Sarah Luther




Sarah Luther




Sarah Luther


Judy Linn

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Sandra Anne Frazier


Fort Worth, TX


Pam Luke


Judy Linn (JL): This is Judy Linn and today's date is May 18th, 2002. The time is 1:50 p.m. I am conducting an interview with Sarah Luther for [Quilters' S.O.S. -] Save Our Stories project in Fort Worth, Texas for Quiltfest 2002. Thanks very much for coming to the interview. I'm very excited to hear your story.

Sarah Luther (SL): Well, I hope I can give you a good one.

JL: I am sure that you can. Can you tell me how you started quilting?

SL: Well first I had received some quilt pieces from an elderly lady that had taken care of our children in the church nursery at one time and so over a period of time I finally gave it to my mother. They were Dresden Plates. She appliquéd it on a background and made a quilt top for me and then there I didn't know how I was going to get it quilted. So I found a group in Saginaw and I went out and talked to them and they invited me to come and quilt with them. At the time, I was working for H&R; Block part of the year so after the tax season was over it must have been 1989 or 1990 I went out and started joining them quilting. In the meantime I had watched some television shows about quilting. And I sort of just began to learn on my own and do a few things [inaudible.] I did a car quilt. I just tacked it instead of quilting it and then after I quilted a little bit with them; I don't remember how, I just really got caught up in it and began to make a full series of quilts.

JL: So would you consider yourself self taught?

SL: Yes. Once or twice I've taken a class. But most of it I've learned over reading books and watching the TV shows about quilting and seeing what others have done in the quilt shows and just going around and looking and being inspired to do what I felt like doing.

JL: Do you take classes through the guild or?

SL: Once I did on Seminole quilting but I didn't use it. I didn't make a quilt or something right off. I'm pleased that I know that and I have that booklet that I bought from person who was giving it.

JL: So did your mother quilt anymore than that?

SL: She quilted some.

JL: She a piecer or quilter?

SL: She pieced several quilt tops and some of them got away from the time that she was moved into a nursing home and I was glad when she found out she was going to the nursing home when she had cancer, she gave me mine that she had pieced together and made sure that I had that. Because I think a neighbor lady took some of the things for work that she had done which mother may have agreed with her on and my sister and I when she went to sell things they were gone.

JL: So you don't really have any memories of quilting?

SL: No. Well I never saw her quilt. When I lived in west Texas at one time right out of high school, some friends that I knew out there had a quilting meet one day and she had a quilt frame that attached to the ceiling and brought it down and they sat around and quilted. That's the only other experience that I've had at quilting.

JL: Do you have a favorite part? Do you like piecing or quilting?

SL: Well, I like piecing. I've made several quilt tops that I've sold to different ones in the group for my fabric that I put into it and time and effort. They don't piece but they wanted to quilt. So I've done that. And then I've had some that I've sold in the Senior Citizens Sale that are quilt tops or quilts that I've finished quilting.

JL: Really?

SL: I've given most of them to family members and everything so. I think I had made around 50 quilts in the ten or twelve years I've been quilting.

JL: That's quite a number.

SL: About three or four of them were baby quilts but most all of them were full size quilts or else they're quilt tops. I didn't quilt them all but I've made that many tops.

JL: So what's your favorite part? Do you like choosing the colors?

SL: I guess. I like choosing the colors and fixing. I get a notion I want to make, that I've seen one and I want to do something similar to that. Or right now I'm working on a type of appliqué. So I want to do more appliqué. I have a quilt in the quilt show that is appliqué of a cat quilt. And I haven't won any ribbons on it so I didn't bring that one to show today.

JL: So are you a ribbon winner?

SL: I have won. I won the Redwork section of the People's Choice. That was 2000.

JL: The year before?

SL: And that's the quilt that I brought. Then I also won a ribbon on it at the Saginaw show. And then this last year I won a second or third place ribbon on another quilt in the Saginaw quilt show which is a small quilt show.

JL: Do you have a preference; do you prefer hand quilting or machine quilting?

SL: Some things I want to hand quilt. I have my own things I want to do. I don't machine quilt but I have had a couple of my tops machine quilted so I could go ahead and present them to my granddaughter or somebody that will use them a lot.

JL: Do you have a specific area in your home that is designated?

SL: Yes, I have a room. I took over our spare room.

JL: All right.

SL: A little at a time and finally it's a big mess right now [laughs.] while I'm working on this new quilt.

JL: [laughs.] Right. So what do you think of longarm quilting? Do you like what they?

SL: I haven't actually watched them do it. I've seen it different places demonstrated. Yes, that's nice. And it's really good they can do a lot with them.

JL: They really can. So do you want to go ahead and pull out the quilt that you've brought?

SL: I left it over there.

JL: Oh, you did? Okay. You've brought a quilt for us today that is Redwork. It's quite large.

SL: About a queen size.

JL: It's queen size. That's great.

SL: All of these patterns come from different places.

JL: I see. Okay. Do you want to go ahead and describe the quilt for us?

SL: OK. I got interested in Redwork seeing that and I went through several books and would just get pictures of different things that I thought were related to gardens and made my patterns out on a muslin square and then worked that in. I decided to do a ring around each one with different embroidery stitches to accent it and then I picked out a real simple pieced pattern to put in the block in between; alternate and did the Redwork. I had a pattern for this border. It's a quilting pattern and I decided to use it to do Redwork all around the border of flowers. So that's how it all kind of came together.

JL: And what's the name of it?

SL: Redwork Garden is what I call it. There's all different kinds of flowers.

JL: How many blocks all together?

SL: Oh, I don't remember. [laughs.] They were nine or ten inch blocks.

