Marie Bartlett




Marie Bartlett




Marie Bartlett


Marlene McDerment

Interview Date


Interview sponsor


Belmar in Lakewood, Colorado


Marlene McDerment


Note: This interview took place at the Lakewood Heritage Center -Belmar where there was a lot of activity, including construction. The tape was stopped three times during the interview because of disruptions.

Note: Marie Barlett 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 February 11th, 2008, at 1:05 pm. I am conducting an interview with Marie Bartlett at the Lakewood Heritage Center - Belmar, in Lakewood, Colorado. This is 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.

Marie Bartlett is a quilter who belongs to the Lakewood Heritage Quilters. Marie, how long have you been making quilts?

Marie Bartlett (MB): Well, I started since about 1994. So that's been [both speak at the same time.] about 14 years.

MM: How did you get interested in quilt making?

MB: I have always loved quilts, and my grandmother and some of my aunts did make some quilts. And I always wanted to do that. A friend that I worked with knew somebody who quilted. I was invited to go to a meeting and the rest is history. [MM laughs.] They met every month and they let me join, and I still belong to that club which is the Sew-And-Sews. I've been making quilts ever since. I was still working then so it was pretty slow. Now that I've retired, I have been making a few more.

MM: How many have you made altogether? Do you have a count?

MB: Oh, not really, but I would guess about thirty or so.

MM: Do you make them for friends and family?

MB: I do. I have made all kinds of quilts. I have three kids and four grandkids, and they all have a quilt. And then, I have made for my mother, and in my quilt group we have raffled off quilts for somebody in need for different projects. I have made a few that are smaller, but most of mine are either twin size or queen size.

MM: Do you sleep under a quilt yourself?

MB: Oh, yes. Yes. I have them on all of my beds at home. Every last one of them has a quilt.

MM: Wonderful, wonderful. The quilt that you've brought today, you've told me that it's your favorite.

MB: It is, because I didn't think I could ever accomplish something like this. It is a whole cloth quilt called "Welsh Beauty." I just loved the whole cloth quilts, and I couldn't believe all the quilting in which I thought everybody took an awfully long time, which it does. I started this on September 21, 2006. One of my friends here, at the Heritage Center, helped me baste it, and I put the first stitches in that day. Then I worked on it for about a year and two months.

It's very relaxing. In the evening watching TV, or different times, I would quilt on it. The size of it, you would never think it would be done, but it does eventually get done. [MM laughs.] I just love it.

MM: You told me it took a little over two years to make the quilt.

MB: No, a year and two months.

MM: OK, thank you for correcting. During that period of time, what else was happening in your life?

MB: Oh, man, I still went to both of my quilt groups. In the summer there's a couple of months when you're gardening and doing yard work and traveling, so I didn't work on it. A couple of hard months to work on it, in the winter, were November and December, for obvious reasons. But it was always waiting for me. And I really missed it when I finished.

I do, do other quilts and do them by machine, but I do like the handwork. I think it's very soothing, very relaxing to me.

MM: There's so much fine detail work in this quilt. Can you tell me a little bit about how the design actually pops. Is that the way it's stitched, it is the design itself?

MB: It is the design itself. You just follow the lines. That's what makes it pop. There are other things you could do to make them pop more, like putting trapunto, which is stuffing, in different portions of it. But mine isn't like that. It's just plain hand quilted. That is what makes the design is following that.

MM: And you said this was designed by?

MB: Hollice Turnbow.

MM: Do you know anything about Hollice Turnbow's background?

MB: I do not. I bought this at one of the craft fairs and I just found her name on the package.

MM: Hum, hum.

MB: I have no idea who she is. I haven't run across her before.

MM: OK. Will you ever do a quilt like this again?

MB: Oh yes, I'd love to.

MM: Really?

MB: Yes.

MM: [laughing.] So, when are you going to start Marie?

MB: Well, I have a couple other projects to finish up before. I haven't really found one that I really want to do. I thought this one was just really, really beautiful.

MM: And it absolutely is. It's just a treasure.

MB: I love the pattern on it, so I guess that's what attracted me.

MM: Right. Are there other quilters in your family?

MB: My grandmother and some of my aunts do quilt. Not quilts like we do today. They were more for practical purposes. They were for use, and they were very heavy. Because, when I was growing up, we didn't have homes that had central heating. Those quilts really felt good.

My mother-in-law also quilted. She was a very busy lady. She gave my daughter, and my sons quilts when they were born.

MM: Lovely, that a wonderful keepsake.

MB: It is. I'm just so sorry. They were all made out of scraps in the first place. Nothing was new. They got a lot of use and wear and they have fallen apart. I'm sorry about that, but that's what they are for, is to be used.

MM: Right. You say nothing was new. Is that because the pieces came from clothing that had already been worn?

MB: Exactly. She used anything and everything. I know, in my daughter's case, she used an old blanket for the batting.

MM: Wow.

MB: Whatever she had, she used.

MM: Amazing, amazing.

MB: Some of the boy's quilts too, But theirs was a bigger one and you know when boys are rowdy, anyway. But a lot of use and the fact that used material doesn't last as long.

