

MM: You had mentioned to me, too, that the fabric that you used for the design around the hankies. Do you want to repeat what you told me?

JHM: I'm not sure I remember.

MM: [laughing.] It looks like a one-way design at the top of the quilt.

JHM: Oh, it was what they call a border print. And a border print, at the very bottom of the border print was this little row of little single flowers. So, I took the border print and put it at the top and the bottom of the quilt to help extend it.

MM: And then the flowers grow the same direction.

JHM: Yes, the flowers are in, yah, every direction. [laughs.]

MM: Is there anything else you would like to tell us about today? Jane makes faces. [both laugh at the same time.] [pause.] Let's go back to.

JHM: I could tell you something funny that happened.

MM: Good.

JHM: I don't know if you would call it funny. It was a little frustrating. My daughter sent me this picture and she decided she wanted me to make a quilt for her bed, which was a queen size. I got the ideas in my head, found a pattern, got busy with it, started making this queen size quilt block. Well, each block had about eighteen or nineteen pieces of fabric to each square. I kept making them, I kept making them, I kept making them. Finally, I thought I had enough for a queen size quilt. So, I laid them out and started putting it together, and thought what am I going to put for the background. I had bought some material and I thought this is not enough material, so I went to mom's house. Well, mom, like me, had lots of material. She said, 'Why I have that same material?' So, I had enough for the background. I mean I had enough for the backing. Then I put it all together, and I shipped it off to my daughter, and I didn't hear much from her. I thought 'What is going on? I called, and said, 'Well do you like the quilt?' 'Oh, yes mom, it's beautiful.' I said, 'So are you using the quilt? Well, uh, okay, what's wrong Michele?' 'Well, it's not big enough.' I said, 'What do you mean, it's not big enough? You told me a queen size bed, and you gave me the measurements.' She said, 'Well I forgot to tell you it has the cushion top mattress on it, so it makes it further from the floor.' I said, 'Oh, okay, no problem, I'll bring enough material, and backing, and I'll just add a row around each side, and the bottom, and that should make it big enough.' She goes, 'You could do that?' I said, 'Well, I guess I can try.' So that's what I ended up doing. I went to visit her and the week that I was there I finished doing the two outside rows and the bottom row, and I also had enough material left over to make pillow shams. She thought that was the greatest.

I didn't quilt that one, I only hand tied it because it was such a huge project. I think if I am going to make another big one, that I will have to hand quilt it next time, and not just tie it.

MM: It's my understanding that tying is quilting.

JHM: Well, it is, but it's not the traditional.

MM: It's not what you like.

JHM: Not what I wanted to do. Because of the amount of time I had, it was kind of a hurry project.

MM: Do you think your daughter caught the bug watching you?

JHM: I think she has, and I think she can hardly wait for me to retire so we can get busy on some of these projects.

MM: Will you be moving to Tennessee?

JHM: I sure hope to.

MM: Good, good. Is there anything else that comes to your mind today?

JHM: I really can't think of anything else, other than I really enjoyed this interview.

MM: Oh, that's nice. Oh, good. Well, Jane, I'd like to thank you for allowing me to interview you today as part of the Quilters' [S.O.S.-] Save Our Stories project. Our interview concluded at 1:20 PM on March 15, 2008. Thank you, Jane.

[interview concludes.]


“Jane Howard-McClaugherty,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed May 24, 2024, https://qsos.quiltalliance.org/items/show/1556.