Ede Yeomans




Ede Yeomans




Ede Yeomans


Joanne Gasperik

Interview Date


Interview sponsor



Naples, Florida


Joanne Gasperik


Joanne Gasperik (JG): This is Joanne Gasperik. Today's date is April 7th, 2005 and it is 10 [minutes.] after 12 o'clock in the afternoon. I am sitting with Ede Yeomans in her living room in Naples, Florida and I'm conducting an interview with her for Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories. Thank you, Ede for allowing me to interview you today.

Ede Yeomans (EY): You're welcome.

JG: Tell me about the quilt that's hanging here. Who did you make it for? Describe it for us.

EY: This is a quilt I started by doing 'pick-me-up' blocks from various places and I started it with a dark background which is unusual. It's a dark turquoise background and I bought the backing because it blended with it, and the backing has horses on it, and I made it for my daughter, Dixie, who lives on a ranch in British Columbia, in the Rocky Mountains. I just picked up various patterns out of various books and made them in the colors that I wanted to be on this quilt. And I quilted every block by hand and every block is quilted with a different pattern.

JG: It's a beautiful appliqué quilt and there are birds and flowers on it.

EY: Yes.

JG: It has a ribbon.

EY: I won a first prize in the category in Naples and I won Viewer's Choice in Toronto with it. And I love it, it's my favorite quilt.

JG: But you made it for your daughter! You're going to have to part with it.

EY: Yeah, I am. But she doesn't get it – yet, [laughs.] for a while, until I'm ready to give it to her.

JG: So you want to show it in other venues?

EY: Yes, I do. I want to show it in other venues and I just like looking at it myself.

JG: It is spectacular. There are orchids and roses.

EY: Hummingbirds and, making the hummingbird was a big chore because the wing has 12 different fabrics on each wing. And the roses are all, each one has about 15 different pieces of material to make the roses. And I just chose different ones that I liked and put them in the colors that I wanted to go on this quilt.

JG: Does your daughter know that you've made it for her?

EY: Yes, she saw it this year when she was down in Naples and really loved it, so that's for her. I don't often make a quilt specifically for somebody, but because of the horses I decided--my granddaughter also loves horses, so eventually it will go to her.

JG: [hums approval.] So for the time – do you think that she will hang it or have it on the bed? Do you display it?

EY: I don't display it because I don't' have a big enough wall for it. But she's got a big house, a big ranch house and has lots of space for hanging if she wishes to. Now I don't think she's got any vacant space for it, but she may use it on the bed.

JG: [nods.] Yes. How did you get started in quilting?

EY: I lived in Vancouver, Canada and we were transferred back to Toronto and I had to leave my three oldest children at university there. And I knew that I had to get something new to do, and I went to a craft show, and there was a girl quilting there and I said, 'That is it.' That was in'72 and I've been quilting constantly and it lights up my life.

JG: Oh! Well you started before the official revival, quilt revival.

EY: Yes. I lived in Toronto and we started, Mary Carol and I started a quilt guild there that now has five hundred members and a waiting list. And it goes strong. And I've just loved that quilting guild. And then I came to Naples and found another quilting guild that I just love too. They are the best friends.

JG: Yeah. You started a quilt guild?

EY: Yes, I was the founding president of that guild.

JG: And when was that?

EY: York Heritage Quilters Guild. I think it was '78, in 1978.

JG: Aha? Wow. And so, did you take classes?

EY: Yes, I took a lot of classes and I love taking classes because you always learn something new. And also it is the sociability of the other people, meeting other people. I enjoy it. I've been to Paducah, several times and I have a little quilt group in Toronto that we entered and been accepted into Paducah. And one quilt went on a year's trip around the--display around the United States. [JG hums understanding.] So this guild is, this group had become great friends and we did wonderful quilts. We're not doing the big quilts now, because we're getting older and we're [laughs.] some of us are losing our sight, one died. So now we do quilts to--there is a group that sells quilts for the Breast Cancer and they have about five hundred quilts they auction off and we do one quilt a year for them.

JG: Your group does.

EY: Yes.

