Rosemary Zaugg




Rosemary Zaugg




Rosemary Zaugg


Edie Jones

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Moda Fabrics


Fort Worth, Texas


Tomme Fent


Edie Jones (EJ): This is Edie Jones. Today is May 18th, 2002. It is 11:10 [a.m.], and I am conducting an interview with Rosemary Zaugg for Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories project in Fort Worth, Texas. Rosemary, you've had a lot of interest in quilting. Can you tell me when you first began quilting? Was your mother, your grandmother or anybody a quilter?

Rosemary Zaugg (RZ): My first quilt was when I was 18 and right out of high school. When I was 15 or 16, I made a list of things that I was going to accomplish in my life and one of the things on there was 'piece a quilt.' And so I took a cardboard shoe box and took some cardboard templates, I first went to see my dad's cousin who had tons of quilt tops that she had made all her life. People brought her scraps and people in the town had given her scraps to make quilt tops and they'd come and she would sell the quilt tops and she had hundreds of them. So I went to visit her and I picked out a pattern and she gave me her templates and I had cardboard templates and I cut out all these triangles with the scissors. The pattern was supposed to be “Hope of Hartford but I got the pinwheels turned around, half of them, so I called it “Hope of Rosemary." And I got the quilt finished, my mother put it on the frame, and she had her friends come and quilt it. And I was going to learn to hand quilt and I pricked my finger and it bled on the quilt and my mother said, 'Honey, you can serve the lemonade.' So I never learned to hand quilt because I was serving the lemonade. So I checked off on the list that I had made my quilt and it was quilted. And that was in 1964, and I never did a quilt again until 1994.

EJ: Why, in 1994, did you start again?

RZ: In 1992, I had a liver transplant and I could not go back to work as an accountant because I couldn't--I wouldn't have the stamina to take that many hours. I had done our daughters' wedding--we had two daughters get married and a liver transplant in eight months and when that all was over with, I got bored. I couldn't go back to work and I said, 'I think I'll piece a quilt.' My husband said, 'Well, why don't you write a book?' and I said, 'No, I think I'll piece a quilt.' I got a quilt book and by the first time I had--by the first quilt I got done, I had three more cut out. And it was just my thing and I just got into it and I made thirty-two full-size or queen-size bed quilts. I've made over 180 quilts. I have paper-pieced 1500 blocks in wall hangings, jackets, and quilts and I've got a few unfinished projects. [laughter.]

EJ: Where are those thirty-two quilts you've made, are they with family, are they--do you have them?

RZ: I have some. My daughters have some. I have given eight quilts for charity. They have fundraisers with them two raffle quilts for the senior center and one of them is a raffle quilt at Saint Steven's, a raffle quilt for the Saint Peter's Ladies' Society and the Harris Hospital Auxiliary Southwest did a raffle quilt. My brother's a priest in a parish in Iowa, and I just finished sending them a quilt top that the ladies in the parish will hand-quilt and it will be their Fall Festival raffle quilt. So this is my way of doing charity, I do at least one quilt a year that I give to some charity, some fundraising, some charitable organization to use it as a raffle quilt.

EJ: Do you hand quilt anymore or at all?

RZ: I've never been a hand quilter. I say I'm a piecer, not a quilter, and I say I'm a quilt maker. Our daughter has a long-arm machine quilting business and she doesn't charge me and I give her others things in return so I have my machine quilter down in Hillsboro so she does all my quilts now.

EJ: That's Julie?

RZ: That's Julie, yes.

EJ: Did Julie learn how to quilt from you?

RZ: Actually, when I was making my second quilt, she told me there was a better way than using a scissors and I better start getting a little more in this century, and she's the one that made me get a rotary cutter and a mat. And she did paper piecing before I did. So I can't say I've taught her. She just taught me to speed up my process. She's been very interested in quilting and is very talented with them so she just took it up after she got out of college and I was kind of following her.

EJ: Does your other daughter quilt, too?

RZ: Well, she's a 'wannabe.' She's finished one quilt and she's bought three more fabric kits and she's working on it, but she has a four-year-old and an eighteen-month-old, she's got some plans and has got some patterns and she's got fabric so she'll get there.

EJ: Well, I know you have granddaughters, are they coming along? Have you got them to work yet?

