Teresa Maloney




Teresa Maloney




Teresa Maloney


Theresa Boock

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Moda Fabrics


Walterville, Oregon


Kay Piercey


Terry Maloney entered her quilt in the 118th Continental Congress, 2009 American Heritage Committee’s fiber arts - hand quilt contest. The contest theme was, “Our Heritage a Patchwork of Our Past.” Terry placed first with this quilt.

[This introduction is not recorded on the tape. My name is Theresa Boock, and today's date is January 26, 2005, at 7:00 p.m. I am conducting an interview with Terry Maloney in her home in Walterville, 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. Terry is a quilter and is a member of the Oregon Lewis and Clark Chapter NSDAR. National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.]

Theresa Boock (TB): Terry is going to tell us about her quilt she made today. Tell me about the quilt you brought in today, please. Who made it?

Terry Maloney (TM): I made it.

TB: What is the origin of the design?

TM: Most of the patterns come from Ellie St. Kevaich, her books, "Baltimore and Beyond Volume One, Two and Three" and the border is peonies, which I picked because those are my mother's favorite flower. There are several different techniques on it, reverse appliqué, appliqué, a couple of original designs in the lower right-hand corner. The quilt is made for my daughter Kate, and that is Kate playing the piano because she took 12 years of piano lessons, and it even includes Abby the flabby tabby, Kate's cat. [laughs.] And the Lira for her love of music and the peacock for immortality and the oak leaves down in the corner because she grew up in a subdivision called Oak Park.

TM: It is the Baltimore album style.

TB: And the quilt top itself, when was that made?

TM: It was started in 1995 and finished in about 2000 because I was going to a workshop with Elli St. Kulich, and I wanted to have the top finished for it, and Kate keeps saying, 'Mother when are you going to quilt my quilt top so I can have it finished?' and I keep saying. 'If I quilt it, I will have to give it to you.' [laughs.] I have finished 12 quilts, so this will get finished.

TB: Now why did you choose this quilt to bring to this evening?

TM: Because I think it is the best example of my appliqué work, I absolutely love appliqué

and have done that pretty exclusively since I learned how.

TB: How did you get interested in quilting?

TM: I purchased a kit of cross-stitch and did all the cross-stitch and went to a shop and said I would like to have someone quilt it. They said, 'Well, they did not know of anyone and that I would just have to learn how to do it.'

TB: When was this?

TM: 1976.

TB: Where was this?

TM: Kansas City, I was living in Kansas City at the time. And joined the Kansas City Quilt Guild, the greater Kansas City Quilt Guild, and quilting has just been a huge part of my life ever since. [laughs.]

TB: Who did you did--oh, you told us you taught yourself, you were pretty much self-taught?

TM: Actually, no I took a class in beginning quilting and from a gal named Kathleen Bratsfield an exquisite quilter. Well, I am still not as good as she was.

TB: Do you mind if I if I ask how old were you when you started quilting?

TM: Thirty.

TB: How many hours a week do you spend quilting?

TM: Probably 20 if you do not count the finer quilting on other people's quilts, probably 20 at home.

TB: Where do you find space wise and time wise 20 hours a week? How do you manage 20 hours a week?

TM: I quilt after dinner till midnight every night, usually more than 20, but you know sometimes we have a social life and go out, [laughs.] and I don't quilt on those nights.

TB: Do you quilt with TV or music on?

TM: Yes, my husband likes me to be in the room with him when he is watching TV, and I can stand that on. [laughs.] Doesn't matter so much what is on TV it is about being there with them [inaudible.].

TB: What is your first quilt memory?

TM: Oh golly, my grandmother made a little tiny dolly quilt for me, and I somewhere still have that little dolly quilt.

TB: How old were you when she made that for you?

TM: I don't know, I was probably five or six from the time I remember and that may be when she gave it to me, or that may just be when I started remembering. She was my--grandmother was quite a quilter; she always had a frame up in her living room. I just thought that was the way it was supposed to be.

TB: So, you had that warm and cozy grandma association with quilting?

TM: Both grandmas quilted, but my mother did not.

TB: Funny how it skips generations like that isn't it? So, are there other quilters other than your grandmother in your family?

TM: No, my daughter is starting to get interested, and she has done a wall hanging. One but then she works fulltime. She is thinking when she isn't quite so busy with the new baby and working, she will start to quilt some more. That's it.

TB: You have lots of friends that quilt though.

TM: [laughs.] My whole social life is quilters. [laughs.]

TB: How many would you say you know?

