Katherine S. Lombard




Katherine S. Lombard




Katherine S. Lombard


Jeanne Wright

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Moda Fabrics


St. Albans, Maine


Jeanne Wright


This is Jeanne Wright (JW). Today's date is August 22, 2010. It is 1:45 p.m. I am conducting an interview with Kathie Lombard (KL) for the Alliance For American Quilts, 'Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories' project at her home in St. Albans, Maine. Kathie is a quilter and a current member of the Heart and Hand Quilters Guild and the Pine Tree Guild, which is the State of Maine Guild. Thank you for having me here today.

KL: Thank you for coming.

JW: Tell me about the quilt you have today to show us.

KL: That quilt was started probably eight years ago. It was the first quilt I did using machine appliqué. I was very pleased with how it came out and I learned to love the process. I guess because of that I learned to love the quilt also. The colors, the pattern, everything about it is something I enjoyed working on. It took me so long because that's the way I work. I do many things at the same time. So it may take me a few years to do these things but I will finish what I start.

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

KL: I guess because I like the colors. I like the way the quilt came out. It is a quilt that I am proud of.

JW: Did you choose this quilt specifically? I mean, why this quilt?

KL: When I started it I had just become interested in reproduction fabrics and Jo Morton's patterns in particular. This is one that I had seen that I wanted to give a try. It was at the same time that I was wanting to learn how to do machine appliqué. It just sort of all came together and it seemed like the perfect one to do.

JW: This quilt has always been here [in your home.]? You have kept it?

KL: I have kept it.

JW: What do you think someone looking at the quilt would say about you? If this quilt happened to be in a quilt show, they would say, 'Oh, Kathie must be--'

KL: I hope they would say that I pay moderate attention to detail, that I have at least an average color sense, and at least average skills.

JW: Now I'm sitting here in your quilting room and throughout your home you have gorgeous quilts, beautifully done. There is nothing average about your work--

KL: Thank you.

JW: --or your sense of color. They are beautiful. How do you use this quilt?

KL: Right now it graces the bed that we use for quests. It will stay there until such time as I'm ready to give it to, probably, my daughter. She doesn't quilt, however, she has a great appreciation of my work. It will eventually go to her.

JW: So when you have quests, does the quilt stay on the bed?

KL: Yes, it does.

JW: That's very generous of you. As far as your plans for this quilt, then, you are going to pass it down.

KL: I am going to pass this one down. Yes.

JW: What about all of your lovely quilts? Do you have plans for them?

KL: I sometimes start a quilt, knowing who I am making it for. Then sometimes I start one just because I want to work with the fabrics, or the pattern, or my ideas, or what have you. Those I either donate to be raffled, or give them to organizations that are doing some kind of fund raising, or just give them away as gifts to various people or whatever. One of my greatest joys is giving my quilts to people.

JW: Tell me how many quilts you think you've made.

KL: I can't give you an exact number, but I would say probably in the hundreds, maybe 300 or 400--a lot.

JW: So you probably have given, what, 80% of them away?

KL: I would say eventually at least 80% get given away. There are few that I absolutely hold on to, unless they are made for a specific person and then they go, of course, to that person.

JW: You make these for charities then?

KL: Sometimes yes. I actually donated one to St. Anne's [church.] Christmas Fair last year for a raffle and the amount of money that it brought in astounded me really.

JW: Do you remember how much that was?

KL: I do. It was about $1,800. That's a lot of money for a small Parish in this area. Of course the tickets were sold outside of the Parish, but the bulk of them were in the church.

JW: Over what period of time were they sold?

KL: Six months.

JW: They must love you and hope you'll do that again.

KL: [laughs.]

JW: Tell me about your interest in quilt making.

KL: I have a very broad interest. I'm actually interested in all aspects. There is really, as I was saying previously, there is nothing I don't like about making a quilt. Some things I probably like more than others, but I like all the different avenues. I like to go to quilt shows to see what other people are doing and learn from that. I started out quilt making knowing nothing, really, about what I was doing, really, although I had been, my mother had taught me to garment sew. So, I certainly had a good background in that. But when I would see my grandmother quilting, I thought it was the most boring thing I had ever seen, and I couldn't be bothered to learn.

JW: When you were a child?

