Kay Totten Huey




Kay Totten Huey




Kay Totten Huey


Geri Jackson

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Sandra Anne Frazier


St. Albans, West Virginia


Sally Hawley


Geraldine Jackson (GJ): My name is Geraldine Jackson. I'm Regent of Anne Bailey Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution and I'm here with Kay Huey and she has brought a lovely quilt. Tell me about the quilt you brought today.

Kay Huey (KH): Well, it's called a Double Wedding Ring

GJ: Beautiful

KH: Thank you. It's made from pieces of my daughters' clothing as they grew up from the time they were infants until home-made clothes were not in vogue.

GJ: When did you make it?

KH: I started in 1980.

GJ: Where did you first encounter quilting?

KH: I encountered quilting throughout my childhood; but never had a quilter in my family, loved quilts. I didn't have any grandmothers, nobody in the family quilted. Just admired them.

GJ: When did you gain an interest in quilting?

KH: I got started with quilting with Faye Burdette and mother-in-law.

GJ: Well, I know her.

KH: Do you?

GJ: Yes. She happens to be my mother.

KR: I know. Anyway, when I showed an interest I was so excited when I married into the family that had all these quilters. I mean aunts, grandmothers, mother-in-law, grandmothers-in-law. [laughs.]

GJ: Well, that's true.

KH: I was real excited.

GJ: How has quilt making touched your life?

KH: Well, there's something about having fabric in your hand, and pulling a needle in your fingers. For me when I get all spaced out or going in every direction--

GJ: You said you chose this quilt because you used this quilt.

KH: I used it as a bedspread.

GJ: Beautiful. What are your plans for this quilt?

KH: My daughter says she inherits it if I ever decide to leave this world.

GJ: Oh. At what age did you start quilting?

KR: 3Oish.

GJ: How many hours a week do you quilt or have you quilted? [tape skips.]

GJ: What is your first quilt memory?

KH: Flower Garden. Your mother started me on a Flower Garden. It is the hardest quilt

anybody ever tried to make. [laughs.]

GJ: Do you make your quilts by hand?

KR: I piece them by hand and quilt them by hand.

GJ: You are the old fashioned way.

KH: Yes, I am.

GJ: Do you have any friends who are quiltmakers?

KR: I do. I have some friends who have started into quilting after they retired which I found amazing, and they too did not have anybody in the family. There are classes and clubs that are valuable--when I started. But when your mother found out I wanted to quilt she made her son make me frames, her youngest son.

GJ: Was that Bobby?

KH: Did you ever use quilts to get through a difficult time? [inaudible.] When things get tough, you turn to familiar things.

GJ: What do you find pleasing about quilt making?

KH: I just love the way they turn out.

GJ: Yes, the finished product. [laughter.]

KH: The finished product, how can you not.

GJ: What aspects of quilt making do you not enjoy?

KH: All.

GJ: What do you think makes a great quilt?

KH: The person, what you put into the quilt. It's like one of your children.

GJ: I noticed the color combinations can make it exceptional. You can use the same pattern.

KH: Put them together differently, people will take the same pieces and put them together in a different way, and it will turn out totally different.

GJ: What makes a quilt artistically powerful?

KH: Your interpretation color, size and how you put things together.

GJ: Do you strive to make your stitches any certain way?

KH: Small and even.

GJ: What makes a quilt appropriate for a museum or a special collection?

KH: I don't know the answer to that. I would think that it would have to be of a certain grade. What might be special might not be special to someone else.

GJ: What makes a great quilter?

KH: You got to love quilts.

GJ: How did great quilters learn the art of quilting, especially to design a pattern or choose fabrics and colors?

KH: From the seniors before you.

GJ: And you pick and choose what you like.

KH: That's what I've done, choosing the pattern, choosing the colors I put together.

GJ: How do you feel about machine quilting vs. hand quilting?

KH: I don't. Quilt purist. Well, maybe I am. [laughs.]

GJ: Well, you know that's the way I grew up. [short pause.] I noticed your binding here, it is so neat., Kay.

KH: Thank you.

GJ: Do you use a special kind of--

KH: I just cut a bias, it is not commercial.

GJ: I just noticed--

KH: I am a snob. [laughter.] A quilt snob.

GJ: I noticed the reverse side of your quilt, it is just beautiful, all those tiny stitches. That's a lovely pattern.

KH: It's pretty on both sides.

GJ: What about long-arm quilting, do you know that that is?

KH: I don't either, I never heard of that. Say that again.

GJ: Long-arm quilting.

KH: Unless it is just reaching across a quilt. I do mine of a quilting frame and you have long arms to get to the edge, you know you don't want to turn every so often. [inaudible.]

GJ: How is quilting important to your life?

KH: I just really enjoy quilting. You have something to leave. I didn't want to throw away scraps of my children's clothing. It's a way to keep those memories alive for me, for when I'm not around. I don't like quilts where they go and buy material. To me that wasn't what I wanted. I wanted to make a memory.

GJ: In what ways do your quilts reflect your community and religion?

KH: Family.

GJ: Yeah. What do you think of the importance of quilts to American life?

KH: It's a lot of history.

GJ: It certainly is. In what ways do you think quilts have special meaning for women?

