Millie Wark

Photos

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Title

Millie Wark

Identifier

MA01535-001

Interviewee

Millie Wark

Interviewer

Jeanne Wright

Interview Date

14/10/10

Interview sponsor

Iris Karp

Location

Naples, Maine

Transcriber

Jeanne Wright

Transcription

Jeanne Wright (JW): This is Jeanne Wright. Today is October 14, 2010, at 11:45 a.m. I'm conducting an interview with Millie Wark at her sister's home in Naples, Maine for the Alliance for American Quilts Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories project. Mrs. Wark lives in North Brookfield, Massachusetts and is visiting her sister Polly Glavine who lives in Naples. We are pleased that you could come to Maine at this beautiful time of year and that you have agreed to do this interview with me. Thank you.

Millie Wark [MW]: You are very welcome. It's my pleasure.

JW: Could you tell me about the beautiful quilt that you have here today?

MW: This one that I have here is very, very meaningful to me. It's my very first quilt and one of the main reasons that it's so meaningful is that I just lost my hubby less than two years before I started quilting. This is my very first. I had always sewn, but I had never done quilting. A group of us, three ladies, that we all lost our husbands, and we started quilting. There was a younger lady at church who was a very, very accomplished quilter. She also loved to quilt and loved to be with us. She volunteered to teach us. So thus, we started on Wednesday evenings, no matter what else was going on we were at Marge's house, and we were all learning to quilt.

JW: What did they call you?

MW: [big smile.] Because of our fun-loving times that we had when we went into the--first it was Joann's [fabric store.] and then we went from there to other quilt stores or fabric stores. The second time there we had so much fun that they named us the Dilly Sisters. So, we ended up being the Dilly Quilters. Quite frequently and at church on Sunday morning somebody caught up with something we Dilly Girls did, and it was always announced.

JW: [laughs.] That's fun. What special meaning does this quilt have for you?

MW: My hubby and I had a wonderful relationship. We always had such fun together that it was pretty lonely without him. The minute I started quilting it was such a love and I had such joy doing it. Of course, I wasn't very wise about it. I would be up to 2:00 to3:00 in the morning quilting, but it was just so, so wonderful. Every time I look at it now, I do use it on my bed every winter. I put it away in the summertime and I take good care of it. But in the winter, I find myself sort of caressing that quilt. It has such meaning to me.

JW: How long have you been using it on your bed?

MW: I made it twenty years ago. The first year I wouldn't use it on my bed. I was afraid that something was going to happen to it. But my friend Gerry Reeves who had taught us said, 'Millie, quilts are to use, quilts are to love, and they just comfort you, so don't put that in plastic and put it on the shelf. I want to know that you use it.' So, I do.

JW: What do you think someone looking at this quilt might conclude about you?

MW: Hmm. Gosh, that's a difficult question.

JW: They will walk into your church, see your quilt hanging and say, 'Oh, I think that quilter--'

MW: '--did it with love.'

JW: Very nice.

MW: Yes, that would be it. I love pastel shades and I think that's what I wear usually, the blues, the rose, and the pink, so perhaps that means me too.

JW: Now you've come a distance to come to this interview. Had you thoughts of bringing a different quilt other than this one?

MW: I did because my daughter Callie is very close to my sister, and they had talked about it, and they had decided that I should bring a quilt that I had made for her. So, when she told me that it was going to happen and I said, 'I don't know if I should bring more than one quilt.' [she said,] 'But Mom, I want you to bring my fan quilt. It means a lot to me, and I want you to take that too.'

JW: Tell me about the binding on that one.

MW: Well, I can't say I was upset. I mean I love to do the narrow bindings. Somehow or other it seems like that's just the finish. But when I did that for her about three years ago, she said, 'Mom, could we have a little extra on that, a little extra ruffle?' I said, 'You mean like double rows of Hamburg [eyelet ruffle.]?' [She said,] 'Oh that would be perfect.' So that is what we have on that is a double row. I put the roll of Hamburg and I had to add a piece of material and then the other one [row of Hamburg.] to make it just the way she wanted it. She drew a picture. She's done this to me all of her life. If she wanted a new blouse or a new skirt, she'd draw a picture and say, 'Mom, this is what I'd like to have you make.' She did the same thing with the quilt and that's what she wanted me to make.

