Hazel Koski




Hazel Koski




Hazel Lyman Koski


Bonnie Koski Hawes

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Carolyn Mazloomi


Dunlap, Iowa


Bonnie Koski Hawes


Bonnie Koski Hawes (BH): My name is Bonnie Koski Hawes and today's date is November 6, 2009 at 5:17 p.m. I am conducting an interview with my mother, Hazel Lyman Koski in Dunlap, Iowa, for the Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories project. Hazel Lyman Koski is a quilter. Mom, I'd like to ask you first what might have been your first memory of quilting.

Hazel Koski (HK): I don't remember. It was a long time ago.

BH: How old are you now?

HK: I am 94. I did get a quilt top from my grandmother and I quilted it before I was married.

BH: That might have been what year?

HK: Well, I was [inaudible.]

BH: Do you know how it was put together by your grandmother?

HK: There's no doubt, but what she used a machine, her hand treadle machine in those days. I guess I didn't take care of it like I should because I guess I didn't know how to take care of it. My mother died when I was 15 and I kept house for my dad. I'm not sure. I forget a lot.

BH: [laughs.] I appreciate that. I do too. Where were you living when you quilted this? Was it on the home place?

HK: I was living in Shelby County. I didn't do any quilting until we moved to Shelby County. That was in 1944.

BH: So you actually quilted it after you were married, but she gave it to you before you were married.

HK: Yes.

BH: Was your grandma still living then?

HK: Oh, no.

BH: Did your grandma live with you, ever?

HK: She did live with us for a while. I had one child then and it was hard to care for her. [inaudible.] She got lost.

BH: When you quilted it did you have room in your house for a quilting frame?

HK: Yes, I must have. My memory's not that good. I don't like to quilt unless I have a good frame.

BH: What's your frame like?

HK: It's boards and clamps. You have to put them on a chair.

BH: So you can walk all the way around the frame. For a regular size bed?

HK: Yes, a regular size bed. We didn't know the difference.

BH: Do you still have that frame?

HK: I gave it to a neighbor just recently.

BH: [laughs.] You used that same frame for every quilt you have quilted.

HK: Yes.

BH: That would have been almost 50 or 60 years. When you got through quilting the quilt did you bind the edges?

HK: I sewed it on with the sewing machine and then turned it over and finished it by hand.

BH: The same way that you did for all of your quilts. Did anybody give you direction on that?

HK: No, I don't know that they did. [inaudible.] Maybe I saw somebody else do it, I'm not sure.

BH: You had done other sewing? How much sewing had you done before you first made a quilt?

HK: I had done a lot of sewing because I made my quilts out of scraps. [inaudible.] People have asked me how I learned to sew and I tell them it is because I had to sew because we couldn't afford to buy.

BH: Did you sew your own clothes, too? Like when you were in high school?

HK: Yes, we did. When the girls got married we probably sewed most of their wedding dresses. I did sew some bridesmaid dresses.

BH: Sewing was a big part of your life, all through your life.

HK: Yes.

BH: You do other sewing now to make rugs. I know that.

HK: I sew pieces together to make rug.

BH: Have you ever put a quilt together by hand? With hand stitching?

HK: No, I never have put a quilt together by hand. I like to get anything done too fast.

BH: When you got it quilted and got it bound, what did you do with it then? How did you use it?

HK: I used it on our bed, I suppose. I didn't appreciate it like I know I should have. I definitely know that now.

BH: Is it still around? [talking about the Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt top HK's grandma gave her to quilt.]

HK: No, it's gone. In fact, I probably used it to put over the old springs under the mattress.

BH: Between the mattress and the open springs.

HK: Yes.

BH: The next project that was a quilting project, what was that? Do you remember?

HK: No, not especially.

BH: Was it that whole cloth maroon quilt or a baby quilt?

HK: I did sew and quilt baby quilts for most of the kids, my grandkids. I don't know just how many.

BH: How many children do you have?

HK: I have four children and 12 grandchildren. Then I have 26 great grandchildren and maybe more.

BH: [laughs.] How many great-greats?

HK: I think there's five.

BH: Tell me about the next large quilt that I know about, which is the maroon whole cloth quilt.

HK: Yes, I decided, that was when we was talking about wool batting so I sent and got wool batting. It was one whole piece of fabric and the back was the same. I quilted it and bound it the same as always. That got put away and got dirty. My daughter cleaned it all up and has it now.

BH: It is on a guest bed.

HK: It's on the guest bed, right now.

BH: Where did you get the fabric? You sent for the batting?

HK: I sent for the fabric and batting. We sent to Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward for everything. We very seldom went to the city.

BH: You would make out a mail order?

HK: Yes, we made out a mail order and put in a check.

