Marjorie Frost




Marjorie Frost




Marjorie Doris Frost


Linda Hardin Sehrt

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Moda Fabrics


Mound City, Missouri


Linda Hardin Sehrt


Note: Marjorie Doris Frost is not a member of the DAR. While this is a DAR quiltmaker documentation project, membership is not required to participate.

Linda Hardin Sehrt (LS): My name is Linda Sehrt and today's date is December 5, 2008, and it is 1:07 p.m. I am conducting an interview with my aunt, Marjorie Doris Frost in Mound City, Missouri for the Quilter's S.O.S. - Save Our Stories project. We are doing this through the American Heritage Committee of the Missouri State Society Daughter's of the American Revolution. Marjorie Doris Frost is a quilter. Thank you so much Aunt Marjorie for letting me interview you today about quilts. Will you tell me a little bit about the quilt that you chose to talk about today?

Marjorie Doris Frost (MF): First I would like to thank my niece, Linda Sehrt for allowing me to be part of this Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories project and the American Heritage Committee of the Missouri State Society Daughters of the American Revolution. I have chosen today my Dahlia quilt. It measures 110 by 93 inches and by some is considered a king size. There are 30 pieced and quilted blocks and 20 plain blocks, twelve-inch squares with one half blocks to finish out squares and a fourth of a block at the corners. [rustling of papers.] For the colors I have chosen the white for the dahlia to be placed on and the light blue for the squares where I quilt. I have chosen two shades of green, a light green and a medium green for the corners. And in the center for the flower, it's a dahlia of eight points and they're notched so that you can put them in an even position around in the center of the quilt block. They are made of different kinds of prints and the center is a yellow. And to do the center I cut a cardboard, in fact I think I used the back of a tablet paper and cut the actual size that I wanted it to be. Then I took the cut piece with the ¼ inch allowance on it and stitched around the edge and pulled it draw string like around that cardboard, then I pressed it, then removed the cardboard and then I had a complete circle that was smooth around the edges. And I placed that on the center then I buttonhole stitched around all of it. And I did that with blue thread because I was going quilt the quilt with blue thread. And on the border, I used an inch of the darker green for the border one inch wide and then I used a scalloped of the blue over the light green and buttonholed around all of it and then bound it with the light blue. On the plain pieces I didn't use the feather design. I used, but I don't know what the design is called, but it's like four leaves, one facing each corner and then eight circles in the center. And believe me circles are hard to quilt.

LS: You mentioned you used blue thread. Is there a reason you used blue thread?

MF: That was my late husband's [Marvin Frost.] idea. I would have thread on hands to quilt quilts and he decided I should use a colored. And I thought, ‘Boy my stitches would really show up too plain and I don't know if I want to try that or not.' But he went up town and got me three spools of colored thread and after that I was hooked. All the rest of them have been in colored thread.

LS: Did you have a pattern that you used to design this quilt, or did you do it by free hand?

MF: No, I had a pattern. I had a pattern for it. So, the notches were there and how to place the petals, so they'd all come out looking the same.

LS: Was there a pattern also for all of the design work you did--these leaves and circles?

MF: Yes, that was a design pattern.

LS: What material is this made out of?

MF: They're just cotton materials.

LS: Cotton?

MF: And on the back is all white cotton.

LS: All white cotton?

MF: And on the back I put my name and the date, year that I made the quilt. And I wished that I had put the name of the quilt on it, but I didn't so this one was made in 1992. It was the twenty-second quilt that I had quilted but only twenty that I had pieced.

LS: And did you make this quilt for a special reason or for a special person?

MF: No, I didn't. But, eventually, after-when I had three children [Barbara Jeane, Charlotte and Wendel.] and as I got three made, I would give them to the children. I gave this one to my daughter, Barbara Jeane Landes and I want to thank her for loaning it to us to use today.

LS: Have you won awards with this quilt?

MF: Yes, I have five blue ribbons, and one best of show and one trophy for people's choice.

LS: And you said it was your twenty-second quilt that you made. How many quilts have you made?

MF: I have made 36 quilts that I have pieced, and I only made the quilts themselves 33 of them.

