Linda Lindstrom Freeman




Linda Lindstrom Freeman


Linda Lindstrom Freeman talks about her personal background. Freeman says that when her kids were young, her aunt tried to get her to quilt. Her aunt, Beth Ford, would bring her quilt patterns to inspire Freeman and make a Sunbonnet baby's quilt for her daughter. She recalls being discouraged when she found out how long the quilting process would take. Freeman started quilting in the early 1980s with Cardinal Quilters after taking a beginning quilter's class. Freeman says that the quilt she has brought to the interview is the piece that she made in the beginning quilting class from Cardinal Quilters. She defines it as her most special piece because it is her first. Freeman says that the quilt represents her family, and each family member has a muslin block that represents their interests. Freeman says that she has not held positions in Cardinal Quilters, but she was the president of Virginia Star Quilters in 1989. Virginia Star Quilters is a Fredericksburg quilting chapter that is in the National Quilting Association. Freeman says she taught for the Quilt Block, a quilt shop in Stafford, Virginia. Freeman speaks on her involvement with the Virginia Consortium of Quilters' documentation project. Documentation Days would allow people to bring in old quilts and fill out forms documenting where it was made, what pattern it had, and what fabric and batting it consisted of.




Quilt patterns
Quiltmaking process


Linda Lindstrom Freeman


Ruth Duncan

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Nancy O'Bryant Puentes


Alexandria, Virginia

Interview indexer

Interview indexed by Ta'mya Ross with the support of the Virginia Quilt Museum


Ruth Duncan


Ruth Duncan (RD): Today is the thirteenth of February 2004. It is just about noon. We are at the Trinity United Methodist Church in Alexandria, Virginia. Today's interview is with Linda Lindstrom Freeman, interviewee. The interviewer is Ruth Duncan, who at least is trying. This is part of the Quilters' Save Our Stories - S.O.S. program [correct name Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories.], sponsored [actually a project of The Alliance for American Quilts.] by the Alliance or American Quilts. Linda's number is VA22302.010. I think that's all the opening stuff and now we can forget about the machine and talk.

Linda Freeman (LF): Okay.

RD: To start with, where are you from?

LF: I've lived in the Washington, D.C., area all my life. I was born at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. We lived in Southeast Washington and eventually moved to McLean [Virginia.]. When I got married, we lived in Vienna [Virginia.] And we keep moving a little further south [laughs.] all the time, and are now as far down as Spotsylvania.

RD: Wow. So you're one of the few natives we've got here.

LF: Very few, yes.

RD: You and Martha Kiser, I think.

LF: Good.

RD: How and when did you get interested in quilting?

LF: Well, when my kids were very young, my aunt, Beth Ford, tried to get me to do some quilting, because she is an expert quilter. And I remember her coming down to my house and bringing patterns for--to try to get me inspired to make a Sunbonnet [Sue.] baby's quilt for my daughter. And when I found out that I couldn't have it done in the next hour and a half I said, 'No, thank you.' [laughter.] So it took her quite a few years to convince me to finally start quilting. And I started in the early eighties, when I started coming to Cardinal Quilters.

RD: Well, when--do you remember what year that was?

LF: It was in the early eighties, I don't know exactly. I started coming again at Beth's insistence. She wanted me to quilt and so I agreed to come to the meeting with her, but I sat there and did cross-stitch, because I really didn't like quilting very much. [laughter.]

RD: How did you change your mind? What changed your mind?

LF: Well, she was teaching a beginning quilting class through Cardinal Quilters and I decided I would do that. And, it was just a fever after that. It caught on and I discovered fabrics, and became fascinated with putting them together to make things. It just went on from there.

RD: That was 1986, wasn't it?

LF: Very possibly.

RD: I was in that class.

LF: Okay, then you remember. Good. I'm glad you remember. [laughs.]

RD: I think maybe we will look at the quilt you brought us now.

LF: This is the piece that I made in that class.

RD: Oh, yes.

