Verna Quinlin




Verna Quinlin




Verna Quinlin


Carol Klopfenstein

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

The Nat'l Quilting Assn


Winfield, Iowa


Judith Robinette


Note: Verna Quinlin is not a member of the DAR. While this is a DAR quiltmaker documentation project, membership is not required for participation.

Carol Klopfenstein (CK): This is Carol Klopfenstein. It is March 10th [2009.] at 4:33 p.m. I am conducting an interview with Verna Quinlin in my home in Winfield, Iowa, for the Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories project. We are doing this though the American Heritage Committee of the Iowa State Society Daughters of the American Revolution. Verna is a quilter and lives in Winfield, Iowa. Verna tell me about the quilt you brought today.

Verna Quinlin (VQ): The quilt that I have to show was one that I made for my granddaughter for her future wedding. I did this for each of my grandchildren. [stored them, sight unseen, for the future.]

CK: Does your quilt have a name?

VQ: The Double Wedding Ring.

CK: Why did you choose this quilt to bring to the interview?

VQ: Because of the story behind it.

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

VQ: I will read you the label that I put on the quilt. 'Made as a wedding gift for Lynelle K Hunsaker, who didn't live to see it. [with deep emotion.] Struck by an automobile. Lynelle died at 18, two weeks before she was to deliver an address at her high school graduation. This quilt served as flowers on her casket, [with deep emotion.] May 22, 2006.' [VQ was unable to speak the rest of the label: 'Made with love and a kiss by her grandmother, Verna Quinlin, Winfield, Iowa. Lynelle is buried in Clear Lake, Iowa.']

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

VQ: [with deep emotion.] That I loved my granddaughter very much.

CK: What are your plans for the quilt?

VQ: It was presented to her grandparents, to her parents, after the funeral.

CK: Tell me more about the quilt. How did you decide on the colors for the quilt?

VQ: I just wanted to use up the scraps I had.

CK: How long did it take you to make the quilt?

VQ: I had made the quilt [10 second pause.] and it was, I was half-way through quilting when I got the call that a car had hit Lynelle. Lynelle was very special, [with deep emotion.] not just because she was my granddaughter. Everything any [three second pause, deep emotion.]. She was everything anyone would want for a daughter or granddaughter. [5 second pause.] This happened two weeks before graduation from high school. She was on top in her class. She was to be a speaker and she had her speech already written. She was in intensive care for eight days before she passed away. Her English teacher, her mentor, read her speech at graduation. Her brother, Travis, sang at her funeral. [10 second pause, deep emotion.] and her father, [cries.] who is a minister, did her funeral service. At this time, the quilting was half-done. [three second pause.] It was used in lieu of flowers on her casket. [cries.] Later, I gave it to her parents, after I had finished it. So, it took about three months in all.

CK: Thank you for sharing that touching story. Do you use a large quilting frame?

VQ: No, I just have a little portable frame.

CK: Tell me how your interest in quilt making, when did you start? How many years have you been quilting?

VQ: My interest in quilting was because of my grandmother, when I was a little girl. I have only been quilting for ten or fifteen years.

CK: You have made many beautiful quilts in that short number of years. From whom did you learn to quilt?

VQ: I am self-taught, and I love quilt making from the very first time I did it.

CK: And who was that first quilt made for?

VQ: It was made for my daughter Joyce, Lynelle's mother.

CK: How many hours a week do you quilt?

VQ: As many as possible.

CK: What is your first quilt memory?

VQ: Seeing quilts my grandmother [Emma Smith LeDuc 1877 - 1972.] made and I have one of her quilts.

CK: Are there other quiltmakers among your family or friends? If there are, please tell me about them.

VQ: Well, just my grandmother, Emma LeDuc, and Aunt Edna. I never saw them quilt, but my mother would take our clothes we'd outgrown for material. I recognize a piece of my dress on the quilt I have of hers.

CK: How does quilt making impact your family?

VQ: My children were grown by the time I started quilt making, so it had no impact on them. Outside of, they like the quilts I give them.

