Margery Hedges




Margery Hedges




Margery Hedges


Sally Creegey

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Laura McDowell Hopper


Houston, Texas


**This transcript was created by QSOS volunteers and was reviewed and, in some cases, edited by the interviewee. It may not exactly match the audio recording. For citations and interview quotations, please refer to the audio-recorded interview.** Sally Creegey (SC): I know everybody gives me trouble, you're like Jackie O or Margery O.

Margery O Hedges (MH): Nothing wrong with that.

SC: I was reading a story about people giving their children names that were worn out.

MH: Worn out? [laughs.]

SC: Yeah, it is kind of funny. Margery, tell me about this lovely cowgirl quilt.

MH: Well, the reason I brought this quilt is because this was the quilt that got me on the road I'm on now, to doing art quilts. I guess to step back a little, I've been quilting since the early 80's basically we bought a big four poster bed and I decided this needs something traditional so I didn't know how to make a quilt but I went to a fabric store and picked up a pattern. I fell in love with the Texas lone star. I bought the fabric and went home and did it. Back then, for all I knew, the only way to quilt a quilt was by hand so I bought a big hoop and quilted it by hand. It took me about six months. That was kind of the beginning, very traditional stuff. I didn't quilt very much for about 20 years because I was working, probably like a lot of people. I had a young daughter and everything. I started coming to these festivals and I started taking classes, and I kind of think of this as quilting university. I mean, where can you go and get access to all of these wonderful teachers and I fell in love with the pictorial quilts. So I decided I wanted to try and make one to see if I could enter it. I started this in 2003 and it's basically based on my daughter, she grew up as a barrel racer. She's in the center, she says she doesn't look like that, but I said 'It's an artistic version of you'. She's in the center, and then I just came up with other things the cowgirl could do. That's where the source of this came. Low and behold it was entered in 2004, and that was when I got bitten by the desire to make these and when somebody asks me what I do I tell them I'm a competitive quilter. This is where it all started and I've been really blessed because I've had quilts entered in every year since then, actually two are entered in this year. No big money yet, but I'm still there, I'm still going. This is the one that started me, doing what I do.

SC: Does this go up some place in your home?
MH: As big as it is, I really don't have a wall to hang it on. So it is stored but every once in a while I will bring it out because it means a lot to me.

SC: It's really lovely. What about the brands?

MH: I do a lot of researching, what brands look like. I actually ended up getting a little pamphlet that had brands that had been used in Texas. That's where I got the different ones I put on there.

SC: Fun. So you used machine embroidery on it and you painted the faces?

MH: Yeah. They're so small there's not much you can do. I painted the faces and machine appliquéd everything.

SC: That's really great. What does your daughter think?

MH: She likes it. She doesn't think it looks like her.

SC: You made this when?

MH: I started in 2003 and it took about six months at least to do it. Then I entered it into the 2004 Festival.

SC: Do you still make pictorial quilts?

MH: Yeah, that's when I started to do pictorial quilts. That's what I've been doing ever since. I love that. That's my thing.

SC: People, animals, tress?

MH: I do some landscapes but I do mostly people and animals. I love to do animals, that's what my passion is.

SC: Fun, that's fabulous. What do you think your personality is reflected in doing this?

MH: I don't know. I do like things to have an attitude, like my animals. You don't necessarily see it in this, but in the future things that I have done. I try to have them be a little bit different. I always feel like when you do either an animal or person, at least one of the people should be looking straight at the viewer. I think that's where your eyes go first and then look at the rest of it. I just want to make people stop and say 'Woah' and then walk in closer, something to catch their eye.

SC: Tell me a little bit about the evolution of the quilt you have in the museum.

MH: I started doing more things that have to do with experiences I've had. Of course, this obviously was. Basically, that one is an autobiographical one because the child in the center is me. When I was young, I was so fascinated with fairy tales and I used to get in trouble because I'd be reading them at night with the flashlight and I'd get in trouble with my mom. I just loved fairy tales, which was my first real experience in reading a lot. That's why I thought I needed to do a quilt about that. The hardest thing was choosing the fairy tales because there are so many that you love but I had to narrow it down because it kept growing and growing and I reached the point where it wouldn't even fit on my design wall, I had to stop somewhere. That's pretty much an autobiographical quilt for me. It means a lot to me, I miss it. I saw it at the museum and thought how much I missed that quilt.

SC: Does it have a place in your home?

