David White




David White




David White


Jeanne Wright

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Dorry Emmer


South Portland, Maine


Jeanne Wright


Note: This interview is the first of three interviews with David White conducted by Jeanne Wright on September 15, 2010. See also: CO80922-002 and CO80922-003.

Jeanne Wright (JW): This is Jeanne Wright. Today's date is September 15, 2010. It is 3:17 p.m. I'm conducting an interview with Dave White at the South Portland Public Library, South Portland, Maine for the Alliance for American Quilts, Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories project. Dave came to my attention through an article written in the Wall Street Journal in which he was featured as a professional truck driver who quilts. Knowing that this story would be of interest to many people and should be archived for future generations, I sought Dave out. He is a driver who lives in Colorado Springs, CO and works for a very large trucking company. [Don Hummer Trucking.] He has made special arrangements to drive his rig to Maine so that we can complete this interview in person. Thank you for coming Dave.

Dave White (DW): Thank you for having me.

JW: Dave, how many miles did you drive to keep this appointment?

DW: This was arranged through my company to come up here with a load and then some time off so we could have this interview time, but I drove approximately 1,500 miles from Muscatine, Iowa.

JW: Then you are a dedicated quilter, to come this far [both laugh.] to talk about quilting. It's easy to talk about quilting though, isn't it?

DW: Absolutely. It's a fun subject.

JW: I spoke with someone at your company and they were interested in your story. Tell me in what ways you have been supported by your hobby within your company.

DW: My company has found out that when people work outside of just a truck, because it's a very sedate and solitude life, that they become better adjusted in other facets of their life. So they are really interested in trying to get other people involved in quilting or needlepoint or knitting so that we have the ability to relax and step outside our profession. In doing so, we become safer and better people.

JW: What other ways do they support you?

DW: First of all, just the trip up here is an example. That took no less than four people to coordinate finding the load to get me up here. Our maintenance shop had to fix my truck on the way up here. So there's a whole logistical line behind me that allows me to move freight around from corner to corner. I requested about two weeks ago to be up here during this time period. They do their absolute best to assist me getting where I need to go.

JW: You tell me that there is some type of a computer system that really can help put this all together.

DW: Yes, the modern freight system isn't pencil and paper and suppliers and shippers calling trucking companies. It's all very computerized and goes on great big data boards and from there they are able to pick lanes of travel and distances that they want the drivers to go. As I mentioned to you [before the interview.], this system is very, very efficient. They can usually, three to four days ahead of time, be picking up a load to me arriving at their door, know that I am coming.

JW: Computers, aren't they great? [DW chuckles.] Now you're here because you are a professional truck driver and your company goes to all 48 lower states, I'll say, and you are a quilter. You do the majority of the quilting in your truck.

DW: Yes

JW: Would you tell us about that please?

DW: It's a confined little area, but it's a nice little work space that has allowed me to, instead of just going to the back and reading books, as I was doing before, or going into truck stops and not necessarily enjoying the company inside the truck stops, has allowed me to seek out other activities, fabric shops. But specifically, piecing and doing quilting in the truck all by machine. Eighteen months ago, if you had told me that I could do this in the truck, I would probably have looked at you skeptically. But with the suggestion from my wife, because she was running out of book stores and the Goodwill to go to to find me things to read, she made the comment, 'You know, maybe you ought to try this.' The journey started in July of '09. It started with a quilt, I didn't get to show it to you on the truck, but it's called, "My Guy" and it was a very simple design. We cut the pieces out and put it into little baggies. She put a sewing machine, an old Singer sewing machine, on the truck. Three weeks later I came home and had it all pieced together and done. So it was a self-taught lesson at the same time. Her comment to me then was, 'I've created a monster.' Of course after that, every time I would go home, we would go to-- we've got about 2 or 3 little fabric shops there in Colorado Springs we go to. The ladies have gotten to know me well enough that I have to show and tell. They are always looking, 'What did you bring us this time?'

JW: Tell us what it is like. I was privileged enough to be able to see the inside of your truck today, which is your whole living environment, but it's also your whole quilt shop, your whole quilt studio. Tell me about how you've got it set up in the there.

