Sally Glass



Sally Glass




Sally Glass


Elaine Ventre

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Nancy O'Bryant Puentes


Newark, Delaware


Kerstin Lanham


Elaine Ventre (EV): Today's date is April 29, 2003, at 10:20 in the morning. I'm conducting an interview with Sally Glass for Quilters' [S.O.S.-] Save Our Story project. We are currently in the Newark Library. Sally, can you tell me where you're from?

Sally Glass (SG): Originally I'm from Iowa City, Iowa, and I moved to Newark, Delaware, about a year and a half ago.

EV: Can you tell me about the quilt you brought today?

SG: The quilt I brought today started as a group project. It originally started as a thank-you present for my husband. I was the chairperson for the [inaudible.] Quilters Guild Quilt Show in

June of 2000, and my husband, since I was the chairperson, ended up doing a lot of work during that show. He did a lot of moving heavy chairs and dividers out of the room that we worked in and just did a lot of organizing, helped hanging the quilts, and he did a lot of work.

EV: Sally, can you tell us about what's involved in hanging a quilt show?

SG: Well, I learned a lot myself because it had been about five years since our guild had done any quilt show previously and we were pretty much starting over from scratch because all the people who had done it before had moved or were no longer in the guild. But basically we had to find the location, which we ended up having it in one of those buildings on our local 4-H fairground, and we rented that building for four days, and we spent one full day cleaning out the furniture that was in the room, having frames delivered from the local display company and then hanging sheets on those and then organizing the quilts into different categories and hanging the quilts. We actually ended up hanging them on curtain hangers [inaudible.], so it was quite involved. [laughs.]

EV: Was this open to the public and was it judged?

SG: It was open for the public. We ended up probably having close to 500 people come through the show in two days. But it was not judged. Well, I guess I should say it was viewer's choice judged. And we did have some winners. We were just [inaudible.]

EV: When you talk about categorizing quilts, do you categorize them by color, by maker?

SG: We had I believe three categories: Wall hangings, bed size, and wearable art--you know, I'm sorry, four, and we also had miniature quilts.

EV: How large is the guild?

SG: About the same size as the guild here. There's probably about 120 members.

EV: Back to the quilt that you brought, which was a gift to your husband, can you tell me the technique that was used?

SG: The technique that was used on the quilt was a technique called paper piecing where the pattern is printed on a piece of paper and you basically sew in the specific order the pieces of fabric to that paper, and it produces a very accurate template.

EV: Can you tell me about your interest in quilting?

SG: My interest in quilting actually developed, I would say, late in my life. It's not something that my family did. My mother and my grandmother do not quilt, although I have quilts from my great-grandmother's generation that have been handed down through my family. But actually in Iowa City--Iowa City is very close to an Amish community. It's actually near Kalona, about 15 miles from Kalona, which is the largest Amish settlement west of the Mississippi, and so they have a very large quilt show every year. So when we moved after Brad and I got married, we lived in Iowa City while he was going to graduate school and we went to that quilt show one year, that very first summer with my mother, and I was just awed by all the quilts and I thought, I can do this, there is no reason why I can't make [laughs.] one of these beautiful quilts! So I got all inspired and I went to the library and I checked out all these books on quilting and I went to the store and bought all this fabric and I picked out a pattern and then I freaked out and said oh my God [laughs.], what am I doing, I have no idea how to quilt, and kind of panicked, and then that very next day I saw in the local community college class list that comes out a course on quilting, quiltmaking, and so I signed up and took an eight-week course on learning how to quilt, a basic quiltmaking class, and that's how I got started. I did not make the pattern that I had originally picked because what I had originally picked was an Attic Window [laughs.], which I really liked, but it's also a very difficult pattern that involves inset seams, which I still have not mastered, accordingly--[laughs.]

EV: What do you find pleasing about quilting?

SG: I like quilting because you get to pick colors and create something using fabric and colors that you actually get to see an end result and [inaudible.] I find pleasing.