LS: And you have won awards for more than one quilt?

MF: Yes, I could tell you how much that I have won over the years. [rustling of papers.] I have five yellow ribbons, three white ribbons, twelve red ribbons, thirty-eight blue ribbons: a total of 58 ribbons.

LS: And where do you show these quilts?

MF: Well, I took them to the Savannah Show at Savannah, Missouri; Coffey, Missouri; Hamilton, Missouri; Jamesport, Missouri and Altamont [Missouri.] and let's see, did I mention Maysville- Maysville, Missouri.

LS: Are these quilting shows, are they state fairs or are they actually quilting shows that you take your quilts to?

MF: They're quilting shows. They're not state fairs. Oh, I took one up to Lamoni, Iowa, too. I forgot about that and that is the only one that asked for whenever we went in to put a price on it because they were insured. You priced your quilt when you were checking in. And that was the only one that I ever showed that did that.

LS: And did you price it? What did you price it at?

MF: I think around $1000 or $1100; I just don't remember exactly.

LS: When did you first start quilting?

MF: I was sixteen years old and my sister [Helen Hardin.] was eighteen and my mother [Nellie Smith Gambill.] decided that we should make quilts for our hope chest. So, I chose a George [Martha.] Washington design with purple as my main color and it was ordered from Capers Weekly.

LS: The pattern?

MF: Yes, but I think my sister's was a Bow Tie and I bet hers came from Capers Weekly, too.

LS: So, you made this for your hope chest?

MF: Yes, and she instructed us all the way what steps to do and how to quilt. And I expect she ended up quilting about as much as we did. [laughs.]

LS: Were you referring to your mother?

MF: Yes.

LS: Did your mother quilt?

MF: Yes. But I don't remember her quilting when I was at home. The only one that sticks in my mind is one time when she had it in the frames and the lining was bowed way down from the top and she was having trouble getting it to roll it enough to take up the slack in the lining. So, and then after we were married, I know she did quilting for the neighbors.

LS: So, did you use these quilts originally? I mean, did you put them on your bed and sleep under them as a blanket?

MF: We did some then because we didn't have as good of heat then. But now I don't use them for that because we have the electric heat, and we don't use that much of a blanket. I had an aunt, [Olive Barker.] my mother's sister that quilted for everybody, just anybody that wanted her to quilt for $25 a quilt. But I imagine they were single bed or full-size beds. They wouldn't be queen or king size like we do now.

LS: Did she use patterns; did everyone use patterns for their quilt? Did anyone design their own patterns?

MF: Not that I know of.

LS: Can you make a quilt for $25 today?

MF: No, [laughs.] not anyway. Now I imagine that Postage Stamp quilt of mine in there that I was telling you about, I imagine it was just, wouldn't have to be a pattern for that. I just made each of them poster [postage stamp.] size and then I made a nine-patch square and the other square then quilted through, so they all looked like they were inch squares.

LS: What are some of the patterns of the quilts that you've made?

MF: Well, [rustling of papers.] my first one was a Martha Washington, and I did my daughter [Charlotte Cline.] one in Martha Washington, so I've made two of those. And then I did a Nine Patch. Which was a, my mother-in-law [Cuma Fossinger Frost.] had already quilted and I just, I mean she had pieced it, and I had quilted it. Then I did: two Martha Washingtons; one Captive Beauty; two Windmills; one David and Goliath; two Daisy Fans; one Aunt Suzey's Choice; one Star of Bethlehem; one Bow Tie; and one Fruit Basket with Queens Parasol. I am going to stop here and tell you about that because I used a parasol design for the quilting and gave it to my grandson [Craig Frost.] which was probably in his ten or twelve years old and he called it a spider web. And it does, it looks like a spider web. Then I did Crosses and Losses, a Nine Patch religious quilt. Now that, I was to a quilting show one time where they said that all of our pilgrims that came over were very religious and only God is perfect so they either use an off print or turned a block around or something so it wouldn't be perfect. So that's what I did on that one, and then gave it to the Christian Church to sell as a religious quilt. Then I made a Double Wedding Ring; one Double Irish Chain; one Double Nine Patch; Friendship Quilt. I quilted it but it was my husband's mother's [Cuma Fossinger Frost.] quilt. And on it, the back was feed sacks fold [sewed.] together. That was the backing on it. And some of the blocks had flour sacks in the blocks. People in the quilting or in the club made it for her.

