Beatrice Heinonen




Beatrice Heinonen




Beatrice Heinonen


Theresa Boock

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Carolyn Mazloomi


McMinnville, Oregon


Diana Rothe


Theresa Boock (TB): My name is Theresa Boock, and today's date is April 2nd, 2007 at 11:05 a.m. I am conducting an interview with Beatrice Heinonen at Beverly Ann Treneman's home in McMinnville, 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. Beatrice is a quilter and is a member of Yamhill Chapter. Tell me about the quilt you brought today. Who made it?

Beatrice Heinonen (BH): My grandmother Keith would always come visit us for a month every fall, and she always had to have handwork. She was always piecing quilts, so she made these blocks in 1943 and 1944 and gave them to me as the last quilt blocks that she would be making for her grandchildren. Then, in 1945, my mother set it together so that it was a quilt size, and it sat in my cedar chest until 1995 when I decided I had learned enough about quilting that I was going to get it out and finish it, and I did.

TB: Would you describe it for us?

BH: It's actually a red, well its actually Christmas colors and with the red rosebud, the green leaves, and the flowers, and the red border matches the red rosebuds, and that's about all I know except that I know that it's 1940's material and possibly feed sacks are included in it.

TB: What's the name of the pattern?

BH: Rosebud.

TB: Rosebud.

BH: It is all cotton by the way, too.

TB: All cotton, and perhaps feed sacks. So what special meaning does this quilt have for you?

BH: Well, it was the last quilt blocks that my grandmother was going to be making because she was going blind, and she was in her late 80's, and it just means that that's something special.

TB: Why did you bring this quilt to the interview?

BH: Because it had so much family history to it.

TB: How do you use this quilt?

BH: It's usually folded up and on the quilt rack until Christmas time, and it comes out and it's on my bed at Christmas time.

TB: What are your plans for this quilt?

BH: I really don't know. Probably one of the grandchildren maybe will receive it. One of the children or grandchildren. Somebody's gonna appreciate it, I know. Cause they're always asking for quilts.

TB: Are there other quilters in your family?

BH: My mother was a quilter. My grandmother was a quilter. I have a niece that does machine quilting.

TB: Machine piecing as well?

BH: Yes.

TB: Tell me about your interest in quilting.

BH: Well, I know I grew up with quilting. Mother was always doing quilts. Lots of time it was comforters, which she tied because we needed bedding to keep warm.

TB: At what age did you start quilting?

BH: 69.

TB: At age 69? [laughs.]

BH: After I retired, that's something I took up.

TB: Did you know if your mother tied?

BH: Yes.

TB: When you were little?

BH: Yep.

TB: How old would you say you were when you first started helping your mother tie quilts?

BH: Probably about 8, because if she was too far to reach she would put the needle down and have us put the needle back up.

TB: My mother told me the same story about her mother. How many hours a week do you quilt?

BH: It depends if I'm on a deadline to get one done for a special occasion, I will probably put 6 maybe 7 hours in, with breaks in between but if it's just one that I'm in no hurry, about 4 hours a day.

TB: From whom did you learn to quilt?

BH: I taught myself.

TB: Have you taken lessons?

BH: Nope.

TB: What is your first quilt memory?

BH: Here again, my mother. She had the quilt frame up in the living room. My brother and I used to play underneath it, and we would get kind of rambunctious and come up underneath it and she would thump us on the head with a thimble.

TB: [laughs.] Are there other quilters--well you told me about your family, how about friends?

BH: I belong to a quilt club in Newberg, and we meet once a week. We do our individual projects, and once a year we have a raffle quilt that we put together, and raffle off. The proceeds go to *FISH*.

TB: To feed the...

BH: To feed the hungry.

TB: How does quilting impact your family?

BH: Well, they're always wanting to know what I'm working on, and when am I gonna get one. I have a grandson who is 22, and he keeps saying, 'Grandma, when am I going to have a quilt?' I say, 'It's in the works.'

TB: He's looking forward to getting a quilt. Have you ever used quilting to get through a difficult time?