BH: How long would it take to get it?

HK: Probably a week is all.

BH: Can you guess how much it might have cost at that time?

HK: I have no idea, I wish I did.

BH: Did it seem like a lot to you at that time?

HK: No, I have no idea.

BH: You did that quilt after you were married?

HK: Oh, yes. It was probably [inaudible.]

BH: Dad didn't mind you spending that money?

HK: No. [laughs.]

BH: Which was your next large quilt?

HK: I have no idea. I didn't use them for bedspreads until recently. I have four left now for the four kids. I did quilts for all of the grandchildren. [twelve grandchildren.] Most of them are big size.

BH: Queen size. The first one of those that you made was the shadow box?

HK: Yes.

BK: Can you tell me about that? Where did you get the material?

HK: That was just mostly scraps. I decided that was a way to get rid of scraps I had left over from sewing. It ended up I still had to buy some material to work in with the scraps.

BH: You might have to buy the sashings and things like that. When you look at the shadowbox quilt, do you remember noticing some of the clothing you made for your children?

HK: Yes. I did make some valances for the windows, too. [quilted valances match the quilt.]

BH: Mom, did you like doing the valances too?

HK: Oh, yes. I should have made some shams. [inaudible.] I have made placemats, too. I put in two-inch squares and I quilted around them.

BH: They are well used. You made sets for some of the grandchildren?

HK: I made a number of sets. I don't know when or how many.

BH: It was when they were grown and had their own homes, the grandchildren?

HK: Yes.

BH: It would have to be in the late 80's and early 90's.

HK: Yes.

BH: What are some of the quilt patterns you have used?

HK: Double Wedding Ring, Octagon, Shadow Box, Flower Garden, Maple Leaf, Tumbling Block, primitive heart. I made a number of Double Wedding Rings.

BH: Do you remember how many pieces are in one of those? [Double Wedding Ring quilt.]

HK: I don't know.

BH: There are two Double Wedding Rings that you gave to grandchildren with two different colors.

HK: One was blue and one was white.

BH: I think that's right. One had off white or white background and the other chambray blue.

HK: Two or maybe three may be machine quilted.

BH: Did you do all of the hand quilting, pretty much?

HK: Pretty much, yes. [both talk at same time about some of the children quilting for a while to learn.]

BH: Did you have neighbors stop in to quilt?

HK: There was only one neighbor that did one time. She only came once. She didn't care about it.

BH: [laughs.] A couple were machine quilted. Why didn't you hand quilt all of them?

HK: Cause I got tired. That's the way I always want things done in a hurry. That's my trouble. If I start it, I want it done right now.

BH: [laughs.] And with quilting, that's not--

HK: As I say, I get started down in the basement and I could quilt all day.

BH: But you want to get things done fast.

HK: I like to do it. That's why I can quilt for hours.

BH: Somehow there is satisfaction.

HK: That's right.

BH: What is the most satisfying part?

HK: I just love to see it.

BH: Maybe, know what you've accomplished?

HK: That's right.

BH: Do you have a favorite of any of those that you have done? If you were to pick one out to keep for yourself?

HK: I don't know especially. I guess if I picked one it would be hand quilted. I like the hand quilted better but I still like the machine quilted.

BH: What is the key to hand quilting that is well done?

HK: Even stitches and small stitches. When I used the wool batt I used a running stitch.

BH: That is a longer stitch.

HK: I don't know just how it is quilted.

BH: There is crosshatch on parts of it and a shell design on others because of that one I did a shell design on a quilt that I did. I used yours as an example. When you put your quilts together, did you ever use a treadle machine?

HK: No, I had a treadle machine at one time. My first new machine was a Sears Roebuck. It was a Christmas present.

BH: From Dad?

HK: Yes. [inaudible.]

BH: Was that in Harrison County?

HK: Yes.

BH: That was close to where you grew up.

HK: Yes. I always lived around here. Where I was born, I lived there until I got married.

BH: You moved to a farm near there. How did you have time to quilt?

HK: I quilted mostly after the kids were gone.

BH: What did you do when you were first married? Did you help with the farm work?

HK: We started farming with horses. It was probably a year or two.

BH: You did teach school before you got married?

HK: Yes, I taught school two years. I kept house for Dad for two years. I had two sisters. Each helped Dad for two years.

BH: Did either of your sisters sew?

HK: Vera did. Della not so much.

BH: Did you have any aunts or neighbors at that time that sewed and worked together on projects? Did you learn from other people or were you mostly self-taught?

HK: I think most of it was self-taught. One time from school I took a tailoring class and made a suit.

BH: Made a suit for yourself or for dad?

HK: For dad.

BH: Have you ever taught a quilting class or have you ever taught anyone else how to sew?