EV: What aspects of quilting do you not enjoy?

SG: My least favorite part of quilting would have to be cutting the fabric. Once I get past the cutting, I love the fabric shopping--I have tons of fabric. I love the planning of quilts. I could have a million projects half planned, but actually the cutting of the fabric--once I get past that point and you're actually putting the pieces and you're starting to see results, that's what I like the most.

EV: How does quilting impact your family?

SG: Well [laughs.], I think it impacts my family by--obviously it's something that I enjoy doing, and I think that when I don't do it I'm not--[laughs.] I'm a little crankier [laughs.] than when I have gotten to enjoy my quiet time of quilting and doing my own stuff. Sometimes when I'm really into a project it affects my family because dinner isn't always ready when they think it should be ready, but I also think it has good impacts too as far as, um, they get to enjoy the quilts that I make, and I [inaudible.] give them as gifts and they get to enjoy the results.

EV: Approximately how many quilts [inaudible.]?

SG: Oh gosh. [pause.] [inaudible.] [laughs.] I thought about that, but I don't know exactly.

EV: Has quilting ever helped you through a difficult time?

SG: Yes it has. I have made a number of quilts that have helped me through different tragic losses or things that have bothered me.

EV: What do you think makes a great quilt?

SG: Ah. I think for a lot of different things. I think the first thing that you should look at when you look at a quilt is that it should have an impact on the viewer. It should produce some sort of emotion or response, whether that's through the colors or the pattern or [inaudible.] visual response. Obviously craftsmanship has to be--a great quilt will have [inaudible.] craftsmanship [inaudible.] quilting will be nice, you know, it's not going to wave [inaudible.] border [inaudible.]

EV: So, would you say that that would be different from what makes a quilt artistically powerful?

SG: [pause.] Yes, I think that quilts can be artistically powerful, especially if it's got a very powerful theme or a, you know, [inaudible.] art quilt [inaudible.] very image oriented, and it could have very good craftsmanship, which in my opinion would not make it a great quilt, but it would still be very powerful and have an impact on the [inaudible.].

EV: Do you have a definition for a great quilter?

SG: A great quilter? [pause.] I guess a great quilter would be someone who--hmmm--that actually enjoys the many aspects of quilting, whether it's the fabric shopping, but actually makes quilts and--

EV: [inaudible.]

SG: Not necessarily. I don't think a great quilter necessarily has to be someone who wins awards, because I know there are a lot of great quilters who never entered a competition but made many, many quilts and gave them away [inaudible.] family and [inaudible.]

EV: How do great quilters learn the art of quilting, especially how to design a pattern or choose fabrics and colors?

SG: I think some of it comes intuitively. A lot of people [inaudible.] quilters have [inaudible.] good colors and [inaudible.] looking at things around them and seeing [inaudible.] whether it's in nature or other art pieces and say, oh, those colors really look good together, and they learn from other things around them. Obviously you can go and take classes and read books and learn a lot of things from other people in your quilt guild, quilting friends. A lot of times I've learned things where I just had discussions with people and they say, oh, well what if you used this color and you did this, and I think, oh, I never would have thought of that myself, but, yeah, it really works, and you just start to learn from other people.

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

SG: Well, considering that I do almost all machine quilting, I don't think that there should be a distinction between hand versus machine. Hand quilting is the traditional method of quilting, but I don't think that a quilt that is machine quilted is any less of a quilt. I think it comes down to craftsmanship, and if it's done well, it's done well, whether it's machine quilted or whether it's hand quilted. The one that I brought with me today happens to be hand quilted, but it was hand quilted as a group project.

EV: It's beautiful.

SG: Thank you.

EV: What is your first quilt memory?

SG: Well I remember that my grandmother had quilts, but I don't know that they really had special meaning or attachment to them until I actually got into quilting myself, so I would have to say my first real quilt memories would be going to the quilt shows in Kalona. After that, then I started looking around and saying, oh, we have this old quilt here that great-grandma so-and-so, and then start thinking about, oh, what pattern it was and when she made it, in what time period, but it wasn't until after I had started quilting.

