Patricia Wright




Patricia Wright




Patricia Wright


Cassino Richardson

Interview Date


Interview sponsor


Houston, Texas


Alana Zakowski


Cassino Richardson (CR): This is Cassino Richardson and today's date is November 3rd and it's 11 o'clock AM and I'm conducting an interview with Patricia Wright for Quilters' S.O.S. Save Our Stories and project of The Alliance for American Quilts. Patricia Wright and I are at the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas. Patricia will you tell me about the quilt you brought today?

Patricia Wright (PW): I'll be happy to. This was, I started this back in, around 2001. The quilt fabrics I had bought a stack of fifty ten-inch squares, there was, no there was more than that, probably seventy-five ten-inch squares of oriental fabrics at the quilt show, five years prior. I had this little stack of quilt squares in my sewing room, not knowing what to do with these they were all so different, and I was thumbing through a magazine, saw an article and a pattern for a New York Beauty quilt, and I thought, "Wow, I would love that," I had not done the New York quilt before and decided that's what I would do with all of these ten-inch squares of fabric, so, that's how it began. I knew how I wanted the border of this quilt, I knew I wanted this serpentine border, so I made the border first, which is different [laughs.] and it took me about, oh a year and a half, maybe even two years because I was in no hurry, it was just a labor of love, putting the New York Beauty blocks together was so much fun. Hadn't done a lot of paper piecing prior to that and all of the points were paper pieced so I just truly enjoyed doing it, I'd do it for a while, we'd go to retreat, I'd take it to retreat, I'd make it at the retreat, put it up on the board and everybody at the retreat would have an idea of how they thought the blocks should go, so I let them [laughs.] and that's how it started and progressed on. It brings back memories, when I bought these squares a friend and I, Sue Floyd, would, take our vacation during the quilt show, and even though she lived in Houston [Texas.] and I lived in Texas City near Galveston [Texas.] we would spend the few days up here at one of the hotels, and go to the show, like three days in a row so we can take it all in. That's when I bought that particular batch of quilt squares.

CR: Oh, okay.

PW: So it has very good memories.

CR: Oh I guess so. You built this quilt from the outside in, then?

PW: Yes.

CR: You didn't find a pattern in a book and follow that; you just kind of built your own design?

PW: Yes.

CR: That's interesting, very interesting.

PW: It was fun to figure it out, it went together well, I enjoyed it.

CR: So how many years did, do you think did it take--

PW: I worked on it probably two years, yeah probably two years.

CR: About two years off and on.

PW: Right, right. I love making quilts, but I'm in no hurry to finish them because I know when I finish them, I'm going to start another one, so I enjoy the process so much, you know, I don't hurry to get it finished.

CR: Do you work on more than one quilt at a time?

PW: Yes, I do, I do. I've got about three right now; one needing a binding, one needing quilting, another top that needs to be put together .

CR: And one in your head you're getting ready to start.

PW: Exactly [laughs.]

CR: How do you use this quilt?

PW: This quilt, because it's a square, I don't, I just love it, I don't use this particular one, I don't have the space to hang it up, I'd like to be able to hang it, and eventually if I get enough wall space I will. Right now it just stays folded on my shelves with my other quilts.

CR: You don't put it over a quilt rack or anything?

PW: No, no. We're remodeling and there's just no way to leave that out with the remodeling process.

CR: What are your plans for the quilt? Are you going to keep it, or are you going to pass it down?

PW: I'll keep it until someone shows a great interest in preserving it [laughs.] I have three sons and just one daughter-in-law, and I have five grandsons, so it's probably going to be a grandchild's wife that it will eventually go to, but I will definitely pass it on.

CR: And just decide which one's going to take the better care of it I guess [laughs.]

PW: That's exactly right.

CR: I know how that is. Tell me how you got interested in quiltmaking, did someone in your family quilt, your grandmother or your mother?

PW: Both my grandmother and my mother were quilters, but my first recollection of quilts was sitting under them. They always had a suspended quilt, always had a suspended quilt that they would be working on and when it wasn't, when they weren't working on it they would wind it up to the ceiling, it was usually over a dining room table, but my first recollection was nothing under the quilt but me, just playing under the quilt, it was just, I think it's a comfort thing, but that's my first recollection. My mother always sewed and I didn't get the sewing bug until I had children, and started making their shirts and play clothes and things like that. I have always loved quilts but I didn't really start making quilts aside from maybe, quilting with my mother and grandmother until about 1980. A friend of mine, the same lady Sue Floyd, was interested also but she hadn't done much to it, so together we started talking it up and started doing our own things, self-taught and then after I got into it of course I took classes and it's progressed from there.