HK: No. I don't know.

BH: You taught me how to sew and how to quilt. Was there anyone else?

HK: Not that I know of. I don't think Anita quilts.

BH: Jane's daughter has put some quilts together. [Anita, Bonnie, and Jane are HK's daughters.]

HK: But I don't think she quilts them.

BH: When she puts quilts together how do they get quilted? Does she have them machine quilted or did you quilt them?

HK: I think I quilted one for her.

BH: I know you quilted a couple for me and we quilted some together. The advantage is I learned and we did a lot of talking.

HK: Oh, yes. A lot of talking.

BH: Have you done other than large quilts?

HK: Baby quilts. Some of them were tied.

BH: What were the designs?

HK: Mostly just squares.

BH: Postage stamp and others. You did quilts for your own children and they have been given to the grandchildren.

HK: Some of them were tied.

BH: I'm remembering some with hand painted designs.

HK: I do remember we did some with paints.

BH: You got me started embroidering with quilt blocks.

HK: That's right. I gave you quilt blocks.

BH: They are still all embroidered but not put into a quilt.

HK: [laughs.] Well.

BH: I was about 10 years old and you taught me to embroider. You made me think I was good enough that I have continued to embroider forever. I still didn't make the quilt for my children or my grandchildren. Maybe now I'll do it for my great grandchildren.

BH: Is there anything about quilt making that you do not enjoy?

HK: I can't think of anything.

BH: Do you like using up scraps?

HK: Yes, I have bought very little material. There is one or two that I got material for.

BH: That might have been for the envelope or Tumbling Block?

HK: I don' know. The one on your bed, maybe.

BH: I think that's a tumbling block. Do you have one that you think is your most unusual quilting project?

HK: Yes, my most unusual one is the [inaudible.] one. It is made out of old ties. It was hard to put together but you helped me put it together. [the featured quilt.]

BH: That design came from an old Victorian baby quilt. You saw that and decided to use that design for the table centerpiece. It is made of silk ties. Can I ask if you have a favorite of all the quilt projects you have done?

HK: Maybe, the favorite would be the table runners I did for all four of you kids. [Anita, Bonnie, Jane, and Gene.] It was tricky to put together.

BH: That had a lot of little diamond shapes like an unusual shape parallelogram and was put together on a slant.

HK: Yes, it was. And that was quilted pretty heavy.

BH: Yes, there are a lot of tiny pieces. It probably took a lot of time.

HK: Yes, It did.

BH: What do you find the most pleasing about quilt making? What do you like the most?

HK: Well, my main object is to look at them when they get done.

BH: What do you think makes a great quiltmaker?

HK: Well, I suppose patience. To get the corners right, I suppose.

BH: I have seen you look at quilts closely to make sure corners are matched up completely so I know that's important to you.

HK: Yes, it is.

BH: You mentioned most of the fabrics you used have come from scraps from other sewing projects but sometimes you have had to buy some.

HK: The backing.

BH: What do you use for backing?

HK: Cotton and probably some polyester.

BH: Do you ever make a quilt and then wash it so it changes the design a little bit?

HK: No

BH: Do you wash all of the fabrics?

HK: No. [inaudible.]

BH: What purpose have all your quilts served?

HK: I use them for bedspreads. I don't know if anyone else has.

BH: Several of them have. Several of the grandchildren. They are in several states. Several of the grandchildren live in different states. Are there any other quiltmakers in your family that you know of?

HK: Well, I don't know. There is my uncle's wife. She was very precise. [Aunt Blanche and Uncle Jess, Mom's mother's brother.]

BH: She did have the embroidered one, didn't she?

HK: Yes she did.

BH: You quilted that one. That was embroidered just before she died?

HK: Anita has that one.

BH: Why did she give it to Anita?

HK: Anita helped care for her.

BH: Anita is your--

HK: Anita is my oldest daughter.

BH: Is there anything else you'd like to share?

HK: I'm surprised I've talked this long. It is hard to get me to shut up.

BH: [laughs.] You've done very well.

HK: What's our time?

BH: I know one thing I need to know a little bit about. Do you remember anything about your grandmother that was in DAR? [Bonnie's neighbor is a member of the DAR and introduced her to the project.]

HK: No, I don't because she died the day I was born.

BH: The very day?

HK: No it was the same year. I know she died at Christmas and I was born the August before that. [August 10, 1915.]

BH: So you were born in August and she died in December of the same year. I'd like to thank Mom, Hazel Lyman Koski, for allowing me to interview her today as part of the Quilters' [S.O.S.-] Save Our Stories. Our interview concluded at 5:48 p.m. November 6, 2009



“Hazel Koski,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed May 21, 2024, https://qsos.quiltalliance.org/items/show/1706.