Evelyn Laughman




Evelyn Laughman




Evelyn Laughman


Sue Glen

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Moda Fabrics


Warrenton, Oregon


Carolyn Kolzow


Sue Glen (SG): August the--

Evelyn Laughman (EL): Twenty-fourth.

SG: 24th, 2006. [laughing.] And it is ten minutes after ten in the morning. I am conducting an interview with Evelyn Laughman in my home in Warrenton, Oregon; for the Quilter's [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. Evelyn is a quilter and is a member of the Astoria Chapter, [NSDAR.] National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. [pause for 11 seconds.]

SG: Evelyn tell me a little bit about the quilt that you brought. Why did you choose to bring that quilt to the interview?

EL: Well, it was the first quilt that I ever made. And I grew up in Washougal, Washington where there is a Pendleton Woolen Mill factory. And so I wanted to use wool scraps. So, I went to the outlet and purchased them, and so that is what I used for this quilt.

SG: How do you use the quilt?

EL: In the winter months I use it as a bedspread in the bedroom and then I have also

hung it over a quilt rack from time to time to display so that people can see it.

SG: What is your interest in quilting?

EL: My mom has always quilted, and it was always interesting to me. I helped her cut squares in different shapes when I was younger, but never truly got into quilting. And so-back around 1990 I decided that I wanted to make a quilt which I did, and I used the quilting frame from my grandmother. It is still in the family.

SG: So, was it your mother that taught you to quilt, or did you learn on your own?

EL: She taught me the basics and then I picked up a little as I went along.

SG: Actually, when I tied the quilt my mom, and dad, and I were all together.

EL: They kind of showed me what to do as far as stretching it on the frame.

SG: Are you still quilting?

EL: I am not right now. I do have some blocks cut out, but I haven't put them into anything yet.

SG: So, you are not really spending hours during the week specifically quilting?

EL: No, I am not.

SG: What is your first memory of a quilt?

EL: Oh, boy. My first memory [pause for 7 seconds.] It was probably when I was in high school, when my dad's mother moved out of her home, and we found some tea towels which her little sewing group had embroidered. They had like, I believe that they called it a Birthday Club, and so my parents decided that they would put this quilt together. These blocks were all-- these tea towels were made in the 1930s. So that is probably my first [inaudible.] memory of a quilt when they were doing that.

SG: I think that you told us that your mom is a quilter. Are there any other quilters among your family or friends?

EL: I have many friends that quilt and belong to quilting groups. I always thought that would be interesting to do, but I have not committed to that yet. Family members,

my mom quilts, neither of my sisters do, [sharp rapping noise on the tape five times.]

My mom's grandmother is the one who got her started quilting. I don't recall my aunts ever quilting.

SG: Does quilting ever have any impact on your family?

EL: Do I quilt all the time? No. A number of years ago when my mom belonged to her – She belonged to Zion Lutheran Church in Camas [Washington.]. And she belonged to a sewing group. It wasn't a quilting club, per se but it was a sewing club, and they yearly would make quilts and then they would send them off to the needy. [noise of something rapping three times.]

SG: What do you like about quilting?

EL: I like the different shapes and how you can put them all together.

SG: What do you think makes a great quilt?

EL: [pause for 5 seconds.] There are so many varieties of patterns that you can do. Some have--show the history of pieces of fabrics that you have collected from family; some have specific patterns that you are working with. It is just so versatile with different things that you can do.

SG: Except for museums, special collections what have you--what do you think makes a quilt acceptable to go into a special collection or a museum?

EL: I imagine that different museums have different guidelines, but I think of a quilt as having a history behind it. The quilts that I have in my family are old quilts, and that you want to hold on to and remember. The family members can't keep them to put them in that museum where they are always preserved.

SG: What do you think makes a great quilter?

EL: I have never really thought of that. I think that anyone that shows an interest in putting a quilt together. If they have stick-to-itiveness to complete their project, [pause five seconds.] I think that is great. I don't know if there is a good [recorder turned off and on.] so--Are we recording?

