Joanne (Jody) Bingham




Joanne (Jody) Bingham




Joanne (Jody) Bingham


Jeanne Wright

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Artistic Artifacts


Scarborough, Maine


Jeanne Wright


Jeanne Wright (JW): This is Jeanne Wright [JW]. Today is October 28, 2010. It's 12:35 p.m. and I'm conducting an interview with Jody Bingham. We are her home in Scarborough, Maine. We are doing this for the Alliance for American Quilts, Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories project. Jody is a member of the [Elizabeth Wadsworth.] Portland, Maine Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution [DAR.] and has an interest in their Fiber Arts activities which includes the topic of quilting. Thank you, Jody, for agreeing to be interviewed today for the Alliance.

Jody Bingham (JB): You're welcome.

JW: You have a quilt here, an interesting quilt. Would you tell me about that please?

JB: The quilt is a dark blue and white quilt titled, "Burgoyne Surrounded." The reason I made this particular quilt is that my DAR ancestor Benjamin Gage was at Saratoga during the Battle of Saratoga. The quilt is a depiction of four squares representing the British army and a circle of about a dozen smaller squares representing the American army. I chose this particular quilt. I use it on my bed in August because my ancestor's birthday was in August, [stepped away from the microphone to check the date on the back of the quilt.] August 10, 1740.

JW: You said you use this for the month of August. That's because you make other quilts for other months.

JB: Yes, we have a quilt for every month for our queen size bed.

JW: What special meaning does this quilt have for you?

JB: The ancestor and that it represents, it is an old pattern. That's what I like to do most is the older patterns.

JW: How old is this pattern?

JB: We believe, from the Better Homes and Gardens "American Heritage Quilts," they have the first record of it somewhere around 1890. It was by some other names, but that's about the time period, 1890.

JW: When did you make this one?

JB: 2002.

JW: Here at your home in Scarborough?

JB: Yeah.

JW: Someone looking at this quilt, what would they conclude about you as a quilter?

JB: That I'm neat and organized.

JW: As far as color, this is in two colors. Is that typical of what you would use?

JB: For most of my quilts, no. I like them a variety of colors. I think that's one of the most intriguing parts of quilting is picking the colors and getting started.

JW: That doesn't intimidate you?

JB: No.

JW: It scares some people to death.

JB: No. I love that part of it.

JW: Are you pastel shades or are you brights?

JB: Usually brights.

JW: Are you patchwork or appliqué? What types of things do you like to do?

JB: I have done both. I prefer patch. The first quilt I ever made was an appliqué. That is almost 20 years old and it is still not finished.

JW: [laughs.] Do you have other UFO's? [unfinished objects.]

JB: No, that's about the only one.

JW: Anything else you have you are still actually working on.

JB: I am still actually working on? Yes.

JW: How do you use this quilt?

JB: How do I use it? It's on my bed for the month of August. And I've used it as a display quilt for various things, but it's one of our usual quilts.

JW: What are your plans for it beyond that when you decide not to use it on your bed anymore?

JB: I don't know. It's up to my daughters.

JW: Ah, it's going to your daughters, one of your daughters then.

JB: Probably.

JW: Now you have a family. You have children and grandchildren?

JB: I have three children and I have six grandchildren.

JW: Oh, that's fun. Do any of them quilt or sew?

JB: No. They--actually, my oldest grandson did do a little bit of quilting with me but now he's into college and that's gone by. So, no.

JW: Do you make quilts for any of them?

JB: Oh, they all have quilts from me. One of my grandsons, the youngest grandson, I had made him--he loves trains, and I made him--no, it wasn't trains, it was school buses. I made him a quilt that had a border of yellow school buses around the outside and he wore it out. I had to make him another one.

JW: [laughs.]

JB: Same pattern.

JW: Then you know it was loved.

JB: Yes. [laughs.]

JW: That's a good feeling. Do they ever pick out their patterns, other than this time?

JB: No.

JW: The colors?

JB: Yes. One of my granddaughters was here several months ago and I told her I was making jackets for them for Christmas, and I had a whole pile of material. I said, 'Which color do you like?' She went over and picked some out. But that's unusual.

