Jacqueline Collopy




Jacqueline Collopy




Jacqueline "Jackie" Bush Collopy


Melissa Danielsson

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

A Friend of the Quilt Alliance


Roswell, Georgia


Melissa Danielsson


Melissa Danielsson (MD): My name is Melissa Danielsson, and I am conducting an interview with Jackie Collopy [Jacqueline Bush Collopy.] in her home in Roswell, Georgia for the Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories project. We are doing this through the American Heritage Committee of the Georgia State Society Daughters of the American Revolution. Jackie is a quilter and is a member of the Martha Stewart Bulloch Chapter. Jackie, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. It was a real treat to photograph you and your beautiful quilt at the Bulloch Hall Quilt Show last week. It's such an interesting quilt. Could you please start by telling me the title of your quilt and how the quilt evolved?

Jackie Collopy (JC): This quilt is called "A Quilt for Meagan." It was made last year for my second oldest granddaughter Megan [Nelson.] when she graduated from high school. I started these memory quilts in 2005, when her sister Erin graduated high school. And this year, 2009, I'm creating two more twin size quilts for two grandsons [Zachary Nelson and Christian Winward.] that are graduating in May and June.

MD: What special meaning does this quilt have for you?

JC: Megan is very special to me, and I wanted this quilt to be what Megan likes and she loves fairies. And I had a lot of trouble trying to figure out how to incorporate them into this quilt. So, I took her 14 dance pictures, put them on fabric, put them on the quilt and then I found wonderful fairies to sit on each shoulder of each dance [photo.]. And she was very thrilled because I used all her favorite colors. And this made it very special for Megan and for me.

MD: Why did you choose this quilt for the interview?

JC: I don't do a lot of quilts. I do them periodically and this one was one that I had her send to me for the Bulloch Hall Quilt Show here in Roswell [Georgia.] and I could use it for this interview. I was proud to because it had been finished in 2008, in the spring, for her graduation.

MD: What do you think someone viewing your quilt might conclude about you?

JC: I think that I like color. Megan's quilt is a lot of turquoise in the center part with wonderful batiks. She loves greens and blues. And I do too. In my quilts I always use a lot of color and of course design.

MD: This quilt was recently exhibited. Could you please tell me why you chose it for the show?

JC: Well, it really was the last one that I finished, and I wanted it to be here for the Bulloch Hall show and so I had something to put in the show. So I had it flown in from Minnesota. And I put it in Bulloch Hall's wonderful show.

MD: Could you please tell me more about the Bulloch Hall Quilt Show?

JC: This year's show was I believed the 27th, in this wonderful house museum. I think if there is any place that exhibits quilts better it's at Bulloch Hall. They always have about 200 quilts on display on the walls and on the beds. Also draped over the furniture in this 1840 house museum.

MD: How many shows have you curated?

JC: I curated the shows at Bulloch Hall from 2000 to 2007. That was seven years. I was trained by Shirley Deuchler who had done the first 18 shows at Bulloch Hall. It was a pleasure to curate these wonderful shows and to bring all the wonderful workmanship mainly from the women of Georgia into Bulloch Hall each year.

MD: How does your granddaughter use this quilt?

JC: Megan has her quilt on her bed. And she very nicely, in the cold Minnesota of March, took it off her bed and sent it to me here in Roswell so I could have it for the whole month and show it at the Bulloch Hall show.

MD: What are your plans for her quilt?

JC: My plans for her quilt are giving her something to remember me by and I think that's why I started these quilts for my grandchildren. The first one was in 2005. I had Megan's last year and I have two grandsons this year. I have four more grandchildren in the next few years to finish. I guess you could call them graduation quilts from grandma.

MD: Tell me about your interest in quiltmaking.

JC: My interest in quilt making is an extension of my lifelong love of fabrics and love of design. A friend of mine introduced me to quilting when I first came to Atlanta 21 years ago. There was the East Cobb Quilt Guild and I used to go with her there and also took some classes with her at a local quilt shop that we have. I think from this is where I really got started doing this quilting. Through her we also had an international group of quilters that came over and were our guests and invited us back to Belgium, Switzerland and Austria in 1994 to see their quilting shops and also introduce us to their life over there and that was a very special part of starting to pick up my quilting here in Georgia.

MD: How many hours a week do you quilt?

JC: I don't quilt regularly; I quilt under pressure. I always need to have something that I'm doing. Right now I work about two to three hours a day on finishing these two quilts for the two boys who are graduating in May and June.