SG: Yes, we are recording it.

EL: Now where were we?

SG: How do you feel about machine quilting vs. hand quilting? I noticed that you tied your quilts.

EL: I tied my quilt. It is the first quilt that I ever did, and I felt that well I felt that it would be easier. Doing something for the first time. I would like to hand quilt something, but that has not happened yet. There are still lots of things that I need to learn about quilting.

SG: Why is quilting important in your life? Having just done one quilt so far, how--

EL: Truly, I enjoy quilting, but I wouldn't say that it is important one way or the other. It is something that I enjoy doing.

SG: Can you think of any way that quilts reflect your community or the region that you live?

EL: I know that there are people who have made quilts pertaining to the history of our area. Such as Lewis & Clark because that has significance to Clatsop County, [Oregon.] [pause five seconds.]

SG: We always have them at the Fair. [Clatsop Co. OR Fair.]

EL: We do, we have always had quilts that have been displayed. I think that there have always been a lot of people that are getting into quilting clubs now where they hadn't been in the past. I kind of was thinking maybe it was dying out there for a while; but then as people started showing interest, it has been growing. It has been growing a lot.

SG: Of course, Hospice in our areas has quilts that they auction off at the annual Hospice barbeque.

EL: Oh, that is right they do that. I had forgotten about that.

SG: So that does involve our entire community.

EL: It does. It does. It is a big thing in our community.

SG: What do you think about the importance of quilts in American life, or have you ever given that any thought?

EL: I really have not given that any thought. I just say again that I think that quilts can tell a lot of history.

SG: Well, that kind of brings up to special meaning for women's history in America, in quilts. [pause of eight seconds and then recorder turned off and then back on.]

EL: I think so, and it started probably long ago with spelling bees, quilting bees, years ago in the time of our great-grandparents. In some of our cases, even grandparents when there were so-- it was a way that people, that a lot of women socialized. They would get together and have tea and they'd quilt. They would talk about their families, and they put a lot of themselves into their quilts and they passed them down to their families and put their life history into it. Of course, there are many different patterns that they could use [tape has loud cracking noises for five seconds that tend to cover up EL's voice.] that their family accept their love of quilting.

SG: You mentioned earlier about your grandmother's or aunt's quilting frame. I am wondering are there any quilts still in the family that were made prior to your mother making quilts.

EL: Mom does have a baby quilt that was my father's. It is just a crib size quilt, and it is pretty thin; but it was made and stitched by his mother. My dad was born in 1908. That would be from that era. And, she still has that. My Dad was the oldest child. We have a quilt that was actually made just a few years ago from quilt blocks that were made in the late thirties. They were hand-- The blocks were hand stitched by my great-grandmother and she had them in a box all ready to be put into a quilt which was never done and stayed at my grandmother's house which became my mother's house, and when my mother and [clock chimes heard in background on tape with EL talking at the same time.] father moved to Assisted Living we got the box of these quilt blocks and so it was actually members of my mother's church that sewed the quilt together, and I have it in my home. The blocks are old, but the quilt was assembled just a few years ago.

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

EL: I have already talked to my daughters about that, and I would hope that they would always stay in the family. If by any chance they are not able to keep that, they will go to a DAR Museum, probably the Caples House. [DAR Museum at Columbia City, OR.]

SG: Do you have any other comments?

EL: No, I don't think so. Making one quilt was pretty interesting, and I hope that I will continue quilting additional objects, even if it is a wall hanging. Then I could take on-- [inaudible.]

SG: I would like to thank Evelyn Laughman for allowing me to interview her today as part of the Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories project. Our interview concluded at 10:47 a.m. on September 24, 2006.

SG: Correction, it is August the 24th, 2006.

[interview concludes.]


“Evelyn Laughman,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed May 27, 2024, https://qsos.quiltalliance.org/items/show/1952.