Jan Williams




Jan Williams




Jan Williams


Jane Kucko

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Moda Fabrics


Fort Worth, Texas


Jane Kucko


Jane Kucko (JK): Just like to welcome you Jan and thank you for allowing us to interview you.

Jan Williams (JW): Thank you Jane and I'm glad to be involved.

JK: This is very exciting, and I see you brought a couple of quilts today but this one on top of the table. Why don't we start with that and why don't you tell me about it?

JW: Okay, this quilt was made by my grandmother, Ruth Wright. She had five children and they all had numerous children or her grandchildren. And it was her ambition to make a quilt that she could give to each grandchild. [announcement over loudspeaker by quilt festival organizers, tape briefly turned off.]

JK: I'm sorry Jan, please go ahead.

JW: Anyway, so, I actually never saw my grandmother quilt. We lived in Fort Worth, Texas and we would go on family vacation, there were five of us kids, so we didn't take a lot of vacations. And when you get seven people in the car [both laugh.] you've got a problem. But, anyway, so when we would go to visit her in Oklahoma, then we would use up all the available space in the house. So, I am sure that's why she didn't have any kind of quilting frame or whatever up. And when exactly she made these quilts for her grandchildren, I don't know but sometime when I was about ten or twelve, that would have been like 1955 or 57, my sister and I, who was just younger, were called into her bedroom during one these family vacations, I will never forget this bedroom because it was the bedroom with all of the scary looking ancestors on the wall, you know. And it was where all the nice things were kept. And we were probably a rowdy bunch [laughs.], and she had to put things up in there. Anyway, she had all these gorgeous quilts spread out on the bed, and she told each of us to take our pick.

JK: Oh my gosh. What a moment.

JW: Yes, I looked and looked and looked and couldn't decide. And I was really drawn to this quilt. She also had a quilt that I kind of sort of wanted [announcement over loudspeaker, JW pauses.] but this, the other quilt that I really liked, it was, I think it was kind of a crazy quilt. It had some wools and some satins. It had a lot of elaborate fabrics in it. And, but being a very practical person, I chose this one. My sister chose the other one. So, I don't really remember there may have been six or eight quilts to choose from. But anyway, I chose this one. And, since I have actually started sort of quilting, I find that this is what I am drawn to over and over again. A muslin background, and scrappy fabrics and I don't know, these look like thirties fabrics to me.

JK: They do.

JW: Or maybe, some are forties. I don't know, that maybe a fifties, do you think?

JK: That could be fifties, don't you think?

JW: So, she may have made this later than I had previously thought. But there's--I--

JK: That's thirties, isn't it?

JW: Yes, that's what I thought and there's a little bit of everything, but I've never used my quilt. My sister used her quilt. We had a double wedding, my sister and I--

JK: Oh, you did?

JW: And so, we got [laughs.] as it happens, I got a whole lot of blankets and so forth. She didn't, she got pillowcases and sheets, so she had to use her quilt. I didn't have to use mine. [laughs.] And hers is long gone; it died in the washing machine or whatever. But anyway I've just kept my quilt and I will probably pass it down to my daughter. When I judge that she's old enough to appreciate it. I'm slowly bringing her along. She's liking cross-stitch and a few little needle arts but anyway I do think that my grandmother did achieve her goal of making one for each of her grandchildren. I know that all of my siblings got one.

JK: That's wonderful.

JW: So, anyway that was my first introduction to quilting and owning a quilt, of course we didn't get it then. We got it when we were older. Well, you know, I guess she gave it to my mother and my mother kept it for us.

JK: Until you were old enough?

JW: Right, right. And I didn't get it until, I guess until I married. I believe that's true.

JK: Did you mother let you look at it? Do you remember looking at it periodically?

JW: I really don't. I think it was put away. And I always remembered, and course anytime that we visited our grandmother, now this is my father's mother, Grandmother Wright. And she had all kinds of quilts on her beds, so we always slept under quilts and so forth when we were there, but we almost always visited on a summer vacation, so we didn't need a whole lot of quilts for warmth in the summer in Oklahoma. [laughs.]

JK: [laughs.] Right in the summer, no you wouldn't need very much at all. Do you think you remember at the time when you first selected this quilt? Did you think then that someday you might want to be a quilter? Do you remember?