CR: Did you have a local quilt shop where you could take classes?

PW: Yes we did, in Galveston [Texas.] Quilts by the Bay was started in Galveston [Texas.] and Patricia Stevenson was there was a wonderful teacher, so that's actually was my first quilt class, in Galveston [Texas.] at her class.

CR: In the early 1980s, your first quilt was probably a sampler quilt?

PW: No, it was a full-sized quilt [laughs.]

CR: No I meant sampler blocks.

PW: No, it was the basket, just a little basket quilt with an appliquéd handle and it was a full size, it had some great little sashing, extra sashing in there. That was my very first quilt that I started and finished.

CR: Okay. What are your favorite techniques? I know this quilt is plain English, not English paper pieced, its foundation paper pieced. What are your favorite techniques? What other techniques have you tried?

PW: Hand appliqué, needle turn appliqué is, I love, it's a passion, it's a, I have a lot of blocks [laughs.] that need to be put together and some wall hangings. I've got enough blocks now to do a full size quilt, but I'd never put a full size appliqué quilt together, but that's going to be my next step, is to gather all my blocks together, they are mostly flowers.

CR: Just add sashing and--

PW: Right. Appliqué I would say is my very favorite, even though I like it all, I love sitting at a machine, I love the paper piecing, it's just, I think because I worked for so many years, and that was my relaxation time, and I retired and of course was able to do it more, but then I went back to part-time so now it's back to a relaxation time so that's what it is for me.

CR: Hand-work.

PW: It's not a pressure thing at all.

CR: Do you do your own quilting?

PW: I did hand quilting with my church group of quilters. We did quilts for the public, but our group has dwindled away, we've lost a lot of them, and a lot of them have moved away because it's an older church. We're not doing any of that now, but I do hand quilt. I machine quilt only when I have to [laughs.] there's so many wonderful machine quilters and in our area we have some that are just phenomenal. This one was machine quilted.

CR: It's beautiful.

PW: If it's something that I want to keep and put away or to show, I'll have someone else do it. If it's a quilt that I made for the grandkids, it's going to go in and out of the wash and the floor, then I'll machine quilt it. I do a little bit of it [laughs.]

CR: So you do your machine quilting on your regular sewing machine, you don't have a longarm?

PW: I don't have a longarm, and I don't ever want one.

CR: You don't--

PW: I don't ever want one because there's so many people that do it and do it well, but I'm not going to be able to do that [laughs.]

CR: Tell me about your work space? Where do you sew? Do you have a room to--

PW: I do, I have a spare bedroom that you cannot sleep in because it has all of my stuff, there's no bed in it. That's where my work room is. I have a design wall, I think if you're a quilter and you have room you need a design wall.

CR: Tell me about your design wall, there's so many ways to build one, how, what is yours like?

PW: Right now what I have is quilt batting, I'll tack it up, the quilt batting holds the squares and if I have a row that's put together that's kind of heavy I can pin it to the cotton batting and it makes just a wonderful surface. I have used a covered insulator board, that works nicely but right now I just have the quilt batting.

CR: You have a designated room then for sewing.

PW: Yes.

CR: That's nice. You mentioned that you had gone to several quilt retreats, tell me--

PW: With our guild. I belong to two different guilds, the Galveston [Texas.] Island Quilters Guild is the name and also the Mainland Morning Quilt Guild. Through the Galveston [Texas.] guild, they have two retreats a year, and they're wonderful. They been going on since almost, well since the beginning of that guild and I'm not quite sure of the year, but they started off with one retreat a year like a Saturday and Sunday, and then it went to two retreats a year a Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, sometimes Wednesday, Thursday [laughs.] We have a wonderful location near our house. We're just within ten minutes of our homes so if we forget something, which is not likely, we can just swing back and get it [laughs.]

CR: Since it is close to your home though, do you when you go to these retreats, you stay overnight? Is that right?

PW: Oh yes, yes, yes stay overnight. Some of the ladies quilt all night, I'm not an all night quilter, I'm an early morning quilter and, but some of the ladies stay up all night quilting, sleep in, all our meals are prepared and it's just wonderful to be able to not think of anything else but your quilting and sharing with the other quilters.

