Antha Jones




Antha Jones




Antha Jones


Amy Tetlow Smith

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Nancy O'Bryant Puentes


New Castle, Delaware


Amy Tetlow Smith


Amy Tetlow Smith (ATS): This is Amy Tetlow Smith and it is about ten minutes after ten on Tuesday, August 26, 2003. I am here with Megan Dwyer and we are conducting an interview of Antha Jones for the Quilters' S.O.S. project. Hi, Antha.

Antha Jones (AJ): Hi.

ATS: The first thing that I'd like you to do is could you tell us about the quilt that you brought here today?

AJ: Amy, this is my first quilt. It was a kit. My sister gave it to me. I had wanted a handmade quilt. I couldn't afford to pay for one so she gave me the kit and I made it from the kit. And I made it, oh, I started it really in 1989 but I finished it in 1993.

ATS: So did your sister pick out the pattern or did you?

AJ: No, she just sent me the kit.

ATS: But she picked that out?

AJ: Yes. And it's my first quilt.

ATS: It's your first quilt and it's hand appliqués and hand quilted? That's a big effort.

AJ: Well.

ATS: How do you use this quilt now?

AJ: I enjoy it. I use it every day on my bed. And you might notice the flowers are fading.

ATS: Well, that's from love.

AJ: Oh. [laughter.] Yes. Okay.

ATS: So, you were given the kit. Who taught you to quilt or did you teach yourself?

AJ: I sort of taught myself, however, back in '80, I'd say '87; it used to be a shop out here on Kirkwood Highway. I can't recall the name of it. I would come there, and I took a couple classes, but I didn't do anything with it.

ATS: Yes.

AJ: I just kind of fiddled around with things. After she gave me this kit, I wanted to put it together.

ATS: So, you had said that you wanted a handmade quilt--

AJ: Yes.

ATS: What is your first quilt memory that made you want one?

AJ: Well, well, I would say it went way back say into the '50s really. And I was a young matron and I had children. And there were other ladies in the community quilting--I'm from West Virginia.

ATS: Oh.

AJ: And they were doing quilting but I couldn't join them because I had small children. And kind of back then I got busy with other things and then we came to New Castle [Delaware.], and I was working and raising my children. But I always wanted one. You know I admired them a lot and I always wanted a pretty handmade quilt. So that was the beginning of it.

ATS: Oh. Then you sat down and appliquéd this beautiful quilt.

AJ: Thank you.

ATS: How much quilt making do you do now?

AJ: Well, a little more than usual, you know than I normally would because I am retired now and it's a nice pass time.

ATS: Do you quilt every day?

AJ: Not every day. I worked on the quilt I'm making now--I was working on that quilt and I was piecing it on the machine and that's when the bats all. [laughter.]

ATS: This one is all hand done. So the one you are working on now is machine?

AJ: Yes.

ATS: So it's a completely different type of quilt from this.


AJ: Yes.

ATS: Is it another kit or is--

AJ: No, it's a scrappy quilt. I have a pattern. I think it's called 3-D. It has about 2 inch squares then it has like a 4 and a half inch triangle and it angles so it looks like it's set back in a frame.

ATS: That sounds interesting. So you've done the hand-sewn quilt and now you are doing the machine quilt. Which do you like better? Do you like the hand or the machine?

AJ: I like them both. I really do. As I see more quilts and I see people doing more things, I'm, you know it fascinates me. I want to learn more about it really. I can't say which one I like the best. I brought a little album. It's not all quilts. It's just a lot of little things. My favorite things. I have it here and I wanted to show you. [AJ brings out a photo album containing photos of her quilts.]

ATS: Okay. So that's your appliqué quilt. And here is a nine-patch.

AJ: Yeah.

ATS: And who did you make that one for?

AJ: My daughter. I made it for this bed. But this is my mother's bedroom suite and you know beds were smaller back then. So I gave it to my daughter because she has a queen.

ATS: Oh.

AJ: This is a kit. [pointing to another photo.]

ATS: That looks like another appliqué quilt.

AJ: Yes. That's a kit I made that for my sister. She'd given me this. [indicates her touchstone appliqué quilt.]

ATS: Mmm.

AJ: So I gave this to her [indicates the quilt in the photo.].

ATS: Oh, that's nice.

AJ: Now, I have a picture of that [as she looks through the album.], I might have that here. Oh, yes, right here.

ATS: Oh, yes. Oh, that is very, very pretty. I like how the vines go around.

AJ: Yes. On this one [the touchstone.] I did the same thing. Instead of using binding or tape, I embroidered.

ATS: Right. You embroidered the stems instead of appliquéing on a piece of fabric.

AJ: Yes.

ATS: And you did the same for that one? [indicating the quilt in the photo.]

AJ: And this one [indicating another photo.], it has a story. At this point it hadn't been quilted.

ATS: This one is a fan shell. Oh, it's a shell. Yes. So it is a pieced shell,

AJ: Yes, yes.

ATS: Then did you appliqué them on to the squares?

AJ: Yes, but I did get it quilted. It's the story behind it. [finding a photo of the finished quilt.]

ATS: Oh.

AJ: I don't know whether you can see the quilting or not on that one.

