Paulette Runyon




Paulette Runyon




Paulette Runyon


Ronda Coleman

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

The Nat'l Quilting Assn


Elkhorn City, Kentucky


Ronda Coleman


NOTE: This interview was done during a quilt class so multiple conversations can be heard in the background.

Ronda Coleman (RC): This is an interview for The Alliance for American Quilts' Quilters' [S.O.S.-] Save Our Stories, identification number KY41522009. The interviewee is Mrs. Paulette Runyon. Ronda Coleman is the interview and transcriber. The place of interview is Elkhorn City Public Library at Elkhorn City, Kentucky. Today's date is March 13, 2008. It's about 11:15 a.m. Thank you Mrs. Paulette for allowing me to interview you today. Tell me a little bit about the quilt that you brought in today.

Paulette Runyon (PR): Well, the quilt, I couldn't figure out what color I wanted to do it in, so I done it in all colors, the Hucklebuck. My daughter, she likes brown and beige and so that's the reason I picked the brown to put it on. That's the reason it come about that way. [laughs.]

RC: Does this quilt have any special meaning for you?

PR: Yeah, it's a birthday quilt for my daughter.

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

PR: Really, I didn't choose because I didn't know we was going to have an interview [laughs.]

RC: [laughs.] So, why did you bring this top today?

PR: The top? I was going to take it and have it quilted, machine quilted.

RC: Okay. What do you think someone viewing that top might think about you?

PR: [two second pause.] I don't know. [laughs.]

RC: [laughs.] Tell me a little bit about your interest in quilt making.

PR: In quilting? I like this Chicken Scratch. I like it but I like that appliqué too. I would like to learn a little bit more about it and I do some of the piecing quilts. I've always done that. I don't know. I just like doing different ones. Sometimes I get a little off on it and don't do it for a little while, about a month and then I'll go back to it and then I can just quilt maybe three or four months without even stopping.

RC: At what age did you start quilt making?

PR: Let's see. I'd say it was back when I was about twenty about twenty-eight when my son was little.

RC: Who taught you to quilt?

PR: Huh?

RC: Who taught you to quilt?

PR: I done it myself. I taught myself just from books.

RC: Did your mother quilt when you were growing up?

PR: Yeah, she quilted but I never did pay any attention. [laughs.]

RC: Do you have any of the quilts that she made?

PR: No, I don't have any.

RC: About how many hours a week do you think you quilt?

PR: How many hours a week? Well, starting on this Chicken Scratch, I was doing that maybe five or six hours at a time [laughs.] but you know you can't do it all the time.

RC: What's your first quilt memory?

PR: My first quilt?

RC: Uh huh.

PR: It was a star quilt that I'd done. Oh, memory, back when?

RC: Uh huh.

PR: It was a patch quilt, and I made a ruffle for it and I was making it for my mother but it looked so pretty I was wanting to keep it, so I put it in the mail and sent it to her. [laughs.]

RC: [laughs.] Where were you living then?

PR: Colorado.

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

PR: My sister, Jessie. [three second pause.]

RC: Have you ever used quilts or quilting to get through a difficult time?

PR: Yeah, sewing and stuff. It keeps your mind off everything is what it does.

RC: What do you find pleasing about quilt making?

PR: When you get it done, you've accomplished something or other. [laughs.] Even if it's your flaws in it, you've got a flaw in it or something or other, it's yours. It's something that you made.

RC: Are there aspects about quilt making that you don't enjoy?

PR: [two second pause.] Sometimes it's marking them off like that Chicken Scratch, you know have a difficult time with them sometimes. But there's always somebody to help you put them on there. [laughs.]

RC: Have advances in technology influenced the way you quilt at all?

PR: Yeah, they've got new machines out now that I like. Especially the embroidery machines and stuff like that. It makes it a little bit easier. But I haven't got me one yet. I'm hoping to get me one.

RC: Describe the place where you create your quilts.

PR: The place? Well, I have a trailer. I live in a trailer and at the end, one end of it is a bedroom and that whole room is what I use for quilting and stuff, and it feels like you're out to yourself on the end there and that's what I like. It's got a big window in the front of it and a lot of light, and I painted it and everything and it makes it more bright and stuff and I like that better. [laughs.]

RC: Do you have children?

PR: Yeah. I've got three.

RC: How do you balance your time?

PR: How do I balance? Well, now I don't have to balance my time because all I've got is my husband and me. My grandchildren, they live away from me, so I don't have as much. All I have to balance between is just being there with my husband is all.

RC: Do you do any hand quilting?

PR: Hand quilting?

RC: Uh huh.

PR: Yeah, I've got a quilt frame from my, for that and I just started on one with that hand quilting and trying to learn on it. But I haven't done too much on that.

RC: What do you think makes a good-looking quilt?

PR: A good looking quilt? The way they put them together. The quilting pattern. I think that's what makes them look good too. And the way you do them, put them together, the top together.

RC: What do you think makes a great quiltmaker?

PR: A quiltmaker?

RC: Uh huh.

PR: I don't know. Put it together the way you want it, not the way somebody else wants it. Just do it the way you want it to be.

RC: What do you think would make a quilt appropriate for a museum?

PR: Appropriate?

RC: Uh huh.

PR: I don't know. It's something or other that stands out. I wouldn't know. Just something that stands out, unique or something like that.

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

PR: Well, the hand quilting makes it worth more because if you do that machine quilting is like the machine done it, you didn't do it. [laughs.]

RC: Is quilt making important to your life?

PR: It's not too important but I like doing it. You know it's like a hobby, something that's a part of your life while you're doing it. And like if you hand down quilts, the kids are going to remember you when you're long gone.

RC: That's true. So, what has happened to most of the quilts that you've made?

PR: My kid's got them. [laughs.]

RC: Do you think that your quilts reflect the region that you live in?

PR: The region?

RC: Uh huh.

PR: Yeah, I'd say they do. Because when I started the Chicken Scratch you know, I never did come over here to the library. I come when Jessie, she, my sister started. And I got to coming over here and I liked it pretty well. I guess that reflects the region you know when you're going to them, like quilt shows and stuff like that.

RC: Do you think that quilts have special meaning for women's history in America?

PR: I say it would. Because it teaches the younger kids to do something else besides video games and all this other stuff that they get into, you know. It something that happened back a long time ago. They used to quilt a lot you know. Kids, today they don't know how to do something like that.

RC: Do your daughters--do you have daughters?

PR: Yeah. I've got one daughter that does it. Yeah. Now she does crocheting and stuff. She makes me little afghans and stuff. [laughs.]

RC: So, how do you think quilts can be used?

PR: Well, they can be used, if you wanted to use them on your beds or they can use them to show off or just used for anything you know. Used for just about anything.

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

PR: I don't know about that now. I don't know how they can preserve them unless you just keep them back. Not, don't use them and stuff because you know if wash ‘em, wash ‘em, wash ‘em they wear. But you have to have some way to preserve them.

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

PR: I wouldn't know, honey.

RC: For instance, is there anything that challenges you when you go to sit down to quilt?

PR: Yeah, going about cutting them and fixing them and stuff. Cut the pattern out. That's regular quilts. Not this right here [the Chicken Scratch top.] all you have to know is if it's a twenty-inch square or a twenty-two-inch square.

RC: Very good. It's been a great interview and I thank you Mrs. Paulette for talking with me.

PR: Thank you. [laughs.]

[Note: This interview was 11 minutes and 9 seconds.]


“Paulette Runyon,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed July 24, 2024,