Kelly Anderson




Kelly Anderson


Kelly Anderson come from family of quilters, and learned from her mother, Charlene “Dolly” Anderson and grandmother, Joanne Cunningham. At 11 years old she donated her quilt “My Ladybug”, which she had dedicated to her grandfather who had Alzheimer’s, to the Alzheimer Art Quilt Initiative. Anderson primarily makes smaller quilts, and shares a love of beads with her grandmother. Her favorite part about quilting is being able to express herself.




Christine Sparta


Kelly Anderson


Karen Musgrave

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

A Friend of the Quilt Alliance


Phoenix, Arisona


Kim Greene


**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.** Karen Musgrave (KM): This is Karen Musgrave and I'm conducting a Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories interview with Kelly Anderson. Kelly is in Phoenix, Arizona, and I'm in Naperville, Illinois, so we're conducting this interview over the telephone. Today's date is December 14, 2009, and it is now 5:31 in the evening. Kelly thank you so much for taking time out of your day to talk to me.

Kelly Anderson (KA): You're welcome.

KM: Please tell me about your quilt "My Ladybug."

KA: It was a quilt [clears throat.] that I had made in about October. I used the iron on stuff and so then I ironed the patterns onto my quilt and then I just stitched around it to make it look nice. I dedicated the quilt to my Papa Lyn who had Alzheimer's. It was in an auction just recently and it was sold for $100.00 and so I'm really proud of it.

KM: This is 8½ [inches.] by 11 [inches.].

KA: Yep.

KM: Is that the size you like to make?

KA: Yeah, it is. It is nice and easy to make. It's not like really big and difficult to handle. It's just a really nice size. Yeah.

KM: I guess we should ask you how old are you.

KA: I'm 11 and my birthday is in October.

KM: So you’re just 11, and you're in 5th grade, is that right?

KA: Yep.

KM: You dedicated this quilt to your grandfather. [KA agrees.] And you donated it to the Alzheimer Art Quilt Initiative.

KA: Yep.

KM: Is this the first time you've done this?

KA: Yes, it is.

KM: How did you learn about the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative?

KA: My grandma [Joanne Cunningham.] and my mom [Charlene "Dolly" Anderson.] had been making quilts for it for a while and I just liked how pretty the quilts were so I wanted to try to make one.

KM: Very nice. Do you know who won the quilt?

KA: No, I don't. It was a person named Gram, but it wasn't any of my grandmothers so I don't know. [note: Gram gave the quilt back to Kelly.]

KM: I hope that they love it as much as you did.

KA: Yeah.

KM: Tell me about your interest in quiltmaking.

KA: I think it's fun, I think it's a way you can make express how you're feeling [clears throat.] and you can like show it off to friends and family. I like putting beads on my quilts. I also like looking at other people's quilts because I think they are just so beautiful sometimes.

KM: At what age did you start making quilts?

KA: I've been making quilts for quite a while. Well when I was younger I used to make them with just the iron on-- [pause.]

KM: Fusible.

KA: Stuff and so those are like some of my first quilts.

KM: Who taught you how to quilt?

KA: My mom and then also my grandma. My grandma and I used to make dolls together and I have quite a few of them now.

KM: How many hours a week do you quilt?

KA: Not many because I'm so busy with school but if I can, I usually try for an hour or so.

KM: How many quilts do you think you've made?

KA: Probably around six or seven, maybe around there, maybe more.

KM: What is your biggest one?

KA: My biggest one was probably the ladybug quilt.

KM: So 8 ½ [inches.] by 11 [inches.]?

KA: Yeah.

KM: You like little ones. Do you like to give them as presents?

KA: Ah ha, yes, I made one quilt for my sister as a Christmas present just last year with my grandma, because every year my grandma and I get together and we make Christmas presents for each family member.

KM: What did your sister's quilt look like?

KA: It was multiple colors. The main color was black and there were little colorful squares on it and the binding was red and there were star buttons all over it.

KM: What is your first quilt memory?

KA: My first quilt was making this one, it was probably around the time that my sister was born and it said, I wrote on it with fabric markers, I put "I Love Babies" on it and I put a big heart and these fairies on it.

KM: How old is your sister?

KA: My sister is now 5½ [years.].

KM: Has she made a quilt?

KA: She has made some with the iron on stuff.

KM: What does your family think of your quiltmaking?

