Norma L. Belt




Norma L. Belt




Norma L. Belt


Karen G. Bauer

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Carolyn Mazloomi


Greenville, Illinois


Karen G. Bauer


Karen Bauer (KB): Norma tell me about yourself.

Norma Belt (NB): I am 67 years old and have been retired for about a year. I also own a bed and breakfast and use my quilts on those beds. I am a widow and have three children. I have been quilting for more than 20 years.

KB: Tell me about the quilt that you brought in today.

NB: I made the quilt that I brought in today over 2 years ago. The quilt was made in commemoration of the tragic day, September 11, 2001, and the destruction of the World Trade Center. The blocks were made by women all across the U.S. and I purchased them on eBay. I made the setting blocks in navy fabric with white stars and put a large white star on each block and outlined them with red buttonhole stitch. In the center of the quilt is a panel of our flag. I thought it was important to commemorate that day since it has changed our lives so much.

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

NB: This quilt has a lot of meaning to me as a U.S. citizen. Both my sons and also a grandson have seen military service. I wanted my family to have something to help them remember that day.

KB: How do you use this quilt?

NB: I have an open stairway and this quilt is hung over the railing in the upstairs hallway. I hope that it will be a treasured family heirloom.

KB: Tell me about your interest in quilting.

NB: My interest began when as a child I watched my mother make a quilt. It seemed to me that she was always making a quilt. She made one for each of her children and for her seven grandchildren.

KB: At what age did you begin quilting?

NB: I didn't start quilting until after my mother died. That has always been a regret of mine. The looked so large and making a quilt felt like an overwhelming job. I moved to North Dakota and the winters were soooo long. I had lots of scraps from making clothes for my daughter and granddaughter, so I made a Grandmother's Flower Garden. That was one of my mother's favorite patterns. I hand pieced all those hexagons, but then I was afraid to quilt it and I hired someone to hand quilt it and when I got it back, I realized my stitches were much better than hers, and from that time I always quilted my own.

I was probably about 43 at that time. I never had any classes, but from watching my mother quilt and sewing garments for myself and my family, I just started doing it, learning as I went.

KB: What is your first quilt memory?

NB: I always tried to find fabrics in my mother's quilts from dresses that I had. It was fun to remember those things.

KB: Are there other quiltmakers in your family?

NB: I'm the only one to continue my mother's love for quilting. I belong to a quilt guild now and also when I lived in St. Louis. I love to display my quilts at quilt shows and also to attend them. I've made a lot of friends who also enjoy quilting.

KB: What do you find pleasing about quiltmaking?

NB: One of the most pleasurable facets of quiltmaking is finding the right colors and patterns to make a pleasing design. It is also a way to fill my hours since I no longer work.

KB: What aspects of quilting do you not enjoy?

NB: I don't like 'sandwiching' the quilt top, batting and quilt back together and securing it together for quilting.

KB: What do you think makes a great quilt?

NB: The elements of a great quilt include the colors used, the pattern and design, the skills of the quiltmaker--the quality of the quilting.

KB: What makes a great quilter?

NB: A great quilter is one who is creative and is not obsessed with perfect housekeeping. One who can combine geometric shapes and has an eye for color and contrast. Learns from experience--all this contributes to being a great quilter. Also, one who is not afraid to have some feedback.

KB: How do you feel about hand quilting vs. machine quilting? What about long arm quilting?

NB: I used to think hand quilting was the only way to make a fine quilt. However, now there is some very talented machine quilters and machine quilting has improved so much, it really is more practical in completing quilts quickly.

KB: Why is quilting important in your life?

NB: Quilting is important because it is a hobby, I can take with me wherever I go. It is a way to honor special events in my life- births of babies, weddings, birthdays. When my son was in Desert Storm, I made a quilt commemorating his until with names of those in the unit quilted into the border.

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

NB: It is a way for people in rural areas to find a common interest. It reflects our patriotism and the need for security and comfort.

KB: What do you think about the importance of quilts in American life and what special meaning do they have for women's history?

NB: Quilts have been made by women traditionally. They could not participate in politics, but they recorded special events in cloth.

KB: How can quilts be used?

NB: Special designs in quilts were used to direct slaves to freedom. Quilts have been used by soldiers in service to their country. Quilts have been used as a source of family income and to foster fellowship in the church and community. Quilts have been used as fundraisers, for warmth, for gifts and served as genealogical records.

KB: How can quilts be preserved for the future?

NB: Special care to prolong a quilt's life are- one wrapping in acid free paper, two rolling not folding, three keeping out of sunlight, four avoid frequent washing and five keep a photo record.

KB: Have you ever used quilts to get through a difficult time?

NB: I remember two specific occasions. My granddaughter was born with severe birth defects; I was making her quilt when she died. I could not finish that quilt, but I gave it to a neighbor who belonged to a quilt group at her church, and they finished it and gave it to some baby in the congregation. The other time I remember is when my son was waiting to go overseas in Desert Storm. We visited him for the three weekends before he left, and I took my quilting along to work on. After he left, I put it away and could not work on it until he came home.

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

NB: Some quilts become worn out and some are recycled into other objects. Some are displayed as wall hangings and some of the best are wrapped in pillowcases and kept in a trunk.

[interview concluded without a closing statement.]


“Norma L. Belt,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed July 15, 2024,