ATS: Yes, yes.

AJ: Okay, this lady I met, an older lady, and I did little things for her. And she was a quilter. I don't have any pictures of any of her quilts, but she was a quilter. And she had a lot of fabric she gave me, books, and a lot of books and fabric, a quilting frame and a light.

ATS: Oh, wow.

AJ: And I wanted to do something for her and she wouldn't take anything for it. So she asked me to make this quilt for her. I had a pattern. And I made it and I finished it. And I told her that I'd finished it up. She died; passed away in December, but the good part, I'm glad she saw it.

ATS: Yes, she got to see the quilt.

AJ: Yes.

ATS: That's beautiful. I like how the quilting in the white squares is the shells, more of the shell motif.

AJ: Yes. Yes, I tried to get that.

ATS: It's very pretty.

AJ: But all of them, I basically gave away--you know I only have this one. And I'm going to keep the one I'm working on now. I hope.

ATS: So what kind of pattern--oh, it's the--

AJ: 3-D blocks.

ATS: The 3-D, yes, blocks. That's right. So you, when you make a quilt, do you decide who it's for before you start?

AJ: Well, no when I'm working on something I have a problem with my hand.

ATS: Mmm.

AJ: Some say it's, um, arthritis, sometimes he'll say it's carpal tunnel. So he, my doctor's encouraged me to exercise my hand. And I said, what about quilting? He said, 'That's good.'

ATS: Good exercise.

AJ: Yes.

ATS: So the doctor has now prescribed quilting? [laughter.]

AJ: He said for the pain, it is good exercise.

ATS: That's good.

AJ: Anyway, I used to sew a lot. And my youngest granddaughter was so tiny--she's nineteen now, second year in school. And I had made her this little dress. She was the little prom queen.

ATS: Oh.

AJ: And I had made her this little dress and I had fabric left from it. So I decided I was going to put pieces in a quilt. And I'm doing grandmother's garden, you know the little hexagons?

ATS: Mmm.

AJ: So that's what I'm working on now.

ATS: You've got two quilts going now.

AJ: Yes.

ATS: Since you have been quilting, have you ever used quilting to get you through a difficult time in your life?

AJ: I really think so I've had a lot of heartache. I hate to talk about it.

ATS: But it has helped you?

AJ: Yes.

ATS: So it helps you and your doctor's prescribed it. That's a hard one to-- [laughter.]

AJ: You know, rather than dwell on it I just quilt or do something else. I like needlework really.

ATS: Do you have friends that you quilt with now or do you usually quilt by yourself?

AJ: Well, myself, I quilt by myself. But I've been volunteering with a group, Concord Quilters, up on Foulk Road.

ATS: Mmm.

AJ: I've been doing that--I can't remember when I started. I think it soon will be 10 or 12 years. I've forgotten. And that group has helped me a lot. They were the ones that helped me with this. [indicating the shell quilt.]

ATS: With the shells. Now when you work with Concord Quilters, what do you do with them?

AJ: Well, say you have a quilt top and you want it completed. We'll do everything, from baby to king size. And we charge you accordingly. And all the money goes to charity. We don't keep any.

ATS: That's wonderful. So you finish quilts.

AJ: Yes, we're in recess right now. We start back the Tuesday after Labor Day.

ATS: How many of you usually work together?

AJ: It's sort of dwindling. On the average about six of us right now. But there have been more but over the years they've dropped out. We had one lady that was over 100 that used to help us.

ATS: Wow.

AJ: So agile. It was amazing.

ATS: Maybe it will keep us all--

AJ: Yes. [laughter.]

ATS: --younger. How would you recommend that a person who was interested in learning to quilt get started?

AJ: I personally think taking classes. You learn a lot. In my case, I learned a lot from the group that I quilt with, Concord Quilters. Most of them have done a lot of quilts or several quilts and I learned a lot from them. But I recommend a class because it might look easy but it does take patience and you do have to learn how to do it, you know, to understand what you're doing. And it's a lot to it like the types of thread and the types of batting and all that counts, you know.

ATS: What is your favorite part of making a quilt?

AJ: [laughing.] When I finish it--[more laughter.] That's my favorite.

ATS: Are there any steps along the way that you like better than other?

AJ: I get excited when I start putting it together, like the batting and the backing. I do.

ATS: You've actually getting ready to do the quilting part.

AJ: Yes

ATS: What part do you like the least?

AJ: I can't think of anything that I don't like. I have a hard time sometimes with corners.

And I have made blunders, I dread that.

ATS: I understand that.

AJ: You know, making sure that it's square or round, which ever.

ATS: When you look at a quilt, what do you think makes a great quilt?

AJ: I think in terms of all the time and effort that was spent, you know, and the creativity. You know, like maybe something will be nice for me but it might not be nice for you. But it's amazing to see the different ideas.

ATS: What do you think, what characteristics do you think make a great quiltmaker?

AJ: Patience. [laughter.] Very much so. You know if you want to do a real good job, it takes patience. And I find, for instance, this one [indicating her touchstone quilt.] now that I know, I would do some things differently.

ATS: Yes.