JW: Do you find that they have a lot, especially with your children, that they really like a lot of different colors than each other?

JB: Yes.

JW: So, you really try to make the quilt match the child?

JB: Yes, I do. More often activities and their personality rather than colors.

JW: Mm-mm. Have you made them more than one quilt apiece?

JB: I've made, well I made all of them baby quilts and then I made quilts for the beds that they have at home. So yes, I probably made a couple for each one of them.

JW: Okay. Tell me about your interest in quilt making. Where did this all start for you?

JB: The Adult Ed [Education.] class that I took in Waldoboro [Maine.] back when we first moved back to Maine. I had seen an item about it in the newspaper. Since I did so, I thought, mmm, this would be interesting, so that was my first start. I actually had a quilt that my mother started that she never finished. I had the pieces for it and parts of it. I thought, 'I need to learn how to do this so I can finish this for her.' I finally did finish that particular one. My daughter in Houston [Texas.] has it now.

JW: Then what happened after that class? Did you continue to take classes?

JB: Yes, I continued to take classes of various techniques. I joined the--because of that class and because of the teacher of that class, I joined the quilt group in the Waldoboro area, which is Clamshell Quilters in Damariscotta. [Maine.]

JW: Clamshell?

JB: Clamshell, yeah. That was my first quilting club. I learned a lot from that. I belonged to that before I joined Casco, I moved to Scarborough, and I joined Casco [Bay Quilters.].

JW: What do you think is the greatest thing you learned from that guild?

JB: Patience. Patience and picking the pattern that suits the purpose that you want it used for.

JW: Did they have a lot of workshops?

JB: They had a few. Yeah.

JW: What age were you when you started quilt making?

JB: Let's see now. [paused.] I have to think. Now we've been here fourteen--I have to do some arithmetic--

JW: That's okay. That's okay.

JB: I was in my 50's.

JW: Okay. Okay. What kept you going? What made you, what was the light that turned on that said, 'This is what I want to do.'

JB: The picking of the colors. Finding the beautiful fabrics and seeing these wonderful things that other people had made just made me want to do it.

JW: Would this be going to quilt shows is where you are seeing the things?

JB: No, seeing the things, I guess through Clamshell Quilters and seeing demonstrations and seeing what people had made and then eventually going to the quilt shows and seeing the wonderful projects.

JW: At that time when you started, what direction did you think you would go, what style?

JB: Oh, the old quilts, the old patterns. I had done some newer patterns that mostly are the ones that I don't think I'd ever try freestyle. I mean, making a picture.

JW: An art quilt?

JB: An art quilt. No, I'd never try, I don't think I've ever made an art quilt.

JW: Is that something you'd like to do?

JB: No, no.

JW: So, most of your work then is patchwork?

JB: Yup.

JW: Yup. Okay. So, when you started, you taught yourself except for just this course you took? You have, what, purchased books, or just trial and error?

JB: I've purchased books. I've taken classes. I've taken classes from people in the clubs that I belong to, and the state shows when they have people come who have published books and they give a demonstration. So, I've done all of that.

JW: How many hours a week do you quilt?

JB: Oh. Let's see. I'd say probably on the average of about ten hours scattered around. Some weeks I don't do anything, but it usually, I usually have a project going.

JW: Mm-mm. Just one or more than one?

JB: Usually more than one. I do a lot of making of projects for fund raisers. For church. For schools. Organizations.

JW: Is it hard for you to give them up once you make them?

JB: No. I start them with the idea that this is going someplace else. I take a picture of it. I try to keep a record of what I've done. I have a notebook of where it's gone.

JW: Mm-mm. Are they large, bed sized quilts or are these wall hangings?

JB: They may be wall hangings. A recent one that I gave away was a picture of a lighthouse. I've had it for a number of years and it has been hanging in our family in certain periods of the year. The State Regent of the DAR [Maine.], her motto was lighthouses. When she went out of office, I gave her my lighthouse wall hanging.

JW: I saw that [wall.] hanging the day you gave it to her. It was just wonderful, very well done.

JB: I almost, when I gave it, I almost kind of held onto it. [laughs.] But I decided that that's where it should go. I have done more of that sort of thing.