JW: You made it in a fan pattern. Tell me about the quilting that you did over the curved area of the fan.

MW: Well after I had done the fans, I knew there was quite an area there that needed to be held better and I said, 'Oh what can I do?' I tried two or three and I finally used a dinner plate and made the curve and then I went to a smaller plate to graduate the curves. So that's what I've done.

JW: But it's your own design and it's perfect for this. Was that quilt appliquéd or sewn, pieced?

MW: I [machine.] sewed the pieces of the fans together but then I hand quilted through all of the seams after that.

JW: Did you appliqué the fans onto the quilt after you had sewn them?

MW: Yes.

JW: This quilt that you have out here for us today, what are you plans for this one?

MW: I'm just going to continue to enjoy it. Then of course my special daughter, I only have one daughter, and she just loves and treasures everything. So of course, she'll have it.

JW: So, she knows the story behind this quilt.

MW: Yes, she does.

JW: It would be good, wise of you, if you could put that story on the back of the quilt. [both talk at the same time.]

MW: So, would I--

JW: I'll talk about that with you afterwards [after the interview.].

MW: Okay, alright, wonderful, thank you.

JW: Tell me about your interest in quilt making. You started this after your husband--

MW: Mm-mm.

JW: --passed away. But what kept you doing it? What was your interest?

MW: Joy. I just, the biggest part of my life is joy and giving things. Of course, when my daughter first saw one, of course she wanted one. Then she has two daughters. Then we went from there to my grandson and his wife. Oh, another thing I did that the family loved was I quilted the Christmas tree skirts. So, each and every one of the grandchildren has a Christmas tree skirt. So, I think that's my biggest joy, I mean it keeps me busy in the evening and gives me something to do and to create. I love to create things, and to know that I can give these special things to my children.

JW: If you don't mind saying, at what age did you start quilting?

MW: 64.

JW: 64.

MW: Mm-mm.

JW: And do you mind sharing your age today?

MW: Oh, I'd love to. I'm 84 and I love every day of it.

JW: You told me [before the interview.] that [her age.] and I could barely believe it. [both laugh.]

MW: Thank you.

JW: From whom did you learn to quilt? Did you have anybody help you start that?

MW: Oh yes. We three Dilly Sisters had started at my friend Marge's house and another younger girl from church who was a very accomplished seamstress and quilter volunteered to come every Wednesday night to teach us. She was strict. I'm more casual, but Gerry [Reeves.] said if you are going to learn to quilt you are going to learn to do it correctly. She was right on my case to make sure all the points would be the way they should.

JW: And they are they're perfect.

MW: Thank you so much.

JW: For a first quilt it's quite amazing. It really is just perfect.

MW: Well, it's because I had this lady that was really instructing me.

JW: Are you still quilting these days?

MW: I am.

JW: How many hours a week do you quilt?

MW: Oh, I never know. I work in a motel office. When things slow down and are a little quiet, I mean often times I am there 10 or 11 hours a day, so certain times of the day that's quiet. For quite a few years, every year I made a new quilt. I think probably I've slowed down a little bit. Sometimes I play Solitaire instead of picking up something to quilt. [laughs.]

JW: How many quilts do you have in progress right now?

MW: One, two. Yeah. I have one that I started and other things seems to take my time, but this one that I started had a lot of ribbon embroidery and I think it's going to be quite lovely when I get it all finished. I'm not sure if I'm going to keep that for me; probably I won't. If somebody likes it, well I'll probably give it to them. [laughs.] Doing the embroidery is quite fun and is kind of outstanding on that. Now last year I did a Christmas quilt for my granddaughter, excuse me, for my daughter. My great granddaughter helped me do it. She learned to embroider. We did some squares, signature squares. One was all of her cousins and another square with her aunts and uncles and their names.

JW: How old was she?

MW: She's nine now, so she was eight last year and she learned to embroider.

JW: Wonderful.

MW: It was such joy because she would come to my house on any vacation she had. That was a part of her vacation. She was coming to Nanny's house because we had to make that quilt. She was a lot of fun. She is quite strong-minded, and she had her way that she wanted that quilt to be put together. My living room floor had a quilt on it from the time she got there until after she left, because she was rearranging the squares all the time.

