April Bullard




April Bullard




April Bullard


Carolyn A. Kolzow

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Nancy Bavor


Aloha, Oregon


Carolyn A. Kolzow


Carolyn Kolzow (CK): [tape begins mid-sentence and should say My name is Carolyn.] Kolzow and today's date is August 25, 2004, at 9:45 a.m. I am conducting an interview with April Bullard in her home in Aloha, Oregon for the Quilters' [S.O.S.-.] Save Our Stories project. We are doing this through the American Heritage Committee of the Oregon State Society Daughters of the American Revolution. April is a quilter and is a member of Beaver Chapter [NSDAR.] National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.

CK: Tell me about the quilt that you have out here today to show me.

April Bullard (AB): Well, I had just gotten done making a quilt for my parents for their 40th anniversary, and I made a quilt for my mother-in-law. And I decided that it was time to make one for myself. So, I designed and made one in my favorite colors that I could keep for me.

CK: About how old would you say this is? How many years ago did you do this?

AB: I finished the quilt in November of 2000. So, it is about four years old.

CK: Did you choose a specific pattern?

AB: Yes, I did. I designed a pattern based on a quilted double knot inter-looped pattern.

CK: And where did you get that idea? That sounds complicated.

AB: I got it from some medieval illuminated manuscripts books, and I was heavily into medieval history at the time. So, I wanted to incorporate that into my own thing.

CK: Very interesting. What plans do you have for this quilt? Do you use it every day or?

AB: [turns from microphone and voice becomes faint.] I have it out. I use it on special movie nights. I throw it on the bed at sometimes. Basically, it is just a keep around comfort quilt.

CK: Tell us about your color scheme on that. Did you have a certain thing in mind when you chose those colors?

AB: Yes, I chose purple and white. And then some of the squares are blue and red because blue and red make the color purple, so I wanted everything in that color family.

CK: Ah, I see. And, as far as your fabric goes, did you buy new fabric, or did you use some fabric that had meaning to you?

AB: Basically, I got fabric scraps in packs from the Hershner's Company Craft Catalog and some of fabrics I actually cut out from pieces of things that I had.

CK: Tell me about you interest in quilting. How did you get interested in it?

AB: Well, I started by making a baby blanket for my sister, and then I decided that it would be fun to do some other quilting projects just to see if I could do it.

CK: And how old is that baby now, do you know? [laughed.]

AB: The baby was born in 1997. So, the baby is about 7 years old.

CK: Ah. so, then I don't mean to ask your age, so at what age did you start quilting?

AB: That would make it 37.

CK: How did you learn? Did you learn from a certain person or--

AB: I taught myself. I started--I tried the baby blanket sewing with a sewing machine, and I got discouraged pretty fast because I was terrible at getting the corners to line up and connect nicely. So, after that I just closed up the sewing machine, and went back to

totally hand stitching and hand piecing and hand quilting. And I found I like it a lot better. It is much more relaxing, and I can get every corner to line up perfect.

CK: That is interesting. I wonder why that is with the machine? Does it slide around?

AB: Sometimes with some machines my machine and my machine is old and when you feed the fabric through, the under fabric will shift a little bit. It will pull more than the top fabric. Sometimes if you don't compensate for that--I am not a super seamstress so, I can't compensate for that, and things do get off.

CK: Ah

CK: Do any of our family members quilt. Grandma or?

AB: Nope. My grandmother did crocheting and knitting and she did, she was a seamstress at Munsingwear for most of her life but not quilting.

CK: What is your first quilt memory? The first time that you can remember a quilt?

AB: Mainly it is just ones that I have made. Our family does not pass down quilt or anything. It is just the ones I have made.

CK: You say that your grandma was a seamstress and worked for a company as a seamstress, and that would have been in Minnesota? Okay, you are from the Minnesota area?

AB: Born and raised in Minnesota.

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

AB: I have made graduation quilts for my son, and I am in the process of making one for my daughter. As kind of a going away, leaving home quilt for them to remember me by to have something special. So, you might be able to say that I am using the quilt as a kid leaving the nest type help.

CK: What do you find pleasing about quilting?

AB: I find the hand stitching and the working with the small pieces very comforting.

Very relaxing. Doing the constant very small running stitches. It is a kind of mindless, in and out comforting thing kind of normal thing to do.

CK: And so, would you say that you are watching TV generally at the time that you are doing this?

AB: That or listening to books on tape. I tend to listen to a lot of books on tape when I am quilting. Sometimes the stories kind of stay with me. Every time that I pull out the quilt, I remember what books I was listening to when I made the quilts and so the stories come back.

CK: What aspect about quilting do you not enjoy?

AB: The final put together tends to be…especially if the quilts tend to be larger and putting the whole thing together and nice and lined up can be a bear. That is my least favorite part. My favorite part is the actual piecing the design and doing the design.

CK: Now when you do the actual quilting, where do you set it up to do it?

AB: Actually, I throw it over tables, and I use larger PVC hoops.

CK: Ah.

AB: I put two pieces together and then do the quilting.