LS: What is the difference between a feed sack and a flour sack?

MF: Flour sacks are white. They were white pieces on the front. And the others were printed, and she didn't have them all the same kind of print either. She just sewed them together.

LS: And this was feed, you are talking about feed that you would just go buy in the store for your animals?

MF: Yes.

LS: And the flour for baking? And the sacks used to be material.

MF: Yes.

LS: Was it common to use those types of materials?

MF: It was then, for them, cause, material was hard for them to buy. I mean they didn't have the extra money to go to the store and buy.

LS: Kind of during the depression years?

MF: Well, it was back in 1936. So that would have just been after most of the depression, I think. And I did a Farris Wheel, a Snow Crystal, Patch as Patch Can, [rustling of papers.] and then two Windmills, and then I did Grandmother [Grandmothers.] Flower Gardens for my granddaughters that were sisters [Cindy Landes Robinson, Donna Landes Corbin, and Janet Landes Killin.] and I didn't want to give them, you know things similar but not just exactly alike, so I used three different patterns of the Grandmothers Flower Gardens, and you could have had eight different ways to set it up. So I used three of them so that the girls would have similar quilts but different yet. Then I did a Medallion style quilt, one Log Cabin, a Double Wedding Ring and an embroidery Flower Garden, Holland Magic and then a Wedding Ring. And a Wedding Ring is nothing like a Double Wedding Ring at all. I don't know how they get that name to go with it. But it doesn't resemble a Double Wedding Ring at all. And then I did a Pickle Dish. And that resembles more like a Double Wedding Ring. Only instead of being straight across the ends they're pointed like a pickle dish. Then I did a Scalloped Fan and a Nine Patch and a Lily. And then I helped with a Friendship quilt at the senior center [Active Aging Resource Center, Gallatin, Missouri.] which is everybody made their own block and then I set them up and that is very hard. I ripped out more seams and let them out a little bit and took up deeper seams to make it come out right. I would just rather do the work just on my own. And then I did a baby quilt for somebody, and I did a wall hanging.

LS: Have you ever belonged to a quilters' group?

MF: No. I haven't. I have just been self-taught. And my goal is to stay as straight as I can from the seam when I am quilting. To stay the right length and go up and down just like a sewing machine would. That is my hopes, and I was at one quilt show, at Savannah, Missouri when they were viewing one of my quilts, and I don't know which one was up at the time, and I was down a few quilts away from them and they had studied that quilt over and over and they'd come to the conclusion that it was machine quilted. It was not hand quilted so I went up and visited with them, just to set them straight so it wouldn't get a rumor around though the quilts that it was a machine quilted in a quilt show.

LS: But they thought yours looked so good that it was machine quilted?

MF: They had come to that conclusion that that could not be done by hand. It had to be.

LS: How many stitches per inch do you try to do?

MF: I use a seven needle and it comes up to about eight or nine to an inch counting the humps or the holes, whichever way they are counted. I am not sure which way you count.

LS: So, most of your quilts you've given as gifts?

MF: Yes.

LS: Have you sold some? You've sold some.

MF: Yes, I have sold a few.

LS: What's the highest amount of money you have received for a quilt?

MF: $750.00. And the ones they sell tickets on some of them have brought over $1000. When they sell them, that way it's a ticket sales they bring a little more that way.

LS: Of the quilts that you've made, which would you say you had the most fun with?

MF: Oh my, [rustling of papers.] I enjoyed it so much that I'd rather quilt then piece them. I'd do it anytime. I was perfectly content to sit there and quilt for hours. Cutting them out and putting them together was a little more challenge to me. My daughter-in-law [Ella Frost.] did buy me one of the cutters so I had the roller cutter to use. But personally, I'd just rather quilt. So, any of them that had a lot of quilting on them, I was satisfied.