JW: But that was more of a picture quilt.

JB: That was a picture quilt, yes, but it was somebody else's picture. I mean I followed directions.

JW: Okay.

JB: I did not do it completely on my own. I don't do anything just artwork quilts.

JW: Mm-mm. Well, you have a studio here and we'll talk about that in a while, but it looks like you'd be painting here, not quilting--[talking at the same time.] --we'll talk about that.

JB: Well, it could be, but I don't.

JW: You don't do any of that?

JB: No.

JW: You don't draw any of your patterns out?

JB: Nope. I follow the directions, the book.

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

JB: I do not have any quilts in progress right now. No, I don't. Everything that I had going has been finished and now I'm working on quilted clothing projects.

JW: What type of clothing?

JB: Jackets. I have six granddaughters and they are each getting, no, let's see, I have four granddaughters, 1, 2, 3--yup four granddaughters. They are each getting a quilt and one of my daughters is getting a quilted jacket for Christmas.

JW: Have you made these for other folks too?

JB: Yes. The church that I go to has a, they call it the Down East Fair Christmas Fair every November. A member of the church quite a few months ago said, 'I have a friend who's cleaning out her studio, or her house. I have a lot of fabric. Could you use it?' I said, 'Well maybe I could use it. But if I can't use it maybe somebody in my club could use it.' So, I brought the material home and I looked at it and I thought about the fair and I ended up making quilted jackets for the fair using that material. It's mostly upholstery, so it's not really suitable for using as a regular quilt, but it makes cute jackets.

JW: Mm-mm. I often times will receive fabrics from people who are well-meaning, but it's not the type of fabric that you can use in a quilt.

JB: Right.

JW: I've also, you can practice your machine quilting by following the patterns on upholstering fabric. I don't machine quilt, but I've heard you can do that.

JB: Yeah. I've heard you can do it too and I don't. The only machine quilt I do is stitch-in-the-ditch.

JW: Mm-mm.

JB: Occasionally I will do a--I will sort of visually draw a line and do it. Most of the time it's, it's always straight-line quilting.

JW: Mm-mm. Hand quilting?

JB: I do very little hand quilting.

JW: So, you do the machine quilting or someone else does? Do you send it out?

JB: If it's just a small project and its straight line, I do it. Otherwise, I have a friend who does it. She is a longarm quilter and she does it for me.

JW: Is that here in this area?

JB: It's in South Portland. [Maine.] Yeah.

JW: So that's nearby.

JB: Yeah. I've known several. I think I've used three different people, longarm quilters.

JW: Now you said you did yours in straight lines. Would this longarm quilter be much more flowery?

JB: Yes. Usually, the one that I use in South Portland now, she looks at the quilt and decides. Sometimes it follows the pattern and sometimes it's just random. Well, it's never random; it's always the pattern but it's not the [inaudible.]. Like I had the May Basket quilt I made, which is my May bed quilt. It has little May baskets. That's one of the patterns, the quilting patterns.

JW: Mm-mm. Very nice. What are your other quilts for your other months? Do you remember what they each are?

JB: Well for May Day the May Basket which is May. December is green and red. Let's see, what else do I have? Well, the others are just quilting that kind of, I decided they should go with that particular month without any particular reason why. Well, no. February is my hearts quilt for Valentine's Day.

JW: What about in the summer? Do you have lighter quilts, or do you just put them on the end of your bed?

JB: No, I--it's the same quilts, I just, you know, fold them down at night, so they're not lighter. They're all about the same. None of them, none of my quilts are really heavy quilts. They are, they have the lighter batting. I almost always, I try to use cotton as much as I can, but sometimes I'll have a fluffier one. But never really, I've never had any really bouncy quilts.

JW: Because you don't tie any quilts, is that correct?

JB: Well, I do sometimes. [moved away from the microphone to pick up a quilt to look at.] I have, right here, well it's the DAR project for the, no, this is something else. This is quilted for the residents of the Veteran's Home in Scarborough. This is for DAR, and I took a slip [of paper.] for a man who wanted a lap robe, and I made him a lap robe and I did tie it.