KA: They are really proud of me and they really like it. They think it's really creative.

KM: What do your friends think of your quiltmaking?

KA: They like it. I sometimes will bring my quilts to school and after school gets out I'll show them my quilts and they all love them.

KM: What have they said about your quilt being auctioned?

KA: They were like really impressed. I told them just a few days ago [clears throat.] and they were all like really, really impressed. They were like, ‘Wow, you did a really great job.'

KM: What do you find most pleasing about making quilts?

KA: I like making them for family members and just having the feeling that they're done and looking at them and seeing my mistakes and also the great things about them.

KM: Is there any aspects of quiltmaking you don't like?

KA: Well, sometimes I don't like how long it takes because sometimes you'll get this great picture and sometimes it will just take quite a while, but then when its done its always really great.

KM: Do you machine quilt your quilts?

KA: Yes, I do. Well, I use my mom's quilting machine and so yeah.

KM: Do you like machine quilting?

KA: Yeah, I do. I like using the different stitches that they have. Like sometimes I'll just use a piece of fabric and just go into a room and quilt on it with all the different stitches that it can do for fun.

KM: What is your favorite technique?

KA: I like ironing on my patterns and then sewing around them because it's easier to make, to press down and then just stitch around it.

KM: Do you satin stitch around them?

KA: Yeah, I do.

KM: What are your favorite materials?

KA: I like using all different kinds sort of and they are all just really nice.

KM: What advice would you offer somebody starting out?

KA: Well, I'd tell them to make a smaller quilt, to start up small and then to work their way bigger and just to be patient with it and to just be confident that you'll be able to finish it, but that it will take a while sometimes.

KM: Do you draw out your quilts before you do them? Do you sketch or anything?

KA: Yes, I do. I'll take a piece of paper and I'll usually like sketch them and I'll try to get them as accurate as I can on the size and then I just cut out my fabric and sew it.

KM: Can you describe the place that you sew? Could you tell me about it?

KA: I usually sew in my mom's quilting room. It's [coughs.] a good size room and it has lots of fabrics and all of my quilts hanging up on the walls. She has a desk where I can sketch out what I'm drawing and then she has her other quilting table where she has her quilting machine. It's nice and big so it's easy to work in.

KM: Do you have your own stash or do you just use your mom's?

KA: I have my own stash. We have a scrap bucket from other quilts that my mom has made that she has little snippets of fabric in and my sister and I usually use that bucket. I can usually like come up with a good idea with some of them.

KM: Do you plan quilts out ahead of time? I mean do you have a long list of quilts you want to make?

KA: No, not really. Sometimes I'll just like get an idea one day and I'll want to do it. I will plan out the quilt and I'll make sure I have all the materials and I'll just do it. Also for the ladybug quilt I thought of the idea and I just had it in my mind as like a ‘to do' sort of.

KM: Why did you choose the ladybug?

KA: I just chose the ladybug because I thought it was an easier thing to make, but it was also, it is also one of my favorite insects. I think they're cute and pretty.

KM: What do you think makes a great quilt?

KA: I think if you just like put your heart into it and just really have a purpose for it and actually want to do it and it doesn't really matter what fabrics you use, just that if you put your work into it and it turns out great then you know you've got a good quilt.

KM: How much time did you spend on the ladybug quilt?

KA: All together I probably spent around like 2 ½ or 3 hours, maybe more on the quilt. I pretty much finished it in one day, but then there were also like the labels I had to finish and putting the hangers on it, so, yeah.

KM: Why is quilting important to you?

KA: I think it's important because I like to see the look on my family's face when I give it to them as a Christmas present or when [clears throat.] I get $100.00 to give off in an auction for it, I just like the feeling of like pride that I get.

KM: Very nice. Do you have any more plans to donate quilts?

KA: Yes. I would like to if time allows but I am in the 5th grade and I do have a lot of homework, but if I did another one it would probably be a caterpillar or maybe a flower.

KM: Very nice.

KA: Yeah.

KM: Very nice. Tell me about your grandmother's quiltmaking.

KA: My grandma, she is like really talented. I just love to look at all of her quilts that she has made. She always puts beads on her quilts and I just think it's really pretty how she does it. She made this one quilt that I especially like. It's a little village and she put many, many beads on it and it has like a glossy touch to it. All of her quilts are really pretty. She has different patterns each time and they're all beautiful.