EV: How many hours a week are you able to quilt in real life?

SG: [laughs.] Not as many as I would hope to. I would say on an average week, I would probably only get to quilt maybe five hours a week. I would love to spend many more. I have a rotating schedule where I have every other Tuesday off, so kind of every other week I get to have one more day that is [inaudible.].

EV: Well we thank you for coming here [laughs.] and giving up quilting time.

SG: [laughs.]

EV: Why is quilting important to your life?

SG: I think quilting is important because I see it as a creative outlet for myself. I also see it as a way to connect with my friends. I belong to a small group, a quilting bee, and most of the times when we meet it's [inaudible.] therapy [inaudible.], so it's more than just the quilting when we get together, it's the bonding [inaudible.] doing something that I enjoy.

EV: For people who are not quilters, can you explain what a quilting bee in today's terms is?

SG: My quilting group is a group that meets once a month and we have about five people in our group, and we rotate from house to house [inaudible.] and it always involves quilting and food [laughs.]--food is the important aspect there--and we get together and sew either on our own projects that we are working on or sometimes we plan a project that the entire group can work on together throughout various months, and [inaudible.].

EV: On your group projects, can you tell me what the last group project was?

SG: The last group project that we worked on [inaudible.] the last major quilt project that we worked on was my small group made the raffle quilt for the guild, the one that we're raffling off right now, which [inaudible.] the year 2004 that we're raffling--the 2004 raffle quilt. We've done smaller projects where Linda's really into [inaudible.] so she made everybody a little kit to make a pin cushion, and we did that one night, which is a little--she already had the pattern all done. We just cut the fabric and hand stitched that [inaudible.]. We also do a project where each person in the group picks a quilt that they want to make, and then--so the last one that we did was for Linda, and she wanted a blue-and-white quilt, not red work, but blue work, and so she picked a teapot pattern and gave one teapot to each person, had the pattern all traced on it, had the thread, had the fabric for the border, and each person then--we didn't do it all that night, but we started that night and then finished it off in the next couple of months and then gave our blocks back to her so that she could make a quilt, and each one of us [inaudible.]

EV: I had not heard about blue work. Could you explain [inaudible.] red work [laughs.] or blue/red work?

SG: Red work is embroidery patterns used during--[inaudible.] [laughs.] I don't really know if I can. [laughs.] [inaudible.]

EV: [laughs.]

SG: I think you'll be fine with that. Okay, red work is just a type of embroidery where you outline a pattern in red, and blue work obviously is the same thing, just done in blue thread instead of red.

SG: But I think that it was started in the early 1920's, 1930's.

EV: Yeah, I think so. I think [inaudible.].

EV: Can you say that, do you make quilts that reflect your community or your region? Do you find that quilts are different here than they were in Iowa?

SG: No, not really actually. It's kind of scary how similar a lot of people and the different movements are going on [inaudible.] how similar that Iowa and Delaware groups are, and there are some people in our group that [inaudible.] oh, gosh, she's exactly like so-and-so in the other guild, I mean down to a personality trait and everything, it's very interesting, so no, I haven't noticed a lot of differences between the patterns. And I think in this day and age, with the Internet and, you know, national quilt shows, there is so much information present, I think the pattern [inaudible.] nationwide.

EV: What about the colors? Do you think the colors are different?

SG: I haven't noticed any difference in the colors. Obviously being close to an Amish community, there were a lot of people interested in the Amish colors, the blacks and the real vibrant solid colors, but Delaware being so close to Lancaster [inaudible.].

EV: What do you think about the importance of quilts in American life? Do you think [inaudible.]?