JW: A wonderful quilt memory for both of you.

MW: Oh, it was just so wonderful. And we've started another one. My granddaughter Cheri of course wanted a Christmas quilt too. We've just barely started that because I've had a real busy year. But we need to keep with it.

JW: Will that be for this Christmas?

MW: Probably not. She probably will get maybe, hmm, maybe 12 squares I'll have finished. But that will be all right. She said, 'That's okay Nan. If I know it's happening, whatever you get done will be good.'

JW: Will she be helping you on this?

MW: Emily? Oh yeah. She already has. Yes. Yes.

JW: Now Emily is your--

MW: Great-granddaughter.

JW: Great-granddaughter. That's what I thought. Okay. What is your first quilt memory?

MW: When I think of quilts, the first one is the quilts we had on our bed growing up. We had a big, big farm and there were a lot of bedrooms. I remember, we had an older sister. She was about twelve years older than I. She and her husband worked on the farm where I grew up. She and my mom made the quilts, and those quilts weren't just for decoration. They were to keep you warm. I remember them doing the crazy quilts and a lot of the feather stitch and embroidery on those and a lot of what I thought at the time were kind of dull, were a lot of pieces of woolen fabric. So, they weren't as decorative, but they were very, very warm.

JW: Do you remember using feed sacks, feed sack material?

MW: [in excited voice.] Oh, I had forgotten about that. I'm glad you mentioned it. Yes, we did. They certainly did.

JW: Did you ever sew with that?

MW: After, yes. When my daughter was about five and she started school. I remember that year I made her twenty-eight dresses. They were all--she was the best dressed girl in kindergarten. [laughs.] But they were all made out of those feed sacks.

JW: Did you actually make them out of feed sacks or the material that was made to look like feed sacks?

MW: Oh no. The feed came in it, definitely. Because we had a good-sized farm and we also had chickens and rabbits. For some reason, I remember the material in the chicken feed was prettier. I have no idea, but that's a memory I have right now.

JW: So how many feed sacks would it take to make her a dress at that time?

MW: Oh, she was very short. You could make a full dress out of a feed sack.

JW: Did she think of that as a good thing or not a good thing to have that done?

MW: Oh, she thought it was wonderful. And right on into high school, and of course we didn't do feed sacks, but she always was so pleased because I could make her anything she wanted. In a small town there weren't that many stores. She'd say, 'It's so good. I can go to school and my clothes don't look like everybody else's.' There might be three girls in her class with the same dress on some day. But she would dream up designs and draw them for me and I'd make it the way she wanted. I've always sewn and always enjoyed it.

JW: Did you make yourself dresses from feed sacks?

MW: No, I don't think I did.

JW: Did you use them for any other kind of thing?

MW: Curtains, kitchen curtains, bathroom curtains. I remember doing that. Tablecloths and that type of thing.

JW: Tell me the story about the aprons.

MW: Well, I remember this as a child. My oldest sister Lina and my mother would be making aprons and I'd say, 'Didn't that used to be your dress?' [They'd say,] 'Yes, but we didn't wear out the back of it.' So, the back was still good. I remember that you know I forget that they spent so much of the time at the sink and the cabinet that across the tummy there's always holes in it. They never patched those holes, but saved that dress, especially if it was a favorite pattern, and made aprons out of it. As I look at, I do remember also my grandmother. She used to come visit sometimes. She didn't sew that much when she was at our house. But she made quilts for all of us. Many, many of them made out the backs of dresses. I mean you had to save, and they weren't worn out.

JW: Do you still have one of those?

MW: My sister Polly has a quilt and it's just precious.

JW: And that one was all handmade?

MW: All handmade, yes. Now I know that my grandmother used the old treadle sewing machine, but I know that all the quilts that she made were all sewn by hand.

JW: Is there anybody else in your family who is a quiltmaker?

MW: No, not at all.

JW: How does quilt making impact your family? You've got grandchildren, great-grandchildren, your sister.

MW: They seem to be in awe of it. They just think, they look at it and something that big that you started from a little piece of material. I was just thrilled when Polly's husband Jack looked at my quilt the other night and said, 'That is the most beautiful thing. It is so big and is so beautiful and to think you made it.' So, I was really pleased.

