Jean Dyson




Jean Dyson




Jean Dyson


Judy Linn

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Moda Fabrics


Fort Worth, Texas


Shira Walny


Judy Lynn (JL): This is Judy Lynn, today's date is May 17th, 2002, and it is 2:10 p.m. and I am conducting an interview with Jean Dyson for Quilters' [S.O.S-] Save Our Stories project in Fort Worth, Texas at Quilt Fest 2002. Welcome Jean.

Jean Dyson (JD): Thank you.

JL: Thank you very much for coming for the interview. How long have you been quilting?

JD: Since the early part of 1985.

JL: 1985. Self-taught?

JD: Yes, and that was unfortunate at first. [laughs.] I have a tendency to jump into things without doing a lot of homework and I started quilting a quilt top given to me by my mother-in-law that her aunt had done. Then I came to the Trinity Valley Show in April that year and the next month I went to the guild meeting and the program was on how to quilt and I walked out just sick because I didn't know you were supposed to hide knots and make small stitches.

JL: Learning [inaudible.] So, no one in your family had quilted?

JD: No.

JL: So, you really taught yourself and then what?

JD: I did have a friend that I found at the guild, and she taught me a ton of things and at first, I thought, I'll never ever learn all of this but it's just a thing that you learn over time, and I have had something in the show every year since then.

JL: Really? That's quite an accomplishment. Very good. So what aspects, do you like machine, hand work?

JD: Hand quilting.

JL: Hand quilting, do you hand piece?

JD: Yes, I do. I have machine pieced a few things but mostly by hand.

JL: Hand piece and hand quilt and you had a quilt in the show every year?

JD: I had a baby quilt or a wall hanging. It wasn't always a large quilt.

JL: Wow, well that's quite an accomplishment. So, can you give us an estimate, how many hours a week do you think that you quilt?

JD: It really varies. Probably six, seven hours a week maybe.

JL: Do you have an area in your home that's designated for quilting?

JD: No, I have little pockets all over my house where I have my tools [laughs.]

JL: Right, just kind of overtakes. [laughs.]

JD: Right.

JL: Do you have any memory of quilts in your family or anything like that?

JD: Not that any family members had made. I have a few quilts that were my mother's that a friend had made. I have a few of my aunt's but I don't have any that any of my family members made. I have one that my husband's grandmother made.

JL: Really. And you know that.

JD: Yes.

JL: So, what first pricked your interest in quilting?

JD: I didn't grow up doing any hobbies because my mother didn't but I was always interested in learning to do things and when my daughter, who was my youngest child, was in preschool, I got together with friends who were in scouting and such with me and we went to various places and took a few classes so I've done all kinds of crafts and I still do several but it was when I found quilting that I found what I really loved the most.

JL: What do you find to be the most pleasing aspect of quilting? Is there any area you like more than the other?

JD: Well, when I'm piecing, that's always my favorite but usually it's a big enough project that I get tired of it so I'm ready to be through with that and start quilting. And when I'm quilting before I get to the end of that, I get tired of that and want to start piecing again. [laughs.]

JL: So, do you have more than one project going at a time or do you like to start--

JD: I usually have several.

JL: Several.

JD: But not all of them are quilting.

JL: So, what other interests are there?

JD: I embroider, I knit, I crochet, and I love gardening. I have also done some sewing for my daughter and my five granddaughters.

JL: So, you're dividing your time up in a lot of different areas.

JD: Yes. But I usually have something for most of them going at one time, but I generally have more than one quilting project going at once.

JL: What do you think makes an outstanding quilt? What do you look for in a quilt?

JD: I think the color combination is really very important because I think that's what catches your eye first.

JL: If you had the opportunity to give an opinion, what do you think is a museum quality quilt? Do you think in terms of looking at a museum quality, what would you like to see in a museum?

JD: My goodness. I have no idea. [laughs.]

JL: That's not really that important?

JD: No, not really.

JL: Have you traveled to any of the museums?

JD: No, I haven't.

JL: Tell me about some of the quilters that you've met. Have there been any quilter that has influenced you in particular?

JD: Not really, other than just people I'm associated with in the guild and in my bees.

JL: So, the guild is pretty special to you?

JD: Very.

JL: Very good. In what way do you think that quilts reflect in our community, like the Fort Worth Guild is a pretty powerful guild in this area? How do you see it reflecting in the community?

