Bonnie Lackard




Bonnie Lackard




Bonnie Lackard


Sandra Button

Interview Date



Weybridge, Vermont


Edna Curtin


Note: Bonnie is not a member of the DAR. While this is a DAR quiltmaker documentation project, membership in the DAR is not required for participation.

Sandra Button (SB): My name is Sandra Button and today's date is October 5, 2009, and it is 9:20 a.m. I am conducting an interview with Bonnie Lackard in her home in Weybridge, Vermont, for the Quilters' [S.O.S.] -Save Our Stories project. We are doing this through the American Heritage Committee of the Society of the DAR. [Vermont State Society Daughters of the American Revolution.] Bonnie is a quilter. [noise due to moving tape recorder.] Tell me about the quilt we just took a picture of.

Bonnie Lackard (BL): It is Bargello.

SB: How long did it take you to do it?

BL: [pause 5 seconds.] Quite a while. You don't sit down and do it until it's done. You know, you do twenty minutes today and half hour tomorrow, so it undertook a good month.

SB: You said the other Bargello that you did that you sold took you how many hours?

BL: What would you say? [husband says '105 hours' in background.] I don't remember saying that.

SB: A hundred five hours? [laughs.] But anyway, a long time, and it was absolutely magnificent.

BL: Of course, the bigger the quilt, the longer it takes.

SB: Yes, and the one we took a picture of, was it a king?

BL: Yeah.

SB: What do quilts mean for you?

BL: I love doing them. I don't like putting them together, with the batting and the backing. I love doing the top. [laughs.]

SB: You have hundreds, it looks like.

BL: Yes.

SB: Of tops, here.

BL: Yes, I do.

SB: Do you plan to do the bottoms, or are you going to let somebody else do that?

BL: I think so. Every day, I'm not going to make another one 'til I get those done. I'd rather be sewing than talking.

SB: Tell me about your routine every day. You usually get up at?

BL: When I first started quilting, I would sew every morning until nine o'clock. Nine o'clock I'd start doing my housework.

SB: But you didn't say what time you started every morning.

BL: No. It was around seven.

SB: Okay.

BL: I spent two hours early, in the morning and then the afternoon.

SB: You did some more.

BL: I did some more.

SB: This is a funny question. What do you think someone viewing your quilt might conclude about you? That Bargello.

BL: Well, everybody tells me it's beautiful. You're very apt to make mistakes, but nobody will see it if they're not a quilter. [laughs.]

SB: Right. But also, don't you think it says something about your patience?

BL: Yes.

SB: Definitely.

BL: Definitely.

SB: Yes. How do you use this quilt?

BL: I put it in a chest.

SB: For safe keeping.

SB: What are your plans for that quilt?

BL: My kids will end up with it.

SB: Uh huh. And you have how many kids?

BL: Four.

SB: Four, yes. Do they all have quilts?

BL: Yes, yes. [SB laughs.] A lot. And my grandchildren. Now I have great grandchildren.

SB: Do they have quilts, yet?

BL: Yes.

SB: Oh, good. How did you get started in quilt making?

BL: Well, it's kind of weird. I was into Ben Franklin's down here in Middlebury. She was signing up people, to take quilting classes, and I said, 'Oh, I'd love to do that.' So, I signed up and got into it.

SB: You were what, fourteen when you signed up?

BL: No. [SB laughs.] No.

SB: About when did you start?

BL: I started in 1994.

SB: Oh, my goodness.

BL: Yeah.

SB: You've only been quilting five years? Ninety-four. Fifteen years.

BL: Yes.

SB: I'm not good in math. [laughs.] You learned from the quilt class there. How long was that quilt class? [noise due moving tape recorder.]

BL: Nine to twelve. Three hours.

SB: For how many?

BL: I signed up for the next one, too. [laughs.]

SB: Okay.

BL: I loved it.

SB: Did they give you a piece to make, or did you choose your own quilt, and they watched you?

BL: No, she suggested. The first quilt I made was called Rail Fence. Very easy. I made it and I loved it. I signed up and made a Log Cabin. Flying Geese. Finally, the Bargello. I was so hooked on quilting. [laughs.]

SB: What is your first quilt memory? Did you sleep under quilts as a child?