DW: The biggest challenge to doing it and not getting frustrated is organization. I've got a--I think it's a 48 or 42-quart tub with a closing top on it that I keep my notions and my projects in. When I'm going down the road they'll sit on my bunk. But when I'm quilting or getting prepared to quilt, it goes into one of the overhead areas so that I'll have enough work space. Just to give you an idea how big, and I mentioned this to your husband when he was in the truck looking, and I don't believe I got to tell you, but that's what they call a 70" Sleeper. I'm not sure if it's 70" high or 70" deep, but it's got a twin-sized bed, a few cabinets and not a whole lot of amenities, so the confined space requires that you get organized. What I found best, is to keep things in Tupperware or plastic containers to a point where I can stay organized and I know where my threads are at and where my needles are and where my machine feet are. Of course the little sewing machine that I've got is a Brother sewing machine. It's a nice little computerized machine. It sits on the floor during transport and it comes up on a platform that I built. It's basically just a sheet of plywood that I set on one of the cabinets with two little steel legs, I call them pogo legs that I can detach and put in the overhead storage areas. So it's very confined, but once you get in there and you get involved with the machine and the piecing and the enjoyment, you can lose all track of time.

JW: When I first went in I thought, 'Well this doesn't seem much like anybody is sewing in here.' As it unfolded and you set up your table and you got out your machine and you brought down your bins and so forth, it became more and more interesting to me, because I am a quilter. I found that it wasn't as close in there as I thought. It seemed like you still had room to be,room to create.

DW: Yes, yes. One of the things that I've also found is that for the privacy of the drivers, they have curtains. I have two sets on this particular truck. One goes all the way around the front windows and I can turn the radio, I've got a satellite radio in there, and I can turn the radio on kind of low and I've got a little refrigerator that is just down below the workstation that I usually keep cold drinks in. The workstation moves out of my way in case I need to get out of the truck or I need to stretch or go into a facility to take care of nature's business. I can get in and out fairly easy. Once you get over, like I say, the organization within the cab, it is quite comfortable.

JW: What about lighting?

DW: I've had to supplement the lighting. I've got some incandescent lights in the cab of the truck as well as an overhead fluorescent light, but I also use an Ott light, or a desk Ott light to give me the ability to see what I'm doing as I'm cutting and sewing.

JW: What about heat and cooling? How do you keep it comfortable in there when you're not driving, you're down for the night?

DW: The truck is set up to handle just about any weather condition that's available. It's very well insulated, from a soundproof as well as a weatherproof standpoint. It does have a system on it that allows me to actually turn on a heater, they call it a bunk heater, to warm the area up if it's cold out. A lot of states are going to a point were I can't idle and use air conditioning. But I've found that in most states, you open up the window and I've got a little fan I can set up that blows some cool air--very, very comfortable.

JW: Do you hook into electricity sometimes when you're in these stops?

DW: The truck has what they call an inverter on it that takes 12 volts and converts it to 110 volts and I've got some plug-in stations. That inverter handles all my electrical needs for household current, so I can use anything that you can use in your house, I can use on my truck.

JW: I understand that your wife traveled with you, but only for one week in your career. Would you tell me about that?

DW: [laughs.] My wife Dee, she's a super lady. Not only did she give me the idea to do this, but she's my best friend and partner. She had never been to Oregon and one of the trips that was scheduled for me was to go out to Portland, Oregon. We took the highway out through the canyon area there and took pictures of the Colombia River and we even got to see the paddle wheeler that was on there doing sight-seeing tours. It was kind of a twisty, turny, little nice scenic [route.]. I got over to Portland, did the unload and got reloaded. Then the adventure really started because she, her idea of camping is a 35' motor coach and we had some issues with going across the middle of Oregon on US 20, due to the lack of personal facilities. There were a couple of little towns that we were going through that I very much wanted to stop at because I knew that we could enjoy the afternoon. But there was no parking. She was beside herself when I told her, 'I don't have any place to park.' Then we get 150 miles out into the middle of nowhere in Oregon and she had to go to the bathroom. She found out what a bush was for. But that was kind of her experience. She says, 'I know it works for you, but it doesn't work for me. Don't ask me to do this again.' [laughs.]