CK: And it doesn't bother you to have it out. Do you do it in the wintertime especially, do you?

AB: I do it any time that I am desperate to get the quilt done.

CK: [laughing.] Talking about quilts themselves. What do you think makes a great quilt?

AB: A really clear design. Colors that go with the design and stand out as special. And a quilt that is very well made where the corners will line up. Things will be straight and lined up.

CK: And artistically, what would you say makes a quilt powerful?

AB: A quilt that you remember. Whether it is the theme, the color combination, something that strikes a chord in your heart or your memories or something, that makes you remember that quilt.

CK: What would you say would make a quilt for a museum collection?

AB: If it actually has names, dates, historical references. Something that has been passed down many generations. And it is documented, or it is there on the quilt. That would make it worth being in a museum, in my opinion.

CK: As far as people go. What would you say makes a good quilter? Actually, not just a good one but a great one.

AB: A good quilter would have more work than I have gotten done. More patience and a little more finesse.

CK: This sounds like a complicated question. How did great quilters learn the art of quilting especially how to design a pattern or choose fabric and colors?

AB: That comes down to the artistic set up, side of it. A lot of people have a natural gift and an eye for color design and composition and that kind of thing. Any time that you can get that at the beginning and at the start of the quilt, you've got a great quilt.

CK: And that might be why some women choose patterns that are well known. Everybody does them. That's their level of expertise?

AB: And sometimes it depends on the stash of fabric that you have in the corner that you are working with. A lot of scrap quilters will use pieces from old shirts, old dresses, special occasion dresses. I knew a couple of ladies that took a piece of their prom dress, pieces of their wedding dress, old tablecloths, grandma's tablecloth, grandma's favorite old dress, and they would put those into established patterns to have a hand down type of quilt.

CK: Now we have already touched on this before about machine quilting vs. hand quilting. You told me that you were not comfortable with using the sewing machine to piece the quilt. How do you feel about using the machine to do the actual quilting?

AB: I have never tried it. More power to ya. [laughing.] I find myself more attached to the quilt. It is my own bias because I do everything by hand. I feel it is a lot more personal if I put every stitch into the quilt. It makes it definitely more of a piece of me.

CK: Do you know anything about long arm quilting?

AB: I have seen it on a couple of quilting shows on TV, but I don't know anything about it.

CK: So, you haven't tried it?

AB: I haven't tried it.

CK: Why would you say that quilting is important to your life?

AB: Well, I have been finding since I moved away from my family; and since I have been doing genealogy research, I love the idea of having heirlooms to pass down to the family. And I find that if I make a few, maybe in a few generations, they will be treasures. And if I don't have any to pass down now that I have gotten from previous generations, I have made something that I can pass down.

CK: Do you feel like your quilts reflect your community or the region that we live in?

AB: I think that they are more of a reflection of me, personally, or my memories, or my own personality.

CK: Do you think that quilts are important in American life?

AB: I think that they are a wonderful comfortable way to pass down history. Pass down a piece of someone. If I had a--I have a couple of afghans that my grandmother crocheted for me and feels as if I have a piece of her with me. And I feel quilts pass down the same way.

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

AB: Well, each quilt is a personal endeavor of a woman or a group of women. And the workmanship, the choices, the designs, the everything that went into that quilt, stays with the quilt. And it shows, what the women were like, in a very tangible--you can feel it, you can see it, you can touch it in a very special way.

CK: Now, as far as using the quilt, you told me that this one, this particular one, gets used.

AB: Ah, yes, I am one of those people – there is no reason to make it if you are not going to use it. So, it has got to be able to be thrown around, grabbed, dragged, carted off and used. Spilled on, whatever, but it has got to be used. If it is not used, it is just taking up space.

CK: Well, what are other things that you could do with it besides wrap up in it and keep warm.

AB: I have seen others used it as special tablecloth decorations, actually use it as a fabric tablecloth. I have seen them used as wall hanging. I have seen them used as actually when some have gotten old and worn, they have been broken down into smaller pieces, pillows, or wall hangings, and just as history.

CK: Have you kept track of the ones that you have made and given away to friends and family? How are they using them?

AB: The first quilt that I made, the baby quilt. My sister has called me and said that it has been through the wash quite a few times, but the kids love it, and half the time they go searching for it even though they are 7 and 9 years old now. They still go looking for it.

every once in a while.

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

AB: I think that when you find that quilts aren't being passed down in the family, I think it is a good thing to have them in local museums, attached with the local history of the quilt. And a lot of groups are doing regional quilts, at certain times, like for 100th town anniversaries, or county anniversaries, that kind of thing. Women are getting together and doing quilts, that kind of commemorate the town, and the dates and that stuff. And those things should be displayed and out in local museums, or the city halls wherever.

CK: Well, thanks April for participating in the Quilters' S.O.S. [-Save Our Stories.] Can you think of anything that you would like to add to this interview?

AB: I think that you pretty well covered it.

CK: All right. This concludes our interview.

AB: Thank you.

[tape ends.]


“April Bullard,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed May 27, 2024, https://qsos.quiltalliance.org/items/show/1930.