JG: Wonderful. Do you like every aspect of quilting?

EY: Yes. I particularly like hand quilting. I'm not very good at sitting at the machine hour after hour. And I'm sorry to see so much machine quilting going on, although it is a craft onto itself. It takes a lot of talent, I realize that. But I noticed lately that most of the quilts that win are hand-quilted, although the machine quilting is getting very, very [laughs.] popular.

JG: Yes, yeah. So the hand quilting versus machine quilting, what about piecing or appliqué?

EY: Well I guess I like appliqué best of all, but I do both, and sometimes I piece. The quilts we made in this small group were all hand-pieced, but I piece by machine. I made my grandchildren quilts to go to university with, and I machine pieced them and had them machine quilted, because they get too much rough treatment to be hand quilted.

JG: So you don't do any of your own machine quilting?

EY: No, very little. If I make a quilt for the abused children down here I machine quilt it, but I'm not very good at it. [laughs.]

JG: [nods.] How many hours a week do you spend quilting?

EY: Oh! Every day. Three or four hours every day, because since my husband died this is what really keeps me sane. [laughs.] [JG: Yes.] So I do spend a lot of time quilting.

JG: Yes. Did you use quilting during this difficult time when your husband -

EY: Oh, very much so. I always had a block to take to the hospital to work on, and it really helped me a lot, during that--I was so glad I had something like that to keep my interest up.

JG: Yeah. What is your first quilt memory?

EY: Well, my mother, she didn't put quilts together, but she used to quilt tops. They moved out and had a lake home and she would put a top, a frame up and a quilt in it. And all the women from the city would come out and my dad loved it, because they got all the gossip of the city. [laughs.] I lived in a not to big a town and they always brought the best food. [laughs.] So I've spent a lot of time climbing under quilt frames, but I didn't learn it particularly from her. I just had that environment in my background, but I learned myself by going to workshops.

JG: Yes. And you were inspired in '72 ultimately.

EY: Yes, yes.

JG: Do you have any of your mother's quilt tops, quilts?

EY: Yes I have one. It's--we called it the Dutch Doll, but it's called Sunbonnet Sue now that she did. My aunt was a great quilter. She gave me a quilt for my wedding, a wedding quilt. She was really the better quilter. That's all I have, just the two of them, one of each.

JG: Are there other ancestors, do you know, who were quilters? Where did your mother and aunt learn--

EY: No, no. I don't know, they just, they just learned to do it, I guess as young girls.

JG: When were they quilting?

EY: They were always quilting. My mother seemed to be always quilting, especially during the war when, she'd go to the church and they'd make quilts out of things for people who didn't have a lot. They had sort of a group that went in and did all sorts of things for people who were on--well, there was no welfare then--who were struggling. I can remember going to the church with her to do that.

JG: You say the quilt frame--we're talking about 2 by 4s and C-clamps?

EY: Yes. Two by Fours and that's still what I use, two by fours and C-clamps.

JG: Oh, you use a full-size?

EY: I don't quilt on a full-size, I baste my quilts on a full-size quilt frame. [JG: Yeah.] I have quite a large room, living room in Toronto, and I can put it up and my son has learned to roll the quilts, so I can baste it by myself. [JG laughs: Great.] And I always baste it on--a quilt--I never do it on a table. I think it's easier for me.

JG: It's less shifting, there is less shifting.

EY: Yes. And you know if you get a ripple on the lining [JG: Terrible.] the backing, it's terrible. You never do when you baste it on a frame.

JG: - On a large surface. You hand quilt with a frame or on your lap?

EY: Then I take it off and quilt with a hoop, yes. It's portable that way.

JG: Yeah, yeah. How does quilting impact your family?

EY: Well, I think they ignore me mostly [both laugh.] You know, 'That's mother's thing.' They--if my quilts are on the website, which has been two, a couple of times, they tell all the friends. But that's about it. They like them, but my son really loves quilts. He can sit down at a frame and quilt. [JG: Really.] He is sort of master of everything, yeah.

JG: How outstanding. How interesting. So you've had other quilts published on the website?