RZ: Sydney is making a quilt with her mother, with Julie. She cut out all the blocks out of K.P. Kids, some wild children's fabric that she's been collecting fat quarters for two or three years. And Sydney is three and now she's laying them out and she's planning the quilt on the floor, and she thinks she can use another sewing machine. She's rather precocious and she said, 'I can sew.' So we'll see how that works, but she's going to make a quilt and it's going to be her quilt and she wants to make one for her cousin Hannah, so she's going to make two quilts.

EJ: So you're carrying this on to another generation.

RZ: I think the next generation – they were here yesterday for three hours at the quilt show, my two grandchildren, so they looked at the quilts yesterday and made comments, too, so I think it'll be a third generation.

EJ: You mentioned that you and Julie kind of learned from each other, some techniques, but I know there--I'm sure there are other people that have learned from you. What kind of classes do you teach?

RZ: I teach paper piecing, when pressured [laughs.], and I'm teaching a couple of classes for the Quilter's Guild of Parker County in Weatherford, at the senior center over there, on paper piecing. And I've taught a memory quilt. I've taught a lot of Carol Doak's stars, “Fifty Fabulous [Paper-Pieced.] Stars," and more than teaching, I give demos at Cabbage Rose [Quilt Shop.] here in Fort Worth. When they have demo on Saturday or whatever, I come in with my sewing machine and I just sit there and paper piece and explain what I'm doing and give them patterns of the demos that I'm doing and I enjoy that more than actually teaching a class, just go in and spend the day doing demos at Cabbage Rose.

EJ: You obviously have a lot of experience quilting. What do you think makes a good quilter or a great quilter?

RZ: I think the difference between a good quilter and a great quilter is the workmanship, when the bindings are firm and put on well and the piecing meets up and the size of the pieces balance with the color and size. I think it's the workmanship that makes a quilt stand out. And colors, too, if you were to put in a bright red, people are going to notice it more than a pastel. So I think there are certain quilts that just say, 'Wow!' because of the colors. But for it to be a great quilt, it has to have the workmanship.

EJ: Do you sleep under a quilt?

RZ: Two or three. [laughter.] The medicine I take for the liver transplant makes me very cold and so I can wear long-sleeved shirts and jackets all year long, and so there are always two quilts on the bed and in winter, there's a third one. And they're always quilts. We don't have any blankets at our house.

EJ: You've emphasized how people have used your quilts. How do you feel about putting a quilt in a museum? What makes a museum quilt versus one that one's going to use?

RZ: Well, I think that to be a museum quilt it has to have a lot of intricate appliqué on it or just be a really spectacularly pieced quilt. And I'm not so sure that a lot of quilts belong in museums. If you make a museum quilt, that's fine, but I think you should make two or three comfort quilts for every museum quilt. I mean, I make quilts. I make them as I like them, I make what I like, and I have never made a quilt to say, 'This is going to be a show quilt and it's just going to be wow.' I make what I like. If it gets a ribbon, that's fine. If it doesn't, that's fine, too. And I have a “Stars in the Garden" appliqué quilt that took a first or second place here a couple of years ago, and I let the grandchildren sleep on it and they will sit on it and they will pick out the flowers and, 'That's the butterfly,' and everything and people say, 'Oh, you shouldn't let them on the quilt.' My quilts are for sitting on, for sleeping under, no matter what they are. And I call them comfort quilts. So I don't consider myself as ever having made a museum quilt or even wanted to make a museum quilt. Museums are for vintage quilts, for preserving something that's maybe sixty years old or a hundred years old. That's fine but I think the modern, contemporary quilts shouldn't be in a museum.

EJ: What's your favorite part about quilting?

RZ: Pulling all the fabric out of my closet, the designing of the colors, and I don't follow too many patterns. I kind of march to my own beat. Like this “Frosty Blue" quilt, I made the Log Cabin blocks, I made--appliquéd the snowmen. I was laying it on the floor, trying to put it together, no pattern, just seeing how to put it together. My husband came along and said, 'Well, turn this block this way and turn this one that way and you'll have hearts, and do this and do that,' and I said, 'Did I ask for your help?'

EJ: The “Frosty Blue" one is the one you have hanging in the--

RZ: Yes.

EJ: Today, in the show today?

RZ: Yes.

EJ: And how did you choose this one to hang?