LS: So you don't have a particular favorite?

MF: No, not really.


MF: There were several that I would have liked to have today but they were miles and miles away that I couldn't. I would have liked to have represented.

LS: Have you ever machine quilted?

MF: Yes, I have tried that on just small things like lap robes. Things like that, but that's the only ones I've done. I only pieced one on the quilt--one quilt on the sewing machine. And that was the religious quilt that I gave away. I did that on the sewing machine. But I worked in a factory [Lambert Manufacturing Company, Gallatin, Missouri.] for almost 29 years running a sewing machine and that was not relaxing. I'd a lot rather sit in front of the TV and work something with my hands. That's relaxing to me.

LS: So even the pieces, you only did one quilt with the sewing machine. You've done them totally by hand?

MF: Right.

LS: If someone looks at one of your--at this quilt, this Dahlia quilt, what would you hope they would think about you when they saw this quilt?

MF: They thought I put in a lot of hours. My husband was president of an area agency on aging [Area Agency on Aging, Albany, Missouri.] at the time I was doing that quilt and we had a meeting once a month. And then he went on several tours to different cities for two or three nights and I'd try to have a block already to buttonhole stitch and take it with me. And on one of the trips that we were staying over at the hotel, I took the border and did all of that handwork of buttonhole around the border while I was there because I didn't have to go to the meetings and had a little time by myself to do it.

LS: What do you think makes a great quilt?

MF: I think getting it together to where it isn't off centered, you know, where it's lined up perfectly and where the stitches aren't too large. I think all that, and the colors. A lot of it has to do with colors. I'm partial to purple and pink. I had one that I did in purple and pink, and I wanted to do a border on the edge. And it was diamond shape, but it was going to set up not square but in a diamond shape and I had no idea [single chime from clock.] how to do it and to figure out how many it would take to get it the length and the width and to come out every other color and every other color to come out. So, I just used a three-inch square and started sewing them together and God was with me. They come out every other one at the end of each one of them. How it came out I couldn't do it with arithmetic, but it came out.

LS: Do you have, are there any other quilters you have admired their work particularly or?

MF: Grace Snyder. I have her book ["No Time on My Hands" as told to Nellie Snyder Yost, author and daughter.] and she has a lot of quilts on display, and I really admire her for what she did. She did some with such small, small pieces that it is unbelievable.

LS: Now do you have a collection of your ribbons, or how do you store, do you have a scrapbook?

MF: Yes, yes, I do. I have a book and I didn't start it 'til after I had done several, so I had to beg people to take pictures of their quilts [laughs.] to give to me. But now I have a complete record. Did I tell you about using a special thimble?

LS: No.

MF: Oh, I have this special thimble. It is over there. [thimble is sitting on side table.] I didn't show you the right one the last time you were here. [earlier family visit.] But I want to show it to you. It's got a ridge around the top that you use when you are quilting so when the needle slips off you don't injure your finger. I got that down at Branson one time when I was down there. Branson, Missouri.

LS: Would you say quilt making is important to your life?

MF: Yes, and my husband [Marvin Frost.] he was so good to encourage me about that. He backed me up all the way. He made my quilting frames. He helped me lay the quilt out. We laid it on the, we had to move the furniture back; the living room floor was the largest space we had in the house. And we would lay; I sewed the lining onto the frames and lay it on the floor. Then he'd help me unroll the batting and there is a way that you do the batting because it is smoother on one side and I lay that next to the lining so that it will be next to the person's body, it won't itch you. Then I put the quilt on top. And he'd help me baste it and he helped me get them in the frames. And then sometimes I'd have to have him help me roll them. You know, when I'd want to change lengths. And I always liked to start at the backside and quilt toward me. Then when you do that, you can keep the material working toward you the top, you know, and make it all come out smooth. Whereas, with these quilting bees they start in with people quilting on each side and they are liable to end up with a wrinkle. Someplace in there.

LS: Can you describe a quilting frame for me?