JW: But she's behind what you do.

DW: She's absolutely behind me. She supported me when I was in the Air Force and traveling and doing what I needed to do then. Of course when I got out of the service I was doing contracting work in computer science and I was traveling all around the country then. She supported me in that endeavor also. I got an office job shortly after that and she actually came up to me and said, 'You're not happy, are you?' I said, 'No, not really.' She said, 'What are you going to do?' I said, 'Well I think I'm going to drive a truck.' She has supported that all the way through and that was coming up in December that'll be eight years ago. It's, now that the kids are out of the house, she does want me home more often. So I may change jobs to where I get a more local position where I'm home more often, or even working there out of Denver or Colorado Springs. That's to be considered. I've got another plan in mind.

JW: Maybe we'll hear about that plan in a bit. Your wife is a quilter too?

DW: Yes, she is. It's an interesting little subject. You got to see one of the quilts that I have been working on called, "Meet Me in Paris." We bought, I shouldn't say we. She bought that as a kit about three years ago. She started working on it and realized that it was well above her skill levels. After I finished, I think it was my fourth quilt, she pulls it down off the shelf and hands it to me and she says, "This ought to take you a little bit of time.' That was all the instruction she gave me. I opened it up and started looking at the pattern and I've been working on it a while. It's a beautiful quilt, but there is a lot of tedious activities to it. Just to give you an idea, it's comprised of eighty-eight separate six inch panels that have a five blade fan and corner block to it. I took it to another step. Instead of just topstitching, I was actually using a blanket stitch on the fan blades.

JW: Now describe that to us because I saw it and it's not at the edge of the fan blade.

DW: No. A blanket stitch is usually right on the edge with a little stitch towards the appliqué. What I did was to set it in about an eighth of an inch so that you get to see not only the stitching, like topstitching, but you get a little decorative appearance to it with the stitch that goes in on the appliqué.

JW: Because you mentioned that there are stitches between each little jog in to the appliqué this way.

DW: Yes. Yes. The whole idea is to try to stabilize the appliqué as well as to give it a little decorative look.

JW: While we are talking about your appliqué, you like appliqué?

DW: I like appliqué.

JW: Machine and hand?

DW: I don't do, you know, I haven't got brave enough and I say brave enough, I haven't gotten brave enough to do any hand quilting or hand appliqué work. I enjoy the machine work and that's what I've done up to this point is machine piecing.

JW: I saw a sample, an example of one quilt that you are working on. What do you call that, the one with the brown.A star?

DW: It's a Dresden Star.

JW: Dresden Star. Beautiful. Beautiful. It's in brown tones and there is a little gray in there. You said that some people thought that would be an unusual color combination, but it's lovely. It's wonderful.

DW: Well one of the little secrets that I found was on the selvage edges of your material, that manufacturers, and it doesn't matter who, they put little color dots to give you an idea of all the colors that are used in that particular pattern. I use those colors to assist me in selecting other patterns as well as colors that I'm going to use in a quilt. One of the most frustrating things, I think, that I have heard from other quilters is that when they looking at patterns in a quilt shop or in a fabric shop--

JW: Excuse me. Quilt patterns or patterns in fabric?

DW: Patterns in fabric. Okay. They have a tendency to look at what somebody else has done and not be able to take a look at all the colors in the spectrum that may be more along their liking and that's the best individual technique that comes into it. I like function. Very few of the quilts that I have done, I have only done three little miniature quilts at this point, but all the quilts are of lap size or larger, for utility purposes. I don't like quilts that just hang on walls. I want quilts that people are wanting to use.

JW: This Dresden Star that you made, you have a way to appliqué that's a little bit different. Can you describe that to me please?