JW: Oh, I thought it was the most fascinating thing, how these were actually made but I really always thought, and Jane, sad but true, even into my forties, that this was something magical, mystical that only certain people knew how to do. [both laugh.] I always sewed and even made, when I was in high school, some of my own clothes that I wore to school, so I always knew how to do that, but this was an art that I thought was really beyond me. But on my mother's bed that is where the other quilt comes in.

JK: Yes, tell me about this one.

JW: This apparently was given to my mother and father by my Grandmother Wright when they first married. And this was always on my mother's bed until it just became so dilapidated. And these, these truly are thirties fabrics, I think.

JK: Definitely looks like it. Now this is a double wedding ring, right?

JW: Yes, well, it's hard to tell, they're so old. Oh, gosh, but every once in while you can see in a seam where it's come apart, you can see what the color actually was. Looks pretty good.

JK: Now tell me the story again about how you found that.

JW: Well, oh, when I first got involved in quilting, I remembered this double wedding ring quilt that had been on my mother's bed, gosh, all the time I was growing up. And she said, yes, she remembered it, and that she had gotten it as a gift from her mother-in-law when she married. But that she thought it was long gone, that it was just in tatters. And she really thought that she had thrown it away so one day when I was at her house, we were looking through some things in a window seat. Actually, I think we were changing sheets on a bed, and we were looking down under all the sheets, and here was this quilt on the very, very bottom. Pulled it out, I was so thrilled. She really didn't see why I was so excited. [both laugh.] Because it really is in pitiful shape. And all the time I was growing up, we used a ringer washing machine. Do you know what those are?

JK: Uh huh, Uh huh. I do.

JW: And can you imagine what it did to this? But look how much of the quilting is still in there.

JK: Amazing. Isn't it?

JW: It is.

JK: Amazing.

JW: It is. But this I find that I am drawn to over and over again. When I'd look at patterns, these are the ones that always attracted me. Why that's so I do not know but the muslin and a contrast binding, too. Suckered me in every time. [both laugh.]

JK: That's great.

JW: And I'll buy that pattern and I know that it is just--it's the fabric it was made up with. And the way, the bindings contrast but anyway.

JK: That's wonderful.

JW: So, I'm keeping this, exactly why, I really couldn't tell you. But I can't part with it.

JK: Of course not.

JW: And then when I give it to my daughter, she'll do whatever she wants to with it. What kind of fabric do you think that is, do you think that's thirties?

JK: That looks thirty. This looks definitely thirty.

JW: I think it might be. I know that my fathers', my father's passed away, and all of his sister's that would have helped are gone now but one aunt did tell me that they did a lot of quilting. And she even, I had shown one of her quilts a few years ago. And she tells this story of how she would go to the five-and-dime, in Franklin, probably.

JK: Okay.

JW: And select the fabric for the pattern that was published in the newspaper once a week. And I guess, do you think the newspaper only came out once a week?

JK: I guess at that time.

JW: It was a small town.

JK: Or she wouldn't have, yes, that makes sense.

JW: So, apparently the pattern that she was doing--and this was a sampler, the quilt that she showed. [announcement over loudspeaker.] And they were all different designs and all different colors too.

JK: Wonderful.

JW: And it's mostly orange and blue. Which was pretty popular, I guess, in what the late thirties?

JK: Right, right. I'm not--I'm sure.

JW: A lot of orange.

JK: A lot of orange.

JW: So, it was an interesting quilt. And she said it was real exciting, you know they couldn't wait to get the newspaper and go down and select the fabric and make the block.

JK: Isn't that a wonderful story?

JW: I know it is.

JK: That is a wonderful story.

JW: It is. It is. So, when she passed away, then I got the quilt for her grandchildren, you know.

JK: That's wonderful.

JK: So, there's a lot of quilters in your family?

JW: Yes, there is.

JK: Would you say you learned from them? Or when did you learn to quilt.

JW: Late.

JK: Later?

JW: Late in life. Very late in life. As a matter of fact, the only reason that I came, like I said I really thought quilting was this magical, mystical thing that you had to learn from your grandmother or whatever. And of course, my grandmother lived too far away to teach us anything like that but anyway, I had done a lot of sewing and so I saw the notice in the newspaper that the program for the Trinity Valley Quilters Guild was going to be about recycled jeans. What to do with jeans, and I had about ten thousand pair [both laugh.] because I'm a packrat like most quilters and sewers. So anyway, I went, you know. I didn't know a soul, but I went. And the women were so welcoming and so wonderful and so I just kept coming back and joined. And, oh, I've just made so many good friends.

