Roma Fuller




Roma Fuller




Roma Fuller


Kay Jones

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Moda Fabrics


Fort Worth, Texas


Tomme Fent


Kay Jones (KJ): This is May 20th, 2001. I'm Kay Jones, and I'm interviewing Roma Fuller for the Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories project, in Ft. Worth, Texas. Roma, you're going to talk about a quilt that's actually in the Trinity Valley Quilters Guild quilt show this year?

Roma Fuller (RF): Yes.

KJ: Would you tell us about that?

RF: Well, it's a king-sized bedspread. It's--I've taken it from the "Carolina Lily" pattern and enlarged on it and made it into a design pretty much my own. I've named it "Texas Lily" because I'm not from Carolina. And it is machine pieced and hand appliquéd and hand quilted. It's the only prize I've ever won, so I'm quite proud of it.

KJ: What prize is that?

RF: At the Trinity Valley show, Ft. Worth, it won the Vivian Parker Excellence Award and First Place in the hand quilting, and it also won the Members' Choice Award, so I won three awards at that show.

KJ: At the 2000 show?

RF: Yes.

KJ: And you said that was the only award?

RF: Um-hum.

KJ: Have there been others?

RF: Well, I did win a second place at the Texas Fair several years ago.

KJ: What was that quilt like?

RF: It was a Baltimore Album. It was my first appliqué quilt. I do all hand work. I don't do any machine quilting. I do machine piecing most of the time and I do all hand appliqué and hand quilting.

KJ: What attracted you to quilting, Roma?

RF: I have always loved quilts. I didn't come from a family of quilters, so I didn't have them handed down to me, and so I knew if I was going to have any quilts, I was going to have to make them myself. But I've always been really attracted to hand quilting and any handmade textiles.

KJ: How did you learn to quilt?

RF: I first pieced a little bit when my children were very young, and my husband was traveling and I was home a lot with them. And I did a really bad job of that. And then after I went to work, I didn't do much other than a little crocheting and knitting, and I didn't pick up the quilting again until later. I've always had it in the back of my mind that when I had the time, that's what I was going to do, and after I retired from work, I took my first class in a sampler quilt, and I was really hooked.

KJ: Where was that class?

RF: In Abilene, Texas, in about 1993.

KJ: Was it a quilt shop?

RF: Yes, it was at a quilt shop.

KJ: And as you think back over the years, Roma, who's been an influence, a big, major influence that you can think of?

RF: I would say probably it started when I joined a guild, and some of the work that my first teachers did really did inspire me. And then once I moved to Granbury, Texas, I promptly joined a quilting bee that was associated with Trinity Valley Guild, and then it's been my quilting bee that has given me a great deal of support and I just think they're the best. And I've had some teachers that really influenced my quilting. I've taken classes from Irma Gail Hatcher and Anita Shackelford, who rates real high on my list. And the first Houston International Quilt Show that I went to, I just thought I had gone to heaven.

KJ: Do you go to many quilt festivals and shows?

RF: Whenever I can, yes. Our bee goes to quite a few. We've gone to Houston about three times, and I go to the Dallas Quilt Show and those that are close. And last summer I went to the Pacific Northwest Quilt Show in Washington, Seattle, Washington.

KJ: When you go to those shows, and I'm not thinking about the classes now, I'm thinking about the show part, what catches your eye, Roma?

RF: The type of quilts that catch my eye are the older traditional quilts that have got maybe a little bit of change in the design or something. I love the old quilts. I'm very much a traditionalist.

KJ: When you make quilts, what patterns do you come back to?

RF: I seldom come back to the same one. I love to try something new, but usually it's a variation of something that's pretty traditional. I do love the older quilts and since I started appliqué, I love the appliquéd quilts and I've tried several different types of appliqué. Every new quilt I do try, I try to do something a little bit different because I like the challenge of something a little different.

KJ: I notice that you belong to a guild, and I think you've mentioned that. What roles have you taken in the guild, Roma?