DW: One of the things I have found, and this was a self-taught technique, was to use a stabilizer material and a circle cutter. The center of a Dresden Star has a plate that covers the interior portion of it. What I've found is that I take a circle cutter and I use a stabilizer. I don't know the actual brand name, but when it gets wet, the stabilizer just becomes like tissue paper and doesn't add any stiffness to the actual fabric itself. So when you wash it, that stiffness goes away. But I use a circle cutter to cut the stabilizer material and then when I'm cutting the actual fabric itself for the cover, I cut it about an eight of an inch larger. Using a glue stick, I center the stabilizer on the wrong side of the fabric, glue stick it and I take a hand roller and I roll it over. The result is that you get a very, very nice finished, perfectly round appliqué. That is difficult to do without, some people use paper piecing. That technique didn't work very well for me.

JW: So you have attached, by glue, the stabilizer to the bottom of the plate, you mean the underside [of the fabric underneath the appliqué.]?

DW: Yes.

JW: The underside?

DW: Right.

JW: Then how do you get the top on that? How do you measure? Is it just a machine zigzag type of thing, a machine appliqué that you can just tell where you are going by the feel of it, the feel of the fabric?

DW: Well, no. The stabilizer material and the fabric, once they are glued together, everything is the same size and I use a blanket stitch around the exterior part of that cover.

JW: Do you use that because it's circular or do you use that in most instances--to use the stabilizer?

DW: I found that on the "Meet Me in Paris," it uses a little quarter of a circle. I use the same technique on it. As a matter of fact, I showed the designer of the "Meet Me in Paris" quilt and she says that I was getting too smart for my own britches. [both laugh.]

JW: Maybe you have a job in your future.

DW: Her technique, and it was pointed out in her instructions, was to use the hand seamer to roll it over an eighth of an inch and I was not pleased with the results. It was uneven and a little bit-- it just wasn't real smooth and appealing to the eye, so I came up with this idea of using that stabilizer material.

JW: So you have some of your own techniques that you have come up with. What about designing? You mentioned designing. Is that something you would like to get into?

DW: I get inspiration from a lot of different places and I have thought of a Dresden Plate in a larger, much larger, size and actually making fan blades of various material either vertically or horizontally to make a fan blade and still doing it in a Dresden Plate design, but yet it's got different color and different form to it because of different fabrics that would be used. You get inspiration from a lot of different places. This may sound kind of funny, but I was actually in a bathroom one time and I got inspiration of how to do patterns because of the tile floor. So you get inspiration, if you are willing to open your eyes, you can find inspiration in a lot of different places--cobblestone roads, or we get around because we do operate in the 48 states, there's a lot of places where they have the old brick roads. It's kind of interesting to sit there and see where they have repaired the road. You can tell the new from the old, but the pattern still exists, that you can see color differences.

JW: What about, you said you were inspired by patterns in different places, what about colors? Do you all of a sudden say, 'Wait a minute. That looks like a whole new color. I've never used that before or seen that before?'

DW: One of the quilts that I have done, and it was in the Wall Street Journal and the young lady who did the article, Jennifer Levitz, she, her eyes lit up when she saw it. It was a Sudoku pattern. Most people know Sudoku is a nine-patch by nine. That just wasn't functionally large enough, so I increased it going one wider and two longer. The Sudoku made a Nine Patch that was one square foot and then there was some sashing in between. I liked the colors and the wife and I were at our favorite little fabric shop there in Colorado Springs, Ruth Stitchery, and they had fruits and vegetables [fabric.]. Some of the colors were just, almost neon. They were very, very vivid. We picked out nine of these fruits and vegetables and took them home and cut them up. Once again I came back in four weeks and I had a Sudoku, large, it's pretty close to a queen-size. It is definitely a full size, trimmed in black. When Jennifer Levitz of the Wall Street Journal saw it, her eyes lit up, because it is so stunning to see. It has plums, it has onions, it has lemons, oranges. We didn't get the cherries. We were kind of divided on the cherries. But it's just a very stunning, from the standpoint of the colors because it's framed in the black. That particular one, because Jennifer was such a sweetheart and she really started me appreciating what I was doing, I made her a mini Sudoku as a wall hanger. Each one of the blocks ends up only being 3 square inches. It was my first project that I used eighth inch seams. Oh those are challenging. [laughs.]

