Beverly Trenaneman




Beverly Trenaneman




Beverly Trenaneman


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. I am conducting an interview with Beverly Ann Treneman at her 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. Beverly is a member of the Yamhill chapter, NSDAR. Beverly, tell me about the quilt you brought in today.

Beverly Ann Treneman (BT): This was a quilt that I did on my own. I saw an advertisement for the Smithsonian had reproduced some material from the 1850's, and I wanted to do a period quilt. So, I ordered the material and then found some in the stores. So, this is the one I felt might be of most interest because the material is so unique.

TB: The pattern of the [inaudible.].

BT: Then I researched to find the pattern I wanted that was of that era, the 1850's. I had about 3 or 4 choices, but I loved this one because after I got the material I could see that this one I would like the one to get from me. The pattern is Tumbling Blocks, and of course you find it in children's books, but you find it in the old American books. This is an American pattern. You see it in the Amish books too, so. I felt that this was very strong. I liked it. I was attracted to it.

TB: Who made it? Who made this quilt?

BT: I did it. I did it all myself.

TB: Here, in McMinnville?

BT: Well, one thing about, everything's hand done. We used to travel back to Iowa to see the family, and I'd be sitting there listening to Mother, so I did the tumbling blocks in sections, and I took it all back with me, and then, when I came back here I put it together. But, I did the blocks traveling, a lot of them.

TB: So, when was it completed?

BT: It was the year, 1997. I think that's what I said. It takes me about a year to do a quilt. Yes, 1997.

TB: What materials is it made of?

BT: It's all cotton, and it's all--the inside is, it's before they came out with these newer linings, and it's that polyfill.

TB: The polyfill batting?

BT: It's very nice. It's a large quilt, so the polyfill's actually quite nice. It's not as heavy, you know.

TB: Yes. I like polyfill. It needles really nice, too. What special meaning does this quilt have for you?

BT: Well, I don't know. I just love it. I don't think it has a special meaning. One I'm not going to give away. You know, I'm going to enjoy it. I put it on the bed at different times, and I just love it. There's no special meaning.

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

BT: Well, partly, because I thought for the Daughters, that it would be good to have one that had a replica of material from American history, that's documented.

TB: How do you use this quilt?

BT: On the bed.

TB: On the bed?

BT: On the bed. Usually it's when no one's there. [both laugh.] Only for me to look at. I haven't given it to anybody to use. Only me. [both laugh.] We tend to do that, don't we?

TB: What are your plans for it?

BT: I'm just going to enjoy it as long as I'm around, and it's the one that will probably go with me if I have to go someplace. [laughs.] It will be on my wheelchair. [both laugh.]

TB: So many fine memories with it.

BT: [inaudible.]

TB: Tell me about your interest in quilting?

BT: Well, my grandmother was, she sewed to make money for a living. When we would go over there, and she did a lot of hand quilting--she made our doll clothes, and she always hemmed our dresses. Of course, we made a lot of our own clothes. And so, when we were breaking up Mother's house, there was one of Grandma's quilt squares up in the attic. That's all there was. So, but my sisters all say that I'm like Grandma Azeltine Neither one of them like to even put on a button. But, I love to sew. I have 4 girls. I made almost all their clothes, and then I just like to sew. So, and I have always done hand work. I just enjoy it.

TB: What age did you start quilting?

BT: I was in my 40's when Grandma was still alive, she was in Iowa. I was in my 40's when we discovered that little one that I knew that someday I would probably make one, and now I have it in progress. The Job's tears is the square. The square is Job's Tears.

TB: Oh, that's what you have in your grandmother's effects? From whom did you learn to quilt?

BT: Well, my first teacher, there were 3 of us. And the McMinnville Chamber of Commerce was trying to instigate some activities, and so they talked this one wonderful lady into teaching a quilt class. So, 3 of us went, and her name was Mrs.Shumway, and we all sat around and learned 1 square, and then her husband volunteered to make quilt frames for all of us. So, that was in the early 70's. So, that's how I started. Of course, I was really kind of dumb. My first quilt was a king size quilt for the bed. [both laugh.] But we didn't have a lot of money, and so I made a Grandmother's Fan, and I used all my leftover material from the childrens' clothes that I had been making them for years that I had all those scraps. So my first quilt's a Grandmother's Fan.

TB: Very traditional to use all those scraps.

BT: [laughs.] [inaudible.] I only put that on my bed once in a while because it's pretty fragile.

TB: How many hours a week do you quilt?

BT: It depends. If I'm pressured, maybe one a day, but if I'm not pressured, you know, it depends on if I'm sitting there watching TV. It's hard to watch TV and quilt though. But, if I'm visiting with people and I have my quilt frame up, you know. Maybe an hour a day, overall, at the most. Can't do anymore.

TB: What is your first quilt memory?

BT: Well, going to the quilt classes and really learning the basics. And then we all sat around a quilting frame, and then we went and helped each other. This class, there were 8 of us. We ran around, helped each other, set them up, and then do 'em.

TB: Looks fun.

BT: It was fun.

TB: How does quilting impact your family?

BT: Well, they'll all get one. [laughs.] And every grandchild has had 1, and every grandchild has had a quilt. And I make quillos for high-school graduation presents. A few of them have ordered them, and that means they have to help pick it out, and pick the pattern. I have one daughter who loves it, and she and I do some things together. I've got one quilt. Better than zero.

TB: Great fun, to have a compatriot in the family. Tell me if you've ever used quilting to get through a difficult time?

