Colleen Nickerson




Colleen Nickerson




Colleen Nickerson


Nancy Edwards

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Nancy Bavor


Waldport, Oregon


Colleen Nickerson


Nancy Edwards (NE): My name is Nancy Edwards and today's date is February 11, 2005, and it is one p.m. I am conducting an interview with Colleen Nickerson at the Waldport Heritage Museum in Waldport, 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. Colleen is a quilter and is a member of the Yaquina Chapter. Tell me about the quilt you brought in today.

Colleen Nickerson (CN) I made it about ten years ago. It is a collection of the old hankies of both my grandmothers. I hand stitched each hanky onto a queen size sheet after laying them all out to form a pattern. I used seashell designs to quilt in each hanky.

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

CN: When I look at the hankies, I can see the handwork my grandmothers did and the places they traveled to save them for souvenirs.

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

CN: I gave all the other quilts I made to family members but kept this one for me because of the heritage in the hankies.

NE: How do you use this quilt?

CN: I had it hanging on a wall in my Bed and Breakfast, then put it away till I redid a bedroom and now have it just on a quilt rack.

NE: What are your plans for this quilt?

CN: I want to save it as an heirloom and maybe one day a great grandchild will be married, and I can give it as a gift.

NE: Tell me about your interest in quilting.

CN: I first started sewing machine quilting with my first new sewing machine that had all kinds of design cams. I made little rugs and Christmas presents. [museum visitor spoke.] When my children left home and I had time for myself, I started making them wedding quilts, then grandchildren quilts. My last one, I have been working on it off and on for over 20 years.

NE: At what age did you start quilting?

CN: I started in 1960 after the birth of my second child, when I was 19.

NE: From whom did you learn to quilt?

CN: I taught myself from trial and error, lots of quilt books and magazines. As a child, I took many years of sewing in 4-H.

NE: How many hours a week do you quilt?

CN: During my busy quilting years, I would sit in my chair in the evening while watching TV and quilt for three or 4 hours. Now I will pull my last quilt out and work a hour or two in the evening during cold weather.

NE: What is your first quilt memory?

CN: It's sad, but as a child, I never paid attention to what I was sleeping under. In my early married years, my mother gave me a quilt made by an older cousin. I used it and washed it to death, not knowing that I should have stored it away for safe keeping. I saved the center of it and made a baby quilt of it.

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

CN: I do not know of any quilters at present time, but my sister Patrice. She was invited to a t-shirt quilting class a year ago. She machine stitched all the squares together and then quilted on the sewing machine in the gutter, as they say now. Now she has started on quilt block of the month club.

NE: How does quilting impact your family?

CN: Everyone still hints for a quilt or get their old one repaired.

NE: Tell me if you have ever used quilting to get through a difficult time.

CN: As most marriages go through rough times, quilting was a great way to get satisfaction from doing something pretty, which took up a lot of time. After my husband died, I did the grandmother's hanky quilt.

NE: What do you find pleasing about quilting?

CN: Just the contentment of hand sewing every small stitch and seeing it all come together.

NE: What aspects of quilting do you not enjoy?

CN: Getting sore fingers from the needle after not quilting for a while. A person needs to do it often enough to keep the callus on the fingertips.

NE: What do you think makes a great quilt?

CN: Design, hard work and even the mistakes.

NE: What makes a quilt artistically powerful?

CN: The theme and colors.

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

CN: Quilts that are made for special occasions, old materials and one old one we have in the museum has all the old timers of the turn of the century with their names embroidered on it.

NE: What makes a great quilter?

CN: Anyone that takes the time to design, cut materials, sew, hand quilt and keep doing it to improve oneself, hopefully.

NE: How do great quilters learn the art of quilting, especially how to design a pattern, choose fabrics and color?

CN: I think most quilters get a book of patterns and if they have a good eye, walk up and down the racks of material until they find the perfect matches. That is something I used to enjoy.

NE: How so you feel about machine quilting vs. had quilting? What about long-arm quilting?

CN: I think hand quilting is so satisfying, but people that don't have the time or may have arthritis, it is really a time and lifesaver. I have always used hoops of different sizes, while sitting in my recliner.

NE: Why is quilting important to your life?

CN: It is a way to keep busy, make a memory out of sometimes, special material such as my old dresses, mom's old tablecloths and old men's ties, and share with my family.

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

CN: My quilts are just designs that I took fancy to at the time.

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

CN: Quilts have become an art form of our American heritage.

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

CN: It shows that they spent every spare minute sewing on scrapes of material to keep their families warm.

NE: How do you think quilts can be used?

CN: Displayed on a bed, wall, stand or even stored for special occasions.

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

CN: Never sleep on them or put in washing machines. I take a photo of everyone that I have made, so it the quilt is lost, I have the memory.

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

CN: I have one old wool family quilt and have lost two by not caring properly for them when raising my children. I have made wedding quilts for my five children, baby and twin-size quilts for grandchildren and some for sisters and parents. Some are worn and I need to take time and mend my daughter's quilt. The one I did of men's silk ties; I hope will be treasured enough to keep as an heirloom.

NE: I would like to thank Colleen Nickerson for allowing me to interview her today as part of the Quilters' S.O.S.-Save Our Stories project. Our interview concluded at the Waldport Heritage Museum on February 11, 2005, 2 P.M.

[tape ends.]


“Colleen Nickerson,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed May 27, 2024,