JW: Why eighth inch?

DW: I didn't want to go with the quarter inch bulk was the biggest reason, so I used the eighth inch and I made it as a true Sudoku, just as a thank you gift for her to write the article.

JW: Were there numbers or something that could be added, or was it just the idea of the board or the game, you might say?

DW: It was just the idea of using the colors that she so much liked in the Sudoku pattern. Then doing it as a true Sudoku, where there is no one color that repeats vertically or horizontally.

JW: Mm-mm. Oh, so you used the colors instead of the numbers?

DW: Yes. Instead of using the number, I assigned a color or a type of fabric to a particular space.

JW: What fun! You must have had a great deal of fun.

DW: That one was a lot of fun. It was a quick project. People would ask me, once again the ladies at Ruth's [Stitchery.], they would ask me, 'How long did it take you to make this?' I would say, 'Well I tried keeping logs and it would take me anywhere from 14 to 16 hours to build these.'

JW: It must have been just so much fun to do though. I saw magazines in your truck that may not the stereotypical magazines. [Dave laughs.] Tell me what you have for magazines in your truck.

DW: Now we are getting back to the inspiration. The magazines are there to inspire me with the notions that are out there.

JW: The names of these magazines are?

DW: Oh, you would--

JW: The subject of these magazines?

DW: The subject is quilts, specifically the fabrics associated with making quilts. Most of them have anywhere from four to five different patterns. They will identify if it's for a beginner or an intermediate or advanced skills. I don't pay attention to those anymore. [laughs.]

JW: To the rating?

DW: Yeah, to the level of the rating.

JW: You just do one you like.

DW: I find one that I like and I do it. I haven't mentioned, but I've done fourteen quilts in a little over a year, or I should say fourteen quilt tops in a little over a year. That's the fun part. Finished products--that requires a little bit of money to get the quilting portion of it finished, but that's another subject for a little bit later too.

JW: The magazines. You said you have five subscriptions to magazines?

DW: Four or five. [JW: yeah.] Every time I go home I've got magazines to pick up and take with me. Once again, it's not typical for an individual to sit there in the seat of a big truck looking at a quilting magazine. I've raised a few eyebrows of fellow drivers that are on my right or left side as we are sitting there. I'm reading a magazine and then they see it is a quilting magazine and it's not what they were expecting.

JW: You seem very comfortable as a quilter though, in whatever your situation or location. Tell me about your encounters with these truckers. How does that topic come up?

DW: Most of the time it's me being a little bit forward. Too many drivers in my profession kind of sequester themselves from society as well as from outside activities. In this process they tend to kind of turn inward with their likes and dislikes of certain subjects. What I have found in talking to them is once I introduce the subject to them, most are supportive, but a lot would say it's not something they would pursue. I'm a persistent kind of individual and I'll ask them, 'Why do you think you do not want to do this?' [They say,] 'Well, I just don't think that it would be me.' I say, 'Have you ever tried it?' I've actually had two individuals that I sat them down on my bunk and showed them how to use the machine. They walked away with a whole different prospective at that point. I really, that's part of it. It's easy to say 'No, it's not for me,' but when you sit down to do it, maybe you can find something you can take a little bit of enjoyment from.

JW: Well everyone is unique, certainly. That's why the quilt you made for the newspaper person and one you may do for me, they would be quite different. I like the softness of the "Meet Me in Paris." I love the colors, the blue and yellow, very light colors. I would expect the professional drivers to also like different things. If they saw a particular color or design at some point, just one, maybe that would pique their interest.

DW: It's all about inspiration. Once again, being open and being available to that inspiration when the moment happens. I don't know if I touched anybody. I hope I have been able to show some people in my profession that they don't have to sit in the truck and feel lonely. There [are.] support groups out there. I have talked to ladies, literally from coast to coast, in fabric shops and most of them are a little disbelieving until I show them or prove to them, yes, I actually can do this. Once you get over the hurdle, and it isn't a stereotypical thing for a male to do in the first place, but once you get over those hurdles, it becomes an enjoyable experience.

JW: So are you more inspired by color or design?

