Arleta Day




Arleta Day




Arleta Day


Carolyn Kolzow

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Nancy Bavor


Beaverton, Oregon


Perri Parker


Carolyn Kolzow (CK): My name is Carolyn Kolzow and today's date is March the 13th, 2006, at 10:35 AM. I am conducting an interview with Arleta Day in my home in Beaverton, 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. Arleta is a quilter who is a member of Chemeketa Chapter, [NSDAR.] National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. Arleta, tell me about the quilt that you brought today.

Arleta Day (AD): This quilt was made for my father and it's a memory quilt. It contains pieces of fabric from my childhood and specifically flour sack fabric that my father brought home, when I was a child. My father was living with us at the time that I made the quilt, so it was built for him as a Memory Christmas present so he could look at those little pieces of fabric and remember how my mother made the dresses. This quilt was made using pieces of fabric for either one of my dresses or a shirt he had owned. Many of these were made from the flour sack material that he had carried home from the store.

CK: That's truly a memory quilt. Is there any particular pattern?

AD: Split Rail which was easy to do because it's just strips of fabric. You just match several darks strips going into a light one so it's very easy to use different colors to come up with something that is called a split rail pattern.

CK: Was it one of your first quilts?

AD: It is my very first quilt.

CK: Oh! And is there a particular reason you chose to bring it today, for the interview?

AD: Because it has a special memory that goes with my childhood and how pleased my father was with the gift.

CK: How do you use this quilt?

AD: I do have it on the bed in my guest bedroom. It's starting to deteriorate, but I am using it as my dad used it.

CK: Do you have any other plans for it after you are finished with?

AD: If it lasts, I guess my daughter will have to deal with it. [laughter.]

CK: Tell me about your interest in quilting.

AD: Oh, I just love to take pieces of fabric and put them together and create something. It's amazing to me how you can come up with so many different patterns with these lithe pieces of fabric.

CK: What age did you start quilting?

AD: Oh, I started about two years ago.

CK: Okay, and did you learn from anyone in particular?

AD: No. Self-taught.

CK: How many hours a week would you say that you quilt?

AD: Oh, when I'm actually quilting, I could probably spend 20 hours a week doing it, when I actually sit down and am doing the quilting.

CK: What's your first memory of a quilt?

AD: My grandmother's quilt.

CK: At her house when you would go there?

AD: Yes. I actually have some of her quilts that were passed on to me. I have one of my grandmother's crazy quilts, which is really deteriorated, and I'm going to have to try to do something with what's left of it, and then I have a quilt that is, I think it's a Dresden plate pattern quilt that was my grandmother's.

CK: Are there any other quilters among your family or friends?

AD: My daughter does quilt. We often take quilt classes together.

CK: How would you say that quilting impacts your family?

AD: Oh, well, my husband seems to be very proud of my quilting. He doesn't object to me doing it. In fact, last night he took my pictures, and I wasn't satisfied with them, and he'd already gone to bed, and I hauled him back in to take more pictures and he happily came down to do it! [laughter.]

CK: That's a good husband to come down and do it!

AD: After he'd gone to bed!

CK: Tell me if you've ever used quilting to get through a difficult time.

AD: I don't think so, but I guess I could see how you could do that. If something was really disturbing you, you could just kind of get lost in putting those pieces of fabric together and creating something.

CK: What would you say are the prospects of quilting that you do not enjoy?

AD: The size of it and a trying get it laid out. It's so big. And I don't have room to do that so that's a struggle for me. Getting it pinned together because of its size.

CK: Have you ever given away quilts as gifts?

AD: Yes.

CK: To family members or friends?

AD: Yes. This particular quilt was given to my father. And I have given baby quilts to grandchildren.

CK: You mention taking classes. Do you belong to a sewing group?

AD: I do. It's through my doll club. It's a sewing guild where we make doll clothes.

CK: Okay. And what do you think makes a good quilt?

AD: I think the uniqueness of the person that's pulling it together. Even if you're using a pattern from a book, it's still your quilt, your colors that you've put together, and no two quilts ever look alike, even if they use the same pattern because of your layout of the colors or designs.

CK: What would you say makes a quilt artistically powerful?

AD: I think the same thing, the colors and the designs Right now I belong to, oh I wouldn't say belong to it, but I participate in one of one of our local quilt stores has a quilt block of the month, and they provide the pattern. They provide a piece of fabric, and you have to match up the rest of the fabric, they just tell you either light or dark, and you can do whatever else you want with it, and I find that just fascinating because when I take my block back down there they hang them up on the wall, people come in and vote on them, and it's just amazing to me to come in there and look all these quilt blocks with the same pattern, but they're all so different from what each person has created.

CK: It would be fun to do that. What makes a quilt appropriate for a museum or special collection?

AD: Well, I guess preserving antique patterns. I don't know about that. I just think preserving the antique patterns.

CK: And that they know something about it.

AD: Right, and particularly if they actually have a quilt from history that's still in pretty good shape.

CK: What would you say makes great quilter?

AD: Well, I guess just being dedicated to what you are doing and be proud of what you're doing and doing it well. If you're going to hand quilt it, that's art in itself.

