Fred Maitland




Fred Maitland




Fred Maitland


Jeanne Wright

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Iris Karp


Cumberland Center, Maine


Jeanne Wright


Jeanne Wright (JW): This is Jeanne Wright. Today is November 2, 2010. It’s 3:47 in the afternoon and I’m conducting an interview with Fred Maitland of Cumberland Center, Maine at his home here for the Alliance for American Quilts, Quilters’ S.O.S. - Save Our Stories project. Fred and his wife Beth are both quilters. They travel to quilt functions, shows, and meetings together. I’m interviewing each of them today. Thank you, Fred, for taking part in this interview.

Fred Maitland (FM): Thank you for having me.

JW: Tell me about the quilt. You’ve got a quilt story for us today.

FM: Yes.

JW: And I’d love to have you tell us that story.

FM: Well, it’s probably a good place to start is the fact that I was President of Friends of Fort Edgecomb. That’s an 1812 fort [in Edgecomb, Maine.]. We were having things going on all around and we got together to make a quilt. [Fred and Beth take part in the encampments at the Fort.] We made a quilt in the fort, basically of the style and period of time and trying to get the material very similar. On the way home that night, I was going up the road and a truck driver came up beside me, honked at me, waved his hand and pointed toward the rear of my van. At that time, I looked out and the whole rear of the van was one big plume of flames that I couldn’t see before. I tried to stop and couldn’t. I sheared the pin in the transmission and everything else trying to stop. Brakes had gone. Finally, just at top of the hill before I crested, I slowed down and it stopped. I reached out and grabbed the cell phone, jumped out over a big ball of flames and ran down the road and began calling my wife who was following me, a ways behind. I turned around to see if there was anything I could salvage, and the windshield blew out. So, I felt very fortunate to be able to even survive at that point. Needless to say, though, the quilt did not survive very well. The [quilt.] frame that was very special at that time, part of it burned up, as well as the quilt and all of our possessions for a colonial re-enactment. After they put it out, the rest is history.

JW: There wasn’t anything left of the quilt?

FM: Patches of it.

JW: Just the patches of it.

FM: My wife salvaged some of it.

JW: She’s showing me just a bit of it. Just little patches with very burned, charred edges. It is a sad reminder of your efforts. Did you make another quilt?

FM: No. As a matter of fact, Beth had made a quilt for the Fort in the past and this was the last one at that time that has ever been made. [See QSOS interview #ME04021-001 with Beth Maitland to read an intriguing story about another quilt made for Fort Edgecomb.]

JW: Did you do any of the work on the quilt?

FM: I did some of the work, but very little. We had quite a number of women that were quite busy at the time. I was quite busy demonstrating colonial activities and things of that sort.

JW: You and your wife both do these [re-enactments.] together.

FM: Oh yes. Yes.

JW: Now I understand she’s the President of the Pine Tree Quilters Guild, Inc. [in Maine.]

FM: Right.

JW: As her husband, what’s your job?

FM: To follow suit. [both laugh out loud.]

JW: But, kidding aside, you’re a quilter in your own right.

FM: Oh yes. I do some quilting and that.

JW: What type of quilting do you like to do?

FM: I just enjoy the general variations of what can happen with a quilt. Start off with one design and in a few changes and you have an entirely different type of quilt. I like good colors and that type of thing.

JW: I think you have a good example of the “start out with one thing and wind up with something else.” Tell me what you do for display at the Cumberland Fair [county fair in Cumberland, Maine.] every year. What did you have for the children?

FM: Well, what we had there was different patches [a patchwork block.] made up. There was one set block that every time you turn it one way or the other, you completely change the shape of the figures and to show the people. They had a grand time changing everything all every which way.

JW: You were able to accomplish this with only two patterns.

FM: That is correct. [phone rings in the background.]

JW: Mm-mm. So, one of them, I think, had a cross of red in the middle of blue and one had [red.] diagonal pieces along the side. And just using those two, you had a handful of these--

FM: That’s right.

JW: --and a variety of shapes of quilts were made.

FM: Yes. Actually, I don’t know how many combinations we could derive from that, but it seemed like a good many.

JW: The children especially loved to do that. You’re at the fair all week and you have these available for children to do.

FM: That’s right.

