Pat Ansell




Pat Ansell


Pat Ansell has been quilting since she was 14, but it did not become a passion for her until the 1990s. She belongs to multiple guilds including the Arizona Quilters’ Guild. Ansell views her quilt “Declaration of Independence” serves as a way preserving history for her family and future generations.




Christine Sparta


Pat Ansell


Jean Howell

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Sandra Anne Frazier


Scottsdale, Arizona


Sharon Dixon


**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.

** Jean Howell (JH): This is Jean Howell and I'm doing a Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories interview/with Pat Ansell. Today's date is November 20, 2008. It is 3:07 p.m. We are doing this interview through the American Heritage Committee of the Arizona State Society of Daughters of the American Revolution. Pat is a quilter and a member of Grand Canyon Chapter, Scottsdale, Arizona. Pat, thank you for participating today. Please tell me about the quilt you brought for this interview, entitled "Declaration of Independence."

Pat Ansell (PA): Thank you Jean, I brought my "Declaration of Independence" wall hanging. On the back of the quilt I have a copy of my great-grandmother's DAR [Daughters of the American Revolution.] application 1902 and a copy of my 2002 application. My son and grandchildren are interested in history and the Declaration of Independence. Certainly ties into history and a little family history from that era. At present I have this wall hanging hanging in my living room. In 2006, this quilt placed first in the fiber arts category of the DAR American Heritage Fiber Arts contest. [2006 Arizona State Winner: DAR American Heritage Fiber Arts contest.] That was an honor for me.

JH: Tell me about your interest in quiltmaking.

PA: When I was fourteen I made a quilt of four inch squares, but it wasn't until 1990 I took an appliqué class and quilting class. I knew I had found my niche. Quilting has been my passion ever since. Presently I belong to the Arizona Quilters' Guild Between's Chapter. I was previously a member of Cactus Patchers also in Arizona. I have served in the capacity of community service chairman, treasurer, vice chair and chair. I have a full time job. However, I do quilt in the evenings and weekends. Three times a year I go to quilt camp with a group called Sit and Sew. We go for a three day weekend and quilt the whole time we're there. Four or five times I have taken classes with national teachers through Quilting in the Desert. A few were Harriet Hargrave, Sharon Schamber, and Gabrielle Swain.

JH: Do you have any favorite quilts?

PA: My favorite quilts have been traditional quilts. I have made a double Wedding Ring bed quilt, Irish Chain bed quilt, and Underground Railroad wall hanging. I'm almost finished with a Hawaiian quilt, Angels' Trumpet Design, that is queen-sized and I hand appliquéd and hand quilted with the echo quilting, which is the traditional Hawaiian quilting.

JH: Do you have a favorite material for your quilts, Pat?

PA: My favorite is 100% cotton and the quilt shop quality. You put a lot of time into a quilt and you want the material to be nice as well as complimentary designs. You get more of that at the quilt shops.

JH: Tell me more about you quilt collection. You've mentioned several different themes you've worked on. What quilt collections do you have?

PA: I have five plus containers of material, five sewing machines, a small bookcase of quilting books and a lot of items like rulers, cutters, cutting mats, threads, scissors. I think I mentioned quilting books, quilting patterns, quilting DVDs. That's all I can think of right at the moment. The five machines I have, one is a 1947 Singer Featherweight, a Pfaff, a Gem Gold, a Brother machine that I use for machine quilting, and my latest purchase was a Janome that sews and does machine embroidery. Machine embroidery is very popular these days.

JH: Were any of these machines handed down to you?

PA: No, I bought them.

JH: Do you have a special room for quilting?

PA: Yes it used to be my son's bedroom It is now my quilting room and has all my little goodies in there. I do like to do my Hawaiian quilt in the living room because sometimes I watch a little TV while I'm doing that.

JH: That's a beautiful quilt, and what is your particular interest in the Hawaiian quilt?

PA: I lived in Hawaii for seven years. My son was born in Hawaii so of course, it will be handed down to my son and granddaughter or grandson.

JH: Well, tying into that do you have a couple of quilt memories?

