Mary Weathers




Mary Weathers




Mary Weathers


Jane Kucko

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Sandra Anne Frazier


Fort Worth, TX


Joanne Gasperik


Jane Kucko (JK): This is Jane Kucko. Today's date is Sunday, May 19th [2002]. It is 3:25 p.m. in the afternoon. And we are at the Trinity Valley Quilters Guild Show and we are conducting an interview with Mary Weathers as part of the Quilters' [S.O.S.-] Save Our Stories project. And we're really pleased you could be here this afternoon.

Mary Weathers (MW): Thank you.

JK: And you have told me discretely before we started about some of the wonderful quilts that you brought. Why don't you start by telling us about the Grandmother's Flower Garden.

MW: Oh, this is a quilt that my grandmother made for me and so I know how old the quilt is and of course it's pink and white, since I was a girl. Now I have a cousin who was born the very same day as me and we both have these quilts.

JK: That's wonderful. That's wonderful. Yes that was hand quilted of course by your grandmother.

MW: My grandmother had 18 grandchildren and we all had crib quilts and we all had bed quilts. And when I was about 10 my aunt came and spent some time with us and she and I pieced a Grandmother's Flower Garden and then my grandmother quilted it. [JK: Oh.] I have two big quilts from her.

JK: That's really special. I think your records show this was done in 1937.

MW: Right.

JK: Is that right?

MW: Yes.

JK: Very, very wonderful. Each petal looks like it's under an inch in size, doesn't it?

MW: Yes, it's very tiny.

JK: Very, very tiny. What does it mean for you to have this quilt?

MW: Oh, it's important, you know. I'll never do a quilt that, with little bitty pieces and little bitty stitches. [both laugh.] My quilting efforts sort of go in a different direction. But it's important to me to have the quilt.

JK: Now, it has been used. Can you tell us about, yeah--

MW: Yes, it was used. Yeah I used it for all of my children, even my son, who didn't know it was pink and then also have used it for some of my older grandchildren. And when I began to notice that it was fraying then I put it away.

JK: Are there any particular memory associated with this quilt?

MW: No, it's just sort of the one we used.

JK: That you once used. That's wonderful, wonderful. Now tell me about this other element that you brought: The Texas Legacy Book.

MW: Well, actually my friend and I were going to Dallas to see these quilts, but I guess they weren't all there, but many of them were on display. And as we were walking through the exhibit and looking at the quilters I realized that one of them was supposed to have been made by my other grandmother's first cousin. And it was just really a big surprise. I was a nice quilt. And so I came home and looked in my family tree book and by golly there's the old gal's name. [laughs.]

JK: That's wonderful.

MW: [laughs.] So I did not know her. Her father was one of the older children in the family and my grandmother was probably one of the younger children. But I knew her kids and her grandchildren and I have been to the house she was in Fannin County, Texas.

JK: Now other than in the exhibit do you remember seeing this quilt?

MW: No I really don't. I've looked to see which one of her children owns it and I don't remember this son, because he's one of the younger ones. So probably it belongs to that family. The only time I've seen this quilt was at that show. It was such a surprise to me--

JK: It's wonderful.

MW: To see that.

JK: It must have been a real treasure to see that [MW: Yeah.] and experience that.

MW: I went right over to buy the book and they were all out of books and I wrote to them and I hadn't found it and within the past 6 months a woman I know who is moving to a smaller place called me and said, 'I'm going to give away some books. Would you like to have this one?'

[JK: Mmm.] And she gave it to me.

JK: Now she didn't know,did she?

MW: No, had not--

JK: Had no idea that you wanted that particular book?

MW: No.

JK: It was meant to be then.

MW: Oh yes, it was my book. [laughs.]

JK: That is terrific.

MW: It was a nice, nice story. [laughing.]

JK: Absolutely.

MW: So it's one of my favorites as well. And this is the quilt. And it's beautifully done. There were quilts there, quilts that had little things on them that say, 'the bold colors make up for the big stitches.'

JK: Right. [laughs.]

MW: This is not one of them. [laughs.]

JK: No. it's very intricately done. And the colors. It's beautiful, absolutely beautiful. What's one of your first quilting memories?

MW: Oh, I guess the first thing I remember is playing under the frame in my grandmother's house.

JK: So you do remember her quilting?

MW: Oh, yes. Yes, our family was close and we visited back and forth a lot. And I remember the frame being up and we would play under it, my cousin and me.

JK: That's wonderful. Do you remember helping in any way, threading needles or anything like that?

MW: No. No. I remember though my aunt and I worked on the Grandmother's Flower Garden.