JW: Very nice.

JB: So, I tied it.

JW: That's a happy quilt without being feminine.

JB: Yes. Right. Right.

JW: So, what do you usually use for batting then?

JB: I usually use, sometimes it's a blend of cotton. [moved away from the microphone to go and get a roll of batting in another part of the room.]

JW: It looks like you don't have a very large place space to lay out your quilts so you can sandwich them. Do you do that on the floor?

JB: I do it on the floor. I do, I use Fairfield Brown very often, [holding bag up over the microphone.] but it's a blend of cotton and polyester. But it's not heavy. But that's what I use most of the time.

JW: Nice. What's your first quilt memory?

JB: Growing up, the house that we lived in had no heat on the second floor. On the beds in the wintertime were quilts that I don't know if my mother made them or if she had them made, but they were made from men's suits. They were woolen. They were dark. I had one of those on my bed. So that's my first memory of a quilt.

JW: Dark and heavy.

JB: Dark and heavy.

JW: Were they like a crazy quilt type of thing or were they patchwork?

JB: I don't remember. I don't remember. All I know, they probably were just patchwork of some sort, but all I remember of about them is they were dark and heavy.

JW: Do you have any memory of what was on the back, the backing?

JB: Nope.

JW: Are there other quiltmakers among your other family and friends?

JB: Friends. Family, no.

JW: You have a large room here. Do you get together with other quilters here?

JB: Not very often, occasionally, but not very often.

JW: Not too much. How does quilt making impact your family? You've lived in many places, as you told me before we started. You have been doing quilting for quite a while. You had a family to raise. How did that impact your family, the time you spent?

JB: My quilting did not start until after my family was grown. So, it really didn't impact them. Any sewing I did when the children were small was clothing for them. I didn't do any quilting early on. So, it wasn't until we moved back to Maine that I started the quilting.

JW: Okay. Have you ever used quilts to get through a difficult time, quilts or quilting?

JB: Yes. I have a sister-in-law who had to have surgery and she was having a difficult time. I felt badly for her, so I made her a butterfly quilt. I sent it off to her and she said that she liked it very much because she could wrap up in it and feel better about it. So, it helped me with that.

JW: A nice significance to the butterfly too. So that's nice. Now how about an amusing experience? Have you ever had something happen while you were quilting or with your quilts that just cracked you up?

JB: [laughed.] Well, I can't really think of that. No. No.

JW: What do you like most about quilting?

JB: The picking out of the colors. Then the sigh of relief when it's all done. [both laugh.] The last hand stitch around the binding.

JW: What do you not like about quilting.

JB: I guess the only thing I don't like about it, is when I have a big quilt and I lay it out, I have to lay it out on the floor and I'm always kind of crawling around on it. And my cat wants to help me, and I keep--I lock her out of the workshop. [laughs.]

JW: I notice your cat is right here overseeing this entire interview. [both laugh.] You have carpet on your floor. Do you have any problem trying to get your quilt pinned and sandwiched with the carpet on the bottom?

JB: No.

JW: That's not a problem?

JB: No.

JW: Okay. What groups, quilt groups you belong to?

JB: I belong to the state, well the local chapter, [both talk at the same time.] Casco Bay Quilters. I belong to the state society.

JW: Which is the Maine Pine Tree--

JB: Maine Pine Tree Quilters. I belonged to the national one for a while, but I don't belong to it, and I can't remember what--

JW: American Quilting Society?

JB: What?

JW: American Quilting Society?

JB: I think that may have been it. Yuh. Yes. I belonged to that for a time, but I don't anymore.

JW: Have you held any offices in any of these groups?

JB: Well, let's see. Casco Bay I was president for a couple of years. I was treasurer of the state guild for three years and then I was on the board of directors after that. Now I'm not.

JW: So, you know a great many quilters in Maine then?

JB: Yes. I do.

JW: Yeah. Aren't quilters great?

JB: Yeah. [both laugh.]

JW: How does your membership in DAR relate to your quilting interest?

JB: The DAR gives me a sense of history and the quilts give me a sense of history, so they tie in that way.

JW: And this quilt particularly?