DW: Color. Design follows color the way I look at it. You mentioned the Dresden Star. As soon as I saw it, my Mom likes the browns, and as soon as I saw the Dresden Star, I said, you know, I could make her one of these in browns and it would be stunning for her. She doesn't know it's coming, by the way.

JW: Well hopefully this won't go online before that happens. [both laugh.] Do you have idea how many truckers there are who quilt? What would you say would be the percentage?

DW: That's a tough question. Like I say, truckers tend to be solitude. I do know that there's a certain number of drivers in our profession, they call them team operations. It can husband and wife, sometimes brother and sister, but it's male and female and it's not unusual to see the female sitting there knitting or tatting or needle pointing as the male counterpoint is driving down the road. I make it a point, if I see somebody like that in the parking lot, I'll go over, introduce myself and talk to them. Because what I'm really interested in is the male side of it--doing the knitting, the--and when I tell them I quilt on the truck, this one man told me, he says, 'You've said too much.' What he was trying to do is tell me don't give her any ideas because she's got sewing machines at home and she misses them. I may have created a monster there too. What I try to do, like I said, when I'm discussing quilting with other truckers, is to find out their interest level and to introduce them to it. To know how many of them do it, that would be really difficult for me to answer.

JW: Would you agree that perhaps they don't all own up to it so it would be harder to figure out just what percentage there would be?

DW: That could be a very true, realistic thing. Deena Boltner, our HR Department Representative at Don Hummer, she has told me that even in our company there are guys that are very clandestine in their activities on the truck and they are knitting and some of them are sewing or doing needlework. But [whispering.] they don't want anybody to know. [laughs.]

JW: Do people more often do a different type of needle skills than quilting?

DW: Most of the time it is other needle skills besides quilting. They are looking, if you will, at the logistics of it. They aren't quite as creative as myself in being able to make a platform between two counters and it may be space also on the truck. It is a little bit congested for floor space. So you have to be organized to be able to do it correctly.

JW: I found it somewhat congested, but not confining. I didn't feel like I was closed in.

DW: Mm-mm. That's that great big window.

JW: Yeah. I noticed on that board you used, you also had that padded or wrapped with something so you can use it as an ironing board.

DW: Yes. It is a multi-purpose workstation, if you will. Not only does it collapse down and I bungie cord it to the cabinetry so that it's save to travel with, but I covered that piece of plywood with some batting material and some canvas, some medium grade canvas. So when I need to iron, any good quilter knows--you've got to press the seams--I've got a little traveling iron in my stash, a nice little Rowenta. Boy, can it put out some steam, but it's only about six inches long and it works absolutely perfect with the batting and the canvas material as an ironing board. I can just pick my sewing machine up and set it on the bunk and have my workspace clear.

JW: I bet you don't use that little table for eating.

DW: Oh no. Nope.

JW: You showed me, you have some tools of the trade there. What type of tools do you use?

DW: I think I've got three or four rotary cutters. I've got scissors. I've got a whole little tub of bobbins with various threads on them, you know, for the projects. I actually had to show my wife how to properly use a seam ripper. You know that little red button on the end of the seam ripper? She didn't know what that was for.

JW: Tell us.

DW: Most people use the point of the seam ripper to go in and kind of pick the seam apart, but if you turn the seam ripper so that the little red button is down, you can push it through a seam. That little red button is designed not to pick up or tear the material.

JW: Did you learn by experience?

DW: That was self-taught. [laughed.]

JW: Have you got another one that was self-taught that was like, 'Aha'?

DW: Rotary cutters. [laughed.] In previous work experience I worked as a cabinet maker, so I was very aware of rotating sharp objects close to fingers. I can tell you that a rotary cutter is probably the most dangerous thing that we work with. I have gotten into a habit that when I am done, the guard goes up, before I ever lay it down. That was a self-taught, plus, blood doesn't go with cotton material very well. [laughs.]

JW: I had a quilt teacher friend. When her students, if they ever laid that down, a rotary cutter down, and it wasn't closed, they had to put a $5 bill in the jar in the middle of the table. They soon learned to close that rotary cutter.