PA: Yes I think for each quilt there's a memory because you start out, oh, you like a pattern or you like this material and you want a pattern to go with it so you make this quilt in your head. So there's one for each of those. I have made reading quilts for my grandchildren and they're avid readers now so that's a nice memory. I have a quilt of my mother's hankies from the 1950's. There again is a little tradition. And a couple of quilt memories are going to Houston which in Houston there's a big quilt show. This year was just really extra special to me because they had the DAR quilts from the DAR museum. So that was like two memories into one and seeing the quilts from the DAR, they were so well taken care of. They were just beautiful, absolutely beautiful. And it's so nice to see something taken care of in that manner.

JH: Do you think you would ever have gotten a chance to see these quilts in Washington [D.C.]?

PA: It was a thought that someday I would like to so that's why it made Houston even more special. Oh yes, I even had a little clipping in with some of my papers--DAR Museum.

JH: What about wearable art? [pause 10 seconds.] Do you make wearable art now Pat?

PA: Yes I have made several jackets and different purses and totes.

JH: Do you want to tell us a little bit more about your quilt memories?

PA: Yes. You know I also have another memory and that is from placing third in the Arizona Quilters' guild quilt show in 2006. They have the quilt show in Phoenix and there's usually over 300 quilts and so to place third in the category of hand appliqué, professionally machine quilted was really, really an honor, just something I will cherish for a long time. Thank you.

JH: Now, when you make your wearable art, do you make it for sale?

PA: No. I have this funny quirk if someone would like me to help them and show them how to make something I'm more than happy to. To me it's just [pause 3 seconds.] my higher power gave me that talent and I just like to share it with others.

JH: What do you think about the importance of quilts in American life, Pat?

PA: I have made quilts that will be passed on down to my children and I have quilts in my house that are in use now and I have been a part of quilts for community service so there is each quilters' group has a community service project each year and so our quilts go to help those in the community which I think is really special. And even our scraps. We have a pillowcase. We put our scraps in the pillow case. These are scraps that are too small to be sewn into a quilt and then when the pillow case is full we sew it up and these go to the animal shelters so even our animals benefit.

JH: Is there anything you want to say about any of the details on your "Declaration of Independence" quilt? The fabrics are so special.

PA: Yes these fabrics on the quilt are from that era. The colors. [pause 3 seconds.] It has like 1776. It has the 13 colonies on there, just the colors just sort of blend in. Again, they're a 1776 replica.

JH: And I noticed that this is a two-sided quilt.

PA: Yes.

JH: That is very special.

PA: Thank you.

JH: Can you tell us about that?

PA: Well, on the front is the Declaration of Independence and I wanted that for my grandchildren to kind of see, knowing that they're going to study American History. And then also sometimes paperwork has a way of getting put away and you don't get it out, where to have my great-grandmother's application from 1902 on there, my application, and also if you'll notice over to the side it has the ancestors from the Revolutionary War to present. So I think that will be interesting for them.

JH: These are your DAR applications?

PA: Yes yes

JH: And what about the front side: don't you have a fabric that has the Declaration signers?

PA: It has the Declaration of Independence. It has 52 signatures and I quilted a liberty bell even with the crack of the liberty bell on there. And again materials, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, the thirteen colonies on there. So it's a little bit of a history lesson right there, just kind of looking at it for a few minutes.

JH: And what's different about the colors in this quilt as opposed to the colors that we see in more modern quilts?

PA: These quilts, well, you're not going to find a bright yellow say on this quilt. This is your gold, your heather colors, a maroon, the colors from that era as opposed to some of the colors today.

JH: Is there anything more you want to add to this interview, Pat?

PA: I would like to thank you both for taking the time to do this not only for my family but like it says, to save our stories because you never can tell. It's just like I picked up almost 100 years later and became a DAR. Who knows what's going to come up 100 years from now and who will be reading the stories that you have done?

JH: It's a way of preserving history?

PA: Absolutely yes. We don't know how many lives that we have touched by doing this so thank you.

JH: Thank you for allowing me to interview you today as part of the Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories. We are concluding the interview and it is now 3:25 p.m.


“Pat Ansell,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed July 15, 2024,