EY: Well, yes, when I won Viewer's Choice two years ago and this year they--on the website of the Toronto group [York Heritage Quilters Guild.], they put my quilt up, a picture of my quilt on.

JG: Excellent. Congratulations. And I heard you say that you had a quilt that was juried to Paducah as well?

EY: Well we had – this is the group [JG: The Group.] we called them The Pieceful Scrappers, because we did scrap quilts. We've had I guess two of them, three of them accepted at Paducah. Then we've had one published by the publisher in--I forget the name of the company [Oxmoor House.], but in a magazine, [JG nods.] and then we've got one, this same quilt that went around the United States. It was also published in a book. [the first Canadian Group to be in Great American Quilts, 2000 and again in Big Book of Scrap Quilts, September 2005.]

JG: Fantastic. Do you teach other people to quilt?

EY: I have taught. I've taught here just basic quilting. And in Toronto I've taught, but I find it takes a lot of my time. [laughs.] But if anybody wants to learn something I teach them.

JG: You're willing to share.

EY: Yes, I'm willing to share.

JG: Yeah. I find that with most quilters. We're all willing to share.

EY: Yeah. Very much so.

JG: If it's called teaching or sharing, it's the same idea. [EY: Yes.] Do you document your quilts?

EY: No, not really. I'm very bad at that. [laughs.] I don't.

JG: Do you take progress photos as you're--

EY: No. I don't do anything like that. I just work away.

JG: Are your labels descriptive?

EY: Not particularly. They give the name of the quilt and when it was made, and sometimes for whom it was made. That's about all I put on it.

JG: You said earlier, that you don't particularly make a quilt for someone, but you clearly, you've made quilts as gift.

EY: Yes. My nieces and each child has a wedding quilt. And my two nieces have wedding quilts.

JG: Well, that's substantial.

EY: - And some of my friends, very close friends, I've made wedding quilts for.

JG: And that's always a surprise for--

EY: Oh, yes. [laughs.] Oh, yes.

JG: A lovely, lovely surprise. And you said the grandchildren have quilts that you've made?

EY: They have, of course they all had crib quilts, and then when they go to university or to further school I make each one one. And there will be, I have enough, there will be wedding quilts for them.

JG: Oh, so really you're making quilts and you're storing them, and when an occasion arises--

EY: Yes, that's what I do.

JG: - You can part with those, oh. [EY: Yes.] That's not easy, I find.

EY: It's not easy, no.

JG: But they are appreciated?

EY: Mostly, as far as I know. Yes, I figure once it's given, it's given. And I don't ask anybody. That's their thing.

JG: Do you make care suggestions, though? How to care for this?

EY: Yes, I say, you can wash them, but don't wash them very often. They don't need a lot of washing.

JG: What do you think makes a great quilt?

EY: Color. Color is my first thing. And I'm a traditionalist. Although I can appreciate the art quilts, I am really a traditionalist. And I like the old patterns, and the old-fashioned way of doing them.

JG: What do you think makes the quilt artistically powerful?

EY: Color. Definitely color.

JG: And if it's turquoise, it's even better. [laughing.]

EY: And if it's turquoise it's perfect. [both laugh.]

JG: What makes in your mind a quilt appropriate for a special collection for a museum?

EY: Oh, I guess it would be the traditional patterns. I like the idea of keeping that tradition. I know they have a big collection here in Washington and I know that the Toronto museum has a big collection too.

JG: So actually we're talking in any museum, not just a quilt museum, but in art museums.

EY: Yes. They definitely are an art, I think. And they're just coming more so now, they're considering them art pieces, yes.

JG: How do you personally preserve, or do you believe they should be preserved.

EY: I'm not very good at this, I guess, but I have a cupboard that I keep, that has shelves and I keep them there and I try to take them out every once in a while and refold them, mostly. But I don't have any problems. I guess if you lived, it depends where you lived. In the tropics it would be more care than it is in Toronto.

JG: But I see you've got your quilts displayed as well, so you don't have all of them in the cupboard. You enjoy them.

EY: No. No, I have them on the walls here and then in Toronto I have - my bedroom is just one solid wall. There is one behind my bed. [JG: Fantastic.] Yes, I do show them, yes.

