At the age of 75, Trudy Schwader can only estimate her lifetime total of quilts. Somewhere around number 50 she began counting and taking pictures before giving them away. By now, her best guess - counting the baby quilts and the wedding quilts and the ones that were an experiment with color or style or pattern - her best guess is that she's made more than 130 quilts.
With that many to her credit, Trudy's quilting experience holds something useful to share with everyone from beginning quilters to lifetime veterans. So I decided to talk with Trudy and make a record of her quilting career. The result is a series of articles representing our conversations. The interviews piece together a little of the rich history that quilting holds, through one woman's story and memories - sharing some tips, insights, and favorite patterns. . .
[Question: What got you started with quilting?] Answer: My mother was a sewer, of course, and ever since I can remember, I liked sewing, too. I'd guess I was sewing at a young age, but I definitely remember sewing when I was 10. Mother had 13 children, and I was one of the youngest. I really noticed and liked her quilts because it was once the older kids were all grown up and gone that she made most of them.
[Question: You liked quilts and you liked sewing - the perfect match. ] Answer: Oh yes. And I enjoy putting puzzles together. To me, putting quilts together is also like doing a puzzle.
[Question: So you always sewed and never were really a ‘beginner. ’ But obviously, when you were a 10 year old, you didn't put together a big queen-sized patchwork quilt. What was your first big project once you started quilting on your own?] Answer: Well let's see. Some 50 years ago when I first was married and I didn't have any kids yet, I started making a quilt. I like roses, so I put roses in the quilt top that I made. Then I started to hand-quilt it, but by that time I had three children underfoot, and I was just too busy!
[Question: You started your first quilt when you were newly married, and then you had three children before you finished quilting it?] Answer: Yes, before I finished hand- quilting. I ended up just tying the rest of it, and because I had eight kids all together, I kept using that quilt. I noticed that the part that I had hand-quilted didn't wear out as quickly as the rest, so I realized I would never tie any future quilts. The problem with that was that I just never did enjoy doing the handwork. These days I don't usually hand-quilt. What I do is get my quilt-top ready and then let somebody else do the quilting by machine. What I enjoy about quilting is not the hand-work. I like working with the colors, putting a design together, and creating interesting patterns. To me, that's what's fun about quilting.
[Question: Do you still have your first quilt with the roses on it?] Answer: No, no, no, no. (laughs) That was so long ago and I needed it for the kids, and with children you have to wash things all the time. I used that quilt up till it was. . . gone. By then, I had made another and then another one. I'm still doing that.
Theresa Modine's articles on topics related to quilting and crafts are published in Quilt Box Newsletter , the quilter's favorite on-line letter. Be sure to refer to Theresa's complete archive of articles at: http://www.quiltbox.com