MD: At what age did you start quiltmaking and from whom did you learn to quilt?

JC: My mother [Charlotte Bush.] was a wonderful seamstress and she made some of my clothes. My favorite aunt, [Thelma Finley.] did many handcrafts and I especially remember an appliqué quilt that she made of poppies. Through my mother and my aunt, I learned to sew, and in junior high school, I was active in the 4H Club. I made an outfit, I remember, that won first prize at the state fair and after I got married, I continued to sew my children's clothes and also to make gifts.

MD: What is your first quilt memory?

JC: My first quilt memory is my aunt's poppy quilt. I believe it wasn't finished, but she had done enough blocks that when she passed away, her daughter-in-law gave me and people that meant so much to my aunt, one of these blocks and I have it at home in my collection. That quilt turned me on to that's what I want to do some day.

MD: Are there other quiltmakers among your family or friends?

JC: My mother started a quilt when she was pregnant with me. She did probably about a dozen blocks and they were Sun Bonnet Sue and Farmer Sam. When she broke up her home, she gave me the blocks and I took and made them into a wall quilt, which hangs in my three granddaughters' bedroom back in Minnesota.

MD: Tell me if you have ever used quilts to get through a difficult time?

JC: Two years ago, my step-grandson [Jason Charette.] had Hodgkin's Lymphoma and my daughter [Kathi Winward.] and I made him a quilt. He loved NASCAR racing and so we used fabric for that, and we made him this special quilt and she had it blessed in her church. And he used that quilt when he was in hospice before he passed away. It was very special.

MD: Does quiltmaking impact your family?

JC: Since I am known by my eight grandchildren and my two step-grandchildren as the quilting grandma, especially since I started making each a graduate quilt. My mother Charlotte Bush made crotched Afghans for each of her children and grandchildren and so I want to leave a legacy, a quilt for my grandchildren. I've had each grandchild here to visit over the years for Camp Bulloch [Roswell, Georgia.]. Where during that Camp Bulloch I teach an hour's course of quilting and I give them a little bit of quilt history and they have a project to take home, after that hour.

MD: Tell me about an amusing experience that has occurred from your quilt making?

JC: Well at Bulloch Hall they have something called Heritage Day and this is when the junior high schools come for a day, and they introduce them to all the crafts. I usually do the quiltmaking in one of the bedrooms and so the children come through, probably every ten minutes you have another group. I came up with a quick way to get them to figure out what it feels like to quilt. I took an embroidery hoop and made three layers of fabric. I have a needle all threaded and the amusing part is seeing the boys, that have never touched a needle, they have watched and seen their grandmothers or their mothers and try to sew through these three layers of fabric. [laughs.] It's been a fun thing to do and seeing the faces and introducing them that it's not as easy as it looks like. [laughs.]

MD: What do you find pleasing about quiltmaking?

JC: I just love the search for the right fabric and then putting these fabrics together into a top. I love working on my design wall and coming up with just the right design for these quilts. I have an art background and so I just love the creative process of searching and designing this top of this special quilt.

MD: What aspects of quiltmaking do you not enjoy?

JC: I do not enjoy binding the quilt and I also don't particularly enjoy the quilting: which is the quilting through the three layers of something as big as a twin-size quilt. That's why I appreciate the women that have longarm machines and they will actually do the quilting for you, after you've finished the top. They will take it and sew it. We call this ‘Quilting with your checkbook.' [laughs.]

MD: What art or quilt groups do you belong to?

JC: I belong to the Roswell Fine Arts Alliance which is a group of art minded painters in Roswell for the 20 years I've lived here, and I also belong to the Bulloch Hall Quilt Guild.

MD: Have advances in technology influenced your work? If so, how?

JC: I particularly love to go to quilt shows and see the vendors and see what's new and what's the latest thing that they've invented for us to use as quilters. I like to read quilt magazines. I go on some websites to see what the latest techniques are. I have used some of these in my quilts today. I went to a quilt show and a vendors in March that was over in Gwinnett and picked up a few interesting new things to use with my quiltmaking.

MD: What are your favorite techniques and materials?

JC: My favorite thing is taking photographs and putting them on fabric and incorporating those pictures into the quilts. I made a memory quilt years ago for a couple at church and I guess that got me started. I have used it with the campers when I taught at Bulloch Hall, but my granddaughter Erin's quilt in 2005, had pictures of her life incorporated on star blocks all over the quilt and then Megan's [quilt.] the one that I did last year, has her 14 years of dance pictures around the edge of the quilt with her favorite fairy perched on each shoulder and those were all done with photographs printed on my printer at home.