AJ: Yes. And this kit, I just had to use my imagination. There wasn't instructions, what to do, what to do. All I had was the fabric, and the showing me the diagram, the diagram with the-- [indicating the shapes of the leaves and the flowers.] That was about all I had to go on.

ATS: You might do things differently now?

AJ: Yes.

ATS: That sounds like part of the learning process.

AJ: Yes. Really, I consider myself still learning. One of my favorite shows on TV I watch sometimes is called "Simply Quilts."

ATS: Oh.

AJ: Have you ever watched it? It's amazing some of the things to learn.

ATS: You learn new things.

AJ: Yes. Things they do, it's amazing.

ATS: You have two quilts going right now. Do you have a project a dream quilt that you are planning for the future?

AJ: It's my dream, the one I'm making is for myself, the other one is my granddaughter's, and I have another sister I'd love to make her a quilt.

ATS: Does anyone else in your family make quilts?

AJ: Not my immediate family, no. If it is, I don't know about it.

ATS: You haven't taught any of your children or--

AJ: No.

ATS: Any interest from your granddaughter?

AJ: No. I'm not sure my daughter would do it. I know that she doesn't have the patience, you know.

ATS: Would you teach anyone if they asked you to?

AJ: Well, I tried teaching one lady I know. Sharon Moore.

ATS: Mmm.

AJ: We did this project. She wanted to make a banner.

ATS: Mmm.

AJ: And wanted to make it for Presbyterian Women, using their symbol. And I told her I'd help her. So, we got together, it was four of us. And we went to the copy place, like Kinko's, but another place,

ATS: Mmm.

AJ: And blew this symbol up. We put it on a piece of paper and made a template then we appliquéd it to a backing. I'd say it's between 36 and 40 inches across. And it's about 48 inches long. And after that we quilted it and we bound it. It turned out real good.

ATS: The four of you worked together on it.

AJ: Yes, yes. It was like an experience. I told them what I knew.

ATS: Were you the most knowledgeable person?

AJ: About the quilt?

ATS: Yes.

AJ: Yes.

ATS: Did you like how it turned out?

AJ: Yes. Very much so. And she has it on the wall, hanging in the church, and it really is attractive.

ATS: That's wonderful.

AJ: Yes.

ATS: So you liked sharing your knowledge?

AJ: [laughing.] The little I know.

ATS: Do you think any of the quilts that you've made reflect community in any particular way?

AJ: No, not that I know of.

ATS: In what way do you think that quilts have special meaning in women's history and in women's lives?

AJ: I would think like if something unusual or some hardship or whatever, I think that it's helped women endure because it gives them something else to focus on that's bright and cheerful rather than depressing. And I would think, you know. Hmm, the blue, I hadn't noticed that [looking at some marks on the quilt.] that's the marks, you know, the lines I had to go by.

ATS: The quilting markings.

AJ: Yes.

ATS: How is quilting important in your life today?

AJ: Very much so now. I enjoy it, I really enjoy it. It's something even, you know, there are times when I'm alone a lot. And that's a time when I can focus on my quilting.

ATS: Now that you've retired?

AJ: Mmm. Yes.

ATS: When you make quilts and give them away, do you intend for people to use them on their beds, to sleep under them?

AJ: Yes.

ATS: Or keep them for nice?

AJ: Hopefully they use them. I believe in using things.

ATS: How do you think that these quilts that you make for your family and your friends? How do you think that they could be preserved for the future? All of this work that--

AJ: I'm thinking through pictures because they're not going to last forever. I believe in using them. A lot of people hold them back, keep them. It's okay but I like to use things.

ATS: Okay. Megan, can you think of any questions you'd like to ask?

Megan Dwyer (MD): You said that when you made that quilt for the wallhanging, would you ever think of doing that as like something in your home a kind of decoration hanging on your wall?

AJ: [laughing.] No. It's awful but I'm a clutterer. So [laughter.] I wouldn't have any room.

MD: Any room. [laughter.]

AJ: You know I'm very sentimental about things. I have things that belonged to my mother. Things that came from different people over the years. And I hang on to them, you know. [laughter.]

ATS: Those go on the walls and the quilts go on the beds? [laughter.]

AJ: Yes. Like I said, I have a little tiny house. And for instance, about a month ago I had pictures of my grandchildren everywhere. I had them on top of the stereo and it was cluttered. The piano was cluttered and the wall. And my son came there one day and he brought me this-- I can't remember the name of it, but you've seen them. You put the pictures in it and stand it up. It's like an album. Picture screen. He brought one for me in which I love. And it did look nicer than all those one on top of the other. You know, really I have it full and I need another one but where would I put another one? You know, space wise.

ATS: Are there any topics that we missed that you would like to talk about, about quilt making or your quilts?

AJ: I think you covered most of the things, really. I guess I take it for granted. I enjoy it. You know, so I just sit there and do it.

ATS: Well, thank you so much for coming here.

AJ: Well, you're welcome.

ATS: To be interviewed today.

AJ: Well thank you, both of you.

ATS: So, it is about 10:35 and this is the conclusion of the interview UDEL-006 with Ms. Antha Jones.



“Antha Jones,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed June 23, 2024,