Ethel Bland




Ethel Bland




Ethel Bland


Mary Lois Kelley

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Michele Muska


DeLand, Florida


Robert Bland


Ethel Bland (EB): This interview is being done for The Alliance for American Quilts' Q.S.O.S. [Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories.] The quilter is Ethel Bland being interviewed by Mary Lois Kelly, Regent of Colonel Arthur Erwin Chapter, DeLand, Florida.

Mary Lois Kelly (MLK): Tell me about the quilt you brought today.

EB: I'm Ethel Bland, age 83, and I brought in my special quilt which has a pineapple design and is a queen size, made of Key West Prints. I love it and enjoy it on my bed all the time. It is bright in color and pleasing to the eye. I will probably leave it to one of my nieces. Being a Home Economics major sewing was my first love of the curriculum. When I started sewing at age 10. I saved scraps from all of the garments I made hoping to someday using them in a quilt.

I am a self-taught quilter as there were no other quilters in my family. My first ones were baby quilts for expecting families. I made them with blocks of animals embroidered in each one. This was a good practice to learn how to assemble a quilt, and they were all hand quilted.

As time went by, I finally ventured into making a full bed sized quilt, mainly using those saved pieces of 50 years. My first quilt was of the Log Cabin pattern. This is probably the first for many quilters. I've no schedule as to when to quilt. This is relaxing for me, so I do my quilting after finishing all housekeeping duties. I've enjoyed having worked the patterns and finishing my quilts.

MLK: What do you think makes a great quilt?

EB: A great quilt is made from an all over pattern, not just squares with a figure in the center. The pattern is neatly done and planned. The colors and textures blend nicely and pleasing to the eye. I haven't designed a quilt. Mine have been copied from books or magazines.

MLK: What makes a quilt aesthetically powerful?

EB: The pattern should blend together in design and color with fabric adding to eye appeal.

MLK: What makes a quilt appropriate for a special collection?

EB: The quilt must be finely done, looks smooth to the eye. The stitches must be neatly and carefully done.

MLK: How do you become a great quilter?

EB: A great quilter is one who has an eye for color and design and is able to execute their thoughts in stitches.

MLK: How do you learn the art of quilting design, etc.?

EB: You look around at rugs, wall hangings, new modern designs and in nature everywhere. Computers can help in making designs and seeing results.

MLK: How do you feel about machine quilting?

EB: I prefer hand quilting. Machine quilting is nice, but I have not been able to do it on a full-sized quilt. You need to have special machines for that work.

MLK: What is important to [pause.] your life?

EB: It is satisfaction to make a quilt. I have two I've made for my home. I have blocks my grandmother made which I have put together and finished as a quilt. My mother made a top for a quilt which she tied, and I've hand quilted that one.

MLK: What way do quilts reflect your community?

EB: Being from Florida, quilts don't reflect our community.

MLK: What ways do you think quilts have special meaning for women's history in America?

EB: In the early 1800's quilts were needed for warmth and all fabrics were saved for the piecing of quilts. During the Civil War quilts gave maps and directions for travelers going north for freedom.

MLK: How can they be saved?

EB: They are handed down. I have one old quilt I found at a yard sale which I plan to repair.

MLK: How can they be used?

EB: Quilts can be used as decorations on walls or hung over banisters to enjoy.

MLK: How can they be preserved?

EB: Quilts should be kept clean and taken care of? folded or rolled to prevent creases. Do not place them in plastics. They can be wrapped in cotton fabric to keep their color.

MLK: What has happened to quilts you have?

EB: The quilts I have laid out on our beds to enjoy. Some have been folded and put in pillowcases. All quilts have labels on them to identify the maker.

[interview ends.]


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