JW: Tell us about the other type of thing that you did this year for children and adults.

FM: We were using shaving cream and ink to make marbling on a piece of material. So, the kids could make their design and get it onto a piece of material. We’d iron it and then they could take it along with them.

JW: What type of ink?

FM: This is just an all-purpose ink that they manufacture to--

JW: An ink or a paint?

FM: An ink.

JW: An ink, yeah. What’s the process? What do they do?

FM: It’s an ink that you can use for a good many things. But the shaving cream, you just put a few drops down and then swish it every which way to make the marbling.

JW: On fabric?

FM: On fabric. Well, first you do it on the shaving cream and then you put the fabric on top of that. It tracks it right up in to the, puts it right into the material.

JW: So, you put shaving cream down on a surface and then you put the ink on that?

FM: Yes.

JW: And then you put the fabric on top of that.

FM: That’s correct.

JW: When it gets done, what type of thing do you have for a finished product?

FM: You have a marbling usually. You could do many things, but basically what we try to do is to have them do a marbling type of figure, so it is sort of a pretty combination.

JW: And then they take their individual squares home.

FM: Right. Mm-mm.

JW: Now, your wife showed me a small quilt that was made up using this style, but you folks made the squares yourselves.

FM: That’s right.

JW: And the squares, I think, were something like two or three inches, perhaps as much as three inches square.

FM: Right.

JW: And you had twelve different ones, but you used various colors of ink. Then by just manipulating the, what did you use to manipulate this, your fingers?

FM: A comb.

JW: A comb.

FM: You could use many things, a stick or whatever you want. No two will ever come out the same.

JW: Right. Very creative. A lot of fun. I know the children enjoyed it; I was at the table next to you. When people look at quilts that you work on, what would they conclude about you as a quilter?

FM: Hum. I don’t know. [laughs.] That’s a difficult one. Probably that I just enjoy doing it, not that I’m any expert at it. I just enjoy quilting.

JW: Would we tend to see one type of color more than another?

FM: Not necessarily, but they probably would notice that I enjoy the brighter colors and the combination of brighter colors, without being too flashy.

JW: Now you have a beautiful vest on today. Tell me about that one. It has some bright but rich colors in.

FM: Well, we were making squares and we did the [Blueberry Fields Forever Challenge.] quilt that I made and all of the leftover type things, my wife put it into the vest I’m wearing, and she did the back of it with nice scenery.

JW: Usually when we see you two around the state, you’re wearing some type of quilted jacket or vest.

FM: Yes. That’s right.

JW: Very individualized. Tell me about your interest in quiltmaking. When did it start? What got you hooked?

FM: Well, I’ve always had somewhat of an interest. When I was a Boy Scout and it was during WWII, you didn’t have availability on many things, especially with something to--I’m getting ahead of myself. I made a sleeping bag. The sleeping bag, you couldn’t get down or anything of that sort. The only thing available was Kapok. In order to do it, it had to be quilted and put together, which I did the whole thing myself.

JW: Mm. Including the zipper?

FM: Oh, yes.

JW: Oh, yes? Had you sewn when you were younger?

FM: A little bit, yes. My mother always made me sew on my scout badges and things of that sort. Different odds and ends of jobs.

JW: So, what would you say would be your earliest age at which you did some type of sewing?

FM: Probably when I was about twelve or thirteen. I might have done something before, but it was somewhere around that age.

JW: So, from whom did you learn to quilt?

FM: My mother.

JW: She was a quilter?

FM: Well--

JW: Or just taught you?

FM: Well, yes, but she was more of a sewer than a quilter. She didn’t have that much time to do just quilting. She made my clothing and that type of thing.

JW: Was there someone else in your family then who helped you hone it into quilting more?

FM: My grandmother used to do some, but not that much. I would say my mother had most of the influence on it.

JW: Mm-mm. Now why did she steer you into quilting as opposed to just sewing?

FM: Only because of need.

JW: Mm-mm. Need.

FM: Like the sleeping bag and things of that sort.

JW: Mm-mm. Have you quilted for most of your life?

FM: I haven’t. For a long period of time in between I didn’t do anything until Beth, and I got together, and she spiked my interest because she had a very good knack for putting colors together, which I’m not that good at putting colors together. I enjoy seeing a nice pattern, but I have her tell me which tie to wear, if you know what I mean. [laughs.]