JW: Mm-mm.

MW: Because when Uncle Jack says something, he means it. [laughs.]

JW: Have you ever used a quilt to get through a difficult time?

MW: Well, this special one here that I love so dearly, that's helped me get through a lot of difficulty because I would be just so engrossed in what I was doing and the next thing I knew it was 11:00 or 12:00 and, okay, I can go to bed now. But had I been sitting there, I'm not much of, --I don't get too much enjoyment out of television. I would just be sitting there, maybe trying to read or whatever, but just being lonely. So just having that quilting to do. And it's a small retirement home apartment that I'm in. The living room and the dinette is part of each other. I always work on the table right there. I might have the TV on in the background, but the joy of quilting, and it's been rather fun too. Where I live there's a rec [recreation.] hall in the same one [building.] that I'm in. There is a big pool table there and we have an oak dining top. So, when it comes time to really spread the quilt out on it and work by hand, I take it up there. So many of them come in and they get such joy out of it because they've never seen anybody do anything like that.

JW: Has there been anyone help you do that?

MW: No, no. Not at all.

JW: Now you had another story about a young girl.

MW: Oh I loved her. Can I put that in?

JW: Mm-mm.

MW: Oh wonderful. Well, the story begins at our Baptist church. For quite a few years, in March before Easter, we always had one weekend called, "Give God the Glory." We would all try to make a new quilt every year, because we brought those all in. They were draped all over the church, all over the balcony, all over the church not only our quilting but the men with their woodworking and things that people did because we wanted to give God the glory and show what He had done through us. Well, this was about the third year that we had participated in this. For some reason, I had decided, I had seen these puffs quilts. I made this huge puffy, puffy quilt and brought it in. As it happened, I put it over like a Queen Anne chair. Well in our midst, one of our families had a 16-year-old daughter that we'd all loved dearly, but she had become very anorexic. She had been to many counselors. They had worked and worked with her. Well, when she saw that quilt, she walked in the first time, she just landed on that quilt and cuddled up almost in a fetal position. She just, almost like she wanted to get right inside of that quilt. For the three days that we had it there, whenever they came, she didn't come into the sanctuary. You would miss her, and she was out cuddled up in that quilt. So, when it came time to take them home, I said to her mother, 'I want her to have that quilt.' And it just amazed me because they said that at home it just seemed to give her such peace. That's the way she looked. She cuddled up on that quilt in such a peace. I like to feel that the comfort that she had from that, eventually she started eating the way she should again and now she's, I think she's graduated from college already. She is a fine, healthy young woman. When I see her and think about it, I think, you know maybe it was the love that she got from that quilt helped her to heal. So, I'm just so, when we gave God the glory for that weekend and when I think of that, I really do, I just thank God that I was able to make a little difference in her life.

JW: Wonderful story.

MS: Thank you.

JW: Have you got other stories about something amusing that happened during your quilting efforts?

MW: Well not just "a" story. When the three of us--Marge, Evelyn and I--we first started going to Joann's which is in Holden [Massachusetts.], which is not far from us. Well, the first time we went in we had a pretty good time. We got to laughing and having fun. Well about a week later, we went back again and as we walked in, giggling and laughing about something, the three clerks were in there and said, 'Oh here comes the Dilly Sisters again.' The Dilly title hung on to us and we became the Happy Dilly Quilters. Every week at church it seemed like somebody had caught us doing something. We went out about every week. The older one, Marge, had a lot of doctor's appointments. She managed to have the doctor's appointments so that we would go to lunch. Then we would go to Joann's usually, because that was right close by. So, the title, Dilly Quilters was very famous in our church. [both laugh.]

JW: Are there any aspects of quilting that you don't enjoy?

MW: Oh, I enjoy life. I can't think of anything I don't really enjoy.

JW: What are your favorite parts, then, of quilting?