BT: Well, unfortunately or fortunately, I started this class and then my husband was diagnosed with a brain cancer, and I was in the middle, I had just gotten the quilt put together, and it was on this frame in here. So, he would sit in the chair in here, and people would come and visit and I would quilt. Yes, it was nice. It was nice to have it because we were together, we were all together, and sometimes a friend would come in and quilt too and visit with Jim. But, he couldn't talk very much and he could listen. So it really did help me, and now if I have to pick something out, if I get my quilting out and do some, sometimes it helps me think. Sometimes if you're waiting for something you get your quilting out because it helps to pass the time while you're waiting for something. [laughs.]

TB: A healthy distraction. What do you find pleasing about quilting?

BT: Well, to me it's just an, it's an artistic, I know it's just good medicine. I just enjoy it. I appreciate when I see it. Just like today. I really appreciate it and I understand it. It's like seeing any work of art. I think they're works of art. And you never make a mistake. There are no mistakes.

TB: The whole learning.

BT: Every quilt I have has at least 1 block upside-down or not sewn correctly. [laughs.]

TB: What aspects of quilting do you not enjoy?

BT: I don't think there's anything I don't enjoy. I think the hardest thing is picking out your materials and colors. Not materials, but the colors. I think that's the hardest thing. If you have something in your mind making it, the intensities work together.

TB: The values and the hues. A challenge. What do you think makes a great quilt?

BT: I don't know. I never think about any quilt being great. I think it's a personal thing.

TB: What do you think makes a quilt artistically powerful?

BT: Well, if you go to Sisters and you walk up and down the street, you're going to see some quilts that are powerful, and part of it is the pattern or part of it is the color. For instance, if you look at a Hawaiian quilt and it's really well done, it's a powerful quilt. It's a story of their heritage, you know. Some of the, I got a book on the early, the early women and the families that came over on the Oregon Trail. Those are powerful quilts. They made it. They went through everything. That's what makes a quilt powerful to me. It's the story of the quilt, the heritage.

TB: Not so much the patterns or the colors. So, you think that is appropriate for a museum or special collection?

BT: Yes. For instance, in the Smithsonian, or in the DAR Museum, you know the story of the Civil War and the quilts that told them which direction to go or where to hide.

TB: Oh, of the Underground Railroad?

BT: Yes. Those are the kinds of things.

TB: Something with historical value.

BT: The early patterns I think are very important. For me.

TB: What makes a great quilter?

BT: Well, when I look at the ones who can do 12 to the inch, I don't know. [laughs.] I think just enjoying it makes a great quilter. [laughs.] No matter how much you can do to the inch. [both laugh.]

TB: How do great quilters learn the art of quilting?

BT: They share it. They share it with the next person. That's how you pass it down. You pass it around. That is, you share.

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

BT: I will never machine quilt, but I think that there's a place for it. For instance, if you want to give it to a high-school senior boy and he's going to take it to college, you better just whip it out on the machine. Tough. I think there's a place for it, but I'm not a good enough sewer in the first place. But to me, my hand work is what works for me, but I think there's a definite place for it.

TB: Or long-arm quilting.

BT: Sure, I think it depends on how you're going to use it, and how much time you want to put in. They can whip those out.

TB: Why is quilting important to your life?

BT: Well, it keeps me balanced when I get unbalanced. You know. It brings me back down to earth. Where you can crawl into your quilt and sew and chew on what you don't like or what's happening. It helps. It's a wonderful psychiatrist. [laughs.]

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

BT: What's that?

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

BT: Well, I don't know. I just like old patterns, and I like simple materials.

TB: Where did you grow up?

BT: Oh, Iowa.

TB: Iowa. Do you find the quilting's different there than it is here?

BT: No.

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

BT: In American life? Well, they tell stories. They tell family stories, and I think that they're treasures. You know the book Treasures in the Trunk. Well they are treasures. I think [inaudible.] family treasure stories.

TB: You've pretty much answered how you think quilts have special meaning for women's history in America.

BT: Every quilt you have, alright, when I go visit somebody and I look at their quilts, they say so and so made it or when it was this, and you know, and the pattern is such and such. It's wonderful. Tells you all about them.

TB: Yep. How do you think quilts can be used?

BT: How can they be used?


TB: How can they be used?

BT: Well, I suppose they can be used anyway anybody wants to make them useful. Of course, I think when it gets to being the bed for the dog then I think it's time. But, I also think however they want to use them. I think mostly as bedding. But sometimes it's a couch. Sometimes it's a lap [quilt.]. Sometimes it's a wall hanging. However they want to use them.

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

BT: How can they be preserved?

TB: Yeah.

BT: Well, the paper, that acid-free paper. If you're going to keep it folded up, you need to use that acid-free paper. You need to put it in a cotton bag. If you're going to keep it on the bed, you need to know how to wash it, and enjoy it.

TB: [laughs.] How to keep the husband's feet off the quilt. That's my problem. [laughs.]

BT: I had one quilt that I made for Jim, and it's his and he can do anything he wants with it. [both laugh.]

TB: Very wise. What's happened to the quilts you've made for friends and families?

BT: Oh, I don't know. The 3 girls that I have made for, they all have them on their beds. The grandchildren, the baby quilts have all been put away, and they'll come out someday. When you make a quillo, or one of those you know, you just hope they're gonna use it and don't worry about it. I think they're all in use.

TB: They're all appreciated, I'm sure.

BT: And the baby quilts are fun.

TB: Start of a new life. Is there anything you'd like to add that we haven't covered?

BT: No, I just think it's a wonderful art form. I think it tells a story [laughs.]

TB: I'd like to think Beverly Ann Treneman for allowing me to interview her today as part of the Quilters' [S.O.S.-] Save Our Stories project. Our interview concluded at 12:22 p.m. on April 2nd, 2007.


“Beverly Trenaneman,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed July 18, 2024,