JW: When you go shopping for the colors, do you go together?

FM: Oh, yes. And we pick out material together. I have a little different taste than she does, and we’ve matched and mixed back and forth and discuss it. [a phone rang in the background,]

JW: Now you are creating a Lone Star quilt, is that right? [Beth answered the phone and took it out of the room.]

FM: Ah, yes.

JW: What about the colors there? Did you choose the colors?

FM: Basically, it’s more on the brighter browns and burnt yellows. We would be picking out, I picked out most of the colors. She would advise me as to what she thinks might work, but it’s basically my picking and choosing as to what I like.

JW: Now, will you be doing all the sewing on this?

FM: Oh, yes. Yeah.

JW: What about the quilting? How do you quilt it?

FM: With a regular sewing machine.

JW: You do all your quilting on a sewing machine?

FM: Yes. Mm-mm.

JW: Have you ever tried a longarm? [wall clock is chiming in the background.]

FM: Yes, I’ve tried one. I just can’t afford it. [both laugh.]

JW: Would you like to do it that way?

FM: I would imagine it would be fun.

JW: How many hours a week do you quilt now?

FM: That’s hard to say because I do so many other things as well around the house and everything else, that I come and go with it. I may usually do a little catch up because we have to get something done for something or other and then I’ll work steady for four or five days.

JW: So, you work together quite often--

FM: Oh, yes. Yes.

JW: --on your projects. Yeah. Do you have any quilts in progress right now that are your quilts that you are working on?

FM: The Lone Star is the only one in progress. I have a couple being shown in New Hampshire this coming week and such, but I haven’t got anything else in progress otherwise than the Lone Star.

JW: Mm-mm. What’s your very first quilt memory?

FM: I have a hard time with that otherwise than the sleeping bag and things of that sort. Then if you really say quilting, it wasn’t until Beth and I got together, probably the ones that are being shown are the heavy quilting that I did.

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

FM: Not necessarily. No.

JW: Can you tell me about an amusing experience that has happened while you have been quilting or to do with your quilting world? Can you think of one?

FM: I can’t think of any real amusing. [pause.]

JW: Any interesting thing that happened? [pause.] You’ll think of it tomorrow morning. [both laugh.] What aspects of quilting do you not enjoy?

FM: I could care less for appliqué. I like to watch other, look at other people’s work, but I just, I have very little interest in hand sewing.

JW: What about machine appliqué?

FM: I’m not particularly, I don’t care for the looks of it as a rule. It can apply in sometimes and I would do it myself if it applied, but for the most part I’m not really happy with the results.

JW: So, you do, almost exclusively, patchwork?

FM: Yes. Yes.

JW: What do you like best about quilting?

FM: The construction of design and change, figures and shapes, and come up with something different.

JW: Mm-mm. Do you do any of this on the computer, or just a piece of paper and a pencil?

FM: Paper and pencil and not too much on that, I haven’t really got into the computer aspect of it.

JW: Mm-mm. What inspires you for these designs?

FM: Something that comes into my head that seems to shape up or looks interesting for me.

JW: What about magazines? Do you read a variety of quilting magazines?

FM: I look them most all over that have come my way. More for the texture of different quilts and what I could do and what I couldn’t do.

JW: You, I think, attend many quilt shows, do you?

FM: Oh, quite often, yes.

JW: How far would you go to attend a quilt show?

FM: A couple hundred miles. But we probably attend four or five during the--

JW: And you have some in the quilt show this weekend?

FM: Yes. We will be going over there. My son lives nearby so we stay there and of course stay the weekend showing and I’m also monitoring a class and that type of thing. It keeps us quite busy.

JW: What led you to put your quilt in that show?

FM: My wife is showing at the show. She seems to think that my quilt should stand up well in the show.

JW: Now the place that you work, tell me about the space you work in. What’s that like?

FM: Well, I more or less, from my wife’s area that she has, she has a large area where she keeps her stash, and I generally would be able to pick and choose from her stash. A sewing machine that she has now in the living room that I work on and that type of thing.

JW: So, you sort of use the whole house?

FM: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

JW: As most of us do for quilting. What do you think about technology and how it influences the quilter nowadays?