BL: Yes. My mother made quilts. But as a kid I didn't do any quilting or sewing. My mother never let us near the sewing machine. [both laugh.] She had a frame that she would set up on the kitchen floor and tie the quilt on the frame. We'd help tie it. I remember doing that.

SB: Great. Did you ever go spend nights with your grandmothers? Did they have quilts on their beds, too?

BL: I don't remember.

SB: Now, your mother was Native American, right? Yes, okay. [noise due to moving tape recorder.] Are there other quiltmakers among your family or friends? No? Okay. [noise due to moving tape recorder.] How does quilt making impact your family? How do they feel about your quilts?

BL: They think I do a good job. They're surprised that I can do it. I'm left-handed. Supposed to be uncoordinated. [laughs.]

SB: I think there's another factor that you've overcome with your quilt making. That is when you had your stroke. How many years ago was that?

BL: Ten.

SB: So you were five years into quilting and then you had a massive stroke.

BL: Yes.

SB: You were given a less than fifty-fifty chance for even living and some miraculous thing happened. You came back one hundred per cent.

BL: Right.

SB: And continued to make all those quilts.

BL: Yes. [noise due to moving tape recorder.]

SB: Would you say most of your quilts have been after the stroke? [noise due to moving tape recorder.] Half and half?

BL: Probably after.

SB: It's just amazing. Have you ever used quilting to get you through a difficult time. I think we kind of answered that, didn't we?

BL: I love doing it, so. I used to hurry up and get my housework done so I could get back to my sewing machine. [laughs.]

SB: You're even experiencing a little carpal tunnel. [both talk at the same time.]

BL: Yes, I am now. [noise due to moving tape recorder.]

SB: Can you tell me about a funny thing that's happened around your quilt making?

BL: Yes. [laughs.] When I was taking the classes there was a girl that signed up. She didn't even know how to use a sewing machine. The teacher, Phyllis, had to show her what to do. Then, after you make a block, you have to iron. That girl didn't know how to iron. [SB laughs.] So, Phyllis said to her, 'Before you make a quilt you have to learn to iron.' [SB laughs.] She never came back for the second class.

SB: Oh, no. [both laugh.] That's cute. What do you find that's pleasing about quilting? What does it do for you?

BL: Well, it gives you satisfaction if the quilt turns out right. It's a picture, sometimes. You use the right materials. There's a lot involved in quilt making. It isn't just squares sewn together. It used to be. It's an art.

SB: How do you choose your colors, your patterns?

BL: Well, blue is my favorite. I take colors that go with blue, if I'm using blue. I've used brown and yellows. I don't love yellow, but it goes good with brown.

SB: So, you choose blues. Do you buy your fabrics? Do you use scraps?

BL: I save all my scraps. I do buy it, of course, to start with. If you're making a quilt, depending on the size, you buy four or five different colors if you're making a scrap quilt. You can make a two-colored quilt. Irish Chain is blue and white, or green and white. [noise due to moving tape recorder.]

SB: You've learned a lot about all the patterns and things, to have just taken two quilting classes. How did you learn all this?

BL: Well, I started buying all kinds of quilt magazines. You learn a lot from reading. I used to read a quilt magazine every morning. If I saw something I liked I'd start making it.

SB: Do you like to try new patterns or do you kind of stay with the same patterns?

BL: I kind of stay with the same, because even though I've been doing it for quite a few years, I'm still not an expert. So, I take the easy ones.

SB: Well, you pick some hard ones, too. What aspects of quilt making do you not enjoy?

BL: Putting it together.

SB: [laughs.] Is that a space issue?

BL: I use my kitchen table. I can do it, depending on the size of the quilt. A big one would take a couple of days, four or five hours at a time. Little ones don't take so long.

SB: You tie all your quilts?

BL: Yes. I have quilted. This one on the counter, here, it's called quilt-as-you-go. You quilt every block. After you make the block, you quilt it then when you put it together it's a lot of hand sewing.

SB: Yeah. Well, it's beautiful. Can you describe the quilts in this area, right here where we're sitting? I'm not supposed to do a lot of talking, so you can do it. [noise due to moving tape recorder.] You have a quilt stand, here, with probably twenty quilts on it.

BL: Yeah, I know. [laughs.] I like doing embroidery work, and then putting the blocks together.

SB: Yes, that one combines both.

BL: I like that Card Trick quilt. It's only red and black, with white.

