Toni Baumgard




Toni Baumgard


Toni Baumgard, a quilter, is interviewed by Renee Jackson for the Quilters’ S.O.S. Oral History Project. Baumgard talks about the quilt she brought in for the interview, an antique redwork quilt created by a German-American woman in 1913 in Pennsylvania. She discusses the pattern of the quilt and what the symbols mean on the quilt. Baumgard then talks about her own interest in historic quilts, particularly redwork quilts, as she does lectures about redwork. She also talks about her work as a textile preservationist, an interest she had from childhood. She also became interested in quilting during her childhood, as her grandmother was a frequent quilter. Baumgard talks about her personal opinions about quilting, including what makes a great quilt, why quilts are important to women’s and American histories, and how quilts are important to her personal life. She discusses the importance of preserving quilts and teaching future generations how to quilt. Baumgard talks about how she uses her quilt collection and how she gives away the quilts she makes, believing quilts have a wide variety of uses beyond only decoration or utilitarian purposes.




Fabric arts
Textile artists
Decorative arts
Crafts & decorating
Arts & crafts
Women's history
American women, 1600-1900
Textile museums


Toni Baumgard


Renee Jackson

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

A Friend of the Quilt Alliance


Houston, Texas


Renee Jackson (RJ): This interview is with Toni Baumgard. We are very pleased to have her here to participate in the International [Quilt Festival.] Quilters' S.O.S. [ -Save Our Stories.] project. The date is November 4, 2000. And the interview will begin at 2:05. Could you tell us about the quilt that you brought in with you today?

Toni Baumgard (TB): This is a quilt made in 1913, by Eva Mae Hoffman Bowman. She was a second generation German immigrant. She was born in Boyertown, Pennsylvania in 1890. She only went to school for a few years. This is a very classic example of Redwork embroidery quilt, made with ten squares. It has some unusual qualities. It has a beautiful wreath around the center but in addition to that it has a whimsical little dog, perhaps a family pet, within the circle of the grape leaves. It also has about Redwork, about quilting, and about women's history, which kind of goes hand in hand.

RJ: Do you have some thoughts you'd like to share on quilting and it's impact on women's lives?

TB: I think it's made a tremendous impact on women's lives. It's certainly a method of expression, for instance I'll give you an example. I have a quilt that has a block that has a donkey and down beneath, written in very faint letters and not embroidered, says, 'A temperance drink.' Now, a woman obviously was not allowed to talk about that or even get involved, but this particular quilter found this way of expressing herself. I think that a lot of times people realize that we can express ourselves in our quilts, even though we have a lot of latitude now, as women, we can say a lot in what we do with our quilts.

RJ: Could you share your opinions of quilts and American life?

TB: That's a very hard question. I can't imagine not having quilts in some form or fashion in my own life. I think there are a lot of forms of art, so it wouldn't be necessary for everyone to have a quilt, or be a quilter, but I do think it has made the quality of our lives a lot better.

RJ: Could you share your thoughts on how you think quilts can be used?

TB: They certainly can be used as a form of art. They can be used as wonderful wall hangings. I have a very dear friend who paints on fabric, and makes beautiful quilts, which is another way to use quilts. Obviously, they can be very joyful on beds and as bed warmers. They can give a message, and inform people. There are certainly political quilts that can make you stop and think. I've seen a lot of those in more recent years. There's just a few I can think of right off the top.

RJ: What are your thoughts on how quilts can be preserved for the future?

TB: I certainly think they need to not be stuck in a plastic bag and thrown under the bed, or in the attic. I think that we are making great advances on how to preserve textiles and learning, even in the museum business, what was proper a couple of years ago is not proper now. I like to think that people are being educated on using acid free paper and museum quality mountings, and so forth like that. But what is going to come in the far off future, something even better I hope. But I don't know what it is.

RJ: I'd like to ask you if you could tell us what has happened to the quilts you have made.

TB: All of the quilts that I have made have been given away. I always have made them for someone.

RJ: And do you make a particular type of quilt?

TB: Whatever the person wants. I'll give you an example. My granddaughter was 9 and we went down and picked the material that she wanted, and she picked out that pattern which was the hardest, most complicated appliqué that you could ever imagine. We color keyed it in, and she still has that hanging in her room and she still loves that quilt. It meant a great deal to her to help me pick it out.