FM: Well, of course you mentioned the computer, which has a big range, and you can work with it to bring it together. A good many odds and ends that you see coming up more and more, like the rotary cutter and the rulers and things of that sort that give a whole different range of being able to do things quicker, easier and more accurately.

JW: You say it was quite a few years ago when you first started quilting. So, you must have seen quite a difference?

FM: Oh, yeah. A big difference.

JW: Do you purchase many gizmos of any type? Are you a gizmo person?

FM: I’ve always been a gizmo person. [laughs.]

JW: So, if a new type of ruler or cutter or thimble or something [becomes available.] you’d like to use it?

FM: Oh, yes. My first sewing was on a treadle machine. [coughs.] Excuse me.

JW: On a treadle?

FM: Yes. And those, they’d go rather slow, but they would accomplish the same thing.

JW: What different feeling did it give you on a treadle as opposed to what you are doing now?

FM: Well, it just felt like you accomplished more.

JW: On the treadle?

FM: Yes.

JW: Uh-huh.

FM: You had to keep coming.

JW: Would it be because you felt closer to the material maybe?

FM: No, you were more involved.

JW: Yes. More involved in it. What groups do you belong to--quilt guilds and that type of thing?

FM: Well, we belong to our local Calico Quilters. Of course, that’s part of the state. Right now, my wife is President of the Pine Tree Quilters [Guild, Inc.]. That’s about the extent of our quilting organizations.

JW: Do you use a design wall?

FM: Somewhat. That’s usually worked out with my wife and myself. Now we kibitz back and forth over what goes there and what doesn’t go there and all these little things.

JW: That’s why it’s handy to have two quilters in one house.

FM: Oh, yes. [both laugh.]

JW: What do you think makes a great quilt?

FM: The skill in the way the things are placed, the color combinations. They really become masterpieces. They are forms of art. When you go to a quilt show and look around, there is a huge amount of art there that you are almost in awe at how the person designed it and worked around it and that and accomplished what they did.

JW: Do you ever give quilts as gifts, or to charity or anything like that?

FM: I’m not quite sure what--

JW: Do you give quilts as gifts, or do you sell them or keep them?

FM: Oh. There are times when I have done little things like my kitchen quilts, hot items.

JW: What’s that, kitchen quilts?

FM: What was that?

JW: What is a kitchen quilt?

FM: That’s just what I was trying to figure out. [both laugh.] It’s sort of a hot pad, I’d call it.

JW: Oh, I see. Your wife has just brought one in.

FM: It can be hung up as a stylish thing as well as pick up your hot items.

JW: Even on this, hot pad I guess perhaps you might call it--

FM: That’s what I was thinking of, yes.

JW: --even on this you have the name of the quilt, what it is and your name and date.

FM: That’s right. Yes.

JW: So, you consider that as important to document.

FM: Oh, of course because that is a design of our own. When you give it to somebody and that type of thing, it is nice for them to know later on who did what.

JW: Do you document all of your quilts?

FM: Yes. Everything.

JW: What type of process do you use for documenting it? Do you use a pen or a computer or what type of thing?

FM: Well, most of the time just put on a square patch type of thing, with name, ideas, name of the quilt, dates, and anything else that may be pertinent to it.

JW: So, you would use a Pigma pen, that type of thing, a permanent--

FM: Yes. Identity pen.

JW: Identify pen?

FM: That’s printed with ink.

JW: So, they are washable so that’s always going to remain.

FM: Right.

JW: And how do you attach them to the quilt?

FM: I sew it right on the back of it.

JW: You sew them. You don’t iron them on with an appliqué type of thing that really irons them to it?

FM: No.

JW: Do you have a collection of any quilting things, memorabilia, fabrics, quilts, gizmos, antiques?

FM: [looking around and laughs.] We’ve got all kinds of those around. [both laugh.] Just odds and ends that we have gotten one way or the other. I can’t think of any.

JW: You don’t have any particular collection?

FM: Nothing that I can really--

JW: Okay. What do you think makes a quilt artistically powerful?

FM: Design and color.

JW: Which being the more important?

FM: Neither.

JW: Okay. What would you like to see if you walked into a show on quilts? Something is going to stand out to you. Why? What do you look for? The design and color capture your attention and when you move closer, what do you look for?