MH: Yes, it does. We actually have a room with my grandparents' twin beds and quilts that my grandmother made with the same pattern that was on the little girls bed. It kind of coordinates and it's fantastic.

SC: Fabulous. Your grandmother, was that where your quilting background came from?

MH: I really wasn't aware or had a collection of my grandmother's quilts until after I started doing it because they were still alive and were using them. I knew that my grandmother quilted but I didn't have any experience, she didn't teach me and we never talked about it but after I started quilting I appreciated what she had done. I do have her quilts now and they're definitely keepsakes. I appreciate what she did.

SC: Did it skip a generation?

MH: Kind of. My mother loved embroidery, hand work and she was also an artist. But she didn't do quilts. That whole incident where we bought the bed, I just thought I needed to start making traditional quilts.

SC: What's your quilt process? Where do you start?

MH: I usually have ideas for a couple of years before they actually happen. I'm usually thinking of the figures, what I want to do. I start out with the name, like "The Little Girl" was the first thing. I didn't know what fairy tales I was going to do, I just started with her and then I started researching fairy tales. I started re reading fairy tales. I forgot some of them are violent and crazy. But I started re reading a lot of fairy tales to remember what the stories were. It just kind of grows from there and then I never know what the border is going to be. It just has to evolve. You start with a central idea and then you just move out.

SC: Do you sketch?

MH: I sketch when I finally decide what the central person or animal is that's going to be drawn. I usually do it on a piece of paper and put it on my design wall. As I actually go ahead and make it with fabric and then I go out and do more drawings. It just grows.
SC: Do you ever end up with any piecing? Is there any traditional piecing in your quilts?

MH: A lot of times, like on this, sometimes I'll do a virtual border. I do like to do a combination because there are a lot of blocks of really cool things. Sometimes I'll maybe have a border inside and then just have a binding to the outside. It's like a virtual border because it's something that goes around. I kind of like that, because a lot of the pictorial things you usually don't have a frame, sometimes they just go to the end and you got a binding. But sometimes I like to put frames within the quilt, in a more traditional piecing thing.

SC: Like the quilt on your bed in the middle of the story book quilt? The little flower garden?

MH: Yeah, and the fun about that was designing them so they had the perspective. I actually used a computer program and put the design on it where you can actually tilt things. Technology today is amazing. You can do things you couldn't do by just eye. I used that to design the ones that are on the top of the bed so I could get the narrow perspective. There are all sorts of wonderful tools today.

SC: What other kind of tools have you incorporated into your work?

MH: Let me think. Well of course you know they have all of the fusing stuff now-a-days to help you hold things in place until you can actually stitch on them. Computers, too. Say you have a drawing and you want to increase the size. You can posterize things. A lot of people go to fed ex or Kinko's and have them blow their picture up, but I never know how big for sure I want it so I may have to do it multiple times, so I actually have a computer program that you can tell it to posterize and it just prints out a number of 8.5 by 11 pictures and you put them all together and it fits like a puzzle. That's how I do mine because I often have to do multiple times because I don't get it right the first time. When I'm designing something, I start small but then I get bigger. That's the way I do it.

SC: Do you use photographs?

MH: I do, I use photographs. I can draw pictures from that. I do collect images like in the newspaper I saw this cowboy one time, we have a rodeo here in Houston every year. The image had a cowboy lassoing this calf and I thought what a wonderful image, and I'll cut it out and I'll save it. I have files and files of stuff that I'll go digging through to find something. You see things all around and you have to save that because it could be a quilt some day.

SC: What are you working on now that has your juices going?

MH: I have been thinking about this. In fact, the design has been on my design wall for over a year, which is pretty sad. I was thinking of doing a family of horses. At first I was thinking a horse collage; a dad, a mom and a baby. And maybe I would crop them down and not have the whole body. I drew that out and it looked pretty good when I started, but then when I used the fabric I realized that it wasn't working. I've redesigned it now with their bodies and legs and that's the start of it. Once I get them done, I will figure out where I'm going to go from there. I have some general ideas about the background, but like I said I start with the main idea and it grows from there. That's what I'm doing right now.

SC: When do they get their names?

MH: I don't have a name for this one yet. It takes a while, it's usually closer to when they're done. Oh, I shouldn't say that because I had a name for this one before I even started it. So it varies, sometimes it's right away and sometimes it has to grow on me and then I decide later. [laughs.]

SC: That's fabulous. Tell me about your quilt community.