JK: That's wonderful.

JW: You know the quilting and sewing is a big part of it, but the fellowship and the friendships I've made that is so important. And it happened in a time of my life when I really needed that, so it fulfilled a big place in my heart in more ways than one.

JK: Oh yes.

JW: So, anyway I never did make that junk jean quilt but I've still got all those jeans so I could still do it. [both laugh.]

JK: Well, what is going to be your next quilt?

JW: Well, let's see. [pauses.] Something that I've been working on for two years is a nine patch; it's a nine patch, and then set together with a hourglass. It's nine patch, hourglass, nine patch, hourglass. And they're three-inch block.

JK: Oh. And how long have you been working on this?

JW: Two years.

JK: Two years? That's not too bad.

JW: Yes. It's awful, you know it is. [both laugh.] I started--well Sandra McCartney and I both started this quilt at retreat two years ago. And Jane, you've got to go to retreat if you get a chance.

JK: I'm going to do that.

JW: Excellent, so much fun.

JK: Sounds fabulous.

JK: So, what colors is your Nine Patch?

JW: Oh, it's all everything. It's scrappy, very, very scrappy.

JK: Like these quilts that you say really inspired you?

JW: Oh yeah, oh yeah. And the background and it's muslin and then the hourglass block is muslin and shirting. So, it's light, so it'll be dark, light, dark, light. I hope you get to see it in our lifetime.

JK: I would love to see it. Absolutely. Do you like to machine piece, hand quilt or machine both techniques or hand piece?

JW: I like everything. Yes. I've done some paper piecing. And I have to come clean right now; I've never made a full-size quilt. Okay.

JK: Okay. [laughs.]

JW: But I have enough fabric to make about thirty of them. [laughs.]

JK: You are a true quilter. [laughs.]

JW: I am. And I've got patterns, oh, my gosh. So, I am really a quilter slash collector, mostly just of the raw ingredients. And someday I am going to do it all.

JK: Good for you.

JW: Anyway.

JK: Now are you working, is that what is keeping you from working full-time on quilting.

JW: That's what I say. That's my story and I'm sticking with it. I do work part-time, and I've had some difficulties in my life that have kept me from it but mostly it is probably if I have to be really honest, fear of failure. You know?

JK: Oh, yes.

JW: Just when you make that first cut in the fabric and there's no turning back.

JK: Yes.

JW: It's just kind of scary.

JK: Because you get to love that fabric.

JW: And it's right there in its purest state, and it's unadulterated and I can just lay it out and dream. Oh honey, I've got books. I've got patterns. I've got magazines but I don't have a lot of finished products. I've got a lot of unfinished products.

JK: You have a really nice sewing room, don't you?

JW: Well, I do have one room that is devoted to sewing. And several tables and bookcases and I really enjoy it. I've got a television back there. I've got everything but a refrigerator. I could live in that room [both laugh.] if necessary. But anyway, yeah, I really like it. But I did not have that until my children grew up and moved away. And now just recently, my daughter just told me, her husband is thinking of joining the military. This is Jennifer. She is twenty-two and so she might would like to move back home for a little while. So, I said, 'Well honey, I hope you can fit your stuff into the little bedroom because I can't get you in the sewing room.' Which had been her room.

JK: I see.

JW: So, now my husband has to give up his office in the small bedroom because I'm not parting with that sewing room.

JK: Now she's the one learning needlework right now?

JW: Right, right, she does some cross-stitching now and I am slowly edging her toward quilting. As a matter of fact, I showed her the "Snip-it Sensations" book and also there's another one, "Fabric Mosaics." I think it's what it's called. Basically, you just glue the fabric onto a background in a pattern. And so, she's kind of interested in that so I thought maybe we would start slow but I started sewing on a treadle sewing machine.

JK: Did you really?

JW: And it's fabulous because you can take one stitch at a time, you are never out of control because your foot can't move that fast [laughs.] and get it going. And I wish I still had that old treadle sewing machine. It was a good way to start, a really good way the first thing I ever made was an apron. And of course, now we don't even wear aprons anymore. [laughs.]

JK: That's right, that's right. [laughs.]