KH: It's a way for women to be together. [inaudible.] I have quilted in the south with Aunt Alice and her church quilters.

GJ: How do you think quilts can be used, other than the obvious?

KH: [laughs.] Well you can use them in lots of ways, for a bed [inaudible.] to stay warm. I have couple I use at different times and I have an old quilt that's just about worn out and I use for a picnic quilt. But I've used it for a table cloth.

GJ: How do you think quilts can be preserved for the future?

KR: By encouraging younger people to be involved. I think it's important for the state of West Virginia.

GJ: Do you think quilts, I'm sorry. What has happened to the quilts that you have made or those of friends and family?

KH: Lisa has used one as a bed spread for years, then we've used them for covers.

GJ: I know someone who has a vest.

KH: I've thought about it. I've made wall hangings but no vests. Oh, yes I did! When my kids

were little, I made them both a long quilted skirts. [laughter.]

GJ: Have you ever given quilts as gifts?

KH: I gave one to a good friend of mine because she had quilts in the family from her

Grandmother but her dad died when she was young and her mother sold all the quilts. I

told her to pick the she wanted except this one.

GJ: Are you self taught?

KR: No, your mother taught me.

GJ: Okay, I think you said that before. Do you have younger quilters in your family?

KH: I do not. I have a couple of younger friends who quilt.

GJ: Do you belong to any kind of guild? Have you ever been a board member or chair of a committee in a guild?

KH: No.

GJ: Have there been pictures of you, your quilts or your patterns been published?

KH: No. [laughs.] Can we fix that?

GJ: Do you collect or sell quilts?

KH: Collect.

GJ: Do you have a collection of quilt or sewing memorabilia?

KH: I do. [inaudible.] At auctions you can pick up a few things, pattern books [inaudible.] I keep. [inaudible.]

GJ: Do you ever think you'd like to work in a quilt shop?

KH: No.

GJ: Have you ever won an award?

KH: No.

GJ: We'll see if we can't get you one. [laughter.] Have you participated in quilt preservation? [inaudible.] So this is your first time? I believe you've answered all the questions. Is there anything else you'd like to add? [inaudible.] This is the 8th of the month.

KH: See when you don't work, you don't know what day it is. I can't remember them all.

GJ: [inaudible.] Have you made any of these quilts? [shows photos.]

KH: I've made a Flower Garden and Boston Garden [inaudible.] Trip Around the World. I've gave my friend this Maple Leaf.

GJ: Now this is --This right here is an example of the same pattern, using different colors.

KH: Put together in a little different way. I do have a Nine Patch and Bow Tie.

GJ: There is one in here.

KH: I have one, after I finished this quilt, Wedding Ring, I still had scraps. So I took all these little scraps and I sewed them together, I mean [inaudible.] Star Pattern [inaudible.] It's really pretty. It's a seven point star and I used rather than cutting out of a piece of fabric, I cut it out of the fabric after I'd sewn these little tiny pieces.

GJ: Oh, really.

KH: It's really neat. [inaudible.]

GJ: It mentioned a Bow Tie but this is called a Neck Tie according the encyclopedia.

KH: Well, your mom called it a Bow Tie.

GJ: Well, I tried to find some of her patterns of her quilts and this one which I like so well, I called it a variation of the Starburst because it wasn't exactly, a Starburst Variation.

KH: All the quilts I made have been from scratch. I've never gone to a machine quilter.

[KH and GJ speak at the same time.]

GJ: Backing?

KR: Oh, I buy the backing.

GJ: Is that a sheet?

KH: No, it isn't a sheet. This is just cotton muslin.

Unidentified Person (UP): How wide is it?

KH: I had to order this fabric because I needed such a big piece. I got it from a piece goods shop when they were still in business.

GJ: It's muslin?

KH: It's cotton, pima cotton, yeah. [inaudible.] I got enough that I could cut bias strips for binding.

GJ: I mean, you know, make an [inaudible.]

US: Are the needles hard to find?

KH: No, [inaudible.] no. I do pretty little stitches, [laughter.] Grandma said I did good.

GJ: If Grandma said you did good, she-- then you did because she wouldn't have told me otherwise. Even Aunt Alice said I did ok. You know how picky she is.

GJ: Oh, yeah. [laughs.]

KH: I'm not saying anything bad about her; she just is what she is.

US: What about the underlining, what is inside your quilt?

KH: Just traditional quilt batting.

GJ: Do you buy a certain brand?

KH: [inaudible.]They have different grades.

US: They have a new one out [inaudible.] it's flannel.

GJ: It makes the quilt thick?

US: No, it's more flat. [inaudible.]

KH: A baby quilt, it's a baby quilt that Aunt Ruby made with old fashioned cotton. [inaudible.] I can't believe you didn't learn to quilt. She had so many quilters in her family.

GJ: Well, I worked and I went to college.

US: That's no excuse.

KH: Hey, I had two girls.

GJ: I don't have anything else to offer. [laughs.] Maybe I am going to have Kathy teach me, what do call this quilt, 'The Cathedral Window."

[Note from GJ: This is where I ended the interview. We had covered all the questions. I thanked Kay for coming and sharing information about her Double Ring Quilt.]


“Kay Totten Huey,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed July 18, 2024, https://qsos.quiltalliance.org/items/show/2101.