FM: It depends on what the design is. Often times the stitching itself will bring out what you are looking at. Sometimes the quilting is unique. The quilting can be all of the design for that matter. The individual stitches and how they did them, performed them, as well as the layout of the pieces and the type of work, all combined.

JW: When you’re looking at a quilt, do you prefer hand quilting or machine quilting?

FM: When I’m looking, it really doesn’t matter so much because I’m not doing the hand quilting. [laughs.]

JW: Would you like to be doing hand quilting?

FM: No. I don’t care for hand quilting.

JW: You don’t do it?

FM: No. But I do enjoy quilting that is done by hand.

JW: Mm-mm. Well, what do you think would make a quilt appropriate to be in a museum? What kind of attributes should it have? What should you think of?

FM: Well, in the first place, very well done, anywhere from the stitching to the layout and everything else. The next thing is the combination of the design and color for the unique purpose of whatever the designer happens to be doing. If just the pattern or scenery or whatever, it has to apply to itself.

JW: Do you think every quilt in a museum needs to be an antique quilt?

FM: No.

JW: No.

FM: No. Any quilt that is outstanding should be in a museum.

JW: Now what about a quilt maker? What makes a great quilt maker?

FM: All the above. [both laugh.]

JW: What do you think sets quiltmakers apart then?

FM: What sets them apart?

JW: Distinguishes one from another.

FM: Almost all of them are different in the way they do the design, the layout. This is one of the fascinating things about quilting is a quilter can do their own designs, they own things and so therefore all the quilts are somewhat designed unto themselves. So therefore, you can separate everything one way or the other. It depends on how they want to do it. And, even at that, a lot of them, of course, copy and use other patterns, but you still can see the workmanship and often times the color changes and all this type of thing, all intertwined.

JW: It’s fascinating. Two people have the same pattern, and the quilt is completely different, one from the other.

FM: Yes. Yes. Definitely.

JW: Have you ever won an award for a quilt?

FM: I’ve won ribbons and such for showing at shows.

JW: How about have you ever participated in quilt preservation of any kind?

FM: I, when you talk about preservation, it’s hard to say that--they came to the town with a show on quilts for the 9/11 display and they had trouble with the air conditioning leaking, and we worked quite diligently to help them get it back into condition so that they could keep on going on the road. Otherwise, than that, like the quilt at the Fort and such.

JW: So, you might say the idea of a quilt is as important as the actual quilt? I think in the quilt we talked about for Fort Edgecomb.

FM: Yes. Definitely the idea of the quilt. Where and whence, it comes from, it has a lot to do with it. When you look at old quilts and value it, it depends on who made it, where it was made and what it was made of and all the different variations.

JW: Mm-mm. Why is quiltmaking important in your life?

FM: It’s just one more thing that I enjoy doing and one more thing that there’s available with many other things I have for an interest in life.

JW: Mm-mm. So, in preservation, what are the types of things that you would like to do or to see happen with quilts in the idea of preservation?

FM: Well, I very much am interested in the museums that keep getting the quilts and things of that sort, but as far as preservation, I don’t get to see too many quilts that are passing by that are at a show or something of that sort.

JW: You do realize that today, by doing this interview, you are preserving these quilt stories?

FM: Yes.

JW: It’s an important thing that you are doing--

FM: Oh, yes, definitely. It’s great.

JW: --to pass along the stories. I think probably in the early history of America the stories were quite important because not everybody read, passing the stories along, as well as the skills.

FM: True. And the thing that really is disturbing is the number of quilts that have just been thrown away. They have gone by the wayside and that were never preserved. Of course, a lot of them were just worn out. They couldn’t have been preserved. They were very practical.

JW: In what ways do your quilts reflect, I say community, meaning the area, the state, do you see how they are different in Maine than they are in another state or in New England than from another region?

FM: Of course, that does definitely vary, but it’s the same as the personalities varying, each state and different regions. You know you can go to extremes one way or another. When you see the native population in one area, they will bring out certain types of quilts. Extremely different, like Hawaii has a different texture, a different design. New England is a little bit different from the South and it definitely comes out.

JW: Do you have an opportunity to travel and to see the different types of quilts?

FM: To a certain extent. We don’t travel as much as we used to.

JW: When you travel, do you try to seek out quilt--

FM: Oh yes.