JG: Well you enjoy them.

EY: I do. I love them.

JG: You know you can have them all flat on a bed, in a covered room, darkened and covered with a sheet, but no one can appreciate them there--

EY: No.

JG: Unless you so bed-turnings all the time.

EY: Yeah. [laughs.]

JG: What makes a great quilter?

EY: Well, I don't think there is anything that makes particularly. It seems to me the most people who are the great quilters are very precise with their cutting, but then there are a lot of quilters who put them together – after all it is a craft. It's not brain surgery. It's a craft. People make great quilts, even if there are flaws in them, they're still very [inaudible.]

JG: A flaw, if the bindings aren't--

EY: Yes, if the bindings aren't perfect or maybe some comers aren't perfect. But if you're going to enter a judged place, those things have to be perfect. But just enjoy--

JG: The visual impact.

EY: The visual impact.

JG: Ah, yes. Where do you think great quilters learn the art of quilting, or how to design a pattern, or something?

EY: Well some people are born with that instinct, that artistic talent. Others have to, like me, have to copy mostly. [laughs.] Workshops are wonderful for that, and of course the quilt guilds are excellent for that. They always inspire you.

JG: Yeah. You go to a quilt show and be inspired--

EY: Quilt shows.

JG: Do you watch television, the television programs?

EY: Sometimes I do. Yes, if I'm home. [laughs.]

JG: Well we have discussed – how do you, maybe you don't personally do the machine quilting, versus hand quilting, but now we've got long-arm quilting that we also, that's coming into the picture. How do you feel about that?

EY: That's what I do for the university quilts. I have them long-arm quilted. But otherwise I don't have that. It looks too much, too commercial, for me on my good quilts.

JG: Who has really influenced you in your quilting? Have any great teachers influenced you, or guild members? Do you have someone that you try to emulate?

EY: Oh, yes, Donna Johnson. [a Naples guild member.] She is so precise and so imaginative in her quilts. I really appreciate her work. But I just sort of go along doing my own thing. Sometimes it's perfect and sometimes it's not. [laughs.]

JG: But it's your own pleasure.

EY: My own pleasure, yes.

JG: And it certainly is, it's a wonderful way to pass the time.

EY: Oh, yes. It just lights up my life.

JG: Do you feel that your quilts in any way reflect your community or the region that you're from?

EY: No, I don't think so, because I live in two different places, two different countries and then I lived in Singapore for four years and there was a quilting group there. I didn't notice. Quilters are quilters, no matter where you go. And they're all, I don't notice any particular influence.

JG: [agrees.] And not even in Singapore? Their background?

EY: No, because mostly I quilted with people from Germany, from France, from England, from Australia, from the United States, from Canada and they all, from Switzerland, they all sort of emulated the American quilt, The North American [JG: The Western culture.] quilting. The Western Culture, yes.

JG: [softly.] Interesting, interesting. What do you think about the importance of quilts and American and Canadian life?

EY: Well, I don't notice any difference. The people in Toronto and where else I have lived all had the same enthusiasm for quilts, the love and immediately you had the same interests with the quilter no matter where they're from. The same interests.

JG: What about the historical aspect of the quilting?

EY: Oh, yes. I'm not really up on a lot of historical quilts, although I appreciate them and I love to hear the stories about the old quilters, the ones for the farm houses and how they would make quilts out of just scraps. I guess it does trace history and they've used that many times in demonstrating quilting.

JG: Do you think quilts have special meanings for women's history?

EY: Oh, yes. It doesn't change history, but it certainly, when I think of those railroad quilts from the people escaping from slavery and that history. I found that very interesting. Everybody when you're quilting anywhere out in public, everybody comes out and tells you about 'my grandmother used to quilt' and 'my aunt.' And they all have a story to tell you.

JG: And it seems that quilting is that super bond, when you--

EY: Super bond, yeah, that's a good way describing it.

JG: Immediately, it's a sorority.

EY: Yes.

JG: Where do you think quilting will take us in the future?