SB: That's kind of an optical illusion.

BL: Ay-yup.

SB: Then on your chairs you have quilt pieces for hand rests.

BL: Yeah. Quilting is not just for a bed. You can make pillowcases. I've made bureau scarves. That thing that's got the pockets, I've made it for my bathroom. Don't have it up, yet. I made a skirt.

SB: And tablecloths. You made a skirt?

BL: Ay-yup. There's a lot you can do with a quilt block.

SB: That's true.

BL: Make cushions. [noise due to moving tape recorder.]

SB: What are your favorite techniques and materials? [noise due to moving tape recorder.] Have you ever used anything but cotton?

BL: No, you always use cotton. Except for Crazy quilting, you can use silk and organza.

SB: Have you done that?

BL: Yeah. I've made quite a few Crazy. My tablecloths are Crazy quilts.

SB: That's true, they are. Your techniques you were talking about embroidery and hand sewing and machine sewing and tying. Describe the area where you work.

BL: Table, and a sewing machine. [laughs.]

SB: And two windows for light.

BL: Yeah.

SB: Yes. You talked about how you balance your time. It's all balanced around being able to get to the sewing machine, right? [both laugh.]

SB: What do you think makes a great quilt?

BL: I've made a lot of Log Cabins. Irish Chain. Trip Around the World is one of my favorites. [noise due to moving tape recorder.] Log Cabin, I've a lot of. They're simple.

SB: You have some strong opinions on the care of quilts. And how people should and what they shouldn't do. Could you share that?

BL: Yeah. Try not to wash them every week or two weeks, like you do a blanket. They lose their color, also, when you wash them. And they're apt to shrink even though you pre-wash the material. Once it's in a bedding, batting, and backing, it can make it look old. If you want a real old one, wash it.

SB: And you have definite opinions about dogs and quilts?

BL: Yes. [SB laughs.] If you want quilts around, don't have a dog. [SB laughs.] Or cat. They love chewing the corners.

SB: You were talking about some of your family will bring them back to you?

BL: Yes. I've had to re-fix several of them because of the dog and cat. [noise due to moving tape recorder.]

SB: What do you the importance of quilts are to us? [noise due to moving tape recorder.] This project is to save the stories, save the heritage. It'd be sad if it's gone.

BL: It certainly would. Of course, when the women started making quilts, they did it all by hand, long before sewing machines. Time consuming, of course. But, to keep yourself warm in the winter you needed a quilt. They're warmer than a blanket.

SB: And much prettier.

BL: Yes. [noise due to moving tape recorder.]

SB: How do you think we can preserve these things for the future? [noise due to moving tape recorder.]

BL: Some people make quilts, they put them in a cedar chest. Make sure it's cedar. Never use them. [noise due to moving tape recorder.] Use them. What good are they if you don't use them?

SB: Tell me about your business. You've sold quilts, haven't you?

BL: Not very many.

SB: The Bargello that you made that was your favorite, how did that customer happen?

BL: Well, she asked me to make a quilt.

SB: So you knew her already?

BL: Oh, yeah. A friend of mine. She came up with the idea of an all-blue Bargello, which usually is not one color. More like the one I made there. Once I got it done, I looked at it I said, 'Oh, love it.'

SB: It was hard to let go?

BL: Yes. [laughs.]

SB: That's wonderful.

BL: She bought it for her son's [husband prompts in background.] wedding present. They make great wedding presents. [laughs.]

SB: Of course. [husband prompts in background.] Oh, no. The son that she gave it to died.

BL: No, the father. Her husband.

SB: Have you sold others?

BL: Yes, I sold a Log Cabin to another friend. Most of my quilts I gave to the kids. I sold a couple.

SB: If you were guessing, how many quilts do you think you've made in these fifteen years? Just a wild guess.

BL: Hundreds.

SB: Hundreds. [noise due to moving tape recorder.] That's a lot. [tape and paper noise.]

BL: When you make a quilt, if you make a mistake, it's all ripping it out. [SB laughs.] You've got to start over again. That's also called French [husband prompts in background.] frog stitching.

SB: What is frog stitching?

BL: Rrrip, rrrip, rrrip.

SB: [laughs.] Oh, my. Have you ever gotten it all together and taken it out?

BL: Yes.