KL: When I was a young child. The earliest memory I have about quilting was when I was about eight and hearing my mother, my grandmother and her sister talking about colors and cutting up clothes to make quilts and all that. I thought, this was just not for me. Then later in my life 'empty nest syndrome' came along and when my last child, my only daughter, left home, I felt that deeply in my heart and that's when I thought, 'I'm going to pull out that quilt that my Canadian grandmother made for me, which was a wedding present.' I copied the pattern, just on paper, not knowing what I was doing, and made my daughter a quilt of that pattern to take with her when she went to college, because that quilt meant a lot to me and I just wanted to give her something that would connect her to home. I probably made every mistake known to quilters in that quilt, but she loved it and she wore it out. That's what I had wanted her to do. That was my beginning anyway.

JW: You like your quilts to be used?

KL: I want my quilts to be used, but I want them to be used kindly. I don't want to see them put on the floor and walked on, but I do want them to be used, yes.

JW: Even children?

KL: Even children. A quilt can be used and used up and it makes me happy.

JW: What age did you start quilting? What age did you finally decide you liked it?

KL: I was about, probably 40, right around 40. It grabbed me. Once I started doing it, it grabbed me.

JW: It sounds like you taught yourself?

KL: I did teach myself.

JW: Has anybody--

KL: No, my mother was quilting at that time. Again, my mother garment sewed, but she didn't quilt until she was much older. She was probably in her 50's or 60's. So she had been quilting before I turned 40 and started quilting. I became a little interested then to see her doing that. But really, it wasn't until life changes happened for me.

JW: When your mother started quilting was it one of the necessity kind of thing where she felt she had to, or was it artistic?

KL: No. No, it was artistic for her. She was getting ready to retire. She took some classes with friends of hers. That was the first time that I knew of she had ever taken classes on anything. It became a life-long love after that for her.

JW: Do you know what led her to do that?

KL: I don't really. I don't really. She never really talked much about that. I suspect that it was getting older, getting ready to retire from her job, health reasons perhaps.

JW: Were you around so that you watched her do this?

KL: I really wasn't. She lived in Maine and at the time I was in New Hampshire. So no, I didn't see her that much.

JW: You said [previous to interview.] that you had two grandmothers who quilted. Did you ever watch them quilt?

KL: My American grandmother quilted and my Canadian grandmother quilted. I would see them quilt, but really never had enough interest in it to do any more than just watch them. I did recognize, however, that they were very different quilters. My American grandmother definitely quilted with cut-up clothing and for utilitarian purposes. She was a very artistic woman who crocheted very beautiful things, but her quilts basically were utilitarian quilts. My Canadian grandmother, however, raised 14 children and was very poor. Yet her quilts were very artistic. She certainly used cut-up clothing, but she also used bought yardage, which is kind of interesting considering she would be the one who had less material things than my American grandmother.

JW: When you say 'American grandmother,' what area did she live in?

KL: My American grandmother lived in Maine. She was here right after the Indians [laughs.] I believe. She certainly, her family was a longtime American family.

JW: Do you think that influenced her style because she lived in this area?

KL: I do. She was a farmer's wife, a Protestant pastor's daughter and I think it was part of her culture. She didn't have a lot of pretty things. She had what she needed. That's what she thought her life was supposed to be. She had what she needed.

JW: Your other grandmother, though, you've said already that she had 14 children that she brought up and she must not have had much time, and yet she was more decorative.

KL: She was. She came from Nova Scotia, married and moved to New Brunswick and raised her family there. They had very little, but they were a very, very close family. She was a very gentle woman and I think you would know that from looking at her quilting. It's very soft colors, mostly hand done, although she had a treadle sewing machine. I do remember seeing her use her treadle sewing machine.

JW: Did you ever see anybody helping her quilt? Do you think somebody helped her, some of her daughters?

KL: I didn't see anyone help her, however I had heard her talk about taking her quilts to the church and having the ladies there help her quilt them. She would give them $7 and she and they would quilt the quilt and the $7 would be given to the church.

JW: You mean $7 for the whole quilt?

KL: $7 for the whole quilt to quilt it.

JW: What timeframe was this?

KL: When I would remember her it would have been in the '50's, late '50's. [1950's.] I would have been eight to ten years old.

JW: So this was actually quilting; it wasn't tying?

KL: No. She quilted her quilts. My American grandmother tended to tie hers, but my Canadian grandmother, they were quilted.