RZ: I had an over-abundance of blue fabric, and I started cutting strips to make Log Cabins. I made about fifty Log Cabins without any clue of how I was going to put it together. And I was looking through my books and I thought, 'Oh, I kind of like these appliqué snowmen.' So, I took the appliqué snowmen and appliquéd those on white blocks and when I got about sixty blocks, I thought maybe I should start laying them out to see how they--where I was headed and it just kind of fell into place. And he said, 'If you do it like this, it'll have those hearts in it,' and it made me frosty and that's why I call it “Frosty Blue," because I didn't want his help. [laughter.] And I spent the next two hours trying to find a pattern that I liked as well as what he laid out for me and I couldn't do it, so I just said, 'Fine.' But on the tag out there, it says an original design of mine. [laughter.]

EJ: You mentioned the part that you enjoy. What part of quilting do you least enjoy?

RZ: I least enjoy making a quilt where you repeat the same block over and over and over again. If I've made twenty blocks of one kind, I find it very boring to get the other fifty blocks done for a quilt. So I make a lot of samplers. I make three or four quilts at the same time where I have appliqué going and Log Cabins going and something else going that I can switch off. I think it's the boredom of making repetitive blocks I would say is the least enjoyable.

EJ: How many hours a day or a week do you spend quilting?

RZ: Oh, a good day, I'll be in my sewing room six hours. A poor day, I will be in there one hour, when I've got a lot of other things to do, and if I can't stand it, I'll get up at 11:00 [p.m.] and go in for another hour. I have to do something every day.

EJ: So your--it's your vitamin for every day.

RZ: It's my addiction and my passion and my husband says it keeps me off the streets, but not out of the quilt shops. [laughter.] He's a funny guy at times.

EJ: What are you going to do with your blue quilt when the show is over?

RZ: I think it's going to be a keeper. I'll keep it in my collection at my house. I have nine or ten that I call my keepers. And ultimately, they will be for the daughters and the granddaughters to choose which ones they want. Sydney says she's going--she's three and she says, 'I want the flower one,' and so Hannah may get the “Frosty Blue" one. But there will be enough for all of them, and these are the ones that I don't give to charity. I don't give away certain ones.

EJ: You mentioned quilting after you had the liver transplant. Are there other times when you've used quilting to get through a tough time?

RZ: No, I just was so busy with raising the girls and going to school. I went back to school at thirty-three and got an accounting degree by forty. My goal was to get it by forty because when I was forty-one, our oldest would start college and I wanted to get out before she got in. And I got my accounting degree at UTA [University of Texas at Arlington.] in 1986, and I worked five years as an accountant. I think I was so busy that it didn't occur to me that I wanted to get back into quilting. But as soon as I started doing it, it just seemed like it was a natural thing for me to do, to quilt. I could work at my own speed and people tell me that I work around the clock. I really don't and I have to take a nap every afternoon. Otherwise, I'm too weary by suppertime. So I work around my disabilities. I've also had four hip replacements on the left side so I wobble that direction but with all those things, you just keep on keeping on. You don't look back. You make a decision and you don't question what's happened in the past. You just move on. And I've thoroughly enjoyed quilting and it probably has been my salvation when I got bored.

EJ: Do you belong to a bee?

RZ: When we were in Fort Worth, I was in four or five different bees, and we moved to Weatherford four years ago and built a new home out there and I dropped out of a couple of bees in Fort Worth. And now I'm back in three bees in Weatherford, Tuesday night Bent Needles and Weebe for a while. It's W-e-e-b-e, because 'We be talking or we be quilting or we be eating' [laughter.], so we called it Weebe. And there's another one over there, I've got three over there.

EJ: So you belong to three bees and--

RZ: Two quilt guilds.

EJ: You belong to the Parker County Guild?

RZ: I was a co-founder with Pam Luke, Quilter's Guild of Parker County. We got it up and running in February of 2000. It's 2002 now. We have 130 members, so we've done very well with it.

EJ: So you're a spin off from the Trinity Valley Quilt Guild and you're starting a new one?

RZ: Yes, I would say so. I was Treasurer two years over there and I served as Treasurer for two years at Trinity Valley. Having an accounting degree, that's the position you seem to fall into.

EJ: Have you done other kinds of jobs for either of the guilds, other than being the Treasurer?

RZ: I'm workshop chairman right now and doing the planning of workshops for Quilter's Guild of Parker County. I was Bee Keeper and Admissions Chairman for a quilt show for Trinity Valley, and then for two years of the quilt show, I was Treasurer and kept track of the money, so I've always been involved in some way or another since probably the first year. I haven't had – for the last two years, I haven't had a chairman job at Trinity Valley but I did every year I was in since I joined in 1995, and now I'm the bad penny I keep coming back.