[loud announcement is heard.] I'm sure she made most of it, but she made me think I was doing a lot of it.

JK: Now who taught you to quilt?

MW: Well, my mother didn't quilt. My mother pieced, she did not quilt [loud announcement.] She would lay out a quilt up on the bed and say, 'Every corner is perfect.'

JK: Oh. When it would be--

MW: Yes. [tape clicks off and on again.]

JK: Well you were talking about the influence of who taught you quilting and--

MW: Oh, okay. Another aunt, my mother had a big family, she had two sisters and six brothers. And her other sister who always won prizes at the State Fair, showed me how to do the cathedral window, [JK: Okay.] where you sew up all the little square things [loud announcement is heard.] and turn them and all of that. I did two of those and [loud announcement is heard.] they were fun and that was probably my first real attempt. And, oh, I made three of those.

JK: Three. Oh, wow.

MW: I made queen size bed quilt. I would never do that again. [both laugh.] But at any rate I kept two nice quilts that are like that. And so then, my husband is a pastor, and he was assigned to a Westcliff church in Fort Worth and one of my friends there said we're going to take a quilt class. So what do you think? So I did. [JK: Good for you.] And that's how I got started. Now my husband gave me--I said he could give me for Christmas this class and all the materials and everything. And so I thought well that's good. I need to make two of those for twin beds. So, you know, setting myself up like that [inaudible.]. And they're nice--

JK: I bet they are.

MW: I really like them. And then I never was going to do that again, but we were out one day and so I bought the material for a new quilt which I have named "Perseverance."

JK: [laughs.] Because you did. [both laugh.]

MW: It has 120 blocks, [JK gasps.] six inch blocks. Each block has 16 pieces and an 8-point center. [JK: Wow.] And every time 4 blocks are joined then you have another 8-point center. So you have the potential of a little, a little poof every three inches. [laughs.]

JK: Right. Right. Right.

MW: It took me a long time to finish it, but I did.

JK: I bet it's stunning, though.

MW: And it's hanging in my church foyer right now.

JK: Now what's going on at your church that you have these quilts on exhibit?

MW: Well we have a big gathering area in our church and they feature different artists and so Judy, our program director called and asked me if I would be artist of the month. And I said, well Judy that is really stretching it. [both laugh.] Because I don't really think of myself as an artist. My bee tells me that it's genetically impossible for me to follow the directions. [JK: Oh, no. laughing.] Not even a good crafts person. But I told her I would like to show the quilts and some of them are quilts I've made. Some of them are tops that other people have given me, quilt projects, [JK hums approval.] some are made by committee [inaudible.] quilts. I have my grandmother's quilts displayed there. [JK: Nice.] So, it's been nice and it's been lots of fun for me.

JK: It's wonderful. It's wonderful. So your technique is typically hand piecing, hand quilting, or?

MW: I hand piece some. Typically now though I machine piece [JK hums approval.] and hand quilt that. [JK: And then hand quilt.] Although when I get behind I have some things either hand quilted or I have some that have been machine quilted. So I'm not a purist in any way. [laughs.]

JK: Time sometimes comes into determining--

MW: And sometimes machine quilting is really a hindrance it's too busy. It sort of depends.

JK: Do you give lots of your quilts away?

MW: Oh, yes. All of my children have quilts. All of my grandchildren have at least one quilt. I have 16 grandchildren and they all have crib quilts and then a big quilt [JK: Really.] most of them, except for the little bitty ones. They only have crib quilts. [loud announcement.]

JK: Amazing.

MW: And I don't keep my quilts, a lot of them.

JK: Now how do you choose a pattern? Do you have a pattern in mind for the people you give it away, or do they ask you to make a particular pattern or?

MW: Well, the only request I've ever really had, one of my sons-in-law, his mother is a quilter and she makes scrap quilts with just plain backs, and I like to put print backs on the quilts [JK hums approval.] make them kind of reversible. [JK hums approval.] Well he said he would like to have a scrap quilt with a solid back, and I did that for him. [JK: You did that.] And it was a four blocks and a square in a square kind of thing. It was a cute quilt. And he said, 'Oh, I'll save this' and I said I didn't give it to you to save, [JK laughs.] use it.' So he does. [laughs.]

JK: So you do like your quilts to be used?

MW: Oh absolutely. I have enjoyed using the quilts that came to me so much. And there is not anything I like better than to go and see the kids cuddled up with the quilt I made them.

JK: Yes. That's wonderful. Have you taught quiltmaking to anyone else, your children or grandchildren?