CK: If someone asks you about what things you should be careful about doing in a quilt, what would you say that might be?

AD: Be real careful about culling your fabric, and if it tells you one fourth inch, that's what it means in sewing, so that, and your points will come together and, your squares if you're doing a square. And if you're not careful how you're sewing your seams together, and matching them up right, you're not going to have a quilting square and then of course it's not going to match up to the next quilting square, and it's going to look very strange.

CK: When you piece them, do you piece them on the machine?

AD: Yes, I do piece them on the machine.

CK: Okay. Have you ever tried any by hand?

AD: Tiny ones for my dolls yes, so yes. I have done some hand piecing.

CK: How would you say that great quilters learn the art of quilting?

AD: Well, you can take classes, or there's self-taught. Probably mostly dedication to creating.

CK: Would you say there's any special way to learn to design a pattern, choose a pattern or colors?

AD: I think that's something that just comes from within a person. Your likes and what is pleasing to you? My friend, Day's sister quilts, and I was privileged to see many, of her quilts last year in Philadelphia, and though they were very pretty, the colors, she chooses are very bright bold patterns and colors. They aren't what I'd personally want to do. My colors are more blended, and I'm she would think that's not her style, but her quilts were just gorgeous and are her own designs.

CK: What about machine quilting versus hand quilting?

AD: I would like to try it someday, simply because it would be faster to do it, but I have not done either. My quilts have been tied to this point. Now I'm retired I would like to make that maybe a winter project and really do hand quilt, and I would like to do some machine quilting.

CK: Now when you made your doll quilts were those tied too?

AD: No, I did hand quilt it. They were small, and that wasn't a project that was so big I couldn't handle it, so I did enjoy trying to hand quilt. And I am really not sure how I will go about doing hand quilting, because it does take room to do this, and plenty of light, and I would just have to, set up a special place and just leave it up. It's not something you fold up and put away.

CK: Are you thinking about a large hoop type, or a quilt frame?

AD: Probably a hoop, because they are smaller. A frame is very large.

CK: Have you ever won an award with any of the quilts you have made?

AD: I did win at the State Fair, about eight years back, shortly after I made it, and it did take first places This was another thing that my father was very, very proud that quilt, and the ribbon that came home with it. Also, I had it entered in the American Heritage contest, I need to say maybe four or five ago, and it did take second in Fiber Arts quilting, and then it went on to Division, because the person that had taken first did not want to send theirs on.

CK: Oh, I see.

AD: So, it was second at local and second at Division.

CK: Why would you say quilting is important to your life?

AD: It's just something I enjoy doing. I look forward to looking at the patterns and creating more quilts. I've bought many, many pattern books that I'm sure I'll probably never ever make all those quilts, but there are lots of ideas in my head.

CK: In what ways do your quilts reflect your community or region that you live in?

AD: Oh, I didn't know that it does.

CK: Well, I guess that maybe yours might have been from the feed sacks or some that actually the design you take doesn't reflect the community.

AD: No. Just the flour sacks, they're of that time that my mother was making my clothes from the flour sack fabric, and I had pieces of it and even had some of the clothes so I could wack up.

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

AD: Well, I think it's something that has come back, I think it went away for a while then quilting has come back and its very popular craft now. At some point I want to go to, Eastern Oregon. They have a big quilt Show.

CK: Is that in Sisters? [Oregon.]

AD: Sisters, [Oregon.] yes. I have not been able to see it yet. But I love to go to the [Oregon.] State Fair and walk around and look at all these quilts on the wall and see what I could do the patterns.

CK: Get ideas. Do you sleep under a quilt?

AD: I don't, but I have quilts on some of my other beds.

CK: Do you have a special quilt rack to hang them on?

AD: No. I want to get one. That's on my wish list. [laughter.]

CK: What are some other ways that you think quilts could be used besides on the bed?

AD: Oh, to display as wall hangings, or just as a throw.

CK: How would you say we should preserve quilts for the future?

AD: Oh, by passing them down to someone that's interested in keeping them. I hope my daughter is interested in keeping the quilts I pass on to her.

CK: Do you have a certain way that you store your special ones that--put them in a box or--

AD: I have none, and that's why this quilt--I can see where I've left it where the sun can get it and it's faded some of the pieces of fabric because I've used it.

CK: Have you collected any kind of quilting memorabilia or sewing memorabilia?

AD: Oh yes, I have a closet full of fabric, [laughter.] and in my mind I want to do a crazy quilt, so I've collected little pieces of decorations, every time I'm out somewhere, I find something that I think that I could put together quilting supplies I've collected it and it's packed up and waiting for me to start creating.

CK: Now do you tend to collect when you're out traveling, like when you went to Pennsylvania?

AD: I collect the patterns when I go to doll shows, I collect the fabric.

CK: Can you think of anything else that you would like to add to this interview?

AD: I don't think so.

CK: Okay, I'd like to thank you. Arleta or [pronounced Ar-lee-ta.] Arleta, for allowing me to interview you today as part of the Quilters' S.O.S.- Save Our Stories project. Our interview concluded at 11:00 a.m. on March 13, 2006. [laughter.]


“Arleta Day,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed July 16, 2024,