RF: Mostly just I've helped the quilt shows. I did help the chairman of the library committee one year. And this past year, I was the quilt retreat co-chairman. But usually, it's just been set up and helping with the quilt show because we live a little bit aways from Fort Worth, so I try not to have to drive in just an awful lot.

KJ: Talk about the retreat and what that involves.

RF: The retreat is very much of a challenge for me to do. I had a co-chairman and between the two of us, we had a lot of fun, but it was organizing and taking money and checking everything--the retreat is a three-day retreat where we go to Tanglewood Resort on Lake Texhoma and spend three days just quilting all we want to and eating all we want to. But we get to see so many other and how they work--and you get acquainted with the girls that come much better than at our regular meetings because it's a more one-on-one basis.

KJ: About how many quilters will go to a retreat?

RF: We had about sixty-seven.

KJ: And what kind of projects did they bring?

RF: Each one of them brought their own projects. We always bring machines for piecing and so on as well as quilting, and they just do different types, it's just whatever they happen to be working on or need to work on at that time. Some do just hand quilting, but they, of course, don't do much machine quilting.

KJ: What did you bring?

RF: For the interview?

KJ: No, for the retreat.

RF: I brought--I did some hand quilting on the quilt that I'll have in the show for next year. It's a Jacobean appliqué, and I've just about got it finished.

KJ: How long has it taken you?

RF: About a year and a half.

KJ: Is that about average?

RF: I would say, yes.

KJ: So how many quilts would you make or have going at one time?

RF: Right now, I've got about four in various stages.

KJ: Tell me about those.

RF: I spend a lot of time roaming around in my head, looking and planning. I get a pattern and then I'll look for fabric and then I'll put that away for a while and go to another one. I do like to have at least two or three projects going at once. One I have to work on in my sewing room and one I can quilt or appliqué at night. One to quilt on and one to be piecing and putting together so I can have something to piece because I piece at night when we're watching television. And I like to have something ready to be quilted when I get through with one.

KJ: Did you say that you do all hand piecing?

RF: No, not all hand piecing. I do machine piecing most of the time and [unintelligible due to background noise.] hand appliqué.

KJ: Talk a little bit, Roma, about your learning curve in the hand quilting. You've won a prize.

RF: Yes. My first quilt, at least my stitches were a quarter of an inch or longer. They were horrendous. But I keep that little quilt around just to make me humble because I have really wanted to improve my quilting. And that's been a long-term goal as long as I've been quilting is to get better and better at the quilting because I really admire good quilting where those stitches are twelve and fourteen inches, I don't think that that's as much a criteria to get that small as just consistent and very nice stitching.

KJ: Was there an instructor that helped you do that or what helped you improve?

RF: Seeing other quilts in shows and talking to those people that had made those, as well as just picking up information from ladies in my quilting bee and in the guild. I have learned most of my hand quilting from ladies in the guild and just talking to people that are really good quilters.

KJ: Now you belong to a bee?

RF: Yes, ma'am.

KJ: Do you want to talk about that a little bit?

RF: Oh, the ladies in the bee are my very, very best friends. They are a great support group, and we do a lot of things together. We go on retreats together, we go to different shows, we'll spend the day going to quilt shops, a couple of days sometimes. We just really enjoy each other. There's twelve altogether and it is such a wonderful group of ladies that I'm very blessed to have them in my life.

KJ: Where did you find them?

RF: They really found me. When we first moved here, I went to a women's club in our area and the friend that I went with had told some of her friends that I was a quilter, and they came and asked me to visit their group, so they sort of found me more than I did them.

KJ: More than you found them?

RF: Yes.

KJ: Quilting friends are usually supportive. Has there been a time when your quilting friends or actually the quilting has helped you through a hard time?

RF: I think that quilting is my therapy. I can just lose myself; it's such a relaxing thing for me. If I'm in a really stressful situation, I can sit down and quilt, that really breaks the tension and gives me time to refocus and put my feelings someplace else besides worrying or whatever the problem has been. And in times that we've had a major crisis in our family my quilting friends have always come to my aid and been there to support me.