JW: How many hours a week do you quilt?

KL: I guess that I would probably quilt 15-20 hours a week. I try to get whatever I have to get done, done in the morning and be able to quilt in the afternoon.

JW: Good for you if you hold it down to only 15! [laughs.]

KL: Well that could be conservative. [laughs.]

JW: What's your first quilt memory, the first time you saw a quilt that made an impression on you?

KL: The first memory I have is of my American grandmother and her sister talking about a box of clothing that they had gotten from a church yard sale, or whatever it was. They were dividing up the quilts, who was going to get what to cut for their quilts.

JW: But it was for quilting?

KL: It was for quilting. Yes. It wasn't to wear, no. It was for quilting.

JW: So they used what they had then?

KL: They did, yes, definitely.

JW: Are there other quiltmakers in your family, other than your grandmothers and your mother?

KL: Um, no. I have no sisters and none of my aunts that I remember, well no that's not quite true. I have a Canadian aunt who did quilt. Her style was very much like my Canadian grandmother's. But no, I can't remember, I don't think anyone else did.

JW: Now what about friends? Do you quilt with friends?

KL: I have a lot of friends in the guild that I belong to and other women want to know how to quilt, I find. If they don't, they look at the things I've done and they are interested in, 'How was that done?' or 'Would you show me how to do that?'

JW: Do you ever actually quilt together, put some people together at one of your homes?

KL: On occasion yes. I tend to be a person who, I prefer to work by myself. I prefer not to take classes for that reason. I like to work at my own pace.

JW: You said that you did belong to a couple of other guilds. Tell me about those.

KL: Well I lived in New Hampshire for 30 years and some of the years I was there I did belong to a guild in New Hampshire. Teaching purposes, friends, everywhere I've lived I've belonged to a group, a quilting group.

JW: So the one now is your third guild?

KL: Yes, I would say yes, it is.

JW: Are you involved with the state guild very much? The Pine Tree Guild?

KL: Not as much as I was in New Hampshire. I go to some of their meetings, but they tend to be on the weekends and I prefer to be home on the weekends.

JW: How does quilting impact your family?

KL: I think my family is quite proud of the work that I do. I think it impacts them certainly because it makes me happy, so, you know what they say, 'When Mama's happy, everybody's happy.' [both laugh.]

JW: Do they assume that they are going to be getting some quilts when the time comes?

KL: I think they probably do and they are not shy about letting me know the ones they would like to have.

JW: You said your daughter had a keen interest in this.

KL: yeah.

JW: What about your sons? What do they think?

KL: They are interested. They are not interested in doing it themselves, but they like to see what I've done. One of my sons makes me quilt racks. The thread holders that you see behind you, he made those also. So they are interested in that way. One of my granddaughters is just becoming, now, interested in learning how to quilt.

JW: Is that something you have the patience to do, is to teach her?

KL: I do. She's 10 now. She's very interested in design and applying, or whatever, and she's at the point now where she is ready to learn to quilt.

JW: She's interested in design. Do you think her designs would be a lot different than yours?

KL: I think, from what I see, her color choices are different than mine. She likes brighter colors. I don't know that her designs are really well defined yet.

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

KL: I actually did. When my mother passed away, we were in the process of building our home. We were living in our cottage at the time, which was in the winter and at the bottom of a steep hill and an ice storm came. We couldn't get out and we couldn't get in. And we couldn't live in our cottage any longer. We moved into my mother's home. It was very painful for me because she'd only died the week before and it was not what I had wanted to do, to move into her home, but we did. The way I got through that the first weeks was to make a block a day. It kept me very busy. I allowed myself the time to make a block a day. I made that quilt in a couple of months, doing a block a day and it got me through it. Every time I look at that quilt I think of that time. I think of it with a calmness and a patience now.

JW: Did you see in your mind's eye what it was going to look like, or did you just concentrate on what you wanted to do that day?

KL: I think I started out just concentrating on the block, what I needed to do. It was very simple to do that because I used Lynette Jensen, one of her books of blocks, so I could go page by page, make block by block. I didn't have to think too much about it, just do it and that's what I needed at the time.

JW: So the blocks were all different?

KL: They were all different.

JW: The method you used to make them?

KL: They were machine, machine done.

JW: Machine pieced or appliquéd?