SB: Maybe that's why you don't like to put the backings on. [both laugh.] When you get one together do you put it up for display to look at it for a while?

BL: No, usually fold it up.

SB: Fold it up and put it in the corner there.

BL: Yeah.

SB: Do you ever combine patterns? The one on the back of the couch, is it all different?

BL: Yes. That's called a Sampler. Every block is different.

SB: In your books, do you have to fold sometimes in order to get your patterns don't you, when you're making your patterns? How easy is that?

BL: I use a pattern. I got a book that's just Samplers.

SB: That's good. When you finish a quilt do you pull out your books and say, 'What's next?'

BL: Before I've got a quilt done, I've got in my mind the next thing I'm going to make.

SB: What is the next thing you're going to make? [BL laughs.] [husband prompts in background.] Her husband said a mess. [laughs.]

BL: I try to keep track of my daughters' favorite colors. My boys don't have favorite colors, I guess. You've got to make them more without pink for a guy.

SB: But flowers are okay for a guy, aren't they? No? Floral patterns are, okay?

BL: Well, it depends on what the guy's like.

SB: Yes, that's right. How many have you made Pam and Kathy?

BL: Pam has a lot of them. Course I've made a lot for Joshua. He's nine years old and I've given him a quilt every Christmas.

SB: Oh, my.

BL: Course they get bigger each year.

SB: Right, it starts with a baby quilt.

BL: Yeah. And Kathy has got probably four or five. There's only the two of them, you know. There's only so many quilts you can put on your bed.

SB: [laughs.] What about the great grandchildren?

BL: So far, just when they were babies or twin.

SB: Yes, twin bed. So, your family probably has fifteen or twenty.

BL: Yes.

SB: At least.

BL: Pam has the most.

SB: Yes, well Pam's closer and with you more. And Pam expresses her wants, right? [both laugh.] She says, 'I want one of those,' or 'I want that one.'

BL: Every quilt I made, 'Oh, that's so pretty, I'd like that.'

SB: And being generous, as you are, you said, 'Yes.' [tape and paper noise.]

BL: My mother's quilts were just four- or five-inch squares sewn together. It didn't matter if they went together, you made a quilt. You used what you had.

SB: Yeah. So, hers were basically to keep you warm.

BL: That's right.

SB: And yours are basically for beauty.

BL: Yeah. If you can do that, yes.

SB: What would you say would be the smallest piece that you have quilted. In that Bargello, they were tiny.

BL: My dog blanket has got little one inch, one-and-a-half-inch squares. The Bargello has a quarter inch in the middle.

SB: Oh, my goodness, that is so tiny.

BL: That's why it takes longer. You do a lot of pinning, make sure your seams meet.

SB: Definitely. Pressing and pressing. So, as the lady said, you got to learn to iron to quilt. What other skills do you have to have?

BL: You always iron to the darker material.

SB: Oh, I didn't know that.

BL: Supposedly. Sometimes it's not possible. The light colors, you don't want it to shadow through, so you iron everything to the dark side. Or some quilters iron a seam open, which reduces some of the bulk when you put it together. Or when you're going to do hand quilting. Your seams, if you sew right, your seams will be okay. If you don't sew a quarter inch seam, they're going to be off. That's where you use the 'frog stitch.' [both laugh.]

SB: You were talking about pre-washing. Do you have to wash them separately? Do you wash them by hand?

BL: New material?

SB: Yes.

BL: You wash the light-colored materials together. And the darks. You don't use any fabric softener in your rinse water. I use a dryer just long enough, so they're damp when I take them out. Then I iron them.

SB: That's good. I know some people don't use whites in their quilts.

BL: I don't care for white, but I use it. A muslin.

SB: A muslin. [noise due to moving tape recorder.] Blues and things you like.

BL: Yeah. I love plum color, blue, all colors go together, you'd be amazed, when I make Crazy Quilts, it's like you wouldn't put those colors together for clothing, but on a quilt it don't matter. It's like, beige goes with everything. Black goes with everything.

SB: They always say black enhances things.

BL: Yeah.

SB: Makes it stand out.

BL: Yeah.

SB: I see one that's got white, purple, black and almost a fuchsia that's really pretty. I think that's the Pin Wheel over there on the pillow?

BL: Oh, those are Amish designs.

SB: You were talking about how you love Amish quilts.