CR: You've been quilting for approximately thirty years now, who is your inspiration? Do you have someone that you like to go to for advice or patterns or do you have a famous quilter that you admire?

PW: Oh, that's a really, that's a difficult question because I think if you belong to a group, I think you're constantly getting information from those people. The Morning Guild, most of that group is retired, older ladies who are really experienced and if you think you know it all, you don't because they are so much fun to be around, to learn from them, and let them learn from you, it's amazing how just the interaction of the quilters is where I get my inspiration.

CR: I know in the 80s we didn't even have rotary cutters, you know, what's new and innovative if that's the word, do you think has impacted quilting in the last thirty years?

PW: Oh, like you said the rotary cutter, and now of course the internet, online, there's so much information that you can grab just like that. If I have an idea, for instance recently I was thinking about, I don't do machine embroidery, I don't do that, but I saw some bobbin work embroidery that I thought was really fascinating and it would be something that I would enjoy doing. So, I just went to my computer, typed it in, and there it was, any kind of information you need. Of course, I think originally I got that idea for the bobbin work was maybe a TV show, or a magazine, I'm not sure there's just a lot of information out there. We're really lucky. The rotary cutter had just changed the face of quilting and piecing.

CR: Yeah.

PW: And I love the fact that with groups, they do so much charity work. They give to others that just need, that are in need that just, they want, they need covers, and they need to be warm.

CR: You mentioned that you were working this morning on the pillow cases?

PW: There's a booth here.

CR: Yes.

PW: That's right. I had like an hour before our interview and I thought, "Okay, I'll get a look around," and right over there, just right around the corner, they had everything set up, it's just so easy, and I made a couple of pillow cases and they appreciated it and I appreciated having a place to sit [laughs.] and do what I do.

CR: And something to do, yeah. Do you do other charity work? Baby blankets or?

PW: Right, we do, we have a great, in our morning quilt guild, a great lady who does, who gathers us a lot of information as far as the need in our area and we do baby blankets, or baby quilts, and pillow cases for children and for the ladies shelter, women's shelter, and for children that are taken from their home, things like that. We've got a great network of charity work we do in that particular guild.

CR: You've already told me about your, about machine quilting, and how you feel about machine quilting [laughs.]

PW: I love it; I just want somebody else to do it.

CR: How else do you think quilts can be used, other than putting on a bed?

PW: I sleep under a quilt.

CR: Do you?

PW: Every night, summer and winter, I love quilts. I make quilts for my grandchildren and they love them, it's just, I don't know, it's a connection there. I have quilts that my mother made, that I can look and I can find the skirt or a blouse or shirts, I had four brothers, shirts that she made, in this quilt. It's just so comforting, so personal, I also give them as gifts. I do a lot of baby quilts of course, for the grandchildren and there is always a need because they wear them out. I do believe in giving them, using them, washing them, you know I don't think there should be just be hung on the wall, I think they should be loved.

CR: Yeah. Let's see, you've pretty much answered all of these. What do you think is the biggest challenge confronting quiltmakers today? What do we run up against that we need to work on?

PW: Oh.

CR: That's a hard one.

PW: That's a hard one, it's probably the cost of everything. With this drought that we've had in Texas, and the cotton, and everything is surely going to go up, and the economy is the way it is at this point. It is, it's tough to buy the stuff that you want, but quilters usually find a way.

CR: [laughs.]

PW: It may, it may make us use that stash that we've been hanging on to that we bought because we had a project in mind and then another project came up. As far as a challenge, I think when my parents were young, those were challenging times, yet they made the time, it was a necessary thing to keep warm. I think as far as quilting goes, I think we're blessed to be able to do our craft and pass it on. So challenges, I don't see a lot of them.

CR: Okay. You mentioned passing on our craft, do you teach?

PW: I do, I teach at our local quilt shop. Anyone who wants to learn a new technique that I'm fairly good at, I'll be happy to help them, we have bees that get together , and we learn from each other. So that, yes I do teach. I don't teach on a full-time basis just on a part-time, I still work part-time.

CR: What type of work do you do?

PW: I work at our local college [inaudible.] I work in the senior adult department, and plan trips and classes, and take trips and take classes. It's a wonderful place to work.

CR: There's a good outlet for your quilt teaching as well.

