Lela Anders




Lela Anders


Lela Anders is a quiltmaker from Alabama. She began quilting at around age 20, when her sister-in-law taught her how to. In this interview she describes a quilt she made for her granddaughter out of her old cheerleading outfits.




Melanie Grear


Lela Anders


Michele Kinney

Interview sponsor

Anita Grossman Solomon


Albertville, Alabama


Michele Kinney


**This transcript was created by QSOS volunteers and was reviewed and, in some cases, edited by the interviewee. It may not exactly match the audio recording. For citations and interview quotations, please refer to the audio-recorded interview.** Note: Lela Anders is not a member of DAR. While this is a DAR quiltmaker documentation project, membership within the DAR is not required.

Michele Kinney (MK): Can you tell me about the quilt you have today, its origins, age, and any meaning that it has?

Lela Anders (LA): This was a quilt that I made for my granddaughter. It was made out of her cheerleading outfits. Her t-shirts and things that she got at cheerleading and it had a very special meaning for her because she got to save the shirts she used in cheerleading.

MK: What are her plans for this quilt? What is she going to do with the quilt?

LA: She has put the quilt away and is keeping it and make sure that it doesn't get torn anywhere. And she is going to keep it.

MK: Tell me about your interest in quiltmaking. When did you start quilting and who taught you?

LA: Really, I started when I was about twenty years old. My sister-in-law taught me. I didn't do too well, but she didn't give up on my. And I learned to love it. I have made a lot of quilts.

MK: How old are you?

LA: I am 84 years old and I still love to quilt some.

MK: How many hours a week do you quilt now?

LA: I don't put up very many. I just do it at night while I'm relaxing. It takes me a long time now to piece a quilt because I try to work some during the day and I just have maybe a couple of hours at night that I work with one.

MK: Are there other quiltmakers among your family or your and friends? And can you tell me about them?

LA: No. There is no other quiltmaker in my family since my mother passed away. She used to quilt some.

MK: How does quiltmaking impact your family? How is quiltmaking important to your family?

LA: Quiltmaking is very important to my family. Because there is not any of them that knows how to quilt. But they love pretty quilts.

MK: How you ever used a quilt to get through a difficult time?

LA: That helps pass the time away sometimes. It gives me something to do.

MK: What do you find pleasing about quiltmaking?

LA: I just love to sit and add a piece or two at a time and I will sit and look at it and then I will do some more.

MK: What aspects of quilting do you not like? What about it do you not like doing?

LA: I don't know that there is not anything about it that I don't like. Sometimes I would like to have more time to work with it.

MK: What do you think makes a great quilt?

LA: I think that it is the time you spend with it and you like to do it right and you just love it when it is finished.

MK: What makes a quilt artistically important? Like what do you look for in your materials when you start to quilt? What are you looking for? For your pieces?

LA: I think quilts are very important. There are so many people now that I know [clears throat.], excuse me, that have quit quilting any at all. I don't know. I may have to. But I still try occasionally. [coughs.]

MK: How do great quiltmakers learn the art of quilting, especially how were you taught to choose a design or a pattern or how to choose fabrics?

LA: My quilts were mostly made from scraps that were left from making a dress or other things. I never bought scraps. I just used scraps that I had from sewing. And sometimes I would have to buy pieces to match the material I had, but not a lot.

MK: How do you choose your designs?

LA: I don't know. I usually have a patter that I have borrowed from someone else or I see a pattern of a quilt and I try to cut a piece that will fit to make up whatever that I'm trying to make.

MK: How do you feel about machine quilting verses hand quilting? What about long-arm quilting?

LA: I like to quilt and I give my quilts to my children and to my grandchildren and I like to make something that I think they would like to have to keep because their family no longer, has never made a quilt. I like the long-arm quilting better than the other. That is all I've known.

MK: So you have never machine quilted?

LA: No, I don't remember ever piecing a quilt on a machine. I just like to do it by hand.

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

LA: I don't think it affects it at all.

MK: How do you think quilts can be used?

LA: Well, we used to have to make the quilts for the warmth they would give us during the cold winter nights. We had to have a quilt when we didn't have a fire all night. And that - that is what we used mostly for, now then they don't use too many quilts because they have heat.

MK: How do you think quilts can be preserved for the future? In other words, how do you want your children to keep your quilts so that their children and their grandchildren can have them? How do they keep them? How do they store them?

LA: How do they keep them stored?

MK: Un-huh, yes.

LA: My daughter has a big old antique quilt box. She has it full of quilts. Mostly that I have made, because she will never make a quilt.

MK: What has happened to the quilts that you have made or those you have given to friends and family? What has happened to your quilts that you made? They have left your hands and gone somewhere else. What has happened to them?

LA: Well, most of the quilts that I have made and given to my family, to my children and my grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, they have put them away. And, [background child noise.] they take real good care of them [child playing in the background.] because they say that they won't ever have anymore because they don't anyone else in the family that quilts except me. So, they take very good care of them.

MK: Okay, I'm asking you a question. If you have been quilting since you were twenty, how old are you now?

LA: I am 84 now.

MK: What is your favorite quilt that you ever made? Do you remember?

LA: I think my favorite was the cathedral window. I love that. I don't have one, but my son and my daughter has one.

MK: That you made for them?

LA: That I made for them. And, they have put them away. They don't use them.

MK: Thank you for meeting with me today and for taking part in this project. People like you are so important to oral history projects and for preserving oral history stories of people who don't normally have their stories told. So, thank you very much.

LA: You are very welcome.


“Lela Anders,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed May 27, 2024, https://qsos.quiltalliance.org/items/show/17.