JW: I don't cook enough to wear aprons. [laughs.]

JK: So, we're not in the kitchen enough to wear them. Is there any part about quilting that you don't like? Any part of the technique?

JW: Well, I'm not crazy about basting, basting it all together, and I bet you have heard that before. I really love the piecing. I love the paper-piecing. I love the appliqué. I'm not very good at machine appliqué. I'm not very good at any of it. But you know I'm worse at some things than others. [both laugh.] But anyway, I guess the basting. But I just love it all. I just--I don't mind going around with strings all over me, threads clinging here and there and everywhere. Handwork. I guess would probably be my most favorite.

JK: What kind of handwork? Just the act of quilting, you mean?

JW: Yes, really and I've found that when I first joined the guild in 1993, my taste has really evolved in things that I am interested in right now but always avoiding the actual making of a large quilt. Maybe I just think that I cannot stand up to my grandmother's example. You know, maybe that's it; I'm really not sure what.

JK: Yeah, yeah.

JW: But I have found that my taste has changed a lot. At first, I was doing a lot of stuff on black, you know, a lot of contrast and so forth. And I have slowly come back to the softer, old worn look, but anyway I forget the point that I was making. What did you ask me, Jane?

JK: What was your favorite part about the quilting, the handwork? Can you talk about that now?

JW: Yes, yes, the actually quilting itself and really, I've really always wanted to make a whole cloth quilt and I guess one of my biggest worries is that arthritis will keep me from being able to do that.

JK: Do you have that problem now?

JW: Yes, yes, I do. And it's in my index finger. [laughs.] Yeah, and that's very painful, it really keeps me from doing things that I would like to do. But I am going to keep forging on.

JK: Good for you.

JW: Because I bet I could do it this way or whatever. Well, and really when you do the rocking stitch you don't necessarily use your index finger.

JK: That's right, that's right.

JW: As a matter of fact, and I've been doing a lot of embroidery lately. But you do have to use it for that. So, we'll see. I'm not ever going to quit. No, no, no, huh uh. I started out with--I've done embroidery and needlepoint and I've tried crochet. I'm not really good at that but I have done some, but I have always come back to fabric. I don't make clothes so much anymore. [laughs.]

JK: Don't have time for that, no, no, that's it.

JW: No, [laughs.] exactly.

JK: What pleases you most about quilting? I don't think I have asked you that but in a general sense, what pleases you most?

JW: [pauses.] You know I don't know there's just the lure of the fabric but there's also a whole lot about the fellowship with other quilters. And, you know, because of the people that I meet through quilting have the same affliction that I do. The intense desire to collect fabric and so forth and so on. I sure have met a lot of nice people.

JK: You mentioned you joined in '93, is that about when you started to quilt then, or had you started earlier?

JW: Well, yes, yes, I started taking some workshops and then after that, because I had the feeling that maybe I could do this. Maybe it wasn't really something magical if I could make clothes maybe I could actually do quilting. And I think by that time there were a lot of books on the market. So, I am really mostly self-taught and so and I am a book collector too. I always have to have the latest book that comes out.

JK: You are the assistant librarian for the guild, right so?

JW: Yes, I am right now. Well, I have been secretary and have done publicity and what else? Well, I've done quilt show set-up I guess three years I've done that. So, I've been, you know, really involved in it but not necessarily because I've made quilts to hang. I have made numerous wall hangings and as matter of fact the wall hanging, I made for the silent auction last year won first prize.

JK: Well, how wonderful, I did know it.

JW: Yes, I was quite a shock. [laughs.]

JK: Well how wonderful, that's exciting.

JW: Yeah, it really was.

JK: Do you have a quilt in the show or wall hanging in the show this year?

JW: No, not this year, not this year. Since I started working last year, it's really cut into my free time.

JK: Absolutely.

JW: But I still have a lot of projects in work and great hopes that someday I'll get them finished. But I suspect--I don't know this to be true, but I suspect that there are a lot of women like me who have the desire and interest and a love of quilts and quilting but aren't maybe as productive as they could be. You know? So, maybe their story needs to be told too.

JK: I believe you're absolutely right.

JW: The "Also-Grands." [both laugh.] The wishful thinkers.

JK: There you go. We could have another link on the website.

JW: Absolutely.

JK: Is there a quilt that you have in your head that someday when you have time?