MW: The really--hand quilting. It's--I don't say more work, but it seems to be more important and more time-consuming to get the colors the way that I want them. We made a lot of trips. We went to a lot of quilt shows. There was one in Westford, MA. It's a huge quilt show. We always went to that and enjoyed that. It was a three-day affair. It was about sixty miles from home. But we always made time for that, made sure that was on our agenda, so we'd get there. One thing I always enjoyed about that too is, I noticed the ladies, the real quilters that were there and they were doing demonstrating, all had the Featherweight sewing machines, Singer sewing machines. So, I told them one day after, 'Gee I have one of those.' They said, 'You bring it tomorrow and we'll give you $800 for it.' I said, 'I'm not parting with it, no matter what.' I gave $100 for it originally. But I'm not parting with that little Featherweight because they aren't making the heavy ones anymore. They make them with plastic. So that was always a joy to go there. We just managed to go to wonderful quilting supply places. I remember one day we took one--I took one of the neighbors and of course I took Evelyn and Marge too. She had to go to Bradley (Connecticut airport.). So, we took her to the airport, and we came back out of the airport, and we continued right on I-91 right up into Vermont, because there was a darling little quilt store and we always had, one of those places, and they usually was quite costly, but we would find one or two pieces that we could just not live without. And from that would come another quilt because we had to go find something that would go with it of course, that would blend and make another quilt.

JW: Did the three of you ever quilt together?

MW: Oh yes, yes.

JW: On the same quilt, or each?

MW: On no. Each one our own. Yeah, yeah.

JW: Describe where you quilt. Describe your studio or quilting area.

MW: It's just in my little apartment. Well, we would go to Marge's on Wednesday night, but at home I just quilt in my little dinette.

JW: Now you don't belong to a guild, is that right?

MW: No.

JW: What are your favorite techniques, what favorite materials do you use? Do you use all cotton?

MW: Oh, all cotton. I love cotton.

JW: You like hand quilting but you do machine quilting as well?

MW: No, no I don't. I think that's almost sacrilegious. [laughs.]

JW: But you machine piece.

MW: I machine piece and then I'll hand quilt over it.

JW: What's your favorite color?

MW: Blue.

JW: Blue. Do you have any unfinished projects or just the two you are working on? Do you have something back in the corner that you just lost interest in?

MW: No. You mean other than quilting?

JW: No, for quilting.

MW: For quilting? No, I don't think so.

JW: What do you think makes a great quilt?

MW: [quietly whispers response--inaudible.] [both laugh.]

JW: Okay. If you were to go into a museum and look at a quilt, something is going to draw your attention to a particular quilt. What to you think makes that quilt perhaps artistically powerful? What makes it a great quilt for you?

MW: I've never done it, but the ones that will really draw me to them is that you know they had a story behind them. It tells a story. I never got into doing that type of thing. But when I go to a quilt show that's, I'm sure, what draws me. You just look at a quilt and you know there is a story behind it and it tells it to you.

JW: What do you think makes a quilt so that it should go into a museum or a special collection? Would it be the story it tells?

MW: The story it tells and the wonderful work that is put into it.

JW: The workmanship.

MW: The workmanship and the colors. Some people have such a wonderful gift of showing their colors.

JW: What about the quiltmaker? What makes a great quiltmaker?

MW: Well, I know different kinds. My friend Marge, she dearly loved to quilt, and it had to be so perfect. She was very competitive. I know that she would just do wonderful, wonderful work, but I think I get much more joy from quilting than she ever did because, I think it's my joy of creating is the difference.

JW: Why is quilt making important in your life at this point?

MW: Oh, it's memories. It's really memories of what it meant at the time that I learned to quilt and the different places that we three women went. One of the ladies we've lost now. She's been gone a few years, but we even had a week down in Pennsylvania Dutch. We just had such joy going to the--and watching the people quilt down there. But we've lost her. [one sentence removed at request of Interviewee.] I don't seem to have any younger women at church. They are all just so busy. I'm hoping that eventually I can, I have some protégées that I'm trying to teach. [sneezes.] Excuse me. It frightens the Pastor but-- [laughs.]

JW: Frightens the Pastor?

MW: Frightens the Pastor, yes, [laughs.] cause I do have way too much fun [laughs.] in life. [laughs.] It doesn't matter what I'm doing. [laughs.]

JW: Do you think your quilts reflect your community, your region, your state? How do you see those as different from somewhere else?

MW: I haven't thought--[pauses.]

JW: Do they have a different look to them do you think?