KJ: Talk about your family a little bit, Roma, and the impact of quilting on your family.

RF: I was raised up in the Texas Panhandle in Perryton, Texas, on a farm. We were wheat farmers and Dad raised cattle. So, I grew up as a farm girl and worked with Dad and Mother both [inaudible due to background noise.] out in the field as well as in the house [inaudible due to background noise.]. Mother, in her younger years, when I was quite young, put quilts together with the tacking, the tying, for use on our beds. When we first moved to the farm, I can remember sleeping under those heavy, wool quilts which were really warm. My husband was from Perryton also and after high school we married and stared our family, we have three children and four grandchildren. The last two of my grandchildren are graduating from high school this year, so they're all grown up.

KJ: Does each of the children and grandchildren have a quilt that you've made?

RF: Yes. That was my first goal when I took my quilt class. I had given my two girls and my son, a quilt that partially I had pieced and had someone else quilt it, when they were married. And then I thought, 'Well, at least they've got one quilt, I will start on the grandchildren. And I have made one for each of my four grandchildren, but I have not given them to them yet because I want them to be old enough and mature enough to take care of them and know how much work went into making them. So, they haven't gotten them, but I've got them.

KJ: So, do you make mostly bed-size quilts?

RF: Yes. I like to make larger quilts-I don't like to make little quilts or mini ones. I have made lap quilts and a few wall hangings. But most of my quilts are queen size quilts.

KJ: I'm thinking now about those quilts that you slept under as a child, the tied quilts, are there any of those still around?

RF: No, the only thing that I have is some appliquéd blocks my mother made with when she was pregnant with me. She never did finish them, and she gave them to me when I got married but I didn't do anything until after I moved to Granbury in 1993, then put them together. But there's nothing other than those. From my husband's family, I have two quilt tops that his mother had done that I had machine quilted. And I regret that I didn't keep them long enough to hand quilt them. And they're just scrappy quilts, but that's the only thing that I have that's been handed down from his family.

KJ: You've made some really nice quilts, Roma, prize winners, what are your plans for those quilts?

RF: Well, the one that is hanging up this year and the one that has won all the prizes last year is for our bed, and we use it every day. I have never sold a quilt. I just usually make them for family. And I don't have any direct plans for what I'm going to do with them. I usually have some of the family waiting in line that wants a quilt and I make it for them. [laughs.]

KJ: Now, you've talked about your family, and I have not retained how many children and whether they were boys or girls.

RF: Yes, I have three children. The oldest one is a boy and the other two are girls.

KJ: And do the girls quilt?

RF: No, they do not quilt right now, but they love quilts, all three of them and hopefully the girls will take it up later. And I've made each of those children again another quilt, so they all have a couple of quilts that I have done, and then I've got one for the grandchildren. The one I'm finishing up now I made for my daughter, and it will go into her new home. She wants to hang it in her dining room.

KJ: What is the most pleasing part of making a quilt, Roma?

RF: Let's see. I find it's very productive and soothing on my nerves. I love the challenge and I can hardly wait to start another one. I've always got ideas running around in my head that I want to make. I guess I find it productive. I think I have found something that I'm fairly good at and I thoroughly enjoy it. I just enjoy looking at them and quilting them, both, and making them.

KJ: Is there something about quilting you don't like?

RF: The only thing I have found about quilting is that I tried to make a watercolor quilt and I could not do it. I absolutely just got so frustrated with it, I just gave it up. 'That's just not my thing.'

KJ: Now, you said that you do like traditional patterns.

RF: Yes.

KJ: Within the traditional patterns, do you design your own or modify existing ones?

RF: I modify existing ones. I really need some type of pattern, to start out with. I don't have enough expertise that I can start from scratch on one. If I can find a basic pattern, then I usually use that and just expand on it.

KJ: Is there one, besides the one that's in the show, that's an example of a modification that you've made?