TM: Oh, well, because I moved here from Kansas I had probably 10 close friends that were quilters and then 50-60 acquaintances that were quilters and then moved here and immediately got into the quilting circles, and I got 12 women in my Up River quilt group, and then there's 40 probably in the Pioneer Quilters that 40 some.

TB: How often does your Up River Quilt group meet?

TM: We meet every other Friday. We work on our own projects. We carry our own projects to different people's houses and quilt.

TB: Certain amount of time that you spend?

TM: Well, we started 10-2:00, but it's now 10:00 to 3:30. [laughs.]

TB: And you bring your lunches?

TM: And we bring our lunch, and we have very strict rules that the hostess isn't to do anything but coffeecake in the morning and a dessert, because it can get out of hand. [laughs.]

TB: That's marvelous, so how does your family feel about all this quilting, how does this impact your family?

TM: I think they think it is fine. It keeps me out of their way. [laughs.]

TB: Do you mind my asking what the difference in groups were from in Iowa from here in Oregon?

TM: The difference in groups? Well, there is a different flavor of quilting, most of the people I

know back in Kansas quilt do folk art kinds of quilt and there's a few that are into "Stack and Whack" an those kind of things, mostly they like the muted colors and folk-art kinds of things. Where here it is a lot more fun. Brighter colors and seems to me like people are a little freer with their style here.

TB: I sometimes wonder if that has to do with the age of the civilization of Kansas City a little bit further ahead and Oregon is very West Coast.

TM: It is and just going through the shops there is huge difference in the fabrics you can get.

I'll take bright fabrics back to Kansas City, and 'Wow, where you go and get that?' 'Well, West Coast.'

TB: Okay, have you ever used quilting to get through a difficult time?

TM: Yes, I have.

TB: Do you mind sharing with us?

TM: In fact, my husband and I joke about the fact that buying fabric is cheaper than a psychiatrist. [laughs.] You can buy a lot of fabric at a hundred and twenty [dollars.] an hour. Although I can probably spend [laughs.] a hundred and twenty and hour in a fabric store. [laughter.] Yes, when my son had an accident and was hurt, I very much used the quilting to get through that and focus myself on the quilting and not think too much on how he was hurt.

TB: It has been a friend.

TM: It has definitely been a friend and better than the quilting itself is the friendship and the camaraderie that you get with the quilt groups, you really make some good friends.

TB: What prospects of quilting do you not enjoy?

TM: Not real fond of piecing. [laughs.]

TB: Why is that?

TM: Well, I learned well. I took a sampler class after my first beginning quilting, and I learned a little bit of everything, but I don't like the piecing because it requires me to be very precise, and I like the freedom that appliqué gives me. I can bend the fabric to do what I want it to do rather than being so precise with the measurements.

TB: That's understandable I find it is a lot more interesting doing appliqué as well because every needle turn takes a little bit of concentration where piecing you line it up and you sew it and you ultimately go, 'Oh. Gees [laughs.] and rip it out, and you line it up. All this frustration. [laughs.]

TM: Exactly

TB: What do you think makes a great quilt?

TM: First of all, well, pattern, color and craftsmanship. The patterns you pick are vitally important. And you have to have a good sense of color, or the best pattern in the world is going to be horrible. And then the craftsmanship of your piecing that they are précised that they are preciously pieced or appliqué that you do it well and get all your little ends turned under. And then the quilting of course the finer the quilting stitch the better it is.

TB: So, if I ask you what makes a quilt artistically powerful, would that be redundant?

TM: When the graphically strong, I think. And again, color has so much to play with that.

TB: What do would you think would make a quilt appropriate for a museum or a special collection?

TM: Well, the story that goes with it. Perhaps it is from a specific period in time that makes it unique like the "Baltimore's" that were done in the late 1800's, those are certainly museum quality, quilts that have a story that came over on the Oregon Trail or may just have a story now-a-days the quilts that were made for 9/11 to commemorate people's feeling about September 11. Those are the kinds of things that make it eligible for consideration in a museum and then of course the quality in the quilting.

TB: What makes a great quilter?

TM: I think maybe a great quilter is one who is willing to share the things she knows with other quilters, shares her skills and talents and just her love of it with others.

TB: Okay, well let's see. How do great quilters learn the art of quilting, especially how to design a pattern or choose fabrics and colors? How did you learn?

TM: Wow, mostly just from talking to other people, you see something they have done you like, and you ask. 'Why did you choose those colors together? What made you think of those colors?' Increase your skill and talent just by visiting every time I am with other quilters, I learn something new or a new way of doing an old thing that I have done all along, a new device that is out, a new kind of quilting thread that works better that what we have used before. I don't think I have been around quilters that I didn't pick up on something new, almost every time.