KL: Pieced, yup.

JW: I've seen the work that you have machine pieced and it's beautiful.

KL: Thank you.

JW: Point on point beautiful. Tell me about an amusing experience that happened that just cracked you up.

KL: I don't know if I can think of anything specifically. A lot of things crack me up. One of the things that cracks me up frequently is that if I have the door to this room open, which I do usually, I will find my cat in here, on my quilting things in the worst configuration of his body you've ever seen--legs hanging off one part of the table--that cracks me up. He doesn't seem to mind and I guess if he doesn't, I don't either.

JW: Did you ever make a big, bad booboo and you were mad at the time and you look back and you just have to laugh now?

KL: I can't think of a major booboo, although I've made some quilts that I've turned into doll quilts because they were big, bad booboos, either colors or designs, or whatever. So my granddaughters have a lot of doll quilts.

JW: A lot of doll quilts?

KL: Well I won't say a lot. They have some doll quilts that were booboos.

JW: What do you not like about quilting?

KL: Honestly I don't think there is anything that I don't like about quilting. You know, I really thought about what process I do not like. I think there's not a part of the process that I don't like. I think there are parts I like better. I like appliquéing better than I like binding. But I like it all.

JW: When you are binding, how do you do that? Machine or hand?

KL: I put the first stitching in by machine and the second part is by hand.

JW: Now advances in technology over the years, how does that influence what you do?

KL: Well the sewing machine that I use certainly has advanced over the years. The first one I had was a nice Singer. But when it was old and whatever, I went to an electronic computerized machine, a Bernina. There is a vast difference. That certainly has changed a lot.

JW: Did you find you liked it better, or was it just a different type of sewing when you did that?

KL: I don't know that I liked it better, because I grew with the machine. I like what the machine will do. I like the consistency of it, the quality of it. I liked my Singer when I had it. I didn't know any different. I think it's just part of growing with the machine.

JW: What are your favorite techniques?

KL: I like appliqué. I like piecing. I am not, probably, as fond of art type of quilts, although I have made some and I like doing it. But I think I would have to say traditional patterns are my favorite.

JW: You say traditional patterns. I see a lot of colors in here [on the shelves of her quilting room,] that are reproduction prints.

KL: Um-mm. The way quilting had changed for me is from the beginning I would go to any fabric store and buy any fabric, not realizing the difference. As time went by I became aware that it did make a big difference what I paid for the material, the quality of it. I began to purchase only, as someone said to me once, you purchase the best that you can afford. That's what I try to do because I think my work is worth it. So that's one thing that has changed. Color selection for me has changed. Thimbleberry colors were very important to me at one point. That was a big thing. But now I'm sort of evolving into reproductions, the Jo Morton type of color and things. Also I have one shelf now of very bright colors that I started using, which I didn't do much of that in the beginning. So that's changing.

JW: What made you change and go toward the brighter colors?

KL: I'm not really sure. I just like them now, which [either.] I didn't like them before or I wasn't really aware of how to use them. I think for me it's just a path I travel. I'm just moving along my path.

JW: Tell us about the place [where.] you quilt. You have quilts in every room of the house.

KL: Yes, I do.

JW: Everywhere. You have some older family quilts. But tell us about the place where you work.

KL: Well in this new house that we built I have what was to be a bedroom and it's been turned into a quilting room for me. It's such that when our grandchildren come, it can be quickly made into a space that two people can sleep in. So it sort of serves that dual purpose. But I have lots of shelving where I can sort the fabrics into whatever pleases me at the moment. I have book shelves to hold an extensive, what for me, I think, is an extensive book collection that needs to be weeded out a little bit. I keep scraps in one area. What I do is cut them in, when I'm at the end of my fabric, I try to cut either an inch, and inch and a quarter, or an inch and a half strip. Then I sort them by the width of those strips and then I can do scrap quilts -- Log Cabin is one of my favorite patterns and I do quite a few of those. It's very easy to do once you have your strips sorted. I have shelves for patterns. I keep my grandchildren's art work and right now I'm formulating in my head a quilt that's going to be made of their art work that will be done on an inkjet printer. You know, run through the printer. I've started doing some of that. I haven't yet decided exactly how I'm going, the format, but it is going to be their art work. I have a full section of that. I have buttons that are in jars and all of my embroidery machine thread is kept in one section. All my cotton thread is in another section. So I try to keep it organized--what works for me.