JB: Yeah.

JW: How is that?

JB: Well, this is because he was my ancestor and it, it um, it gave--

JW: But why did you make this quilt?

JB: Because of that.

JW: But you sent it in as part of a Fiber Arts project?

JB: Mm-mm. Yeah.

JW: What was that about?

JB: Well, that was because the chapter [Elizabeth Wadsworth Chapter, Portland, Maine.] asked me, they knew that I quilted because I make various things, they asked me if I would submit something to the Fiber Arts and I said, 'Well I could do my ancestor quilt.' I said OKAY and so I did.

JW: And how did you do on that?

JB: I got second in Northeastern.

JW: Congratulations. Actually, I saw your certificate, so I got a sneak peak, so that's great. Congratulations.

JB: Yes. Thank you.

JW: Do you put your quilts in shows to be judged usually?

JB: No. I never do.

JW: You've never done that?

JB: No.

JW: Why not?

JB: Because I have seen the work of other people and it's, 'Ah!' There are some fabulous, experimental, wonderfully talented people and I just never have done that. I have hung quilts as, just as an exhibit.

JW: Just for display?

JB: Yeah. Just display. But I've never--

JW: Based on what I've seen, you could certainly enter into a judged category.

JB: Well, I always think of a judged category as something that you do entirely yourself. Since my quilting is done by somebody else, I haven't done it.

JW: In some cases, people are asking for more categories, such as hand quilted, machine quilted and that type of thing and with two people doing things.

JB: Yeah. Yeah.

JW: How have advances in technology influenced your work?

JB: At one point I had a sewing machine that I could hook up to my computer. I did that very briefly, but I didn't like it. So really, it's just the better quality of sewing machine. The ability to buy fabric and just--

JW: Do you have a lot of gizmos around or a particular one you like?

JB: Well, ah, not really. Well, the, the cutters--

JW: Rotary cutters?

JB: --the rotary cutters. I think that's wonderful because I use rotary cutters all the time. So that's really it. I guess that's about it.

JW: I've mentioned your studio here. Would you tell me about that please?

JB: Well, the studio is a large room. It is over a two and a half car garage, with skylights. It is a good layout and good floor area. I can have my sewing machines in one area and table, cutting mat, and I have a set of shelves that my husband built for me that I can put all my boxes of material. I have clear plastic boxes with the colors labeled on them. So, I have [laughs.] eight different shelves.

JW: You have two eight-foot shelves, it looks like. They each have four shelves on the shelving units. We are all jealous.

JB: [laughs.] So, I separate the material by colors and then I have some boxes, I have the one of them over there as miscellaneous small cut pieces, doll patterns, vest material, lining material. [laughs.]

JW: How fun. And your lighting?

JB: The lighting sometimes is a hazard and sometimes it's helpful.

JW: What type of lighting?

JB: Well, the skylights, so it's natural light. Then I do have some spotlights that help me when it gets dark out.

JW: You have six large skylights here and then one end of the room has, most of the wall is taken up with windows.

JB: Yes. That's right.

JW: So you have a great deal of light.

JB: Yeah. A lot of natural light.

JW: But not so good you are saying?

JB: What?

JW: Sometimes it's not so helpful?

JB: Not so helpful, yeah. If it's really, in the summertime when the sun is bright, then I close them. I close the shades.

JW: And you have pretty of good lighting for the night. You have some nice large--

JB: Spotlights.

JW: --spotlights and things.

JB: Yeah.

JW: It's great. How much time do you suppose you spend up here? Is it just in quilting?

JB: Oh gosh no, because my computer is here too. I have several projects I do. I do a, what they call Patriot Indexing for the DAR. So, I use that. My letter writing. [laughs.] I'm a crossword addict. I do the, oh let's see. What is it called? The newspaper. I do a crossword puzzle every day on my computer.

JW: So, you're able to use this room for other things than just your quilting.

JB: Oh yeah, yeah. Oh yeah.

JW: It's so bright and wonderful.

JB: And I do because any letter writing I do, I come up here and do it on my computer.

JW: Do you use a design wall here?