MW: Hmm. When I think of going to the quilt shows, yes. If you were in Vermont, it depicted Vermont, yes it did. Of course, when we were in Pennsylvania, the quilt shows down there, it was entirely, yes, you are right. It does depict a different--and with ours. If I think about it and I think about those displayed at church, I think it's more of a homemade closeness. I don't how I think that in a quilt, but I do. There is something about the homeyness of it that I feel.

JW: When I came in here, I picked up on your quilt and said that to you and you said that someone else here had just said that to you.

MW: That's true. That's true.

JW: As you come into the house your quilt was very welcoming. Indeed, you put it on a chair--

MW: On a sofa one time, a love seat that I have. I don't know, I just felt like, mm, when I walked in the door. Yes, that would feel nice, and I did put it on that sofa and left it there for a while. It just seemed always good to walk in at night. [coughs.]

JW: What do you think about quilts in American life as a general--

MW: It would be just a shame if there were no quilters anymore because it's a time, when I think of that, Wednesday evenings there was we three girls that the other younger girl was teaching, and we had such companionship from that and such fun. There was always something silly going on and it just made wonderful memories. There were two other ladies from church who just didn't have any desire to quilt, but they said they needed to be there with us because we seemed to have that companionship and sisterhood that they didn't see any other place. So that did reflect.

JW: As you look back at women's history in America, what special meaning do quilts have?

MW: I think, and I think about it, not even in my own family, the quilt was to keep you warm. There was many, I believe there was seven or eight bedrooms, so that took a lot of quilts. It was a way of saving and a way of helping.

JW: Was one person in your family sort of the designated quilter?

MW: Yes, it would be my sister Evelyn, Lina, we always called her. She was the one that did everything like that. I think of, like I said before, the wool quilts weren't as appealing, but you know how nice and warm they were.

JW: Did she like that job?

MW: Oh, she did. She did. She loved to sew, and she loved, I think it's something in our family. [laughs.] We like to create.

JW: How do you think quilts can be used, other than how you use them now? How do you think quilts can be or should be used?

MW: Quilters or quilts themselves?

JW: Either one actually, but I was thinking quilts. How do you think quilts can be used?

MW: I think as gifts, especially for a wedding gift. And hopefully when the couple looks at it they will realize how many hours it took and the love that went in it. I would think mostly love.

JW: Mm-mm. Mm-mm. Now you've talked about your sister Evelyn. How old was she, what period of her life did she have to make all of these quilts? And did she feel she had to make the quilts? Or is that just something she liked to do? Was that sort of her job in the family? Her chore?

MW: Mm. I think it was a necessity. Farm women back in that age, they just knew that they kept busy. I always remember in the morning the cleaning was done. The cooking was done. After they had a big dinner, the dishes were done and cleaned up from that. My Mom and my sister Lina would go and, they didn't change their dresses necessarily, but they put on a clean apron. They'd sit down and do some either crocheting or something like quilting. So that happened in the afternoon.

JW: You were talking about quilts that you still have like the other one in the other room. That has a lot of small pieces. Do you think that was simply because the pieces left over from other things were small? Or was it a design thing in your family?

MW: Oh, I think it was pieces that were left over and were made into a design. I'm quite sure that was it.

JW: To create it though, somebody used some creativity--

MW: Yeah. They did.

JW: --to figure that out.

MW: Yeah.

JW: How do you think quilts could be preserved for the future? What should one do?

MW: Be very, very careful, as we talked earlier [before the interview.] about how they are folded, how they are cleaned and where they are kept.

JW: So, on that, do you think older quilts, not antique quilts, should be used?

MW: Oh definitely, definitely.

JW: Not just handed down.

MW: Right. Oh, I think they should be used.

JW: What has happened to all the quilts you have made for your friends and family? Do you feel they are being used?

MW: I do. Yup.

JW: You mentioned that you make wearable art. Do you make like vests or jackets or what type of thing do you do?

MW: Mm-mm. I have done, and I've given them all away. But I made--one Christmas I made, --most of them were from a log cabin pattern--vests. I made for my two granddaughters, my grandson's wife, and another one for another friend. I've made, I think, about six of the quilted vests.

JW: Do you sleep under a quilt?

MW: Oh yes.

JW: How many quilts do you actually use all the time?