JW: Absolutely, and it's this double wedding ring. And I have been collecting the reproduction fabrics now for a couple of years and I will do it is truly round like this, with the soft blue and yellow points. It took me a while to find this pattern that--a lot of the double wedding ring patterns are really kind of rounded squares because this is a square. Do you know what I mean?

JK: Oh, I see.

JW: You see that this one has a little point we're talking about the end of the melons. I think you call these melons, the very center points that come together.

JK: I see.

JW: In order to actually make it round this piece actually has to come to a point. So, I guess it is more of kite shape instead of just a plain square. But anyway, I did find--who was it? Charlene Jorgensen makes a template set so I bought it.

JK: Well good.

JW: I've got the fabric. I'm ready to go.

JK: Oh good, you're ready to go.

JW: You know, my good friend Sandy McCartney and I decided that what we really need is we need a camp for quilters that is sort of like boot camp. Where the drill sergeant gets you up at six in the morning and sets you at your sewing machine and says, 'Now sew,' 'Get with it.' [both laugh.] You could be the sergeant.

JK: I could be the sergeant? The task master?

JW: Exactly, exactly. So, I am trying to learn the discipline, but I am sort of lacking in it right now.

JK: Do you even know what kind of binding you want to put on? You mentioned the contrast binding.

JW: Oh yes. I would do it exactly like Grandmother did it. And I don't know, maybe a little softer yellow than this apparently was in the beginning but a scrappy quilt with the reproduction fabrics. And I don't think this one had a lot of reds. I'm not attracted to-- well I say that and then here is this one bound in red. But for this look I want something a little softer, maybe. And maybe it's just because from the time I really remember it, it was old and worn and faded and had that soft look about it. It really is coming apart.

JK: And that's a wonderful project.

JW: Oh, it is.

JK: To have the reproduction fabrics available, and to be able to really try to--

JW: And I think I would just go ahead and do exactly the same thing my grandmother did.

JK: What a treasure.

JW: Oh it really is.

JK: I think that's a wonderful project.

JW: You can tell it's been stored away forever but I'll probably never part with it. My children will look at it and say, 'Why was she keeping this?' [laughs.]

JK: Well, what do you think will happen to your quilt?

JW: Oh, well I hope that I would make one nice enough that they would keep for a long time. My husband's grandmother also was a quilter. She was a production quilter. She was kind of a competitive person, and her, well I don't know if I can say that. But anyways it seemed to be that her goal was to see how many quilts she could make. And being of the old school only used scrap and discarded fabrics. So of course, this didn't appeal to me a whole lot because each block was maybe a different color. Each block may have been very nice, but the whole combination was pretty hideous, but they were all beautiful in her mind. She gave us ten quilts when we married.

JK: Oh, my gosh.

JW: Ten.

JK: Amazing.

JW: And they were all different and all equally all sort of not very pretty. [laughs.] And so, we've still got all of those and to tell you the truth Jane, I don't know what to do with them.

JK: Right.

JW: There's just something in me that I just can't get rid of them. No, I can't part with them because I know that she loved them. She put a lot of herself into it you know but they really are pretty ugly quilts.

JK: I love this story.

JW: Isn't it interesting? I mean, I wonder what people in another hundred years will think. Will they think, 'What were they thinking? [both laugh.] Why would they make this ugly quilt?' You know, I don't know but anyway, it kept her alive. It really did. Quilting was all that she did until really, she had a quilt in the frame when she died.

JK: Is that right? Do you still have that quilt?

JW: No, no, my mother-in-law is still alive, so we took that quilt out of the frame. And bless her heart, she was ninety-two, I think, she had--it was a log cabin, and one row of the logs had an extra log on it. So, when she tried to put it in the frame that last row, she had put on it just wouldn't work, and she tried to quilt out the pucker. It just wasn't working. [both laugh.] She always quilted. Now I'm not sure what this pattern is called, I've heard it called a "Baptist Band" or something like that, where it's just concentric circles, like this or I guess a quarter of a circle. Okay and that was the only pattern that she ever did. And so, and she did it like this, elbow here and she had a string and a piece of chalk, and she would go around and quilt like that and then move down a little bit and mark it that way.

JK: Oh my.

JW: And that was just the length of her arm. A piece of chalk is the way she did it.

JK: Amazing.

JK: Well maybe someday Jan, you can spread out those ten quilts in your room? And have a grandchild come and select one.