MM: Right.

MB: It's been washed many times before it was put in a quilt.

MM: Right. Makes an unfortunate story.

MB: It does. But, at the time they were very well used.

MM: I know that you belong to the Lakewood Heritage Quilters, and you've mentioned the other group that you belong to. What is the name of that group?

MB: That's the Sew-And-Sews.

MM: The Sew-And-Sews. You did tell me that, I'm sorry. And how long have you been with both groups?

MB: I've been with the Sew-And-Sews since '94. I joined the Heritage Center, here, after I retired. I started here in September of 2001, at the Heritage Center.

MM: Do you collect quilts?

MB: Not really. I do have a lot of my own. Except for the ones on my beds. I guess that I do have some extras now that I think about it. I guess you might say I collect my own. [laughs.]

MM: Is it like people who sew collect fabric? [laughs.]

MB: Exactly, exactly. [laughs.]

MM: Have you ever participated in a preservation project preserving quilts?

MB: That is sort of what we do here. People have old quilt tops, or they just have not ever finished the quilts, who ever owned them. So that's what we do here is to quilt them. We're not really preserving them, but in a way we are.

MM: You sure are.

MB: They've been doing this for about ten years that I know of here at the Lakewood Heritage Center.

MM: Let's go back to the quilt you've brought today. How do you use this quilt?

MB: It's all white, so I'm going to use it for a summer quilt.

MM: Ah.

MB: It will be on my bed. [laughs.]

MM: Lovely. [laughs.]

MB: I am going to use it.

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

MB: I have always wanted to hand quilt. That's why I joined the Lakewood Heritage Center, for that specific purpose. My other group is mostly machine. I feel there's a place for both. Everybody gets so much pleasure from creating something that I think there's room for both. I know there's a lot of purists that think everything should be done by hand, which is wonderful. But, in our day and age, it's just pretty fast paced. I just think there's room for both. I am thrilled because I got to do my first complete hand piecing quilt. I do a lot of the others and I love it.

MM: You mentioned to me, prior to this interview, that the other group that you belong to is predominately machine quilting.

MB: Right.

MM: Do you have any reflections on any of the quilts that you've done with that group?

MB: There's been so many beautiful ones. It is always amazing to me the different materials, how they make a quilt look entirely different. Just lately, my group has gotten into batiks, which I think are just gorgeous, even though I still like regular material. It doesn't matter which one. There again, I think there's room for all kinds of different things. There's just no end to it.

MM: Now the hand quilting group is the Lakewood Heritage Quilters.

MB: Right.

MM: Do any of the quilts you've seen here, and worked on here, stick in your mind?

MB: We did do two whole cloth quilts, and that's why I did my own as I fell in love with those. We have had some grandmother's flower gardens. We had so many of those and they always end up being just beautiful when they're done. There've been many patterns I don't even know what the name of them are. There was one in particular that I just thought was a light summer quilt. There isn't a one that I haven't enjoyed working on, but I'd say that was probably my favorite.

MM: What were the colors in it?

MB: They were kind of spring colors. There were greens, and blues, kind of a yellow. Just very spring like.

MM: Wonderful. Tell me a little bit about the comradality in the group?

MB: I have not met a quilter that isn't willing to help you. When someone learns a new technique, they are right there to show you, they are excited about it, they just help you so much. You go to any quilt shop; I have never been to one that they have not been willing to help me and are very gracious.

As for the hand quilting group, it's the same thing. Everybody is willing to help everybody else. The wonderful friendships you make.

If you're on the road and you stop at a quilt shop, it's like you're their best friend.

MM: That's nice.

MB: It is. You feel so at home. I think there's nothing like it for making friends.

MM: Can you compare today's quilter, with the quilting bees, to the quilting bees of the past?

MB: I think they get the same thing from it; companionship, warmth with other women, the help, with recipes, children, the same things we do today. I'm sure that they probably helped each other with whatever they needed to learn. Even today, I think they are kind of a social outing, in some ways. Even like this one has a purpose; it is still a social outing in a way. I think they probably always made quilts to help other people. I'm just sure they must have loved it just as we do today.

MM: Oh, how nice. I noticed, when I come to your meetings, which I have done for the past couple of weeks that the ladies set up their quilting racks, they start their quilting, and then break for lunch and have some lively conversations. I've also noticed that you bring in the quilts that you've been working on at home. Are there any of those that you've brought in, and would you like to comment on any of those?

MB: I have brought in several. One of the new things here, about four or five years ago, were the rag time quilts out of flannel. I've done several of those that I've brought in. I have been learning to appliqué on the machine, and I did a snowman quilt, that I just love. It's really a cheery, Christmassy type quilt. We always like to hear our friends' comments on what we've done. And also, we learn, again, new techniques when someone tells us, or asks us how we do things. That really helps too.

MM: What is your first quilting memory?

MB: I think it was watching my grandmother. There were big blocks that were made out of anything and everything. They used men's suits. They used corduroy. They used whatever they had on hand. Most of them were tied. They weren't quilted actually. Those were the first quilts I actually remember.