RF: I've got three in the show but most of those are just taken from a pattern. They were my earlier ones. I don't have one in the show– except the winner last year – that would give an example of that.

KJ: As you look at the quilts that are in the show, what do you think makes a great quilt?

RF: Well, I look for design, how it jumps out at you, and workmanship. And I, by far, would prefer hand quilting. I like the looks of a lot of the machine quilting but my preference is hand quilting, that's my love. It's probably the design, the pattern and the color that jump out at you. Rosemary Zogg has a quilt hanging out here that is all reds and whites and it's an example, it just really jumps out at you. It's a really beautiful quilt.

KJ: What do you think makes a great quilter?

RF: Persistence. [laughs.] Persistence and the love of quilting.

KJ: Well, you do have to be persistent, don't you?

RF: Yes, you really do.

KJ: I think you've touched on this, Roma, but could you expand on it a little bit about why quilting is important in your life?

RF: That's a good question because I don't know that I can answer that. But I think it's the satisfaction I get from just looking and working on quilts and being around quilters. I think they're some of the greatest people I know. There's always that camaraderie with a quilter. I don't know how to explain it.

KJ: Have you always lived in Texas, Roma?

RF: Mostly. We lived a real short time, close to a year, in Missouri. Later we lived six years in Oklahoma. But most of the time it's been in Texas. I've been married for fifty-one years.

KJ: Were there differences in quilting in Missouri and--

RF: I wasn't into quilting when we were there. This was right after we had had a child and we were running cattle and farming at the time. We had taken some cattle up there and stayed up there for about nine months while they pasture.

KJ: You were talking about living--

RF: I did not get into quilting--I did some for a little while when we lived in Perryton, Texas, but after we moved from there, we were so involved with our family and making a living, I went to several antique shows and that kind of thing, you know, at the time, but I didn't get back into quilting other than just admire the textiles. I always did some kind of hand work like crocheting, knitting, and crewel.

KJ: We look back on the history of America, and there are quilts in that history. What contribution do you think quilting has made to American life?

RF: I think the women that have been quilters that come before the nineteenth century are just fabulous women. I just admire some of the history that has come up from them and how they had time to do this quilting and make a living and work on their farms and hand wash and all of that stuff, I just don't know how they did it back then, and to get so much quilting done because it is time consuming.

KJ: Along those lines, quilting is in a boom time now.

RF: Yes.

KJ: There are a lot of quilters and new quilters coming up. What do you think needs to be done to preserve that momentum?

RF: I think our guilds do a wonderful job of keeping people interested in the quilting industry. These quilts shows, the vendors that are here, the quilt shops that have come up in the last few years are so fabulous with new techniques and newer supplies that I think it has made piecing and quilting a lot easier with the newer techniques and new supplies that they've given us. But I think it's the guilds and the bees that keep people interested– you can always tell a quilter. They are usually much happier and they're more friendly, outgoing people.

KJ: In terms of preserving the quilts themselves, do you have some thoughts on that?

RF: Oh, yes, I have nightmares thinking that my quilt is going to be washed in hot water and put through the dryer. [laughs.] When I make one and give one to somebody, I try to give them some information on how to take care of it. I either give them one of these little booklets or, some kind of the instructions, and sometimes I give them some of the Orvus Soap to wash it in. But when I'm talking to anybody that is not a quilter and asks me about how to take care of it or how to fix this or that on it, I always try to get into the preservation of it and not have them go and do something to their quilts from their grandmothers that would harm it any.

KJ: Well, Roma, we've about come to the end of our time and is there anything that you'd like to add that we haven't touched on?

RF: Not that I can think of Kay. It makes me very nervous to talk when the recorder is on, but I just wish that more people had the love of quilting--had something in their life, at least, that is so rewarding as I have found with quilting.

KJ: Well, I'd like to thank you, Roma Fuller, for allowing me to interview you today as part of the 2001 Quilters' S.O.S.-Save Our Stories project. Our interview concluded at 4:32 p.m., May 20, 2001.


“Roma Fuller,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed May 27, 2024,