JD: As being a group that's very giving, I think that's probably the first thing I would think of. It pleases me a lot that our guild is in so many things that do give to the public.

JL: That's so important and I think it makes all of us feel like a very special part of the community by doing that.

JD: Yes.

JL: I see that you brought a quilt with you. Could you go ahead and just describe a little bit about the colors in the quilt and why you chose the colors?

JD: Okay, there are various colors but the dominate color is pink.

JL: Pink?

JD: Yes. Pink. It's for my youngest grandchild and she thinks there is no other color but pink. She had lots of dark hair when she was born, and pink looked so pretty beside her. So, it had to be mostly pink.

JL: [laughs.] And how old is she?

JD: She is 6 and a half.

JL: Did she pick out the fabrics with you or not?

JD: No, when she got the quilt, she was about 8 months old. I started it probably about the time she was born and oddly enough at that time I wouldn't have known that her favorite color was pink. But that's what I chose for her and now that's the only color she likes.

JL: Now I do see some nine patches, is it all nine patches?

JD: It's basically all nine patches.

JL: Is there a center medallion?

JD: Yes, it's of nine patches and cross stitch embroidery. These grandchildren are my daughter's children, they're one sixteenth Choctaw Indian, and I think it's really important that they always be aware of their heritage. She's the youngest and is going to be the last so I decided to put her brothers and sisters in it as well, so they represent those four grandchildren.

JL: But she gets the quilt?

JD: Oh definitely.

JL: So, what do the other children say about this?

JD: Well, they've already gotten quilts.

JL: Oh, I see. [laughs.]

JD: [laughs.] I have eight grandchildren in all, and they've all gotten one.

JL: Every grandchild has a quilt?

JD: Yes.

JL: That's quite an accomplishment too. [laughs.] So that means a lot to you, to give them to your grandchildren?

JD: Very much.

JL: Okay, well, tell us how long does it take, [inaudible.]?

JD: I had it in the show that year which was in May, and she was born in August.

JL: You are quite fast.

JD: With some things. [laughs.]

JL: [laughs.]

JD: I think the enthusiasm was there to get it done.

JL: I'm sure. Did you have the cross stitch done before or you did that--that [the piecing.] was a part of the quilt too?

JD: No, that was all done at the same time.

JL: Wow. You have a speedy needle.

JD: Well, I get myself into trouble all the time with ideas that just pop into my head and then I must work out how to do them.

Jl: You have to be quilting more than six hours a week.

JD: Sometimes. [laughs.]

JL: [laughs.] Don't you think? [laughs.] Oh goodness. So, your granddaughter has this quilt now. So, what's her reaction to this quilt right now?

JD: I had to wash it three times. Does that tell you anything? [laughs.] But I love it that they use them.

JL: Does she have any desire to learn to quilt?

JD: Not really, I think she's a little bit young right now, I've taught some of my older granddaughters a little bit and a little bit about knitting and crochet as well, but I think they'll be more apt to want to pick up on something later because the older one is a teenager and that's just not a priority right now.

JL: Have you taught at all other people besides, do you have a desire to teach quilting?

JD: Not really. Just friends, just sharing things with friends.

JL: Well, it's just a really, really special quilt. Can you think of anything else that you would like to share with us as far as any other quilts?

JD: I have two other special ones in the family. When my in-laws had their fiftieth anniversary, I did a friendship block quilt and I put part of it together and I had the rest of it in blocks and everyone at the reception signed the blocks and I did that the following year for my parents. So those are very special to me.

JL: What designs did you make them, medallions?

JD: No, the first one was the friendship block with the rectangles and the second one was a square within a square blocks and star blocks.

JL: So you have two fiftieth wedding anniversaries, one year right after the other.

JD: Yes.

JL: And you finished both those quilts in--you do have a fast needle! [laughs.] That's an incredibly fast needle. Okay, very good, well I think that will conclude our interview. I'd like to thank you, Jean, for allowing us to interview [you.]. This has been Jean Dyson and thank you for your part in 2002 Quilters' [S.O.S.-] Save Our Stories. Our interview was concluded at 2:25 on May 17, 2002.

JD: Thank you.

JL: Thank you, I so love it, Jean you are something. I don't quilt that fast not at all and this is just beautiful.

JD: Thank you.


“Jean Dyson,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed May 24, 2024,