MW: No. I really haven't. My oldest granddaughter, Brittany, has three now, I was just taking a--maybe 10years ago, when I lived in a different place then and the guild challenge that year was to make something with all solid colors and we had to use at least so many and black and white didn't count and so forth. So I said to her, 'How do you feel about making solid colors?' And she flipped through magazines and she found something she really liked. And it wasn't solid colors, but it could be done in solid colors and I made it, and I won a ribbon and so I gave her the quilt called "Third Quilt."

JK: How wonderful. How wonderful. So you have entered your quilts in shows. [MW hums approval.] And have you won other ribbons that the one you described?

MW: Yes. I've won a ribbon in this show.

JK: Wonderful. This year?

MW: Yes.

JK: What did you win your ribbon for?

MW: In the challenge.

JK: Oh, the challenge again. You like challenges?

MW: I like challenges. Yes. I like challenges, I've won probably 3 or 4 ribbons in my former guild and then I've won this one here. This is my first one. [JK: Uhuh.]

JK: Did you like doing the mystery challenge?

MW: Oh I love mysteries. This is the 6th mystery I have done.

JK: Oh, it is.

MW: I like mysteries.

JK: What is it about it that you like the most?

MW: Well I think what it is is that you get the directions and you can zip around and get that done and then you can lay it aside and not feel guilty because you don't know what to do until the next steps comes. [laughs.]

JK: You like that.

MW: I like that. [laughs.]

JK: That's wonderful.

MW: I think that appeals to me. [laughs.]

JK: That's wonderful. [laughs.] That's great. [inaudible.] Is there a particular quilt that you haven't made that you want to make? A particular pattern?

MW: Yes. It's the Storm At Sea. [JK hums approval.] And I will really do that sometime, not right away. I have some other projects in the works [laughs.] but I will get to that one. That's one I would really love to piece and quilt.

JK: What do you enjoy most about quiltmaking?

MW: Oh I enjoy finishing it, putting that last stitch in [both laugh.] and holding it up and saying, 'Look, it's done and it's wonderful.' [laughs.]

JK: A real sense of accomplishment.

MW: Yes. Yes.

JK: Is there any aspect of quiltmaking you don't enjoy?

MW: Gosh I don't know. There isn't anything I really just don't like to do. [JK hums approval.] Some patterns work better for me than others [JK hums approval.] but I figured that out over the years. So I usually know whose patterns are best for me. [JK: Right.] It may be different for somebody else.

JK: Have you ever designed your own quilts or do you usually use patterns?

MW: Well, I guess the one that I design and this may sound strange, we had a challenge that was a one-piece. [JK hums approval.] And so the color was the design. And I had been to Vermont that year to see the leaves [JK agrees.] and so I pieced "Vermont Hillside in the Fall" [JK: I see.] and it's really amazing I think.

JK: It's very beautiful.

MW: All of the--this is [inaudible.] you've seen the colors [loud announcement.] really looks like Vermont.

JK: That's wonderful. Now how many hours a week do you usually spend quilting or quiltmaking?

MW: Gosh, I don't have a clue. Some weeks a lot and some weeks not at all.

JK: Depending on what you have going on.

MW: Exactly.

JK: Do you have your own dedicated space?

MW: Oh, yes.

JK: What's that like?

MW: Well my spouse and I, he retired four years ago and I retired it's been about 3 years ago [JK hums approval.] and we have a small house that we had bought some years ago. [inaudible.] So we knew what we needed to do to this house to make it perfect. So our house has one bedroom and two offices. And in my office is a big window seat [JK hums approval.] which has lots fabric in it and batting and those kinds of things. Unfinished projects in boxes. I also have a drop-leaf table so if I need cutting space I can put up the leaf and if I don't I put it down. I bought a revolving bookcase in which I have my scraps stacked, so I can sit in my chair and twirl that around and pull out whatever I need. [JK: That's great.] And so it's just very convenient and I set it up to suit myself. It probably wouldn't suit anybody else [JK laughs.] but I like it and it works for me.

JK: That's wonderful. Have you made your spouse a quilt?

MW: Oh yes. I hadn't really intended this one to be his, but when I laid it out on the bed he said 'That's my quilt.' [JK: Oh.] So that's good.

JK: Yes that is. That must have been exciting for you then to have him respond like that.

MW: Yeah. Oh, yeah.

JK: What do you think makes a great quilt?