JL: There are quite a number because this is a large quilt. It is absolutely beautiful.

SL: And then I did the wide stippling in between. And then I did the border, the red border, the outer border, I quilted it in white so it would show up the butterflies.

JL: That was a good idea. So 100% of this quilt is yours?

SL: Yes.

JL: You did it all. So what do you think? Is it yours? You didn't give this one away?

SL: No, I hadn't planned to give it away to anybody. I'm just kind of holding on to it. I may eventually pass it down to the family, I don't know.

JL: Can you tell me why did you pick the gardening theme?

SL: Because most of the pictures I saw had to do with flowers, gardens and there's a little frog and there's one with a swan on it and things and I just thought it will be my Redwork garden since I don't do any gardening.

JL: You don't do garden?

SL: No. I do the sewing and quilting. I don't do the gardening. [laughs.]

JL: And why did you choose this quilt over any other quilt that you could have brought for the interview? Do you know?

SL: Well, I put a lot of work into it. I felt like it was more of me. And I had displayed it and I had gotten People's Choice ribbon on it in the 2000 quilt show, first place. And so I just felt like that was the first time I had gotten a first place, especially in a Trinity Valley Show do you get a ribbon. There are so many beautiful quilts out here. So I just felt real proud that I had been able to do that.

JL: That is really beautiful. So what are your plans for this quilt? Are you going to keep it?

SL: Like I say, at the present time I'm just going to keep it. I haven't used it. It still got its sleeve on the top in case I want to enter it in another quilt show or something. But I don't know. I just like to think this is one that I really put like I say 'me' into it a lot.

JL: I think your heart is in this quilt.

SL: Well, I have another couple that I'm working on now and one that I finished last year of a Texas Star with appliqué in the spaces in the corners in between the star that I think a lot of. And I plan to use it as a bedspread and my husband says it's too heavy. We leave it on the bed at night as our cover so it's up in the closet.

JL: These are kind of some questions about quilting and quilting in American life. Is quilting really an important part of your life?

SL: Yes. It makes me feel like I can create something and I don't have, since I retired from work, other outlets so to speak, other hobbies. This is my hobby. It's something I can work on at home. I have a mentally ill son which one of us needs to be there to watch over him most of the time.

JL: Does he live at home with you?

SL: Yes. He's nearly forty but he has spells where he's also learning disabled. And so one has to be there to make sure he gets his medication. He can't do cooking or anything for himself. So it ties me to home except for the one day a week that my husband is there and I get to go to the Thursday quilters. So it's my outlet. I call it my therapy.

JL: You're exactly right. Yes. So it is a part of your life because you have to have something to do while you're home all of the time.

SL: Yes. It keeps my mind off of other things.

JL: Yes. In what ways do you think quilting has been important to women in history?

SL: Well, not only is it making something very useful for family but it is something that is creative. It's something enjoyable if you like colors and things. You can just feel yourself being envious as you make it. I just, it's something that can be passed on and on to your family and say here's a part of grandmother or great grandmother or something that they can remember. I do remember that my grandmother had quilts that she had made at one time. She was already kind of incapacitated whenever I was getting married and everything. She wasn't making anything like this. She had to have somebody stay with her but she did have some quilts and we lost some of her quilts or other members of the family got them when she passed away. And I wished that I had something. I think it kind of puts you in touch with your past relatives.

JL: That's what saving our stories is all about is passing some of this on to the next generation. Is there something else that you can think of that you wanted to share with us?

SL: Well, I think another thing that I did was our quilting group was trying to encourage more people to come out and join us so we offered a free beginner's class and I did the teaching on the quick quilt methods. I enjoyed that because it taught me to prepare ahead and to think about how to discuss the patterns as I was presenting it; sort of like I learned from TV. And I enjoyed it, but I know that I wouldn't be a professional teacher.

JL: Did you do this in your home?

SL: No, I did it at the Saginaw Community Center where we quilt on Thursdays.

JL: How did you gather the people? Where did the new beginners come from?

SL: Well we put it in the Trinity Valley newsletter and we announced it in different places, we put out flyers at different places that said 'Free Beginning Quilting.' And we had three or four that came a couple of times but couldn't keep coming because it's over about an eight to ten week period. We did about twenty blocks and tried to teach different things, aspects of quilting. The log cabin, it started out with the nine patch and worked up to doing one that was paper piecing and one that was crazy quilt block so I kind of went over a range and I had another lady who had done some appliqué in the group so she taught the class on appliqué. But we really enjoyed it and several of the ones that just came to quilt actually made blocks and put together their own sampler quilt. We all gained from it and enjoyed it.

JL: Yes. You do.

SL: It made me feel important. I've never thought that I could. But I planned ahead.

JL: Is there anyone else in your family who quilts?

SL: No, not at the present time. My daughter shows a little bit of interest. She wanted me to make her a quilt at one time and she does programs digitizing for an automatic embroidery machine place of setting up. She had always liked to embroidery so she designed a pattern, a paisley and we used it and bought paisley material. She went and picked it out and I made paisley flowers on the pieced block and then the alternating block was her design done on the automatic embroidery machines where she work and quilted around it. I had a quilt pattern that she fitted her design in the middle of. Then we planned it out ahead of time so that I could quilt around it. So we enjoyed participating together. She said she would like to learn some, but she's still working full time so she can't do much.

JL: Thank you very much. This is just a wonderful interview. I'd like to thank Sarah for allowing me to interview you today as part of 2002 [Quilters' S.O.S. - ]Save Our Stories project. Our interview concluded at 2:10 on May 18th, 2002.

SL: Thank you.


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