MW: Oh, one in the summer and one in the winter.

JW: Do you make wall hangings and dressy quilts?

MW: No. [laughs.] I'm very practical. [laughs.]

JW: Do you have any other friends besides Marge and, what was your other friend's name?

MW: Evelyn.

JW: Evelyn. Marge and Evelyn. Do you have other ones maybe you'd like to teach quilting to?

MW: I was thinking, I'm not a good teacher, but I have some younger girls in church, of course at my age I have lost a lot of the older friends, but in my Sunday School class I have four that are in their 50's, close to 60's. I know one especially that has recently said, 'I'll be retiring soon. Perhaps we can spend more time together.' So, I think she's a really good candidate that I can perhaps start quilting. I have another really younger one and I love her dearly. But she has her own ideas. Her ideas are a Quilt in a Day type thing. They come out looking pretty good at a distance, [laughs.] but I don't know if I can ever change her or not. She's going to be a challenge. [both laugh.] But I know she loves me dearly, so I think I've got a good chance there. [both laugh.]

JW: You don't belong to a guild, is that correct?

MW: No, I don't. Never. No.

JW: Never belonged to a guild.

JW: What do you have for tips, tips or advice, for beginners, new quilters?

MW: Well, I know it's very, very important to do it absolutely correctly because you're so pleased afterwards that you, like this one that is twenty years old that is still together and still looks good, so I know that you need to follow the basic rules. But my biggest thing is, enjoy it. Enjoy what you are doing. I mean there are some people I know that have to be competitive. But they don't seem to get the joy out of it that I do. That's the main tip that I would have, [laughs.] enjoy what you're doing.

JW: Good advice. I think you had a couple of other things that you wanted to mention for this interview. You've had a trip up here. You've had a chance to think about some questions or comments?

MW: [pause.] No.

JW: You think that you've gotten them all in?

MW: Yeah. I think that we've gotten it all together.

JW: Okay. Advances in technology, do you think that that's affected you at all or did you start out using a rotary cutter or that type of thing. How do you think advances in technology have changed the way we quilt?

MW: I had no idea what a rotary cutter was when I started. I mean I'd always, as I said, I always sewed, but I had no idea what a rotary cutter was. I have found that I can use it in so many different ways. You know, take my mat and go up to the rec hall and put it on that table and I can use that rotary cutter and it's such a help. It makes things--you know, I used to use a yard stick and draw it this way and that and make sure it was straight. Now I can use that rotary cutter and put it on that mat and, oh it zips. It's wonderful.

JW: No wonder your pastor is worried. [both laugh.] You sound dangerous with it. [both continue to laugh.]

JW: What do you think is the biggest challenge confronting quiltmakers today?

MW: Well in my area, it's finding supplies. I live near Sturbridge, Massachusetts and there used to be at least six wonderful quilt shops there. Now, when I went to start one last year, I would go by the quilt shop and drive in and it was closed, or it was a doll store or something like that. I think right now to me the biggest challenge is to find material. It's costly when you do. You pay $8.00 a yard if you finally find what you want.

JW: How far away do you have to go to find what you want?

MW: Well, I have found the one in Sturbridge and that is 18 miles. But there is one that I need to go to soon that is down in Connecticut. That would be about 80 miles. But they tell me they have a wonderful variety and a lot of good cottons.

JW: Do you go to quilt shows and get ideas?

MW: I used to. I've been much too busy the last year or two that I haven't. But I used to go there a lot.

JW: Okay. Do you have any other comments that you would like to make today about this interview or about quilting?

MW: I am just so pleased to be a little part of it and hoping it will help to inspire people to continue quilting.

JW: Well, I'd like to thank you Millie for allowing me to interview you today. This is part of the Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories project and also to her sister Polly who has opened up her home for us today and had invited us here to do this. It has been fun talking with both of you and to see the old quilts that you have and so forth. Our interview is over, and it concluded at 11:32 a.m. Thank you very much.

MW: You are so very welcome. [talk at the same time.]

JW: [corrected the time.] 12:32 p.m.

MW: I want to thank you too. It's such a joy.

Interview concludes.

Collection



Citation

“Millie Wark,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed April 13, 2024, https://qsos.quiltalliance.org/items/show/2148.