MF: Well, it's not too much really to them. There's little stands that each leg sits on. Legs come up and let's see, there's two boards that goes across and then he [Marvin Frost.] had little notches in the little wheels that went on there and when you rolled it, they would hook in, them notices would hook into those little notches in the little wooden wheels that he has made and that's what would stop it. And then you'd take a nail and poke it in the hole. And you had to go over through there and put the nails in and that is what would hold it in place.

LS: And your husband made the frame for you?

MF: Yes.

LS: You have three daughters. [MF has two daughters.] Do any of your daughters quilt or your family quilt?

MF: No. I can think of one daughter that I was going to teach. And she sat down and plucked her finger about a time or two and that was the end of that. And then I have a granddaughter [Carrie Frost Shiflet.] that wanted to learn so I don't know. I think she's really going to be interested if she ever has time to do it. Again, because she took an interest in it.

LS: Do you think American women today are going to continue to quilt?

MF: They are. Some of them are. We have a quilting lesson at our senior citizens [Senior Citizens of Holt County--Mound City Nutrition Site.] that meets once a week that she's [Ava McCarthy.] teaching. She furnishes the material and charges for the lesson. And she teaches them to quilt. You have to take your own sewing machine with you which for some is kind of a handicap to have a portable machine to go. But I think it will carry on.

LS: Why do you think a lot of women have not continued on with quilting?

MF: Oh, there was a space in there where everybody was working jobs. You know, everybody had jobs away from home, so that pretty well took care of their time.

LS: Is there anything about quilt making that you did not enjoy?

MF: No, I can't say that there is. Unless it was putting together those that [rustling of papers.] other people made the blocks for. I didn't think that was very much fun.

LS: Do you still quilt today?

MF: No, I don't. I had to give that up when my husband wasn't able to help me. I can't lift the quilts and get around and handle them, get them in the frames by myself. We had a sale, so I sold my quilting frames. So, just other than doing them with a large loop. [hoop.] I may try that on one. A little lap robe, but it won't be very big. But I've got a big hoop that I can put it in, I think, and quilt it.

LS: When you were doing your most quilting about how many hours a week did you quilt?

MF: Well, I got to doing two a year, is about as a rule. So, I don't know how many hours I'd have to just sit down and then just jump up and go get supper or do something else, you know, other jobs to where I don't know how many hours. I expect it would really add up if you took time to, because it takes several hours to quilt a quilt especially when you are doing a queen size.

LS: Do you have a particular quilt that was; you would say was your hardest quilt to quilt?

MF: Yes, that Nine Patch [laughs.] that I did. That was postage size stamp. It was the hardest one of all because it took the most thread of any that I did.

LS: How much thread do you think it took?

MF: I think I was on four spools of thread on it. [pause for 4 seconds.] I looked at my quilt patterns. I don't have a lot of quilt patterns, but I looked at them the other day trying to decide what I had. And I had an old favorite book that was had in 29 cents wrote on it and I am sure for 29 cents that was a good many years ago. I started quilting see there when I was sixteen and I didn't take it up again until in the, I was in my fifties before I ever started any quilting again.

LS: What year would you have been sixteen years old?

MF: [whispers.] 22 and 16. 38--1938. [LS and MF speak at the same time.]

LS: 1938 you started quilting--so that was a lot of years ago.

MF: And then I skipped all them years until up into the seventies.

LS: And why did you pick it back up again in the seventies?

MF: I had a daughter that needed a quilt, and she didn't think she could afford to go out and buy one, so I decided, well, I'd make her one. That got me hooked. From then on, [laughs.] I was back on to doing them again. I had worked in the factory [Lambert Manufacturing Company, Gallatin, Missouri.] all those years so I didn't really have time to quilt up until that time. [rustling of papers.]

LS: Well, I think your quilts are very interesting and very beautiful. Is there anything that you would like to add to this interview?

MF: I can't think of anything right off hand. [pause for 5 seconds.] No, I can't say that there is.

LS: Well, I would like to thank Marjorie Doris Frost for allowing me to interview her today as part of the Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories. Our interview concluded at 1:36 p.m. on December 5, 2008.


“Marjorie Frost,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed July 15, 2024,