Interviewing a Quilter (Keeping Us in Stitches Activity)

Courtesy of the Illinois State Museum. December/0/2011
All rights reserved, Illinois State Museum
Purpose: To help the students understand the process of quilting and the interview process of choosing questions and summarizing answers in written form.

Objectives: The students will be able to formulate questions to find out information from someone about the process of quilting, based on the information in the quilt unit online, links, and resources and summarize the answers to questions of his/her interview in narrative form.

• View the quilting Web site, learning about the types of quilts, motifs, techniques,
names, and materials and doing the online activities.
• Invite a quilter to the classroom for a visit and interview.
• In a pre-visit lesson, have the class brainstorm to come up with questions to ask quilters (see list below for background), then prioritize or narrow the list and copy it.
• The students write a group invitation to the chosen quilter to come to class for an interview about his or her work. The quilter is asked to bring some of his or her quilts to display.

Procedure: The quilter introduces himself or herself and gives some background information. The quilter shows quilts to the class and speaks about them (for whom s/he made them, what they mean to her/him, what patterns they are, what type of quilts they are). Students ask the questions one by one, listen to answers, and take notes (see list of questions in this plan). After answering the students’ questions, the quilter will sum up and leave. Class thanks quilter and sends a note later.

Quilt Documentation Day
Sarah Stollack (right) interviews quiltmaker Mary Calhoun (center) while MSU student
Katy Donaldson (left) takes notes. At the Michigan Quilt Project's Quilt Documentation
Day on National Quilt Day, March 13, 2001. Photo by Pearl Yee Wong.

Publication and Closure: Students will tell or write what they learned from the interview with the quilter about what it is like to be a quilter and what they learned about quilting that they did not know before.

Assessment: Student summaries should reflect information the quilter gave rather than previous knowledge; students can be given a formal or informal pre-test to determine this.

Possible Interview Questions:

About the Quilter
  • How did you get started quilting?
  • How old were you when you made your first quilt?
  • Who taught you to quilt?
  • Did your mother, grandmother, aunt, father, grandfather, uncle, etc, quilt?
  • What do you like best about quilting?
  • How do you decide what pattern to make?
  • For whom have you made quilts?
  • How many quilts have you made? or do you have?
  • Do your children quilt?
  • Where do you do your work?
  • Do you have a quilting room?
  • Do you use a sewing machine? Why or why not?
  • Did you ever take quilting lessons from someone?
  • How much time do you quilt every week, day?
  • How does your family feel about your quilts?
  • Do you name your quilts or label them?
  • Have you ever taught someone to quilt?

Techniques and tools
  • What is the hardest thing about quilting?
  • How long does it take to make a quilt?
  • How do you make quilting stitches even?
  • Does it hurt your fingers?
  • Do you just use needle, scissors, and thread, or are there other tools?
  • How do you get the seams straight?
  • How do make points and corners sharp? And to match or meet?
  • How do you choose your colors? What are your favorites?
  • What kind of fabrics do you use?
  • What kind of thread do you use?
  • What kind of batting do you use? Why?
  • Where do you buy your fabrics and materials?
  • What is your favorite type of quilt to make? (Appliqué, pieced, whole cloth) Why?
  • Have you ever tried making other types of quilts?
  • What quilt are you working on now?
  • What quilt do you want to make that you have never made?
  • Do you make up your designs?
  • Where do you find quilt patterns?
  • Are there quilt magazines and books?
  • How would I learn to quilt?
  • How are your quilts different from the ones at the department store?
  • How much would the materials cost for one quilt?
  • How do you take care of quilts to make them last a long time?
  • How do you thread a needle easily?
Illinois State Board of Education Goals and Standards addressed:
Visual Art:
Goal 26.A: Understand processes, traditional tools, and modern technologies used in the arts.
Goal 27.A: Analyze how the arts function in history, society, and everyday life.

Subject: Art

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