Nadine Kennedy




Nadine Kennedy




Nadine Kennedy


Misty Beatty

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Moda Fabrics


Kansas City, Missouri


Misty Beatty


Misty Beatty (MB): Tell me about the quilt you want to discuss today. Who made it? What is its origin and age? Describe it.

Nadine Kennedy (NK): The one I decided I would tell you about is "War and Pieces." It's a Civil War reproduction sampler. It's one that I use in my Civil War program. I've made samples of all the Civil War quilts that I talk about in my program.

MB: Can you tell me about the quilt?

NK: I made it. All the quilts I make are hand quilted. What can I tell you about this quilt? I probably made it about ten years ago, before 1999, but not too much before because the pattern was new. It's all appliqu├ęd and hand quilted. It has one block that is Abraham Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. I can give you the name of all the blocks: Soldier's Wedding, Hope for Peace, Southern Rose and Northern Lily, Abe and Mary Lincoln, The Federal Eagle, The Loyal Dog, Tree of Harmony, Christian Tree, Home Front, and the Shields of Peace border. It has a tan background, and it has all kinds of colors because all those things would be different. A lot of reds and blues but really all colors.

MB: What about the materials?

NK: All cottons.

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

NK: I'm just interested in the Civil War, and I also made a quilt that shows the path when the Negroes escaped and went north--the underground railroad.

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

NK: I think it was the most interesting one I've made. I've made at least forty. When you hand quilt them all it takes a while to make and quilt them.

MB: How do you use this quilt?

NK: I don't use it. I show it and talk about it in my Civil War program about Civil War quilts that different ladies might have made.

MB: During the Civil War era?

NK: Yes.

MB: Do you have any plans for this quilt?

NK: No, not really. It took too long to make it to give it away and I don't have a wall big enough to hang it on.

MB: At what age did you start quilting?

NK: When I retired in 1982. I'm 80 now, so about 58.

MB: From whom did you learn to quilt?

NK: Just a lot of different friends, a quilt guild and classes.

MB: How many hours a week do you quilt?

NK: My husband would say most of them. I quilt at church one morning a week and when I get to Texas two mornings a week. I quilt some every day. You know I have to do housework, cooking, dishes and stuff. [laughs.]

MB: What is your first quilt memory?

NK: Right now, I'm quilting a quilt my mother started before I was born. It was never finished. That makes it pretty old.

MB: Do you remember her working on it?

NK: No.

MB: You just remember it being around?

NK: Yes. They had an auction of my parents' things, and I bought a cedar chest that belonged to my mother, and it was in the cedar chest.

MB: Are there other quilters among your family or friends?

NK: My sister is a quilter. We call her the quilt enthusiast. She doesn't get much made, but she talks a good quilt story. My mother and two grandmothers quilted when I was very young. We used to play under the quilt frame. I have a lot of friends in the guild and my sewing club that are quilters.

MB: How does quilting impact your family?

NK: My children were all away from home when I started quilting, but they all love my quilts and are glad to receive one.

MB: Have you ever used quilting to get through a difficult time?

NK: No, I don't think so.

MB: What do you find pleasing about quilting?

NK: That you can be creative.

MB: What aspects of quilting do you not enjoy?

NK: I don't enjoy machine quilting. I've tried it, but I don't do it well.

MB: What do you think makes a great quilt?

NK: I wouldn't know what to say about that. What would that be? Being well done, pleasing to the eye.

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

NK: The age of the quilt and the condition it's in.

MB: What makes a great quilter?

NK: I think that's an enthusiastic quilter. One that's willing to try new things, new procedures and perfecting their work.

MB: How do great quilters learn the art of quilting, especially how to design a pattern or choose fabric and colors?

NK: Well, a lot of people design patterns on their computers or draw them to scale. It's something you have to do over and over again to perfect your quilting.

MB: How do you feel about machine quilting versus hand quilting?

NK: To me I don't want any machine quilted quilts. I prefer the hand quilting, but they're getting so the machine quilted is so much better than it used to be. With all the new machines, they can do a lot better job, and their value is almost equal.

MB: What about long-arm quilting?

NK: That kind of quilting is much better. I don't do it and I don't have it done, but they do a lot better job than what people used to do. If I was younger, I would buy a long-arm machine.

MB: Why is quilting important to your life?

NK: It's just a hobby I love to do. I like to buy fabric and I like to choose colors.

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

NK: It would be a shame for quilting to die out and lose that art.

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

NK: It used to be something only women did. Now there's a lot of men that are quilting too. We have very good men quilters. So, it's not just something that the ladies do anymore. Women used to make quilts out of necessity.

MB: How do you think quilts can be used?

NK: On beds or decorating homes or for the poor and needy.

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

NK: There are some very good museums that have quilts, and I would think that that would be the best place to preserve quilts.

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

NK: I know one son and daughter-in-law use them for decorating. Outside of that they use them on their beds and hang them on their walls. I always give one to each of my grandchildren as a wedding gift. I have a few old quilts made by relatives in the 30's.


“Nadine Kennedy,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed May 19, 2024,