KM: Do you have a lot of beads?

KA: Yes, lots and lots of beads.

KM: [coughs.] Why are beads your favorite?

KA: I like beads because they're like sparkly and they come in so many shapes and sizes and colors and they can also just like be used to like make your quilts a little bit better and they're just nice additions to quilts.

KM: What kind of beads did you put on the ladybug quilt?

KA: I actually didn't put any beads on the ladybug quilt. I thought of that after I had sent it off. [both laugh.] But if I would of I probably would have put some in the background, probably green to match it and so it would actually look like grass that the ladybug was crawling through.

KM: Tell me about your mom's quilting.

KA: My mom, she usually makes bigger quilts and she has put many of them on our beds to keep us warm and a lot of them she also hangs up around the house and they're all really, really pretty. She has also made baby quilts for friends that are having babies and they're really pretty.

KM: What is the different between your grandmother and your mom's quiltmaking?

KA: I think they're both a lot alike, but my grandma she usually uses more beads than my mom. But there is this one quilt that my mom made and it has a big sunshine on it and it has lots of beads on it. It's really pretty.

KM: Tell me about the quilt you sleep under.

KA: I sleep under a quilt that has cats on it and my grandma had made it for me on my 5th birthday or maybe my 6th birthday. It can cover me all up and it keeps me really warm and I had told her when she was making it that I didn't want any dogs on it because I liked cats at the time, but on the label she put a few dogs on it. [both laugh.]

KM: Does it have any beads on it?

KA: Yes, many beads. There is one sun that has a lot of yellow and orange beads and then in the grass and like on the lettering she has beads on it.

KM: Do you do any other kind of crafts?

KA: Yeah, I do actually. I love art. My mom and I do scrapbooking quite often and I've completed one scrapbook that is from our trip to Paris, France, and then I also just sketch a lot and I do origami and I do lots of other crafts too.

KM: Very nice. How would you like to be remembered?

KA: Just I think being remembered as a nice creative person that likes quilts and loves art because that's what I am like and yeah.

KM: In what ways do you think quilts have special meaning for women's history?

KA: I think that some quilts like they can tell stories like when a woman wants to make a quilt sometimes they tell stories on the quilt with different pictures or they can use them to keep their families warm, is like they live somewhere that is very cold and they need the warmth or they could just make them for decorations in many different places.

KM: Very good. You're very articulate. [KA laughs.] Is there anything that you would like to share that we haven't touched up?

KA: Not really.

KM: What do you think your grandfather would think of your quilt?

KA: I think he would really like it and he would be really proud of me. Yeah, he was, he would probably be very grateful that I did it.

KM: Talk a little bit about him.

KA: He was really nice and he was funny. Sometimes we would go to Kansas City to be with them and one thing that I always remember about him is how he would, we had a big recliner chair in their house and he would always sit down there and their cat, Necko, would jump up on his lap and in a few minutes he would be asleep snoring. [KM laughs.] I always thought that was really funny.

KM: Very good. I want to thank you for taking time out of your day, your busy schedule.

KA: Yeah.

KM: And your homework, right?

KA: Yeah.

KM: I want to thank you for taking time and I appreciate it so much.

KA: Thank you.

KM: You're welcome. We are going to conclude our interview at 5:50.

KM: This is Karen Musgrave and I'm continuing my Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories interview with Kelly Anderson. Today's date is December 15, 2009. It's now 5:37 in the evening. Kelly, I thought of more questions so I just needed to get you on the phone and talk to you again. Please tell me about seeing the Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece exhibit.

KA: It was the quilt show that I went to, it was in Prescott and I went with my grandma, my mom and my sister. When we got there we met some friends and looked around at the quilts and many of them were really sad. I read some of the entries that the ladies had put on them and they were really touching, but very sad. I liked a lot of the quilts that had the beads on them and I thought that they were really pretty. After that we went into another room and we listened to Ami Simms talk about her grandmother [actually her mother.] and how she had Alzheimer's and that was also really sad but some stories that she had told were funny and [sneezes.] she seemed like a really, really nice lady.

KM: Tell me about some of the quilts that you saw. What was it about them besides the beads that appealed to you?

KA: It was just about how Alzheimer's forget, makes you forget piece by piece and many of them had the, the quilters had cut holes in them because that's pretty much what Alzheimer's does to your brain and it just talked about all that stuff and the quilts were based on that.