EJ: With your experience in quilting, have you seen any changes or trends in the development or emergence?

RZ: The trend that I see and like is that machine quilting has become more acceptable. There's some very, very artistic work being done, some artistic quilters out there with the long-arm machines, and they're doing some beautiful machine quilting and I'm happy to see that it's become acceptable because five years ago, you just did not put a quilt in a quilt show that had been machine quilted. Maybe eight years ago. It was coming around but it never took a ribbon, the ribbons just did not go to machine quilted quilts and that is changing and I think that's good because I tell everybody, 'Life is too short.' I can't get all the things done that I want to do if I hand quilt, so I have to speed up. I've also made nine or ten jackets and I have a jacket in here today with a red ribbon on it.

EJ: Well, now, tell me how you got involved with the wearables, with the jackets?

RZ: I just started with a flannel jacket because I wanted to keep warm in the fall and then kind of spun off to a fall jacket. And my daughter Julie is much more organized, she fills everything out, but I at least have gotten her to put the graph paper away. And she'll ask me, 'What are you doing?' and I'll say, 'I'm making a jacket. I'm making the right side.' And she'll come over and look at it and she'll say, 'Well, that's nice, what are you going to--where's the other side? What are you going to put on it?' And I say, 'I don't know yet.' So, I like making jackets because one sleeve will be different from the other, the front will be different from the--the left side will be different from the right side, the back side will have something entirely different on it, and I like being able to just create as I sew.

EJ: Do you enjoy the wearable or the quilt making more or about the same?

RZ: I like – it's about the same. There are times when I'm in a mood to make a jacket. And I just finished a little jacket in a size five child for a granddaughter because she wanted a “Grammy Jacket." So, I made her a little pink and green patchwork jacket. She's real proud of her “Grammy Jacket." So, there's times I'm in the mood to make a jacket. It comes and goes, my jacket spurts. But the quilting is always there. The jackets are kind of my reward when I finish something, and I want to play around with the fabric, and I don't want any set rules or pattern or guidelines. I take my basic pattern, cut it in flannel. I sew the fabric to the flannel until I've covered up the flannel. And then I make the lining to match to the flannel, so it's very simple, very basic, but the change--it depends on whether I paper piece--I did a Log Cabin jacket that had five-inch Log Cabin blocks and like I said, I got bored easy, and after I had fifty of them, and being a larger person it took eighty-eight blocks and I finally decided this was not such a good idea. But it's made and done, and I wear it a lot. I do wear the jackets, but sometimes my husband says, 'Do I have to sit next to you when you wear that one?' and I say, 'Yes, you do!'

EJ: What's your favorite jacket that you've made?

RZ: I think the favorite one I've made is the one that's in the show today.

EJ: Describe it to us.

RZ: It's called “Crazy Patches" and it's a crazy quilt jacket. And I have this other little thing about getting on eBay and bidding on things, and I bid on and got needlepoint vintage lace and vintage buttons. I got some old tablecloths that had holes in them, but I took the embroidery out. So, this jacket has vintage lace, old buttons, new buttons, needlepoint embroidery, dish towels, tablecloths, everything imaginable is in this jacket. And on the back, I have some neckties that I cut up and made into a Half Dresden Plate out of the neckties so they would still have a point and look like neckties, but it has everything imaginable. People started giving me things. There's a rose on one sleeve that my friend made in a class and was not going to ever do it again, so she gave it to me, so it's on there. Someone else gave me a tatted cross and I knew that would get lost in the jacket so it's inside the jacket, close to my heart is this cross that's tatted lace, so turn the jacket and look at it if you want, it's out on display.

EJ: What advice, in parting words, would you give to new quilters?

RZ: The first couple of years, I said, 'There are quilters who talk about it and quilters who do it.' I said, 'Get out there and do it. Don't just go to meetings and learn about it. Don't go to classes and never make a quilt. Get out there and do it.' And the vender booth Pastime Fabrics has this display and she's got these quilter's quotes out there, and as I walked past it yesterday, I pointed to the one and I said, 'It says, she who dies with the most fabric wins.' I said, 'That's not really true. She who dies with the most fabric is still dead, so get out there and use the fabric, make the quilts, don't just collect the fabric.'

EJ: Well, with that, we're closed and so I'd like to thank Rosemary Zaugg for allowing me to interview her today as part of the 2001 Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories project. Our interview concluded at 11:32 [a.m.], May the 18th, 2002.


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