MM: When you say they were tied, what is that process?

MB: A quilt is three layers; the top, batting and backing, and then it has to be joined somehow. A lot of quilts are tied rather than quilted. That's what holds them together.

MM: Were they tied around the blocks, or at the corners of the blocks?

MB: You have to tie ever so many inches and it depends on what kind of batting you have in it. You can use various things. You can use yarn, you can use pearled cotton, all kinds of different threads. It depends on what kind of a quilt it is. The one's I was talking about, when I was growing up, were tied with yarn. They were so heavy. My, they were heavy. I don't know what they had for batting. I just never knew.

MM: It's funny you mention that. My memories of quilts, growing up, were the heaviness, and it took me a long time to learn to sleep without that heavy fabric on top of me.

MB: I believe it, because if you had more than one on you, like you usually did in the wintertime. [laughs.]

MM: You didn't move. [laughs.]

MB: No, you didn't.

MB: We needed those heavy, heavy quilts because the homes really didn't have furnaces. Where I lived, we had an upstairs, and there was a hole cut in the floor, that just had a grate. The oil furnace, or stove, or whatever it was downstairs, ended up heating the whole house. The heat rose and if it wasn't for those quilts we probably would have frozen to death. [laughs.]

MM: [laughs.] And they go out by morning.

MB: Yes, yes.

MM: If you have a pot belly stove.

MB: Yes, yes.

MM: Yep.

MB: That's true. We appreciated those quilts. I don't know if that why I liked them. I had seen various quilts over my lifetime and always wanted to do it but didn't know how to get started. 'Till my friend introduced me to her friend and that's how I got started.

MM: Didn't you tell me earlier today, over lunch, that you had actually started on your own, and learned a little bit from watching.

MB: I learned from watching TV. They had several quilting shows. In both my quilt groups, both of them, everybody is so helpful. They will teach you a technique. If they know it, they're quite willing to teach you.

I had one friend, she had a very hard time grasping something, so between the two of us. Once she got it, she got it. [MM laughs.] She would help me with those darn rulers, and different things, because once she had it, she really did have it. If it wasn't for her, well I'm sure I could find somebody else, but she really did help me a lot.

MM: Great, great.

MB: Wherever you turn there's always somebody to help you.

MM: When you were watching your grandmother making the tied quilts, did you ever make one of those yourself?

MB: I have, yes, but not my grandmother's way. Now we have all these great tools to use. I've got one of those little P.V.C. type frames. They're wonderful to tie quilts or anything. I think my grandmother did it on the floor, and she also did it on a table. They really had to do things in ways, that today we are really spoiled because we have many more tools to use.

MM: Do you have a quilting area set up in your home?

MB: Yes, in my basement, I have an area. We do have a pool table that was my husband's. He got this table that is about three inches high, put it on there, on the end of it. Then I put my cutting mat there so it's a little taller than a normal table, which is great for me. I have my sewing machine, and I have my fabric, and all my tools right there. He's been very helpful about arranging so I can hang my rulers and different things like that.

MM: Oh, wonderful. So, it's a family project.

MB: Oh, yes. He helps me in any way he can.

MM: Good.

MB: He takes me to the quilt shops, if I want to go. [laughs.]

MM: Wonderful, wonderful.

MB: Anyway, it's just nice to have all your tools handy because you do need so many little things you wouldn't think about.

MM: Such as?

MB: Well, you have to have your scissors. You have to have your stiletto. You have to have your rulers. Then you have to have a different ruler for this, a different ruler for that. It can get carried away.

MM: Then all the fabric.

MB: Yes.

MM: Do you have a large collection of fabric?

MB: Not as large as some. I do not want to be the one that dies with the most fabric. [both laugh.] I don't. I mean, I love fabric, but boy, oh no, I wouldn't want that.

MM: Do you have enough fabric at home, now, that you could start another quilt?

MB: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. I have, probably, five or six projects going. I've been kind of bad this year not completing things.

MM: [laughs.]

MB: But I usually do try to complete them.

MM: How long does it typically take you to do a quilt? Let's say a machine quilt.

MB: If it's just blocks, I would say for myself, I could probably do one in a month. I've been working on a couple of appliqué ones for a lot longer than that. I have one that I was taking classes on, for machine appliqué, and then they quit, and I really didn't know how to go about it. Now, another friend of led me through the book together.

MM: Good, so there's books, as well as quilting [inaudible.]

MB: We are lucky. We have so many things to choose from. I could spend all my money on books rather than fabric. I could just sit there and read them and dream.

MM: [laughs.] Marie, you're just delightful. It's so nice to be interviewing you. Do you have anything else you'd like to add today?

MB: All I can say is I've had so much joy from quilting in many, many ways.

MM: And looking forward to more.

MB: Yes, I am.

MM: Good, good. I'd like to thank Marie Bartlett for letting me interview her today as part of the Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories project. Our interview concluded at 1:32 p.m. Thank you, Marie.

[interview concludes.]


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