EY: I don't know. It seems to me that the art quilts are becoming very, very strong. But I think the tradition of quilts will still be around. I'm really a traditionalist. [laughs.]

JG: Yeah, yeah. What would you like your legacy to be with your quilts?

EY: Oh, I just hope that each child will remember me- or grandchild from quilts. Doing this program is a great way of supporting the quilt world.

JG: Do you have a big stash?

EY: [laughs.] I do. I do. I'm ashamed. Some of it is so old and I should get rid of it. But I just can't. [laughs.] I keep thinking I should take some of those older ones and give them away, but I still hang on to them. I love just going into it, getting my fix, going into a quilt store, even if I don't buy. I'm looking at the new patterns and the new colors, and I love that.

JG: So your old fabrics are your archives.

EY: Yes. [laughs.] Real archives. [laughs.]

JG: Do you have any special pointers on how to store your fabric? And how do you have it organized?

EY: Nothing. I'm a terrible cupboard-keeper. I have it all organized and them I'll go looking for some material and it'll be all disorganized again. [laughs.]

JG: Do you travel, do you have a stash in Florida as well or do you travel with your fabrics?

EY: I have a stash in Toronto and a stash here and then I have the ones I just have to take with me everywhere.

JG: For the project that you're working on.

EY: Yes, but even something I might do in the future. [laughs.]

JG: Aha, aha, aha. Do you drive back and forth or do you have to ship them?

EY: No, I drive back and forth.

JG: Okay, all right. [EY: Yeah.] What's next on your agenda? What project are you working on now?

EY: Well. I'm doing a teddy bear one. And I'm also doing a [JG: coughs.] butterfly one. [JG: Oh.] And I've got them in different sizes. They start bigger and then they go down to this size, this small size [EY points to a block.] and that will be my next quilt. And the teddy bear one is all ready to put together.

JG: Very interesting. How many panels do you have for that teddy bear?

EY: Well, they're all different shapes and the pattern is a Canadian girl and she has different sizes and [JG: So it's a sampler.] she puts it together [JG: Like a sampler then.] Yes, like a sampler of teddy bears. [JG: Aha.] And she--

JG: Very interesting. The one [block.] I see is very intricate.

EY: Yeah, it was. There were a lot of pieces in that.

JG: A lot of appliqué on there.

EY: I love appliqué. [laughs.]

JG: Is there any part of quilting that you don't enjoy?

EY: No. I can't think of anything. I even like washing and ironing them. I love ironing them and looking at the material. [telephone rings in the background.] There is nothing really that I--

JG: We can pause. [the tape was briefly shut off so Ede could take a phone call.] Ede, do you make wearable art?

EY: Yes. I have made a jacket that one of the girls taught at Quilt Day. It was a sweat shirt that you sort of put a Crazy Patch over it. And I have made the sweater with the front panels. But I don't do a lot.

JG: Aha, aha. Do you sleep under a quilt?

EY: [laughs.] No I don't. [laughs.] Funny. I don't.

JG: [laughs.] Not an unusual answer. [both laugh.] Is this your first quilt history preservation that you've taking place in?

EY: Yes. Except for the last quilt show [at Naples Quilters Guild in 2004.] they did a documentary on film and I was on that.

JG: Yes, yes, yeah. Is there anything that you thought I would ask you, that I have not? Would you like to--

EY: No. I think you've covered everything.

JG: Covered everything? Do you collect quilts?

EY: No. I never buy one. It' would have to be very unusual, unless it's--I love having other people's work. The group I belong to here, we each did a block for each other. Because we said it's nice to have somebody else's work, that you really like. Outside of that, no. I don't collect quilts particularly.

JG: Just my own.

EY: Just my own [laughs.] Lots of them. [JG laughs.]

JG: Oh, my goodness. Well, Ede, [sighs.] there is nothing that you'd like to contribute right now? Then I'll just thank you very much for allowing me to interview you. Thank you very much. The interview is over at 12:43 [p.m.] Thank you, Ede.

EY: Thank you.

[tape ends.]


“Ede Yeomans,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed July 16, 2024, https://qsos.quiltalliance.org/items/show/1647.