JW: --shows, museums, displays?

FM: It’s very hard to go by a quilt shop. [both laugh.]

JW: Yes. To purchase or to look? [both laugh again.] You and your wife go out, you look for something, who is going to spend the most money in the quilt shop?

FM: That’s hard to say. [both laugh.]

JW: Okay. Okay. Do you have anybody’s works you are drawn to? Do you have a particular artist or quilt designer you are drawn to?

FM: Oh, definitely. I love my wife’s work. [all three of us laugh loudly.] I won’t dare say anything else with her sitting right here. [all three continue to laugh.]

JW: What a very good answer. She is sitting right here in the room! [we continue to laugh.] What other artists have influenced you?

FM: There are quite a few that have done some marvelous appliqué, for instance, and hand stitching that very much interests me in the way they have done it.

JW: What do you think about the importance of quilts in American life today?

FM: Well, I think it’s, very useful, not so much useful as art today. Whereas in the past there was definitely a use. People needed it to keep warm and such. It made a big difference that way. As you go from one era to another, there were many things that influenced it, such as where the mills were and what they had for availability, and how many grain bags they might have had. So you have to judge the area and from whence it came.

JW: Did you ever, was your life, was it touched by feed sack quilts? That type of sewing?

FM: What?

JW: Did your family ever sew using the feed sack quilts? [he couldn’t hear/didn’t understand me.] The feed sack quilts of the ‘30’s, of that era?

FM: Oh.

JW: The grain bags, that type of thing?

FM: Some of my relatives had quite a bit of grain bags. The immediate family, I only saw two or three quilts of that sort. If I go outside the family, still part of my relatives, they were really, were quite heavy into it.

JW: Mm-mm. Not just for quilts, but clothing, curtains, tablecloths--did your family use it for that at all?

FM: Well, we didn’t deal too much with grain. That’s why I know that the other relatives were on the farms and used an awful lot of them. But we were more city dwellers, and we didn’t really get to the grain bag situation.

JW: When your mother was sewing, do you think she had ample opportunity to buy material?

FM: As long as it was very basic. You’ve got the plaids and this type of thing. During WWII the material got rather sparse. You did have big variations.

JW: Mm-mm.

FM: So therefore, clothing was the same way.

JW: Now you’ve talked about quilting in the past was out of necessity. Quilting now seems to be more of an art quilt type of thing. Where do you think quilting is going in the future?

FM: I would imagine it would keep on very much the same. We have such a strong inclination of organization and such, that people are enjoying the quilting and enjoying it more from the art point of view than they are from necessity. Although I have a feeling that of course all the quilters are using them.

JW: Are using their quilts?

FM: To a certain extent, except most of them have so many that they seem to be giving them to their children, grandchildren, neighbors [laughs,] and they are being appreciated more for the art point of view than from necessity.

JW: Fads come and go. I think it was probably in the 50’s and 60’s where quilting wasn’t as popular. Do you think this is a fad?

FM: Well, when you talk about 50’s and 60’s, people were not doing much quilting. There was a time before that where everybody was making their own clothes. Then it got to a point where material was more expensive than what you could buy. So, people got away from the sewing machine. And I think that goes right along with the quilting. If people aren’t sewing their clothing and everything else, they don’t have to save their scraps. So therefore, they are not, by a large amount I’m talking about, do not go into quilting. As time went on, people began coming back to sewing, but they still didn’t make all of their clothing. They only made part of it. They enjoyed sewing, so therefore quilting was a good way to do it and they could afford it.

JW: What about when you started quilting? I’m not sure how long ago that was?

FM: In between my sleeping bag, that was a necessity.

JW: Right. But when you started your current quilting, when you started quilting with Beth and so forth, did you find that cloth was readily available or not so? How long ago was that?

FM: Oh, it was readily available. Everything was readily available. It was a matter of what choice you wanted to make and a matter of acquiring material you particularly wanted.

JW: How do you think quilts should be used?

FM: Any way you like. [laughs.]

JW: What about preserving quilts? Let’s say you had a quilt from 1932. Do you think that should be used or preserved?

FM: If you have something that old, I would say preserved.

JW: What about if you made a quilt in 1984, a quilt that you made? Do you think that should be used or preserved?