PW: I worked at the main campus, and I really enjoyed it, but everybody was so young, but at the Senior Adult location, they're all my age, so that's really fun [laughs.]They have similar interest.

CR: You mentioned belonging to a couple of guilds and sewing bees, tell me a little bit more about your guilds. Do you bring speakers in, do you have workshops?

PW: Yes both. originally there was the Galveston [Texas.] quilt guild and when we decided to start a daytime quilt guild, of course they met in the evening, there's a lot of professional people that live in Galveston [Texas.], you know the medical center, and things like that so the nighttime guild was necessary there. But, a daytime guild was just a really good thing, I thought. When we started our daytime guild, we decided to meet on the same day as the Galveston [Texas.] nighttime guild, so we can share speakers and things like that, so that's worked out really well. We've had some really wonderful devoted speakers come in, and we have workshops.

CR: Okay. Now, the quilt you brought today is, would you consider a contemporary quilt?

PW: Yes I would say yes.

CR: Do you also do traditional patchwork?

PW: I do, and in my appliqué I love the traditional floral appliqués. I do, I love bright colors and so you know, that lends to traditional [inaudible.] I think. Right now, and I like to do mystery things, mystery quilts, just be surprised at how that comes out. What was the question? [laughs.]

CR: Do you also do traditional quilts and patterns?

PW: Yes, yes, mostly I do. I see something I get an idea, and I put it together.

CR: So you might take a pattern and put your own twist to it?

PW: Right, right.

CR: And originality?

PW: Right.

CR: That's very good. Have you ever participated in a quilt history preservation survey such as this?

PW: No--

CR: This is your first.

PW: I was really excited that I was invited for this. I knew about it, one of the ladies in our guild had encouraged us to pursue it, because I think she did an interview last year and, but after the quilt, the quilt that was put in the Lonestar book, the Texas [inaudible.] Lonestar book, and they invited me for this and I thought, "Yay." [laughs.]

CR: Now you mentioned your quilt in the Lonestar Three book, tell us about that quilt.

PW: Oh what a fun quilt. In our area, we have Houston [Texas.] Rodeo and each county has their own rodeo association and we live in Galveston [Texas.] county, and the Galveston [Texas.] county rodeo association had contacted the quilt guild to see if they would make a quilt for the rodeo, you know this is an ongoing thing each year, and the Galveston [Texas.] guild started it, they were the first guild in Galveston [Texas.] county, and they made one each year, then we started the daytime guild, now know we alternate years, so it was our year to make a quilt. Me and two other ladies, Ruth Sillaman and Peggy Mote volunteered to make a rodeo quilt, so we got together and we gather all of our fabrics that you, we thought looked like rodeo, and we talked about it, we just brainstormed and designed it and put it together and Karen Overton, a local Longarm Quilter, quilted it for us and we let them enter it into the quilt portion of that section of the rodeo in I believe it was '06, it was '06 or '07. We had to finish it in December of '06, so then it must have been '07 rodeo and we called, we called it Happy Trails because we were looking at it, and there were several depictions of Roy Rogers and his wife Dale Evans and his horse, it's not a particular pattern it's an overall theme. We were looking at it and the first thing that came to my mind was, "Happy trails to you," because whenever I see Roy Rogers, I think of that song, and so we named it Happy Trails. They entered it into the rodeo quilt competition and it won best in division, which was such an honor for our guild, we used it for our raffle quilt that year. In December of that same year, at our Christmas party, a name was drawn and it was mine, what a privilege, what an honor. One of the other ladies that was instrumental in making the quilt, Peggy Mo, her husband, John, always, James I'm sorry, James would always come to our guild meeting and James drew the name, and it was mine and it was just really a shock and you know, it was wonderful. So I own the quilt and Karen Overton the quilter contacted me and said, "They're doing this book on Texas quilts, and I told them about your quilt, and they would like to see it," and so we, and it had to be sent in that day [laughs.] so I gathered it up, I took it to her house, we boxed it up and shipped it off and [inaudible.] which was really exciting, I'm still in awe, and the book is out now, it's a beautiful book. That's how that quilt came about [inaudible.]

CR: And it's in the book.

PW: Yes it is.

CR: Is there anything else that you would like to tell us about yourself or your quiltmaking that we haven't covered so far?

PW: No I can't think of anything, I think we covered everything [inaudible.]

CR: Okay.


“Patricia Wright,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed May 27, 2024,