JW: It looks like you have a specific height that has worked well for you when you're set to cut.

KL: I do. I had a gentleman make this, actually he built in the shelves and he built this cutting table at the right height for me. He was someone whose wife was a quilter, so he knew. He was easy to work with. That is just wonderful. I don't have to bend over. It's just the perfect height. It works well.

JW: And you have a large sewing table here.

KL: This was a gift from my mother after her death. I know she would be very pleased to see me having spent the money on that. It allows me to drop the machine down so that everything is flat, which makes a huge difference if you are machine quilting. The surface of this table is such that if you are machine quilting your quilt is not dragging. It is easily slipping through.

JW: You told me that your husband [points to track lighting in the ceiling which her husband installed.]--

KL: That's right. The lighting. What a difference that made. It's ceiling light now. It was a gift last Christmas from him. He put it up himself. A big difference.

JW: You didn't have any input into that? He did this on this own?

KL: We had talked when the house was built that someday we were going to have someone come and put the lighting in that didn't cast shadows. No. That was all we had talked about. Then that was what was in the box, the lighting, and he put it up himself.

JW: I don't see a design wall here. Do you use one?

KL: I don't use a design wall. I have tried. Actually I have used the back of the door. But I don't find that it is necessary. I know most people really think a design wall is important, but for me it isn't. I often lay things out on a king-sized bed. I'm looking certainly down on it, not, you know, standing looking across, but still, it's enough for me. I just don't want the extra bother, I guess, of having a design wall. I know I'm in the minority.

JW: What do you think makes a great quilt?

KL: I think if the quilt means something to the person that made it or the person who's receiving it, that's a great quilt, no matter what. If I look at a quilt and it grabs me, then that's a great quilt. Colors, if the colors are harmonious, if the work is okay with the maker, satisfactory to the maker, that's a great quilt.

JW: Have you ever had your quilts displayed?

KL: I have had quilts in quilt shows before, but not quilt shows that were judged. I've never had them judged.

JW: Is that something you might consider some day?

KL: Possibly. I mean I wouldn't say yes or no. It just hasn't been convenient, nothing that I would be interested in. But I wouldn't say no, I wouldn't do it.

JW: You said that you lived in New Hampshire quite a while. Is that where most of yours were shown?

KL: Every time that our guild would have a quilt show, then I would show something there. We've had quilt shows here. Pieceful Patchers, [guild.] that I belonged to at one time, has had quilt shows that I've shown things in.

JW: What do you think makes the quilt itself artistically powerful?

KL: I think if there is light and dark and if it blends well, the pattern makes sense, I think that it makes it artistically powerful. It might not be something that I would do, but if it is harmonious and balanced and means something to the maker, I think it's wonderful.

JW: What do you think would be appropriate to go into a museum or special collection of some type?

KL: I think that perhaps for a museum something that is meaningful for the area that the museum is in or for the area their show is about. I think the work needs to be at least an average work. I think, most especially, I think it needs to mean something to the people who frequent the museum.

JW: Now you have quite a few family quilts. Is that something you might want to consider showing someday?

KL: I would be very careful with them. Some of them are quite fragile. But yes, I would be happy to show them, as long as I was convinced that they would be well cared for while they were being shown.

JW: Have you had them documented?

KL: I haven't. I thought about doing that, but it's never been real convenient for me to get them there I guess. That would be the reason I haven't had them done.

JW: The quiltmaker herself, what makes a great quiltmaker?

KL: I think somebody who has the courage to put it on cloth. Now if it's in their head and they have the courage to put it on cloth, they are a great maker. If they do the best they can, they use the best materials that they can, they use the best skills they have, I think that makes a great quiltmaker.

JW: You mentioned [clears throat.] a couple of quilters already. So whose work are you drawn to? Are there others?

KL: In the very beginning I was drawn to Gwen Marsten's work. For quite a few years, as I was learning, I aspired to her way of doing things. Then Lynette Jensen from Thimbleberries, and I do still like her work very much. Lately Jo Morton has kind of grabbed me. I really like her things and I like her reproduction line of fabric.

JW: And there is a shop here in Maine that you like to frequent because of their fabrics?

KL: Cyndi Black's shop, I can't right now think of the name.

JW: Busy Thimble.