SG: I definitely think for those who are interested, yes, they do. Quilts kind of are, in my mind, anyway, represent more than just a bed covering. They are, you know, comfort. They remind people of places that they've been. I have a number of quilts, I have a very special quilt that I almost brought that was given to me as a going-away present when we moved from my small--my small group made it for me, and they gave to me as a going-away present when we moved to Delaware, and so I have that hanging in my quilt room as a reminder of my friends back in Iowa. It can be remembrances of people, great-grandmothers, grandmothers in the past. There is a lot of comfort [inaudible.] I think they do, as well as being contemporary. There has been, you get the whole realm of art quilt, which I appreciate but I don't do myself. I tend to be much more of a traditional pattern, but [inaudible.] quilting as an art form is very rapidly growing.

EV: I notice that on your quick questions list, you marked that you collect or sell quilts as a yes/no answer--[laughs.]

SG: [laughs.]

EV: Can you tell me a little bit about that?

SG: Well, I don't sell my quilts. I have a hard enough time just giving them away to the people that I love. I don't think I could part with my quilt, even if someone paid me for it [laughs.], but as far as collecting quilts, I don't necessarily go out looking like in antique stores to collect quilts, but I have come across a number of quilts through family members who may not have the same appreciation for quilts that I do, so I've kind of started rescuing quilts that may not be a direct family member's quilt but have come into our family somehow. I have an orange [inaudible.] Drunkard's Path I recently acquired that was a friend of Brad's mother's, and she didn't want it anymore, so it was kind of going to be sent to Goodwill, so I was like, oop, I'll take it! So it's probably--it's not real old, but it's probably, I would say, 19--well, judging from the colors, maybe 40 [inaudible.].

EV: It's not a polyester?

SG: No. I had some of those. I had some [inaudible.] polyester quilts which we have come by-- [laughs.] They don't get displayed. They just get used [laughs.] as very utilitarian quilts.

EV: [inaudible.] think quilts were made from what people wore and there was a time period where I only wore polyester. And have you ever participated in quilt history preservation. I notice that you have a yes/no answer there as well.

SG: Well I haven't particularly participated in quilt preservation, but in Iowa City they did have a project where they approached our quilt guild, the local historical society approached our quilt guild and asked for volunteers, and we worked [inaudible.] museum categorizing and cataloging and describing various items that they had had donated to the foundation, and some of them were quilts. And then they also as a special treat for our working with them showed us all of the quilts that they had stored, and we got to see how they were preserved. But I didn't specifically work on quilt preservation alone, but it was [inaudible.]

EV: How did you [inaudible.] preserve the quilts there?

SG: Well, they actually kept them stored on long [inaudible.] cardboard tubes on a rod and rolled them up and then had them wrapped in [inaudible.].

EV: Do you remember the names [inaudible.]?

SG: I [inaudible.] historical [inaudible.].

EV: Skipping to another area, how do you think quilts can be used? We didn't even talk about wearable art. I noticed that you do not. But you do sleep under a quilt, and you have given them as gifts. So, how do you think they can be used?

SG: I think you can use them in lots of different ways, like bed quilts. I have made three queen-size quilts, one of which I sleep under, another one I have on my guest bedroom bed, and one is a top only that I'm waiting to have quilted here, and [inaudible.] will be ready to [inaudible.] quilt it for me at the end of June, and so [inaudible.] use them as a covering. I have only one room in my house that does not have a quilt hanging on the wall [laughs.], so you can use them as art or decoration. I think you can use them as, like you said, I particularly don't make wearable art. I have never been into clothes making. I made one thing in junior high. By the time I finished it, I hated it. I never wore it. So I admire people's quilted clothing, but I have not made it myself, so I think there's a wide range of places which you can use [inaudible.].

EV: Would there be anything else that you would want to bring up?

SG: Not that I can think of. You develop; you have a great joy [inaudible.] in quilting, both in viewing it as well as making it, in all aspects [inaudible.] [laughs.] I understand completely.

EV: Okay. Thank you. I appreciate that.

EV: I'd like to thank Sally Glass for allowing me to interview her today as part of the Quilters' [S.O.S.-] Save Our Stories project. Our interview concluded after breaks [both laugh] at 11:03 on April 29, 2003. Thank you so much.



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