MD: Describe your studio or the place that you create.

JC: I use two unused bedrooms upstairs. The one is my computer room up there. That is where I like to take my sewing machines and keep them, and work on my projects and then the bedroom on the other side has my design wall because it has two big walls and then I put up a piece of flannel. And your squares, when you finish your quilt squares, will stick up on that design wall. And I can change it. Then I take my camera and I take pictures of the different designs until I get one that I love. I can take that picture with me, and I have taken it to the quilt guild and some of my friends and gotten help.

MD: Tell me how you balance your time.

JC: Well, my quilting is usually in the late afternoon/early evenings because I'm really busy during the rest of the day. If I had my way, I guess I would spend a lot more time on it. Right now, I'm up there, as I said, every day trying to get to the May quilt finished. I don't like to watch TV.

MD: You already discussed how the design wall enhances your creative process. Do you have anything else to add to that?

JC: For me it's a way of looking at the quilt. I'll start with maybe just some colors up there and I'll come back, and I like to turn the light on and look at the design wall and I see something different every time and I will change it. You can just take off your block or take off your strips of fabric. It's a wonderful way of working the process. It helps me plan it and then of course carry it out. The one I have up on the wall, I've got it now to where I really like it. I have to cut the fabrics for the background and the binding and connect them and get them finished.

MD: What do you think makes a great quilt?

JC: I am particularly drawn to quilts with a lot of color and a lot of design. Contemporary [quilts.] really draws me especially. Not that I don't appreciate the more traditional quilt. I like color.

MD: What makes a quilt artistically powerful?

JC: The colors that have been used and how they have been used that catches your eye.

MD: What makes a quilt appropriate for a museum or special collection?

JC: Quilts that I have seen that go into the museum up in Paducah [Kentucky.] There's a quilt show in Paducah, Kentucky every April and I've been probably to about five of them and they have a wonderful museum there. The ones that really stand out is the workmanship that have gone into that quilt. How their seams meet. If they've used a sewing machine, it's used wonderfully. You wouldn't even know that it was a sewing machine. The one that are done by hand the stitching is small and beautiful. This is how our quilters were known years ago and this is how hand quilters are known today. How many stitches an inch and how well it has been done.

MD: What makes a great quiltmaker?

JC: If their seams are aligned, if their stitches are perfect, and if the finished quilt is memorable. Does it lay flat? Most of them are displayed on a wall and if it's even. The colors that the quiltmaker has used are perfect for the design. Her techniques are very well done if she is memorable.

MD: Whose works are you drawn to and why?

JC: I love contemporary. I like Kaffe Fassett, Nancy Crow, and Yvonne Porcella. They are very bright quilts that they have done. Nancy was the first one that drew my eye, because she used a lot of geometrics and color. I was introduced to Kaffe Fassett. He's an Englishman and he uses wonderful, flowered fabrics and now he has his own line of fabrics. I really love their work.

MD: Which artists have influenced you?

JC: I love Impressionist art. In my quilting, some of it I have used, there's a series of fabrics called Aunt Grace, which is a reproduction of the 1930s and 1940s fabrics, and they remind me of this Impressionistic feeling because they are softer. I do like those. The one quilt I did of my mother's squares I used those Aunt Grace fabrics. And I have a few other things I have done with them. Artistically, I like the Impressionists.

MD: How do you feel about machine quilting vs. hand quilting? What about longarm quilting?

JC: I really appreciate the hand quilters. The guild each year, they hand quilt our raffle quilt on a frame during the show. Many of our members do beautiful handwork and they sit there, and hand quilt this quilt that will be raffled off the next year. I really do admire their ability. I've tried it and I'm not good at it at all. That's why I really like our new machines. I appreciate the longarm quilters, as I mentioned before, we call it quilting with our checkbook because we can hire them to quilt our quilts. Many members are now getting their own longarms so they can do their own quilts at home. There are some quilt shops that do rent space on their longarm and I did do one at Christmas time and it was fun to use one of those. It is much easier than trying to quilt a quilt on your small table sewing machine.

MD: Why is quiltmaking important to your life?

JC: I think that quilting satisfies my creativity in a way. I've tried many creative projects over the years, and I always seem to come back to quilting. I want to leave a legacy for my grandchildren with these graduation quilts. There's a certain feeling of warmth and accomplishment when you do finish something that is made especially for that one person.