JW: [laughs.] There you go.

JK: Kind of reproduce the whole--

JW: I hadn't even thought of that. I don't have any grandchildren now, but I hope-

JK: You may someday.

JW: I hopeful, that's exactly right.

JK: You may someday. It would be fun, and you could tell them your story.

JW: Yes, that's good.

JK: Do you keep a journal?

JW: No, no I really don't.

JK: Do you think you ever would or it's not why you do it?

JW: Well, I'm not sure exactly what a journal is. Is it like a diary for daily thought?

JK: Right and recording when you made the quilt and a little bit about how you selected the fabric and maybe a photograph of your quilt.

JW: No, but that's a wonderful idea if I ever get around to it.

JK: I think that would be a nice treasure.

JW: Oh yes. [both laugh.] I will definitely do that.

JK: When you get your first quilt completed, you do that?

JW: That's right, there will be dancing in the streets. [both laugh.]

JK: That's great, that's great. I'm scribing here as I am talking so if I stop that's why.

JW: Oh, well I can just babble on for hours and hours.

JK: Oh, you're doing wonderfully Jan, you really are.

JK: Well, what do you think makes a great quilt?

JW: [pauses.] What makes a great quilt? Well, I think it's a combination of the design and the fabric used and of course the workmanship, that's really important because anybody can mess up a pattern. I don't know. I've really never thought about it much. Of course, I'm always attracted to the old ones but like the quilt that Iris Young has in the show this year is wonderful and I love it. But I probably would never attempt to make something like that, that's a little more complicated than I--but I can certainly admire hers.

JK: Right.

JW: I don't have ambitions in that direction but as a matter of fact, the quilt that you have in the show this year is very nice. Did you hand quilt that?

JK: Yes, yes, I did.

JW: Hand piece it?

JK: Yes, yes. [laughs.]

JW: See you didn't tell us you were working on that. [both laugh.]

JK: Thank you for noticing.

JW: Everybody has a few secrets. Yes.

JK: Yeah, there you go, there you go. Well, what do you think makes a great quilter?

JW: [pauses.] Oh, oh gosh Jane. These are hard questions. You know, I have to think to someone I know that I think is a good quilter. Small even stitches, plenty of quilting in a quilt makes it nice and I know some quilters who are very good, but they prefer not to put in a lot of quilting. Either way, they are good quilters but, the finished product is maybe not quite as good as one that has more quilting in it. You know, I think one thing that people are doing nowadays is paying someone else to help them quilt, you know maybe they do part of the quilting and get someone else to help them. But actually I guess, people have been doing that for a hundred years.

JK: A long time.

JW: Right, so it's nothing new.

JK: Have you ever quilted in groups around the frame.

JW: I have but I don't quilt on a frame very well. I find that very difficult, and exactly why I'm not sure, but I can only quilt in one direction. [laughs.] But it's a lot of fun and I always try to go and put a few stitches in and visit with people and see how things are coming. And I guess it's more of really a social event in that way for me but since I don't really quilt on a frame that well--but I can do a little bit.

JK: You mentioned the fellowship, and that's like an opportunity for that to happen?

JW: Oh yes, absolutely. And swap stories and find out what everybody's working on and their latest project. Everybody shows what they are doing, and we all get ideas from each other and advice and help. Oh yeah.

JK: What role do you think quilting has played through women's history?

JW: Well, I guess in the beginning it was a very practical thing that they needed to do. But, even then, from the books that I've read and the pictures of old quilts that I've seen, there was a need to make it pretty, to use that creative energy and do the best you can with those old scraps of fabrics or whatever and make something attractive. And it's kind of been a way to record women's art through the years. You know, I don't think women have always gotten the ­­­­credit they should have for things that they've done through history. So, maybe that's a way that they can show their skill, through the years. I love the Baltimore Album quilts. And apparently that was only a very short period of time, but oh my, my goodness, what an example for the rest of us. Oh course, that's had revival too in the last few years. Oh, so much to do so little time. [laughs.]

JK: You talked earlier about how you like the scrappy quilt and reproduction fabrics, the older look and that sort of the quilt--

JW: Yes.

JK: Is that what you see as most beautiful in a quilt? Are those simple quilts or you just talked about Baltimore Album?