FM: Well, I would say that depends on the quilt and condition and everything else. I wouldn’t want to keep the quilt just for the sake of keeping it. I’d want it to be something special that you’re going to put in the time and energy to preserve it.

JW: What about you make a quilt in 2011? What would you like to see happen to that quilt?

FM: I would like to see someone use it or hang it and enjoy it, depends on what it was, the design and this type of thing.

JW: What do you think about quilts and the special meaning they have in men’s history in America?

FM: That’s an interesting one because so few men seem to really be interested. Even those are interested from afar. The ones that are really into it probably are just like me. They really enjoy it. But so many of them are observers from afar, their wives and such, but they don’t really want to get into it.

JW: Do you think that has anything to do with being stereotyped as women’s work?

FM: Definitely. No matter how you look at it. I’m looked at from a distance as an oddball. The men just don’t want to be bothered to do any sewing.

JW: Do you think it’s a time thing for them?

FM: If you look back in history, men, or even back in colonial days, prefer to hire another man to sew and the men that sewed were definitely tailors and people that did it and so they liked it. But there was always a minority of men that sewed. It was a woman’s job. And it had continued until let’s say the 30’s and 40’s after the depression, it was still a woman’s job to do the sewing.

JW: What about in your quilt guild, are there any men?

FM: Yes. Me. [both laugh.]

JW: You must shine then. [both laugh.] What do you think about in a state guild? Do you have any concept about how many men might be in the state guild?

FM: Oh, there must be a half a dozen.

JW: Oh really? Doing different types of quilting? Some art quilts, some patchwork?

FM: Well, I really haven’t seen that much quilting from men. Two or three of them I have seen have done just regular quilting, good work and such. They are so few and far between. I don’t really know how much they are doing which way.

JW: When you and your wife quilt, do you feel you have a different type of quilting? Do you quilt differently?

FM: To a certain extent, I would say yes.

JW: Because it seems like you are quite interwoven with each other in your quilting world.

FM: Yes. But she is definitely into the scenery type of pictures, and she does a beautiful job of it, which I really don’t get into. Put it that way.

JW: Do you have any tips or advice for new quilters, people who want to start quilting? What would you tell them?

FM: Get into it [laughs.] and just do it. Learn what you can. That’s the beauty I like about the guilds because they are always learning something. There’s so much to learn.

JW: How do you think they can find a guild? What are the steps? How would they know where to begin? They just say, ‘I’d like to make a quilt. My grandmother used to do that and how can I do that?’

FM: I would say either get into a guild or find somebody who does know what they are doing. It’s pretty difficult to learn all the techniques by yourself. You can get books on it, but it isn’t quite the same as knowing somebody and being able to talk about it.

JW: Mm-mm. Doing it in person. What do you think is the biggest for challenge for quiltmakers today?

FM: Biggest challenge?

JW: Mm-mm. There are some challenges out there when people are quilting. What do you think the challenges are?

FM: That’s a, [pause.] it’s a challenge to put the quilt together and design it. I don’t see any real challenges. Like so many things in life today are electronics and such, which are quite challenging. Otherwise, designing your own quilts and putting them together.

JW: Mm-mm. You think that’s a challenge to design your own quilt then, or to figure out to do that as opposed to using a quilt pattern?

FM: Well, that depends on the individual, whatever challenges the individual, because every individual is different that way and I think that’s where I hesitate on the whole thing, because it depends on what is challenging for the individual. But as an industry, the biggest thing I see with the industry is to get out and get people seeing it and knowing what it is all about.

JW: Are there any other things you would like to say, that you’d like to add to this interview?

FM: I think we have covered it pretty well.

JW: We have. Okay. No other comments?

FM: [laughs.]

JW: From the male point of view or anything?

FM: [laughs.] Well, that’s awful hard to say, male point of view. [laughs.]

JW: I guess you’d being the one saying it though. [both laugh.]

FM: That could be ambiguous. [both laugh.]

JW: All right. Well, I’d like to thank Fred for allowing me to interview him today as part of the Quilters’ S.O.S. - Save Our Stories project. Our interview concluded at 4:32 p.m. on November 2, 2010. Thank you very much.

FM: Well, thank you.

Interview concludes.



“Fred Maitland,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed July 18, 2024,