LF: And it is my most special piece because it's my first piece.

RD: Oh.

LF: Of course, there's a lot I would do differently now, but it represents my family, and so it's probably the most special, to me. Each member of the family has a muslin block that reflects their interests. Their names are quilted on them. [on the muslin blocks.] The pieced blocks are things common to our family- living down in the woods, having bluebird houses, so forth. But I think because it represents family and because it's the first thing I ever did, it's the most special to me.

RD: Well, the quilt stitch is exquisite.

LF: Thank you. Thank you.

RD: I remember being envious at the time and you know, it hasn't changed.

LF: [laughs.]

RD: Very nice quilt.

LF: Thank you.

RD: Is there a part of the quilting project that you like the best?

LF: I think the creative process. The--deciding on a pattern and then finding the fabrics and you know, just determining how it's going to go together and what it's going to look like. I like creating the most.

RD: Is there a part you like the least?

LF: The quilting.

RD: You really don't enjoy the quilting.

LF: Not. Well, I think it's because it takes so much time. And I want to get on to the next thing. I just--I don't have much patience for it. Perhaps, you know, later, when things-- hopefully some day things will slow down a little bit and then I'll do more hand quilting. But right now, I just like to do the creative part most.

RD: And are you a machine quilter, mostly?

LF: Yes. Primarily, yes.

RD: Is that because of the speed aspects, or--

LF: Yes. Yes.

RD: I think you get quilting into the time available?

LF: Exactly. And I just have so many techniques and projects that I want to do, that if I do them by hand, I'll never get to try [them all.].

RD: What do you do with your finished quilts?

LF: Usually give them away.

RD: And you generally finish your projects, once you start them?

LF: Not all the time. [laughs.] I have a room full of UFO's [unfinished objects.] I have--I decided I guess a little more than a year ago that I really needed to start finishing some things so all four grandchildren got quilts for Christmas. And this year, each of my children and my daughter-in-law will get quilts for their birthdays. So that's inspiring me to get them done in time. It gives me a deadline.

RD: Wow. That's a lot of--that's a lot of quilts. [laughs.] Do you have a big stash?

LF: Absolutely. A roomful. That is kind of spreading.

RD: You mean, it's getting worse?

LF: Well, my grandson recently moved out, which means there's a spare room with a spare closet. And if I have room, I tend to use it. [laughs.] So it is spreading.

RD: Yes. Stuff expands to fill the available space.

LF: Right.

RD: So you joined Cardinals, really, right after you started coming to the meetings, back in the early eighties--middle eighties?

LF: Right.

RD: OK. Have you held offices in Cardinals?

LF: Not in Cardinals. I was President of Virginia Star Quilters in 1989. I've been a member with them since then, really.

RD: And Virginia Star is one of your other groups.

LF: Right. It's the Fredericksburg quilt group.

RD: Is that in National Quilting Association?

LF: Yes, it's a chapter.

RD: Chapter. All right. Now I know that you teach.

LF: Right.

RD: Where have you done this, and what kinds of projects do you teach?

LF: Actually, I've been away from teaching for a few years. I did teach for the Quilt Block, which is a little quilt shop in Stafford, Virginia. I think the most--mostly, what I have taught in the past has been a course in Amish quilt design, using the solids, which is basically a color study. I started out doing a six-week course, which the students just got into it and asked me to go for eight weeks. And then, when we'd completed that, they-- I was going from a book--

RD: Oh.

LF: And they asked me if I would develop an Amish II, so to speak, to finish the book which I did so they enjoyed that quite a bit.

RD: Do you remember what book you used?

LF: "An Amish Adventure." I think it's Roberta Horton?

RD: Ah. Did any of your quilts win prizes or anything like that?

LF: Only on the local [level.]. Our Virginia Star Quilters would have--we used to have a show every two years. Basically, the only awards were voted on by the viewers. They weren't judged by professional judges. It was kind of viewers' choice [that.] won prizes. And I did win some of those.