KL: Busy Thimble in--

JW: Is it Hallowell? Litchfield.

KL: Litchfield, yes. I do like to use her shop and Stitches in Newport [Maine.] I like very much too.

JW: Is that a reproductions?

KL: She doesn't have a lot of reproductions there, some, but it's a fun, happy place to go and it is affiliated with my quilt guild, so they are all my friends.

JW: And it's very handy.

KL: And it's very handy.

JW: Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

KL: Ah, it's a good think, I think. [both laugh.]

JW: Now machine quilting, hand quilting, hand tying--what do you like?

KL: I like to hand appliqué and machine piece very much. I'm learning, teaching myself now, to machine quilt and I like it better as I learn to do it better.

JW: What do you use for a machine to do that, a long-arm?

KL: No. I use my Bernina. This is a, 730 and that's what I use.

JW: Have you ever tied quilts?

KL: In the very beginning I did. I'm not, I don't anymore. I prefer to have them quilted. If I don't have time to do them myself, I send them out to a long-arm quilter.

JW: Have you tried long-arm quilting?

KL: I haven't. I've certainly seen the machines at quilt shows and when I take them to a long-armer, I certainly see her machine, but it's not something I really want to put the money into doing. I like the way things are working for me right now and I don't want to change the picture.

JW: Now you talk quite a bit about your grandmothers who were quilters. How did they finish their quilts off?

KL: My American grandmother tied hers almost exclusively. My Canadian grandmother hand quilted hers. On some of hers you can see that she anchored them with machine stitching and I think probably, in fact I know it had to be her treadle machine, because that's all she had. But then there would be a great deal of hand quilting in them also. A lot of hers I think, as I said before, were done by her friends in her church, with the money being given to the church. They raised money that way. But I know that she quilted herself too.

JW: At $7 a quilt!

KL: $7 a quilt. That I remember as what she used to donate.

JW: Why is quilt making important in your life right now?

KL: Well my children are grown and they live away. I am a retired RN. My husband still is working because he loves his work, and so I have extra time. I do donate a lot of my time for soup kitchens and other church-related activities, but I still have a great deal of time that I can--I'm very, very fortunate to have the time that I can quilt. It fulfills some need in me, an artistic textile need.

JW: Have you worked with textiles in a different way than quilting?

KL: Before I started quilting I did all the things that most needle workers do. I've done crewel, I've done needlepoint, embroidery, all those things and I love them all, but not as much as I love quilting, so I haven't done them for a long time.

JW: So this is your concentration now?

KL: This is my concentration now.

JW: Do you think your quilts reflect this area of the state perhaps?

KL: I don't really think so. I think, I was away for 30 years.

JW: What about New England?

KL: Probably, yes. New England. The Maritimes and New England are where my life has been, so I suspect that that influence of the Canadian Maritimes and New England, certainly…

JW: What do you think about the importance of quilts in your country, as a whole?

KL: I think they speak, I couldn't begin to tell you. They are so important to the history of women in this country. That's not to put the men down who quilt, I know that they are out there. But in the history of women, quilting has a huge place that we're only beginning now to understand just how huge it has been.

JW: In what ways come first to your mind?

KL: Well I think quilts were how women, in years back, quilts were how women got through the death of children, the death of husbands, sicknesses, glorious times, weddings, what have you. That is how women expressed their feelings a lot. Just touching the fabric, I think, for a woman, brings her in touch with herself, with her feelings, and connects her to the women who came before her.

JW: You mean currently the women who are [inaudible.]?

KL: Yes.

JW: Do you know of anybody in your family before your grandmothers who quilted?

KL: I don't specifically, but I have a vague knowledge of my American grandmother's mother quilting. I don't know a lot about her. My Canadian grandmother's family, there was a terrible tragedy in Nova Scotia, where all the men in her family were killed at one time in a mining accident. They were miners and the mine caved in. She was married by that time, it wasn't like she was a small child, but that was a, I'm sure it must have been, it was before my time, but I'm sure it must have been a horrible time for her. I can only imagine that quilting must have played a part in her getting through that.

JW: Well how else do you think quilts can be used, in other ways, today?

KL: Well they tell stories. A lot of people are doing I think, some wonderful art quilts that tell stories. Traditional quilts can tell stories also. I think we pass [along.] our history. We see that as we learn more about history. We are passing a history on to ourselves.