RJ: Do you have a number of quilts in your family, from family members?

TB: I don't know of anyone else in the family, who is alive today, who is making quilts.

RJ: Have you shared your talents, and your knowledge, have you trained quilters within your own family?

TB: Yes, I taught all my granddaughters. I'm teaching them. They're not really ready to make a full quilt yet.

RJ: You've indicated that you belong to a quilting bee, or group.

TB: Yes.

RJ: Could you tell us about the group you belong to?

TB: I actually belong to several of them. I belong to a group that meets once a month, and we do roundrobins mostly, which is a really marvelous thing because it stretches your abilities. We're very close as friends. I also belong to a group that makes community outreach quilts, to be given to charitable organizations. I belong to one other small group that goes off on a retreat every year to a [inaudible.], which is in the Monterey Bay in California, where empty schools [inaudible.], and we kind of short cut it, because we just take 12 of us. We stay for a week, and just quilt to our hearts content.

RJ: You had mentioned that you participate in a roundrobin. Could you explain that for us?

TB: The way a roundrobin works is that you do the center medallion and you pass it on to the next person and they put a border on and then on again. We have eight, so eight people start out with the center medallion. When they get it back, seven of their friends have added seven borders. It's usually a wall hanging. It's a lot of fun and it usually has a theme. My particular theme last time was a 1930's Christmas.

RJ: Do you have a favorite theme?

TB: I have accused of being Mrs. Uncle Sam because I always seem to end up doing red, white, and blue quilts. [laughs.] Even above and beyond Redwork. Occasionally, I do the 30's pinks, yellows, and greens, but mostly red, white, and blue.

RJ: I'd like to ask you, is there anything you'd like to share with us that you feel I haven't asked?

TB: No, I think you've done a very, very good job of asking me questions. I can't think of anything.

RJ: I think you've done a wonderful job of answering our questions.

TB: I'm glad to share.

RJ: I do have one other question I'd like to ask you. It's about the reverse side of this quilt.

TB: By all means. About the barking?

RJ: Yes and if you could provide us with a verbal description.

TB: This is a stamp that was on the material before the quilt first was made. And I have two or three examples of this. I can really only tell you that it was on a bolt and they stamped their advertisement right onto the fabric, which in this case is a light muslin. I suspect that they thought people would just cut it off but I find where it has not been cut off. It says, 'Finished soft for the needle.' Meaning that it would be easy to put the needle through, which is kind of fun. It doesn't tell us what company.

RJ: May I ask you a few questions about the quilts that you have in your personal collection?
Are most of them hand worked, or do they contain some machine work?

TB: I have a few recent acquisitions that contain machine work, as far as the quilting is concerned, that were done by my friends as gifts. But the biggest portion of my collection, which goes from 1860 to present time, is all hand done, all hand quilted, mostly hand pieced on the very old pieces. I have hundreds of quilts. There's quite a variety, not just Redwork quilts.

RJ: Do you use your collection in a specific or special manner?

TB: I do put them on the bed from time to time. I bring them out especially when I'm having guests. I display them for people. I hand them but on a rotating basis. They're never out for more than three weeks. They're never hung in the sun. I like people to enjoy them. I occasionally lend them for viewing, for specific shows or things like that. Once in a while when I just feel like it, I go in the spare bedroom and lay down on the bed and cover up with one of them, to see what it feels like to be under an 1880 quilt or something like that. That's what quilts are for.

RJ: This concludes our interview with Toni Baumgard. We would like to thank her immensely for her time and the effort that was used to bring in the quilt and to explain all of her different thoughts on quilting and how it affects her life. The time is 2:31. The date is November 4, 2000. This is the Houston International Quilt Festival, the Quilt S.O.S. [Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories.] project. Thank you.

Interview Keyword

Vintage quilts
Quilt preservation
Wall quilts
Hanging quilts
Quilt patterns
Antique quilts
Traditional quilts
Art quilts
Redwork quilts
Quilt collections
Quilt descriptions
Hand quilting
Machine quilting
Women and quilting
Round robins
Group quilting
Quilting bees
Custom quilts
Utilitarian quilts


“Toni Baumgard,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed May 24, 2024,