DW: That is, you know, from a safety standpoint, it is very easy to lay it down and start using your hand to brush the threads or leavings or cuttings off the table or what you're doing and just touch that blade and you have an issue.

JW: You have rulers, regular quilting rulers.

DW: Yes.

JW: Would you tend to cut your larger fabrics, such as your borders, on the truck or at home?

DW: I try to do the larger stuff at home. We've got a little studio there at the house with a nice large cutting table, so it makes it much easier for us to cut the large pieces there, but as you mentioned, I do have a little self-healing mat that I can cut and trim and square and do what I need to. Squaring, much larger than a one foot by one foot panel, is quite a challenge on the truck, but that's what I had to learn, is how to square and do that using, once again, a confined space and area.

JW: Would you then at home be putting together the parts of the pattern? You would be cutting the parts and pieces, even though it's not the large ones, and making up little kits for yourself, perhaps?

DW: In the beginning that's what we did. Like I say, Dee and I would get up there in the studio and we would be reading the instructions and she would cut or I would cut, but we would make it a kind of combined project so that when I left I had most of the pieces and parts cut out and in little baggies, all organized so that I knew exactly what colors and where they were supposed to go. As we moved along down the road, she kinda sends me out with a half yard here and a fat quarter there and says, you'll figure it out.

JW: Who buys your material?

DW: We both do.

JW: Who spends more money [on the material.]?

DW: I do. [laughs.]

JW: On an average run around the nation, whatever trip that gets you from your home back to your home again, how many quilt shops would you have stopped at?

DW: If I was allowed to stop at quilt and fabric places, there's a little book that, once again, she won't let me have, but I've been told that it's available. I've got my own little book that identifies, there's probably a good hundred little stores, there's billboards on the side of the road or if you pay attention to signage as you are going down the road,'Go to exit 54 and 3 miles north.'

JW: Your rig looks like a particularly large one to me. You don't just stop that on a dime and say, 'Oops. Quilt shop!'

DW: [laughs.] This is true. It's 70 feet long. It's got a 53 foot trailer with a tractor that pulls it, so I have to be kind of choosy of the shops that I do stop at. If I can get a phone number I usually call them and ask them, 'Do you have RV or truck parking close?' If they say yes, I'll ask for directions. But a lot of them, they don't have [any.] I know that they are there, but I just can't stop.

JW: How long would be an average that you would stop at a quilt shop?

DW: Well now that depends on how much time I've got to go from point A to point B with my load. I've been known to spend 4-6 hours at a quilt shop, talking, getting ideas, talking sewing machines and thread and needles of all different kinds.

JW: Do you feel you hold your own, that you are able to offer as much information as you get?

DW: It is a give and take. I'm still new at this. As I mentioned earlier, a lot of it is self-taught, but there's nothing difficult about quilting. I think that's a misnomer in a lot of circles, that it's complicated. It's not difficult. There's a certain level of trepidation associated with it. So it's not something a lot of people want to just jump right in to. But I always try to listen as much as I talk.

JW: When you get your patterns, are you the one who selects the patterns you are going to work on and your wife is the same, she selects her patterns? Or is it a joint or mutual, or do you ever make the same?

DW: I actually taught her the Heart Quilt [focus quilt for interview.] We didn't have enough material to do a big one, but she really liked that one. Once again, with me over her shoulder, I showed her how to make that Heart Quilt, using eighth inch seams. That was something that she had a hard time doing, a good quarter inch seam. But I showed her a couple of techniques and some equipment on her machine, specifically the quarter inch foot with the guide on it, the little metal guide. All of a sudden she was an expert and she started enjoying doing what she was doing.

JW: Well Dave, it seems like we've talked for 3 ½ minutes and we've actually talked for almost 45 [minutes.]. So we are going to conclude this tape and continue on to another tape, if that's okay with you?

DW: That would be great.

JW: I've been talking with Dave White. Today is September 15, 2010 and we will continue on another tape. [Part two of this interview: CO80922-002.]



“David White,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed April 13, 2024, https://qsos.quiltalliance.org/items/show/2128.