TB: What makes a great quilt shop? It doesn't say that here, but I'm asking. [laughs.]

TM: First of all, friendly people. [laughs.]

TB: So true. [laughs.]

TM: A great quilt shop is one that is interested in the one I'm making, when I go in, they want to see the one I'm working on or see the pattern that I'm trying to buy for and are willing to help with advice on colors you might want to choose or just communicating with their customers.

TB: Good point. Well, how do you feel about machine quilting versus hand quilting?

TM: Well, I used to have a real attitude about machine quilting until I'd seen some of the machine quilts, in fact I have had some of the tops I have made machine quilted because I just couldn't work them up all hand quilting, and there are just not enough years in my life to work up all the tops that I do. And I had seen them enhance the top that I have made greatly with good machine quilting. I don't have such an attitude anymore.

TB: I see, and this is long arm quilting you are talking about? We know someone who does a very artistic job.

TM: Yes, we do.

TB: Why is quilting important to you?

TM: Because it's an opportunity to express myself, it's just intrinsically to who I am, if I am working on a baby quilt, I'm putting prayers and love into that quilt. I can't imagine a day that I don't sit down and quilt. Even when I travel, I have got some part or some pieces of quilting to take with me.

TB: It is a way of life, a philosophy almost.

TM: It is a way of life.

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

TM: I think my quilts are more colorful than they were than when I lived in Kansas, I always like color, and I always did used darker colors; but I am more adventurous with color in the Northwest than I was before. And my latest quilt top I am working on is woodland animals so that is Oregonian. [laughs.]

TB: Okay, interesting, what do you think is important about quilts in American life?

TM: What is important about quilts in American life? Well, I think now it is much more about the artistic value of the quilt, as opposed to when they started, they were to keep warm and as much as artistic endeavor that you could put into the quilt that was good. But the whole point was to keep warm, and I don't think that is quite our emphasis anymore. [laughs.] You can go buy a cheap blanket of cheap quilt from another country if warmth is your issue.

TB: It is a creative output?

TM: It is and incredible creative outlet, yeah.

TB: And I'm hearing you say a way to share your love and life with other people?

TM: With other quilters and with the people you are quilting for, the people you are making the quilts for, you are very invested in this piece of fabric by the time you are ready to give it to the person you have made it for, you have put many, many hours and prayers and thoughts about that person you are making it for.

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

TM: You can almost tell the history of the quilt is almost a history of American women as well. The quilts that commemorate the temperance movement and the Red Cross, you could do a program of women's history through quilting.

TB: Good point. History though quilts. How do you think quilts can be used besides just being on beds?

TM: Well, I use them on beds but also definitely on the walls, I think that they are such a dynamic graphic statement on a wall, and you can make quilts out of blue jeans and take them to the beach. They don't have to be an art quilt per se either. You can take those quilts and do a lot of things.

TB: I saw someone talking about that the other day that the denim quilt they made a [inaudible.] denim quilt. She said it weighed three times more than any quilt so when they take it to the beach; she doesn't have to worry about it blowing away. [laughs.]

TM: True. [laughs.]

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

TM: Well, I think the museums preserve them well, I don't know about in the home I think it is just important when you are making a quilt to know how the person intends to use it. And if they want it to be a quilt for the dog to carry around then you don't give it your museum quality work. [laughs.] When I do my quilts that I have, I tell them that this quilt is a quilt that I hope that I never see the dog or the children using it as tent to play a game, it's an art quilt. I expect it to be taken care of and when I give my quilts away, I give washing instructions with them. I want them to be used, but I also want them to be used gently.

TB: With respect.

TM: With respect, yes.

TB: So, what has happened to the quilts that you have made for your friends and family?

TM: Well, they are just spread out all over the place, and I have to say I can't think of any joy greater than walking into my kid's homes and seeing the quilts that I have made hanging up on their walls or on their beds. That is just a huge thrill, they are in my kid's homes, they are in my parent's home, wall hangings are all over the place.

TB: Is there anything that I haven't covered that you would like to talk about?

TM: I think that we have pretty well covered the territory. [laughs.]

TB: All right, well thank you very much. This interview was given on January 24, 2005, at Terry Maloney's home by Theresa Boock. [tape was stopped and then started.] I would like to thank Terry Maloney for allowing me to interview her today as part of the Quilters' S.O.S. [- Save Our Stories.] Our interview concluded 35 minutes after we started.

[tape ends.]


“Teresa Maloney,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed June 23, 2024, https://qsos.quiltalliance.org/items/show/1937.