Betty Boehm




Betty Boehm




Betty Boehm


Norma Belt

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Cherrywood Fabrics (Karla Overland)


Greenville, Illinois


Norma Belt


Note: A television can be heard in the background throughout the interview. Also Betty is not a member of the DAR. However, membership within the DAR is not required for participation.

Norma Belt (NB): This is Norma Belt. Today is March 22, 2007. It is 10:30 a.m. and I am interviewing Betty Boehm at her home in Greenville. Betty tell me about yourself.

Betty Boehm (BB): I am 80 years old, a widow and have three children- two boys and a girl. I am a retired elementary school principal and have been piecing quilts since I was 11 years old.

NB: Tell me about the quilt you brought in today.

BB: The quilt today is my first quilt and is pieced from fabrics in the dresses of me and my sister. It was quilted by my mother. The pattern is called the Texas Star also called the Variable Star, and Evening Star. Another name is Tippecanoe, so named because of the slogan for William Henry Harrison “Tippecanoe and Tyler too." Mr. Harrison's running mate in the 1840 election was John Tyler who became president when Harrison died. The quilt was first made first during his lifetime.

[tape is turned off.]

NB: When did you make the quilt?

BB: It was made when I was 11 years old.

NB: Can you describe the quilt?

BB: The quilt is made of star blocks from clothes worn by me or my sister. It is put together with unbleached muslin, also muslin on the back with a cotton batting.

NB: Why did you bring this quilt to the interview?

BB: It has special meaning for me since it was my first full quilt. I began piecing when I was 10 years old.

NB: How do you use this quilt?

BB: This quilt is hung on the wall of my sewing room.

NB: Betty how did you become interested in quilting?

BB: My mother was a quilter and thought it was important for her girls to learn to quilt. For as long as I can remember she always had a quilt in the frame that she would pull up to the ceiling in the evening and lower it in the daytime for quilting. My sister and I loved to play under the quilt frame.

NB: Are there other quilters in your family?

BB: My daughter has surpassed me in quilting. She has quilting retreats at her house, teaches classes and has recently begun managing a quilt shop. Her daughter, my granddaughter, is also a quilter.

NB: What do you not enjoy about quilting?

BB: I do not like putting the back and batting together with the quilt top before starting to quilt.

NB: How much time do you spend quilting?

BB: I quilt between 40-48 hours per week. I live alone and I begin my quilting day at around 7:00 a.m. then I quilt until “Price Is Right" comes on. I watch that and fix my lunch then I quilt until “Jeopardy" comes on at 3:30. I watch that program and return to quilting until 6:30 when I watch “Wheel of Fortune" and that ends my quilting for the day.

NB: What is your first quilting memory?

BB: I do not remember a time when my mother did not quilt.

NB: How does quilt making impact your family?

BB: My family all expect quilts for Christmas. Quiltmaking has enabled me to spend more time with my daughter and granddaughter.

NB: Have you ever used quilting to get through a difficult time? [tape is turned off and back on.]

BB: Are we ready?

NB: Yes.

BB: Since I have been widowed, quiltmaking is my therapy. I have not used it for any other difficult times that I remember.

NB: What do you find pleasing about making quilts?

BB: I love fabrics, making up my own quilt patterns and how they go together. I use my scraps to make charity quilts.

NB: What do you think makes a great quilt?

BB: Colors; good fabrics, good craftsmanship, and good patterns.

NB: What makes a quilt artistically powerful?

BB: How fabric is coordinated most of the time.

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

BB: A lot of embellishments or a special occasion.

NB: What makes a great quilter?

BB: A great quilter is one who loves quilting and becomes good through trial and error.

NB: How do great quiltmakers learn the art of quilting?

BB: By making a number of quilts, again trial and error.

NB: How do you design a pattern and choose fabrics for a quilt?

BB: I love quilts. I see a picture or design and then design my own patterns. I usually choose one fabric and choose colors to go with the background.

NB: How do you feel about machine vs. hand quilting?

BB: Machine quilting is very good. There are some outstanding longarm quilters. Hand quilting is desirable for some of the older patterns.

NB: Why is quiltmaking special in your life?

BB: I get good therapy with quilts. It keeps me from having idle hands. It's a thrill to see a finished product.

NB: In what way do your quilts reflect your community or region?

BB: I don't have an answer for that.

NB: Why do you think quilts are important in American lives?

BB: Quilts tell a story from early pioneer times; days to present.

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

BB: You can see how quilts have progressed from squares sewn together to intricate designs. Betsy Ross made the first flag; a type of quilt developed into a love of quiltmaking, attending quilt shows in various states.

NB: How can quilts be used?

BB: Other than their original use for beds, as a decoration in the house. Quilts can be given to charities to comfort children in car accidents or fires, as a foster child. Many of my quilts are given to children being removed from the parental homes.

NB: How can quilts be preserved for the future?

BB: Quilt museums, tradition of handing down quilts to the next generations.

NB: What has happened to the quilts you or your family and friends have made?

BB: My quilts are gifts to children, grandchildren and great grandchildren; also to charity.

NB: Do you have anything else to add to the interview?

BB: I think I've said enough.


“Betty Boehm,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed June 23, 2024,