MH: I do belong to a guild, the Kingwood Area Quilt Guild. I actually joined them in the late 90's and it's a great group because we bring in speakers and lecturers and have workshops. That was kind of the start of me starting to get more and more involved plus coming to the quilt show here. Yeah, it's a great group. I've been with them for a long time.

SC: Have you taught people to quilt?

MH: No, I'm not a really good teacher; I'm more of a do-er. I'm in a number of bees and we have this little thing where somebody has to bring a project sometimes, so I've done a little bit of that. But no, I'm not much of a teacher.

SC: In your family at all? Is it going on to the next generation?

MH: My daughter is artistic; she's got an interior design degree. She does that kind of work. She's more of a designer for that sort of thing, she doesn't do hand work or quilting or anything like that. Her interest has gone in another direction, but she still has some artistic abilities to do that kind of thing.

SC: Is there any part of quilt making that you don't like?

MH: Yes, the bindings and making the sleeve. I bet everybody says that. You have to do it.

SC: What are your favorite techniques, methods, or most fun parts?

MH: The most fun part is the designing, anything is possible then. The hard part is making it work. That's my favorite; designing, drawing, doing the pattern and everything. I do enjoy making the appliqué pieces and putting them together as you start to see what it will look like. I think I enjoy all of it actually. Once you get the top made and it really looks good to you, you know it's going to look fantastic because quilting just makes it better with the thread painting and the details and everything. I guess I like it all.

SC: Are there some of your favorite colors that you always use or don't use?

MH: I am a big fan of orange, red and yellow. I like bright colors. I like colors that stand out.

SC: What about styles of fabric?

MH: Batik, oh man I love batiks. That's my favorite.

SC: I wanted to know some of the different things about your other part of your quilt life. When you go to a show, what kind of quilt stops you in your tracks?

MH: Obviously, the pictorial art quilts. That's where I usually go to first, because I just love them. I look at the hand quilts and the pieced ones. Obviously, I'm not a piecer and I just so respect them because I can't believe the intricacy and all the points working. But obviously the first place is the art quilts because that's what I like to do.

SC: Is there any particular person you always run and look at their work?

MH: It's funny because at the Festival last year, I took a seminar with David Taylor from Steamboat Springs and he is an art quilter. I fell in love with him and his work and sure enough, he won first and third in my category this year. One of my quilts is hanging next to him, I'm so excited. I want to look for his stuff right away. He's my current quilt star, David Taylor [laughs.]

SC: Where do you sew?

MH: I am so lucky. We have a house that the people before us added a big rec room in the back of it. It's the type of room where you put a pool table in there and it has a spot for a big screen tv. That's my room and it's all changed. I have a design wall. Where you would put the big screen tv is where I have all my racks and store all of my thread. I have work tables. I do have a little area with a couch and a tv but the rest of it is all completely turned over into fabric storage and work tables and all of that. It's fantastic.

SC: What kind of machine do you use?

MH: I've got a Bernina. When I started out years and years ago, I had one of those little old Singer 60's version. I don't even think it had a zig zag but then I discovered Bernina when I started doing more elaborate stuff. I love my Bernina, it's very good.

SC: Do you have an embroidery machine also?

MH: No, if I'm going to do embroidery I'm going to do it myself. I'm not going to do it with a machine.

SC: What do you think makes a really great quilt maker?

MH: The techniques. The people that are so good at hand appliqué. If they've really got fine quilting techniques and appliqué work that makes a great quilter. Also, being visual and having something that can get your attention and draws you in. I guess it's the whole package. You have to be able to design something that makes people stop and look plus having the techniques. So when they walk closer you need to follow up with having good techniques. Allover a good artisan quilter.

SC: Do you sell your quilts?

MH: Some small things I have sold. The big things I get so attached that I can't sell them. I've done some small work. Actually, in the early days when I was doing traditional stuff I made a lot of traditional miniatures and I got into eBay, and I think I sold about 300 quilt miniatures back when it was easy to sell on eBay. It's not easy anymore, but then I got into doing these competition things and they take six months to make so I kind of got away from all of that. Yeah, I used to sell a lot and I still sell some small ones every once in a while.

SC: Do you do any commission work?

MH: No, I've decided that I'd rather do what I want to do rather than what someone else wants me to do. I pretty much do my own work.

SC: What has quilt making done for you?