RD: Do you do other crafts or arts besides quilting?

LF: I do crochet. I do knitting. I've done silk and metal work. Cross stitch. I'll try just about anything. [laughs.]

RD: All kinds of crafts.

LF: All kinds.

RD: All right, then. One more quilt question, and that is: are there any other quilt-oriented activities which you have done that you would like to talk about?

LF: Just my involvement with the VCQ--Virginia Consortium of Quilters' documentation project. That was done in the late eighties. My involvement was--lasted for about three years.

RD: Oh.

LF: We traveled all over the state. We held Documentation Days, where people would bring in old quilts and we would fill out a form documenting when it was made, what the pattern was, what the fabrics were, the batting--we would often-time find cotton seeds--you could feel the seeds in the batting. Just trying to make a documentation of the old quilts. We did over three thousand quilts in the time I was involved and we traveled over four thousand miles so it was a lot of traveling.

RD: That was a lot of time.

LF: Oh, yes. We--of course in the further places, we would stay in motels overnight, and the project was--once people in an area found out we were coming, they would get very excited to share their old quilts and bring out Grandma's quilts from the closet and were interested in how we determined the ages and so forth. It was a most interesting project.

RD: Who-all were involved in this project?

LF: Joan Knight and myself were co-chairs. Shirley Shelley. Oh, goodness. Virginia Anderson was involved with it. Sherry Barnett at one time was involved with it. Elsie Harriman helped us a lot. And I'm sure there're many more people, but I can't bring their names up right now.

RD: That's fine. Then, on a completely new paragraph--other subject. What makes a quilt great?

LF: Ooh. Workmanship, I think is primary. When I go to a show, I'm impressed with, you know, patterns and colors and so forth, but I think when I see a quilt that I consider a great quilt, it's after close looking at it, examination, seeing, you know, [that] the points come together, and the stitching, and the talent of the creator. I think.

RD: Do you carry a magnifying glass? [teasing.]

LF: Not. I haven't gone to that extent. [laughs.]

RD: Almost?

LF: But I am most impressed with quality workmanship in quilts.

RD: Now the next, the last question, really, is about a sort of historical view. What do you feel is the meaning of quilts for women in American life? And I mean then and now, and when was then?

LF: Okay. [laughs.] Well, I think quilts in history are vitally important because they convey so much of the lifestyle of the period in which they were made. The textiles, the here again-- workmanship because you're not going to find tiny little stitches in utilitarian quilts. And that's fine. They were made to keep people warm so that's all a part of it. I think today--in later years, it expresses the artistic abilities and the creativity of women, in general. Some men. Men certainly do have a place in quilting. I've seen some incredible works from men so I don't mean to exclude them when I say, 'women.' I just think it tells the story of our history. Looking at quilts, if you start with the oldest ones you can find and come to the modern day if you put them all in a row, it would just spell out our history so it does tell the story.

RD: Is there anything else you want to add on any subject?

LF: Just that quilting has added a wonderful dimension to my life. I've met fantastic people, had great experiences, lots of fun. I've learned so much. And it's just been wonderful.

RD: Thank you very much.

LF: Thank you.

[After she saw the draft of this interview, Linda decided she wanted to add the following: I will be starting a new project shortly that I am very excited about. One of the Fredericksburg shops, Quilter's Heaven, is getting a long-arm quilting machine. I will begin training on that in a few weeks and, when I become qualified, will be doing machine quilting on a part-time basis.]

Interview Keyword

Cardinal Quilters
Virginia Star Quilters
National Quilting Association
Quilting process
Quilt designs
Sewing machines
Machine quilting
Unfinished objects (UFO)
Quilting community
Guild leadership
Quilt guilds
Quilting communities
Virginia Consortium of Quilters
Documentation Days
Virginia Consortium of Quilters' documentation project
Quilt shows/exhibitions

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“Linda Lindstrom Freeman,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed April 24, 2024,