JW: You know there is very little that I don't like. And if I, probably the scrappy quilts with muslin background for the most part are ones that I would want to make myself, but I certainly admire the Baltimore Album and the intricate--for instance the Celtic knotwork quilts. I think they are just wonderful, but I don't--it's not necessarily something I myself would like to make.

JK: You would ever do?

JW: Right, right. I might do a Redwork quilt sometime because I enjoy the embroidery. You know, and so just set the embroidered squares with maybe a nine-patch or something. But someday I would like to do a Baltimore Album, but I better make one of these first. [both laugh.]

JK: Maybe your wedding ring quilt or something?

JW: Yes, yes, absolutely. Are we running out of time?

JK: No, we're doing fine, are you okay on time?

JW: Yes, sure.

JK: Would you like to tell me a little bit about--you mentioned all your fabrics and your books and all of that? What magazines do you subscribe to?

JW: Well, let's see.

JK: Is it confidential? [both laugh.]

JW: Oh no. I subscribe to Quilter's Newsletter [Magazine.] and Quilting Today and Better Homes and Gardens, American Patchwork and Quilting. Let's see how many is that? AQS [American Quilters Society.], I get their magazine as well so that's four isn't it. And of course, I have to have every new book that comes out that I have any interest in whatsoever.

JK: Do you belong to a book club?

JW: Yes, a couple. [laughs.] It's pathetic. It really is. My husband says that there should be a twelve-step program for obsessive-compulsive quilters. [laughs.].

JK: Maybe we could tie that into your boot camp idea? [both laugh.]

JW: Right, that's wonderful. I like that.

JK: I think we can do something there.

JW: I think so too.

JK: Oh gosh, this has been great.

JW: Well, I have a huge collection of fabric. I have just recently gotten rid of all the sixties and seventies polyester. [laughs.]

JK: You felt like you could let go of that?

JW: Yes, it was difficult but from my clothes making day--you know, I have a lot of stuff and I've made some curtains and things like that.

JK: Sure.

JW: But you know. It's hard for me to part with anything. Any book I think I might want, anything. And you know, I need to take a note from some of the older ladies who have, I have heard say recently that they stopped taking all of these magazines, because I cannot throw them away. And my house is becoming packed to the rooftop, you know. So, I am going to have to call a halt to it soon, but I have a little more space left.

JK: Still before you do that?

JW: Yes, there's a little space left under the bed, it's everywhere Jane. It's under the bed. [laughs.] Oh, it's sad.

JK: Oh, I think it sounds wonderful. It really does.

JW: Well, it's a lot of fun and my husband has been a very good sport about it.

JK: You mentioned earlier too that there were times in your life where you really found it helpful. Where you might quilt so you find it therapeutic?

JW: Therapeutic, very much, oh yes, yes, very much. Yeah, it's soothing and relaxing and sometimes I try to refrain from doing any kind of needlework when I'm angry because that probably has to be pulled out the next day. Yes, but it is preferable to eating so it's not--almost as good as chocolate. [both laugh.]
JK: Well Jan you've been a delight, interviewing you. Is there anything you would like to elaborate on or any question that I haven't asked?

JW: No, no I can't think of anything. Thank you for recording my story.

JK: Absolutely.

JW: Even though I'm not a prolific quilter. [laughs.] I appreciate it.

JK: I think the history though and how you got into quilting and what you value most is a lot for us to learn from that.

JW: It is. It is. And I just want to see it continue. You know, and I want to do my part, whatever that is to see to it that we don't lose the stories and the art of quilting I think is so important.

JK: Well before I do turn off the machine, do you mind commenting on that a little bit. Do you see signs where you might be concerned that the art of quilting is becoming less?

JW: Well, since I'm so involved in the quilting world even though I don't necessarily make a lot of quilts I feel better that it's going to continue but I just want to be certain that that interest doesn't wan. And so, I think it's really important what you're doing Jane and the [Quilters' S.O.S.-] Save Our Stories. So no, I'm hoping it continues on and doesn't show any signs of going away. Got my fingers crossed.

JK: Me too. Well, thank you Jan for allowing me to interview you today as a part of our [Quilters' S.O.S.-] Save Our Stories project and our interview concluded at 3:06 in the afternoon. Thank you.

JW: You're welcome.


“Jan Williams,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed May 24, 2024, https://qsos.quiltalliance.org/items/show/1973.