MH: It's a passion, I love it. I can't wait to do it. I try to get all of my chores and everything done so I can get home and do it. It's the most wonderful time that I can possibly have. Plus, the fact that I've made so many friends who belong to the guild. My old friends were work friends, but I never had friends outside of work because I was so busy. Now I have all sorts of friends and we have similar interests. It's really expanded my life. It's wonderful.

SC: Where do you think quilt making is going?

MH: Wow, who knows. It's changed a lot. Now they're doing the digital stuff and I don't know where else it can go. There will be new techniques developed. It is amazing when you look at all the machinery, sources, and computers. I have no idea, who knows? It could go anywhere.

SC: Do you have any concerns about where quilt making is going?

MH: I know there was a big hullaballoo at first with Hollis Chatelain, with the whole quilt painted. Personally, I think quilts are all art. Everything from the 1800's has always been art. I don't have any problem with that. I think they're all beautiful. I love quilts.

SC: What's happened to the quilts that you have made?

MH: Quite a few of them are displayed in my home. My husband keeps telling me 'Do we really need to hang another one?' I kind of sneak them up in places. In my sewing room I have a bunch of them on the walls. But I have reached the point where I've started doing smaller work because I can't give them up. I have to have some place where I can transition and go through hanging various ones, so I've started making smaller ones. But I do have most of them hanging.

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

MH: Not really, I haven't had too many difficult times. I guess I've been lucky.

SC: Have you found an amusing time around a quilt?

MH: One of the quilts that is in the show right now is of my dog chasing a squirrel up a tree. We have three Jack Russells and we love them all. It's fun and very entertaining. They never give up. You think they'd figure out after a while that they're not going to catch these things. I like to do something from what I see everyday, and that's something I see everyday.

SC: How much time a week do you quilt? Any idea?

MH: It varies. Sometimes I don't quilt at all during the week and other times I may have a full day. It's wonderful to get a whole day to work at home. It just varies.

SC: Do you consider yourself a fiber artist?

MH: Yeah, I do. On some of the smaller quilts I do I use embellishments and I love ribbon embroidery and things like that. I've got some methods. I do actually paint of quilts more than I used to. I like to manipulate fabric, too. I usually do that on smaller things.

SC: What have you put on quilts that are not fabric?

MH: I did a quilt where my inspiration was a Brahms Rhapsody and I actually printed the sheet music, scrunched it up and took a picture of that and printed it on fabric. Then I put that on a quilt. I put beads, buttons, ribbons, probably pretty standard embellishments but a lot of decorative threads. I discovered this stuff that one of the booths has here that are called sari strips. They're wonderful.

SC: Do you have a bucket of embellishments in your house?

MH: I have tons of embellishments, more than one bucket.

SC: What's in your bucket?

MH: Tons of ribbons, lots of things you could use for jewelry making but I think they look good on quilts. My brother has been in the antique business for over 30 years and he will bring me lots of old jewelry that you can do whatever you want with. He's also brought me a lot of vintage antique fabric, which are a great source of hand work. I also have vintage crochet work that you could add into quilts, too. I've got a lot.

SC: Fabulous. So you're working on your horses, but is there something else just bubbling over in your head?

MH: I usually do two larger quilts a year to compete with. The other one I'm thinking of is about my mom. I told you my mom was an artist. When I was little, my dad was with the Marines and we were based in North Carolina on the beach and she had this photo she took of my brother and I. I think he was maybe four and I was two. We were standing on the beach and he was holding my hand and we were looking out at the water and there was like a shrimper boat out there and she painted that there. I've been thinking that for years I should do that in a quilt. I think that maybe that will be my second quilt this year.

SC: Fabulous. Is there anything else that you wanted to add or talk about and mention that is just such a part of your quilting life?

MH: I don't know, I think we've done a good job. I think we have covered a lot.

SC: Your husband isn't quilting yet?

MH: No, but he's my biggest fan. He's always bragging about me. He's a good supporter.

SC: And your daughter?

MH: She likes my stuff. In fact, she came to the quilting show for the first time this year. She lives in Austin [Texas.]

SC: Has she seen your quilt in the museum?

MH: No, she hasn't been there yet but she's going to get there. It's fairly close to Austin so she will get over there.

SC: How fabulous. Thank you.

MH: Thank you.

SC: I would like to thank Margery for allowing me to interview her today for the Quilters' S.O.S. – Save Our Stories Oral History Project. Our interview concluded at 1:36.


“Margery Hedges,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed June 16, 2024,