MW: What do I think makes a quilt great? Well, hmm. I think probably the quilt needs to reflect the personality of the quilter in some way. And my group sometimes we'll all do a mystery together because we choose colors that we like and maybe somebody goes with an intricate border and that sort of thing. And so while they're all be the same pattern they'll all just look really different. And I think a great quilt has good technique, but it also reflects the personality of the quilter and the pattern and the colors and the prints. [JK hums approval.] All of my quilts have cats [screeching sound in the background.] have a [inaudible because of screeching sounds in the background.] And I have a whole collection of cat quilts that are at the church. But I usually put one little block of this pattern somewhere.

JK: Really? That's like your signature then. How sweet.

MW: Yeah.

JK: Are there certain color palettes you typically work with?

MW: No, I had my dark red period and then I had my purple, too [laughs.]

JK: [inaudible. both laugh and talk.]

MW: I'm making one for one of the grandkids. I'll choose the colors that I know they like. Like their school colors.

JK: Right. There's the appearance that quiltmaking has really increasing [MW: Oh yes.] in terms of interest and young people and all that. What do you think accounts for that increase?

MW: Well, I don't really know. I have a younger friend who loves to sew and quilt and where she works, she has a quilt hanging here in the show that is elegant and she worked on it 30 minutes a day on her lunch hour--

JK: Isn't that something?

MW: And it gave her a sense of accomplishment, not just the computer job where she works. I think a lot of people are kind of stuck in jobs that are not particularly challenging and so when they finish a quilt they look at it and have a great sense of accomplishment. Something that's going to last.

JK: Right. Right. Do you have particular opinions on what will quiltmaking have for women in particular or really our social history?

MW: Well, of course, the American quilt, there are people who go together and quilted. It's just lots more fun actually to do it with other people I have friends that are my quilting friends, we've really bonded, because we're quilters and enjoy the same things.

JK: And how many members--you are a member of the Trinity Guild?

MW: Yes. I've been a member of this guild for 7--8 years.

JK: What do you enjoy most about being a member of the guild?

MW: Oh, I love to come to guild and see the people and the programs are for the most part quite interesting. And it's just a way to kind of stay in touch with what's new and what's going on. I love to see what the people have made.

JK: Are there any trends in quiltmaking that either really excite you or concern you that you've observed?

MW: Oh, no. I don't know that they concern me a lot. One of my real concerns is that in some of the shows the machine quilted and hand quilted quilts are together and judged together. And I don't want us to lose hand quilting as an art. I prefer hand quilting if I can do it. I really prefer my own, but I don't dislike machine quilting I just don't think they ought to be considered against each other. No, I like the short-cut methods and I've made a couple of raggy quilts that I think are great fun.

JK: So you like to try all kinds of things it sounds like.

MW: On yes. I don't do a lot of machine appliqué, don't really like to appliqué. I call it the "A" word [JK: laughs.] I can do it if I have to [laughs.] and I do from time to time, but I prefer--

JK: You prefer piecing and other techniques. I love that, the "A" word, I love that. [laughs.]

MW: I've been chastised for that.

JK: Oh, well. [both laugh.]

MW: That's okay.

JK: That's fine. That's fine. It's really been enjoyable visiting with you. Are there any things you want to elaborate on or any questions that you thought I would ask and I didn't? [loud clatter in the background.] Anything you'd like to add?

MW: I didn't really come with expectations of what you ask [both laugh.] I didn't think about it, too much. I appreciated that you let me talk about both my things I brought.

JK: Absolutely. I think it's real exciting you have the quilt history that you do--

MW: Well, yeah.

JK: And the quilt heritage in your family.

MW: It was nice to be able to pick that up again. My aunt who really pushed me to do this stained glass thing, everything, we compare quilts and when she, "Powerful" is one of my quilts that is really special to me. She's going to be 90 in a couple weeks. [JK: Is that true?] And we're going to have a party of course. She's the only one on my mother's sibling who is still living.

JK: Wonderful, That's very wonderful. Now does she still quilt at all? Is she able to --

MW: She does some hand work.

JK: Does she?

MW: Yes. I think she probably doesn't quilt now, but she still does needlework and we still swap fabric sometimes. [loud crash in the background.]

JK: That is wonderful.

MW: Little patches and we always mailed little patches [inaudible.] say, 'I need four little pink patches, two and a half inch,' and I send her--

JK: [laughs.] So you send her.

MW: Six or seven. So she has one of them already.

JK: She could pick. That's wonderful. It's been delightful visiting with you and meeting you.

MW: Thank you Jane. It's been fun to meet you too.

JK: And thank you for being part of the Quilters' [S.O.S.-] Save Our Stories project and our interview is concluded at 3:50 pm in the afternoon. And thanks again.

MW: You're welcome. That's great.


“Mary Weathers,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed July 15, 2024,