KM: After the exhibit you were interviewed by Ami, right?

KA: No, I actually wasn't. My mom and my grandma talked to her some.

KM: Okay.

KA: And I just listened in.

KM: Tell me about the journal entry you wrote after your grandfather died.

KA: The journal entry I wrote the day after he died, I was actually at school and we had been taking a test in the computer lab and I went on to Microsoft Word and I just started typing because I like to write and I was just typing about what had happened the day before and before I knew it I had typed an 8 page long journal entry of what had happened and just remembering how great of a grandfather he was and I was just. In the piece I talked about the fond memories that I had of him and I talked a little bit about Alzheimer's and how sad I was. I was really pleased with the piece once I had finished it. It was sad but I was happy that I had written such a long piece just about it.

KM: Have you seen other quilt exhibits?

KA: Yes I have. I have been to a couple with my grandma and mom. Some in various places. I think one was in maybe Houston and those were all when I was smaller so I don't remember many of the quilts from them, but they were very pretty.

KM: What kind of quilts are your favorite kind of quilts?

KA: I like quilts that some are like big but also I like the small ones because they're just like easy to make and you can put a lot of work into them and because its easier to put beads on because you don't have to cover so much room with the beads [KM laughs.] if you do a longer one, I mean a bigger one.

KM: Do you have any friends that make quilts?

KA: No, I don't. My mom and grandma have friends but not that I know of do my friends at school make quilts or anybody that doesn't go to my school. Some do like latch hook rug projects and do crocheting and stuff but that's pretty much it.

KM: Why don't you think there are more quiltmakers in your school?

KA: I'm not sure. Maybe one reason is because they're busy with homework and sports and then also they might not think that it's, they might not like it as much as I do.

KM: Do you think you can influence any of your friends to become quiltmakers:

KA: I probably could. Actually one of my friends has really liked all of my quilts and some times it seems that she would like to sit down with me and make one, but we have never gotten a chance because whenever we come over to play we just don't have the time because we don't get to see each other that often.

KM: Do you think you will be a lifelong quiltmaker?

KA: Yes, I probably will. I do like to quilt and I probably will carry on once I am older and I plan to make big quilts for other family members and like for beds and other people.

KM: Very nice. Is there anything that you would like to share?

KA: Nope, that's it.

KM: I really appreciate you talking to me again.

KA: Yes.

KM: We're going to conclude this part of our interview at 5:44.

Addition: Kelly's journal entry

November 17, 2009
Kelly Anderson

Yesterday while I was playing in my room something really sad happened. My dad had just gotten a call from his mom who lives in Kansas City, Missouri. Then mom came into my room. She said that Papa Lyn had died. I was extremely sad. I thought about how it was dad's father who had died. His only father.

Papa Lyn had been a wonderful grandpa. I loved to go to Kansas City to visit him. I always thought it was funny how he always fell asleep in his recliner chair. A few years ago he had to go to the VA hospital in Cameron, Missouri. He had Alzheimer's. Alzheimer's is a disease that makes you forget about things. Sometimes we would visit him. He never said much and he was different than before. Every time I saw him in the VA I would think, this disease is horrible. I wish I could do something about it.

I finally found out I could help. Mom and Grandma Joanne, who lives in Phoenix, heard of an organization earlier in the month. They made many quilts that the group organizer sold to raise money to help find a cure for Alzheimer's. The quilts they made were beautiful. I was so inspired by their works of art I decided to make one too. It was a ladybug. Ami Simms, the organizer, saw that I was only 10 when I made the quilt. She wanted to interview me and get it in the newspaper! I was thrilled!

In October, Brandy, Grandma Joanne, Mom and I went to Prescott to see a quilt show [Alzheimers: Forgetting Piece by Piece.] for the Alzheimer's organization. It was very sad. Ami Simms' mother had Alzheimer's. The quilts were beautiful, but the statements were sad.

A few weeks later in October, Ami Simms took my quilt to Houston for a quilt show. Mom and Grandma Joanne went to the quilt show. They didn't see my ladybug because it had already been sold. We later found out it sold for $48.68! It was not as much as my grandmother had gotten for her quilts, but it just felt good to have donated money to find a cure for Alzheimer's. [note: Kelly now understands that it wasn't her quilt that sold in Houston.]


“Kelly Anderson,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed June 23, 2024,