BH: You know, that was a difficult question, and I don't know that I have, possibly, but not really, thinking back.

TB: What do you find pleasing about quilting?

BH: Having a completed project.

TB: Not the process, but the end? [both laugh.] What aspects of quilting do you not enjoy?

BH: Putting the binding on. Especially if it's a complicated one, like a Double Wedding Ring or Grandmother's Flower Garden.

TB: Have you put binding on a Grandmother's Flower Garden before?

BH: [inaudible.]

TB: What do you think makes a great quilt?

BH: Appeal, pattern, colors, fabrics. Most anything, I mean, as long as it comes together in the end.

TB: In a cohesive way. What makes a quilt artistically powerful?

BH: If it has a special theme, and you follow through with it instead of just throwing the blocks together. You make it symmetrical. Get your corners to meet, such as that.

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

BH: Probably, if the museum has a special theme themselves. If they would let that out and then you would know to make a quilt to match their themes or something to tie in together. I don't know. I've only visited 2 museums with quilts, and so I can't say too much about that.

TB: What makes a great quilter?

BH: One dedicated to it. Precise.

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

BH: I don't know exactly, but I would think that possibly they have some artistic ability to begin with, to design the pattern. I've never designed a pattern. I'd always kind of put 2 together sometimes; come up with a good pattern. I don't know exactly what they're asking for at this point.

TB: Okay. How do you feel about machine quilting versus hand quilting?

BH: Until this year, I was always a no-no on machine quilting, until I know that I had to slow down, and I did have one of the girls in our club has a long arm, and she did one for me. Possibly I will have her do another one. But I'm still dragging my feet about machine quilting. [laughs].

TB: Why is that, do you think?

BH: What was instilled in me as a child.

TB: Okay.

BH: It is an art and a craft that we don't want to lose.

TB: Thank you. Why is quilting important to your life?

BH: It gives me pleasure in working with my hands and getting things accomplished, instead of like some they make a few blocks here and a few blocks there and stash 'em away. I start one, I want to finish it. Instead of leaving it for my next generation to take care of. Like my mother did me. She left me with 7 quilt tops, and they're all finished now, thank goodness.


BH: Five of them were for grandchildren. Got 'em all done now.

TB: Wonderful. So, you were part of the process of her quilting.

BH: Uh-huh.

TB: And it ended up with a 3rd generation?

BH: Uh-huh.

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

BH: I don't know. I would choose something that would tie in with country life or city life, whichever. I don't know.

TB: Okay. Are you from Newberg?

BH: No, I've only lived in Newberg 6 years.

TB: Okay. Did you grow up in Oregon?

BH: No. I grew up in Washington.

TB: Just up the road?

BH: Yeah.

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

BH: They're treasures that need to be kept and taken care of properly. The craft needs to be passed down to the younger generation in each family.

TB: How do you think quilts can be used?

BH: To keep warm. Wrap up in. Snuggle up in.

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

BH: If they're properly taken care of, never put in a plastic bag. Always use cotton. Acid free paper if it's available to you, which you can find, and roll them instead of folding them up. If you're going to travel with them, put them in a cotton pillowcase, and also document them.

TB: Document them. Take pictures?

BH: Pictures.

TB: Labels?

BH: Labels, well document is labels to me. Yes.

TB: What has happened to the quilts you've made for friends or family?

BH: I've actually given 2 full size quilts away to family. Three now, excuse me. But, I've made several baby quilts, and my daughter is a good source for that, because she's always having friends that have babies and says 'Mom, make me a baby quilt.' Somebody's having a baby, so and so, so and so. And so I have probably made close to 40 or 50 baby quilts and given away. Course I have 11 grandchildren. They've all had at least 2.

TB: That's marvelous. You've been quite prolific. Is there anything else you would like to say?

BH: Only that I'm glad this project is going, and I hope that we can continue to do it.

TB: I'd like to thank Beatrice Heinonen for allowing me to interview her today as part of Quilters' [S.O.S.] Save Our Stories Project. Out interview concluded at 11:20 on April 2nd, 2007.


“Beatrice Heinonen,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed March 1, 2024,