Sue Ramey




Sue Ramey




Sue Ramey


Ronda Coleman

Interview Date


Interview sponsor


Elkhorn City, Kentucky


Ronda Coleman


Note: Following is a transcription from notes taken during an interview with Sue Ramey at the Elkhorn City Public Library in Elkhorn City, Kentucky. Sue Ramey is 73 years young and is living in the area where she was born and raised in Pike County, Kentucky.

Ronda Coleman (RC): Tell me about the quilt you brought in.

Sue Ramey (SR): This is the first Chicken Scratch quilt I made, and it is the prettiest one that I have.

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

SR: I am a librarian for the public library, and I had seen some chicken scratch quilts about 10 years ago and I thought they were so pretty, but it looked like it would be hard to do. Our library was closed for renovation a few years back and we had to go to another branch to work. While there one of my co-workers had a display of chicken scratch quilts she and her family had made. I decided that I wanted to learn how to do that and when we came back to our library, we called Roberta Bartley and asked her to come to the library to teach a class and she agreed to do it. This is how the class got started and I learned with everyone else.

RC: How many were there in that first class?

SR: 6 or 7. They were mostly friends or people I knew.

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

SR: It is one of the last ones that I have made and the prettiest one that I have right now. I have given most of my quilts away. Before I started working full time, I quilted more for other people than I did for myself. I have quilted for people all over the U.S. They would mail me the top and I would get the batting and backing, put them together, hand quilt and mail them back.

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

SR: That she must have a lot of patience.

RC: How do you use this quilt?

SR: On the bed in our spare bedroom (my son's room when he was growing up). He always loved quilts and when I took one out of the frames, he wanted it on his bed that night, even before it was hemmed.

RC: What are you plans for this quilt?

SR: It will be passed on to my son and daughter-in-law.

RC: Tell me about your interest in quilting.

SR: I am the youngest of 12 children, so my mother was always working on a quilt. We had to use them to keep warm. She used feed sacks, and I can remember going to the store to pick out the feed sacks to make our dresses and then she used what was left in quilts. It was fun to pick out the blocks that had a piece like our dress.

RC: At what age did you start quilt making?

SR: In my early 20s after I married.

RC: Did you start making quilts because you needed to use them like your mother did?

SR: No not really. We did use them, but I wanted to learn how.

RC: From whom did you learn to quilt?

SR: My mother. I quilted with her until she became unable to.

RC: How many hours a week do you quilt?

SR: I don't really know. I have a full-time job so I quilt when I can. Sometimes at night I say to myself ‘just one more block and then I'll go to bed,' and then I'll look at the clock and it will be 1:30 in the morning.

RC: What is your first quilt memory?

SR: Seeing my mother quilt when I was about 5 or 6.

RC: Are there other quiltmakers among your friends and family?

SR: Yes, I have a lot of friends that quilt and my sister's quilt. A lot of my friends learned to quilt here at our quilt class.

RC: Tell me if you've ever used quilts to get through a difficult time.

SR: Not that I can remember.

RC: What do you find pleasing about quilt making?

SR: It is relaxing, and I like seeing the finished product and that it is something that can be handed down to family.

RC: What aspects of quilt making do you enjoy?

SR: Piecing different patterns and designs and color matching.

RC: What art or quilt groups do you belong to?

SR: The chicken scratch quilt class here.

RC: What are your favorite techniques and materials.

SR: I like to use cotton material and hand stitch. The basic techniques.

RC: Describe your studio or the place where you create?

SR: My living room.

RC: Tell me how you balance your time.

SR: I have a full-time job so I quilt when I can.

RC: Do you use a design wall?

SR: No, I lay the top out on my bed.

RC: What do you think makes a great quilt?

SR: Pattern, color and hand quilting.

RC: What makes a quilt artistically powerful?

SR: Same things, pattern, color and hand quilting.

RC: What makes a quilt appropriate for a museum or collection?

SR: Probably the same things.

RC: What makes a great quiltmaker?

SR: Patience, interest and the want to.

RC: Whose works are you drawn to?
SR: My mother's.

RC: How do you feel about machine quilting vs hand quilting?

SR: I prefer hand quilting. It has a personal touch. Machine quilting is good for everyday or if it's going to be washed. Hand quilting is sentimental.

RC: Why is quilt making important to your life?

SR: There is something precious to show for my time.

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

SR: My quilts are old fashioned. They are some of the patterns we have used for years.

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

SR: They contain memories. There is always a story behind every quilt.

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

SR: In a lot of ways, they reveal how they lived and tells something of their childhood.

RC: How do you think quilts can be used?

SR: Covers for warmth, for decoration, for handing down.

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

SR: Passing on to family.

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

SR: Most I have given away and some I quilted for others. My son has one of the quilts I made using two sheets. One was a floral print and the other plain. I laid out the top sheet on the bed and drew a design on it. Then I added the batting and used the second sheet for backing and hand quilted my design. They have that quilt on the bed my husband and I sleep in when we visit.

RC: What do you think is the biggest challenge confronting quiltmakers today?

SR: Finding the time to quilt.

This is the end of the interview. Ronda thanked Mrs. Sue for her time and for being willing to be interviewed.


“Sue Ramey,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed July 18, 2024,