BL: Yes, I do. They're beautiful.

SB: And you were talking about they don't use what?

BL: They don't use prints.

SB: They use solid colors.

BL: Solid colors, and black in every quilt.

SB: I wonder why.

BL: Well, they wear black clothes.

SB: Oh, that's true, the plain-ness.

BL: In a lot of quilt magazines, they'll have it almost Amish. There'll be one print. [laughs.]

SB: Oh, really.

BL: Almost Amish.

SB: That's great. Now, when you have a lot of scraps it looks like you do little squares. Are you doing a quilt with all these little squares?

BL: Right here. This could be sewn together into a quilt, but I'm making pillowcases.

SB: To go on top?

BL: I put solid on the back side, and this will be the pillow top.

SB: Now, are you going to hold those? Are they going to be Christmas presents?

BL: I'll put them on my own bed. I got two of them on my bed now. I made Joshua, not Crazy Quilting, but it was crazy colored material pillowcases for Christmas. [noise due to moving tape recorder.] Halloween material. He loves skeletons. I made a pillowcase with skeletons.

SB: [laughs.] You don't look like you enjoyed the pattern as much. [both laugh.] But you enjoyed pleasing him. That's good. Now, you talk about dog quilts.

BL: Yes. I made that little one right there for Molly. Of course, I've had to repair it a few times.

SB: That was your special Dalmatian?

BL: It's got a lot of the Amish colors. It's solids. There's no prints.

SB: It looks like a Nine Piece and then it has a diagonal going behind it.

BL: It uses black.

SB: It's really beautiful. It's beautiful for a dog, so you must have thought a lot of that dog. Definitely. So, does Bear have a quilt?

BL: He uses that one.

SB: Oh. [laughs.] He gets the hand-me-downs.

BL: Yeah.

SB: [laughs.] I hope you haven't made Tank a quilt.

BL: I've made, not just quilts for the bed, but placemats, tablecloths. Now I'm doing pillowcases. Skirt, I made a skirt.

SB: I bet it was a long one, right?

BL: It could have been. No, it was short. The directions were for either length.

SB: Was it gathered or gored?

BL: Just a gathered skirt. [noise due to moving tape recorder.]

SB: That would probably be hard to match for a blouse, you'd have to almost wear [both speak at the same time.]

BL: I wear a white blouse with it.

SB Yes. [both laugh.] You could get some really. Oh, there it is.

BL: It's just squares sewn together.

SB: Yes. Has pinks and blues and beige. Cute.

BL: I've got a quilt with this material. A quilt with that material, that material, that material. It's all leftover stuff. [points to individual squares on skirt.]

SB: Well, it's a summary of your quilting. Beautiful. Very nice and summery.

BL: Yeah.

SB: You said you have gotten some quilts made for your great grandchildren.

BL: Yeah. I got one folded up over here with teddy bears.

SB: Oh, nice.

BL: I've got to put it together.

SB: You have two great grandchildren?

BL: Three. I just had another one by Tina. Tina had a little girl. Stephen's got two. Those are my grandchildren. Now the grandchildren have had kids. Chris has a kid.

SB: No way. Oh, dear.

BL: He don't have any. The girl has. She lives in Burlington.

SB: So, is she going to get a quilt?

BL: I never seen her.

SB: Oh, I'm sorry. Well, do you have the back on Joshua's Halloween quilt yet?

BL: I didn't make a Halloween quilt.

SB: I thought you said?

BL: I made him pillowcases.

SB: Oh. So, they're all done?

BL: Oh, yeah. [both speak at the same time.] For a Christmas present.

SB: I want to thank you for this opportunity to get your story. It is an amazing story, and to see all of your beautiful quilts. [pauses for 3 seconds.] [noise due to moving tape recorder.] Is there anything else that you would like to add to this interview?

BL: I hope I can continue to make quilts. I love doing them.

SB: Would you mind telling us how old you are?

BL: I'm seventy-three. [noise due to moving tape recorder.]

SB: So, you were fifty-eight, making quilts.

BL: Well, it was in '94.

SB: So, you can use your math skills on that. [laughs.] I'd like to thank you Bonnie Lackard for allowing me to interview her today as part of the Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories project. Our interview concluded at 10 a.m. on October 5, 2009.

[interview concludes.]


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