JB: I have some big Styrofoam panels that I will set up. They won't take a whole quilt, but they will allow me to pin things up to get started, so I use those.

JW: You do. What do you think makes a great quilt?

JB: Color selection. Patterns, that's not important because it's the color. It's the vibrancy that comes out when the quilt is finished, and you can look at it and you can see the idea and the vibrancy behind it.

JW: What's your favorite color?

JB: Blues. Many blues.

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

JB: Arrangement.

JW: Arrangement of pattern or color?

JB: Arrangement of the patterns with the colors that blends the two.

JW: What makes a quilt appropriate for a museum or a special collection? What would be the deciding factor for you to send a quilt to a museum?

JB: Well, to me, museum quilts should be antique quilts, so I guess, I don't have any.

JW: What about a special collection, if there were to be a show in Boston [Massachusetts.] or something? What would make a quilt important enough to be in that show? Not necessarily your own. [talking at the same time.]

JB: Workmanship. Workmanship, originality. That sort of thing.

JW: What makes a great quiltmaker?

JB: Attention to detail.

JW: You mean sewing, cutting?

JB: That's the most important thing. Attention to detail.

JW: Do you notice that in quilts?

JB: Yes, I do.

JW: It's something you look for?

JB: Yes.

JW: Have you ever judged quilts?

JB: No.

JW: Something you'd like to do?

JB: No.

JW: Me either. [laughs.] Whose works are you drawn to? What quilt person inspires you?

JB: Well--

JW: Either books or television or something? Does any particular artist?

JB: Well, I guess, I love Log Cabin quilts, so I have several Log Cabin quilt books. So, when I see a book, Log Cabins, even now, sometimes [laughs.] I buy the book. I guess that's about the only thing behind it.

JW: You don't have a particular quilter that you tend to follow?

JB: No. No, I use them all.

JW: At a quilt show such as the Maine State Quilt Show, there would be a variety of classes. What would you be most likely to take?

JB: I guess most of those that I have taken have been clothing making type. This last year I took one on dress making with Carol Doak. That's the type of thing, learning a new technique and that sort of thing.

JW: Would you say you are more of a quilter or more of a seamstress?

JB: Seamstress.

JW: What do you feel about the machine quilting, hand quilting, tying, longarm? We've touched on that a little bit. What would be ideal for you? What do you like to do?

JB: Well, I'd like, the quilting part, if it's a small project then that's fine, I can do it with a machine. The hand quilting, I've done it. I'm not particularly adept at it. I guess I like the look that comes from longarm quilting for my work, but I admire those quilts that people have made and there are members of my quilt club, who do everything by hand. It is absolutely a masterpiece. I really admire that. I can't do that.

JW: Or don't take the time to do it?

JB: No. I can't do it. My hands, they just don't work well on that.

JW: Have you ever tried teaching quilting?

JB: I've led some workshops, but not really.

JW: The town's Adult Ed types of things in the schools, or at a meeting?

JB: I've thought about it, but I've never followed up on it.

JW: Why is quilt making important in your life?

JB: I feel I am creating an artistic object. I'm being creative.

JW: So, a chance to express your creativity?

JB: Yes. Yes.

JW: Do you think your quilts reflect your community here, your region of the state or even this state as opposed to other states? Do you notice a difference in that at all?

JB: No.

JW: No. What do you think about the importance of quilts in American life?

JB: I think it is a part of the heritage of the country. It's a part of the heritage of the world. There are quilters all over the world now. The history of it. The tying in of went beforehand. I think that's very, the tying in of what was beforehand is important, but also the art quilt people who are putting out things that reflect the present too. It's just, to me, it's not most important, but the whole project of that sort of thing, tying the past with the future. Very important.

JW: I think these interviews help do that; help you be mindful of what happened in the past--

JB: Yes.

JW: --yet preserving these things for the future too.

JB: Yes.

JW: How do you think that quilts have a special meaning for women's history in America?

JB: The proportion of quilters, women to men, I'm not sure of it, but I'm sure that it must be somewhere around 80-85% of the quilters are women. But there are some fantastic men quilters too. But they are doing the same thing. They are putting forth their artistic effort. Quilting hasn't always been about artistry though, if you think back about that.