JW: What about preserving quilts for the future? What do you think can be done, should be done. How are you at preserving quilts?

KL: Somehow we have to balance preserving quilts with allowing them to be used. It's a fine balance between allowing quilts to be used, but to continue to pass them on. All we can individually do, I think, is to strike that balance, whatever it is for us.

JW: What do you think you'll tell your children about what to do with their quilts?

KL: I do tell them. Use them, but use them gently, carefully and appropriately.

JW: So that they will last for the next few generations.

KL: So that you can continue to pass them on.

JW: How many of the older quilts do you have that people before you have made?

KL: I probably have 10-15.

JW: And I've seen different styles. What different styles?

KL: One quilt I didn't take out to show you is a, it's a quilt that was made of silks and, right around the time when the Manchester mills were making all these fabrics, silks and whatever. Unfortunately, they disintegrated because of the dyes and what have you, the arsenic I guess. So it's not in the greatest shape. My mother, in thinking she was helping to preserve it, had put a new backing on it, which I don't think helped it a whole lot, but anyway, I do have one. I have mostly pieced. My Canadian grandmother did some appliqué. I do have those too.

JW: What about the quilts that you have given to your friends and family? What's happened to them?

KL: They are being used, kindly. Baby quilts, I expect that they are not going to make it beyond the baby. I mean, they need to be washed frequently. I've seen lots of them being carried around by the child. I mean even my grandchildren, by the time they are 3 or 4 years old they are still carrying their quilt around. They are in tatters, but it's supposed to be. It's been loved to death. It's okay with me as long as it's loved to death.

JW: What type of colors would you generally use, and patterns, for a baby quilt?

KL: I use a lot of flannel. Even if I use regular cotton on the front, I often back it with flannel. Softer colors.

JW: Would they be pieced quilts?

KL: They would be pieced. I have done a couple of appliqué ones for my granddaughters. Those don't last as well, the appliqué for baby quilts, so I tend now, especially with the boys, is to do pieced ones.

JW: What type of batting would you use for that?

KL: Polyester for the baby quilts, because they are going to be washed and washed.

JW: Otherwise, you like…

KL: I like 80% cotton and 20% poly.

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

KL: I think the cost of our materials is going up. I think that there are so many people now that are trying to sell us things that we are barraged constantly with, 'you have to have this, you have to have that, buy me, buy me, buy me' and I think that we have to say halt. Think about what we really want and what we really need.

JW: Would you say keep things simpler?

KL: I think it would be helpful to keep things simpler. I love my machine, but there's a lot of stitches on that machine that I'm not going to use.

JW: Have you ever used a treadle machine?

KL: I have not.

JW: Is that something that you wish you could have a chance to do?

KL: I don't think so, no.

JW: Is there anything else you would like to add to this interview?

KL: I think we've covered just about everything that I can think of.

JW: You have a lot of quilts out there. Do you have any comments about any of them?

KL: I can't think of anything else.

JW: How long do you think you intend to be a quilter?

KL: Until I cannot lift the needle enough to put it in the fabric. [both laugh.]

JW: Okay. Well, I'd like to thank Kathie for allowing me to interview her today as part of the 'Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories' project. Our interview is now over. It's 2:30 [p.m.] on August 22nd and we really appreciate your giving us time to do this.

KL: Thank you. Thank you for doing this.

Interview concludes.

[However, the following conversation was taped when I forgot to turn off the tape recorder at the end of the interview.

JW: There you go, 43 minutes and 42 seconds but I did read those, and it came out 44 minutes and 38 seconds. [laughs.] We were 20 seconds off! [from the QSOS specified time limit of 45 minutes.]

KL: Unbelievable. This is quite a volunteer project that you have. This takes a lot of your time.

JW: Well, I'm willing to travel for it. I love to do it. I love to talk with people, and I like to see what people are doing because they all do such different types of things, different types of fabrics, the history of it is really interesting. Most people don't seem to have the family history, so for me to listen to you about your grandmothers was very interesting.

KL: It's a real gift, I think, when you know something about--I wish I knew more, but I think when you know anything about your history, it's a gift.

JW: There are so many people today, families are-- Tape ended.


“Katherine S. Lombard,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed April 22, 2024, https://qsos.quiltalliance.org/items/show/2164.