CK: What do you find pleasing about quilt making?

VQ: It the closest I will ever come to painting. I would love to oil paint.

CK: What aspects of quilting do you not enjoy?

VQ: I love every bit of it.

CK: What quilt groups do you belong to?

VQ: I belong to The Church Mice Quilting & Sewing Group.

CK: Well, that's an interesting name for your group. You must have your meetings in a church.

VQ: Yes, we meet in the basement of the Winfield Methodist Church [Winfield, Iowa.] once a week.

CK: Have advances in technology influenced your work, and if so, how?

VQ: Well, they didn't use to have the cutting boards and the rotary cutters. This helps to get everything square and goes much faster.

CK: What are your favorite techniques and materials?

VQ: I have no favorites. I have all, used all different kinds of materials.

CK: Describe your studio, the place that you create.

VQ: I used to have a sewing room, but now I do it in the dining room, on the dining room table, so LeRoy [LeRoy Quinlin, VQ's husband.] isn't sitting by himself.

CK: Is that where your sewing machine is? Tell me about your machine.

VQ: Yes, it's in the dining room. I got my sewing machine when I was twenty-one years old, so that was fifty-three years ago. I've other sewing machines, but this is the machine I use to do my quilts. It was the first thing I ever bought on time, and I worried every month that I was going to, that I wouldn't be able to make the payments of $7.00.

CK: [laughs.] Tell me how you balance your time.

VQ: I don't have any problem getting things done. I have plenty of time to quilt.

CK: Do you use a design wall? If so, in what way and how does that enhance your creative process? If not, how do you go about designing your quilts?

VQ: Well, I just find a pattern out of a book and make it the way I want to. I lay it out on the floor and arrange the colors, as I make the blocks.

CK: What do you think makes a great quilt?

VQ: A combination of choice of materials, colors and arrangement.

CK: What makes a quilt artistically powerful?

VQ: Colors.

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

VQ: The age of the quilt, [four second pause.] representing different eras.

CK: What do you think makes a great quiltmaker?

VQ: A person with a great eye for design.

CK: How do you feel about machine quilting vs. hand quilting? And what about longarm quilting?

VQ: Well, it depends on the quilt. I have--if it is machine quilted or hand quilted. I use to not want to use machine quilting. I've had five done with machine quilting and I like either one of them.

CK: Why is quilt making important to your life?

VQ: It's something to leave to my children and grandchildren. They will be around a lot longer than me.

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

VQ: No way whatsoever, except the label states made in Winfield, Iowa.

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

VQ: Quilts tie families and generations together.

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

VQ: It shows the change of time. Less women are hand quilting, so someday it may become a lost art.

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

VQ: They should not be preserved. [four second pause.] They should be used.

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

VQ: I have given twenty-four quilts to the family, and they are using them.

CK: Have you made quilts for others?

VQ: Yes. Wounded soldiers returning from Iraq [made ten or twelve quilts for the wounded soldiers.]. I made three. Helped make three twin size quilts for the three Brown children whose parents lost everything in a house fire. Ten baby quilts that were donated to different organizations. I made one quilt that was auctioned off and some raffled to raise for the [three second pause.] money for the Winfield Firemen, Crooked Creek Days at Winfield, Winfield Historical Society, Winfield Medical Clinic Building Fund, and the Winfield Public Library [all Winfield, Iowa.].

CK: Verna, you are very generous with your time. What do you think is the biggest challenge confronting quiltmakers today?

VQ: It's the cost of the material.

CK: Is there anything else that you would like to add to this interview?

VQ: I can't think of anything.

CK: Well, you are very creative, and your comments you've shared today have been very interesting and your quilt is a very special story. I would like to thank you for allowing me to interview you.

VQ: Well, thank you for letting me tell you the story of Lynelle's quilt.

CK: I'm going to conclude my interview with Verna Quinlin, and it is now 4:46 p.m.


“Verna Quinlin,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed June 21, 2024,