JW: Tell me about that.

JB: No, no. Well quilts started; well, the history of quilting goes back to when men wore armor. The women made a garment to go underneath the armor to protect the body and it was quilted material.

JW: Interesting.

JB: So it, that's when quilting started. The woman saw this and started to think it was cushioning and yet, mm, that it would be comfortable on a bed.

JW: Very interesting. I think many people think of quilting as an American art.

JB: Oh no. No. Originally, the original quilters were English. I'm not sure how many of them were English, but I think that's where it started. Well, the crazy quilt, that was southern United States I think, but I'm not sure about that. And of course, the Chinese have a fantastic history of quilting too.

JW: Do you know how that is different than how we quilt? Do you know anything about that?

JB: No. I think they do, it's funny, a person gets an idea and starts working on it and then they realize that somebody has, across the world, had the same idea and started working on it and they come back to about the same thing. It's, well quilts started because they had to have something to cover them up when they went to bed to keep warm. What did they use? They used the feed sacks, the left-over clothing, the worn-out clothing. You cut out the good parts and used it. That's what the original quilts were. Except in England where they had the industry, the fabric industry. They, most of their original quilts, I think, in England were made from new cloth, but I'm not sure of that.

JW: But in America we started out with "Use it up."

JB: Yup. Use it up, wear it out.

JW: What's the oldest quilt that you have?

JB: [pause.]

JW: Do you have any antique quilts?

JB: I don't have any antique quilts. No.

JW: So, they would be quilts that you have made then.

JB: The quilts that I have made. Yeah. My mother's quilt I gave away, so I don't have any old quilts.

JW: How to you think quilts can be preserved for the future? What should we be doing?

JB: When you put them away, don't put them in plastic. Wrap them up in cloth.

JW: You've done a very important thing with your quilt here. Tell me about that on the back.

JB: Oh, put a label on it. Put a label on it. Name, residence, when it was made, title.

JW: How do you usually do that? What's your method?

JB: Now I have devised a method that I can do it on my computer [reaching to a shelf behind her.] and I have fabric sheets that I can print out. Originally, I get it, the fabric sheets, that you can iron on or sew on, it's better to sew them on, then you write on and print out. I discovered that these do not, they can stick on, but you should sew them too, because if you wash them, it's going to come off.

JW: You'll have to leave those out. [the package of label material.] It's a different kind than I've seen before. I'd like to look at those. What's happened to the quilts you have made for your friends and family? What would you say? Used or put up to be saved for heritage purposes?

JB: Well, most of them they use. Grandchildren's quilts, they use them. My oldest daughter, if I make a quilt for her, she uses it. My second daughter, if I make a quilt, like she's got my original mother's quilt and I don't think it's ever been used. Her bedroom is color coordinated. So, the bed covering has to match her color coordination, so none of my quilts get on, into that. But she has them on a stepped quilt ladder.

JW: So that will be preserved--

JB: Yes.

JW: --for her.

JB: For her.

JW: It's nice to have them and preserve them.

JB: Yeah. Yeah.

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

JB: Take a class. Take a class. Pay attention to what's going on in the class. Ask questions.

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

JB: Precision. Many times, I'll have something, I'll have it all done and I'll look at it and say, 'Oh, that seam did not match,' and I'll have to go over it and sew it. Precision. [laughs.]

JW: Okay. Do you have anything else that you'd like to add to this interview?

JB: There are many facets of quilting. There's the decorative. There's the functional, using it as clothing. The satisfaction that a person gets from the whole project. I think that's about it.

JW: And you intend to quilt how long?

JB: I can what?

JW: You intend to quilt how long?

JB: As long as I can.

JW: As long as you can. Someone told me, 'As long as I can pick up that needle.' [both laugh.] Okay. Anything else that you want to add?

JB: I think that's it.

JW: All right. I would like to thank Jody for allowing me to interview her today as part of the Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories project. Our interview concluded at 1:20 [p.m.] on October 28, 2010. Thank you very much.

JB: Thank you.

Interview concludes.


“Joanne (Jody) Bingham,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed May 27, 2024,