MD: In what ways do your quilts reflect your community or region?

JC: I think here because I'm influenced by the quilt shops that I go in, the quilt shows I attend, the classes I take and also the quilts that have been created by my guild. I pick up a little something: some ideas, a feeling and this is incorporated into my quilt.

MD: What do you think about the importance of quilts in American life?

JC: I love to tell my campers about how the first quilts were utilitarian and made out of worn-out clothing and used to make covers to keep warm. These early American pioneers had more time, they came up with patterns. They would get together in quilting bees and make these quilts using more of their own expression. They could make friends and it helped express their creativity. Quilts bring the image of something warm, to wrap around you and bring comfort and love.

MD: In what ways do you think quilts have special meaning for women's history in America?

JC: These early American pioneers came up with patterns we use today. They could get together in quilting bees and make friends.

MD: How do you think quilts can be used?

JC: Quilts are used in many ways: They are used in decoration on walls, on beds for warmth, or just to be a cover. They're used as throws for those in nursing homes or hospitals, and then for sick children, and they are also used as gifts to say something special to someone.

MD: How do you think quilts can be preserved for the future?

JC: Fabric disintegrates over time. Up in Williamsburg, [VA.] where they have a wonderful collection, they keep them out of oxygen in an oxygen free drawer. In your own home, you should never put them in plastic; you shouldn't let them sit where they get a lot of sunlight or light. You should never fold them the same way. You change those folds over time. They should be wrapped in acid free paper. Or wrapped up in 100% rag cotton sheet and you can rotate them if you have something special from your grandmother. You want to preserve it this way.

MD: What has happened to the quilts that you have made or those of friends and family?

JC: The two that I have made for graduation are on my grandchildren's beds. Many of the other ones that I have made are wall size, usually to say thank you to somebody if I've stayed in their house. They are always made special for a special occasion.

MD: What do you think is the biggest challenge confronting quiltmakers today?

JC: Quiltmakers today have so much more resources that they are able to use. It's important that we remember where we came from and what our grandmothers and great grandmothers did in the quilting field. Especially most of them were done by hand. We have a lot of quilts today that come across the oceans that were done quickly, and they are very nice, but they don't have the same love and attention that's made by someone in your family or has been passed to you.

MD: Which quilt collections have you visited that inspired you?

JC: There's a couple that inspired me. I remember my first trip to Paducah, Kentucky. There is the quilting museum in Paducah, and they had an exhibit that year. It showed old log cabin quilts. There were wonderful examples of the traditional. They had a today's exhibit and these quilters that were in it had taken the Log cabin pattern and made it into a contemporary adaptation of this block. It was just amazing what people came up with taking the old and bringing it into the new. I saw it this year too, Bulloch Hall brought in an exhibit out of Virginia, and they had given each quilter a block and 20 women took that block and had to incorporate it, and this is an old pattern, into something in a 20"by 20" square and it was just amazing what these women came up with. It gave me ideas; inspiration and it was wonderful what these women came up with.

MD: Your friend and fellow quilter, Dianne Cannestra, just won the first place in the state of Georgia. Does that inspire you to do anything?

JC: Oh, yes. I like to have a goal. When the end of June comes with my second grandson's quilt, I want to go on to something like that. It would be fun to do a design of something that might be entered into this quilt show.

MD: For the DAR quilt contest.

JC: To design something that I think might be entered into the DAR quilt contest. Dianne is a wonderful quilter. She's very good and an inspiration.

JC: Let's hope that I can come up with something. That's wonderful that she has been able to do that. She's in the Bulloch Hall Quilt Guild and I think she did show it. That's wonderful that she has been to do that.

MD: Is there anything that you would like to touch on?

JC: I appreciate this chance to bring my love of quilts and quilting and I think this is great the DAR is doing this because it's so important that we carry on this tradition that is a God given talent that people have. So many of my friends know it's not that it's not good enough, everybody who quilts has something to give. Encourage these younger quilters who are coming up: for preserving tradition.

MD: Jackie, this has been a very special morning. I've learned a great deal and appreciated your sharing your stories with me. I would like to conclude our interview with Jacqueline Bush Collopy. And the time is 12:10 p.m. Thank you so much, Jackie.


“Jacqueline Collopy,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed May 24, 2024, https://qsos.quiltalliance.org/items/show/1661.