Audio Recordings "I'll never forget the first quilt I cut out by a pattern."

Format Audio Recordings
Contributors Johnson, Geraldine Niva
Todd, Zenna
Dates 1978
Location North Carolina
United States
Language English
Subjects Ethnography
Monkey Wrench Quilts
Quilt Patterns
"I'll never forget the first quilt I cut out by a pattern."
Contributor Names
Johnson, Geraldine Niva, 1940- (Interviewer)
Todd, Zenna, 1916-2012 (Interviewee)
Todd, Zenna, 1916-2012 (Creator)
Created / Published
Sparta, North Carolina
Subject Headings
-  Quilting
-  Quilt patterns
-  thread
-  monkey wrench quilts
-  Ethnography
-  Interviews
-  United States -- North Carolina -- Sparta
-  Mrs. Todd started making quilts for her family to use when she was 25. She teaches quiltmaking and makes quilts to sell through a local shop to supplement her income. Geraldine Johnson described her as "a bubbly, enthusiastic person who would be a natural à interpreter of Blue Ridge quilts." This interview includes good information on the economics and practice of making quilts to sell, criteria for selection of materials to use in quilts, and how quiltmaking has changed over time.
-  Transcription: ZT: But I won't never forget the first quilt that I cut out by pattern. It was a Monkey Wrench. And my mother-in-law, she was going to show me how to, how to quilt you know, and how to do it. So she helped me to get started. And the lining was kind of a deep rose color, and I said to her, I said, What kind of thread should we use to quilt this with. Oh, I was really tickled to get started you know on that quilt. And she said, well, I'd just use black. Said, you've got an awful lot of dark colors in it. So she, we hang the quilt from the ceiling with cords, you know, and put it in a frame, and she helped me to get started. And she didn't tell me to put, to pull the knots through the lining, you know, and have 'em on the inside, so they wouldn't show. She says, now you just go ahead and quilt all the way across there, and I'll be back tomorrow and see how you're doing. So I quilted all the way across one side, and she didn't tell me about the knots. And where I'd tied those knots, you know, and I hadn't pulled them through, and there they showed, just them black knots, on the underneath side. So when I rolled the quilt up, I'd roll it up, you know, to get, so we could walk under it and around it. And I looked up under it, and it looked like flies a-setting on the quilt. And I said, when she come back, I said, my goodness, I've just ruined this quilt. I said, I've got, looks like flies a-setting on the lining. She says, My goodness, says, Why didn't you pull them through? [laughter] And I said, well, you didn't tell me.
-  For rights information please contact the Folklife Reading Room at
Sound tape reel : 7 in.
Call Number
AFC 1982/009: BR8-GJ-R99
Source Collection
Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project Collection (AFC 1982/009)
American Folklife Center

Rights & Access

The Library of Congress is not aware of any U.S. copyright protection (see Title 17, U.S.C.) or any other restrictions in the material in this collection, except as noted below. Users should keep in mind that the Library of Congress is providing access to these materials strictly for educational and research purposes. The written permission of the copyright owners and/or other holders of rights (such as publicity and/or privacy rights) is required for distribution, reproduction, or other use of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use or other statutory exemptions. Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of an item and securing any necessary permissions ultimately rests with persons desiring to use the item. See our Legal Notices and Privacy and Publicity Rights for additional information and restrictions.

The American Folklife Center and the professional fieldworkers who carry out these projects feel a strong ethical responsibility to the people they have visited and who have consented to have their lives documented for the historical record. The Center asks that researchers approach the materials in this collection with respect for the culture and sensibilities of the people whose lives, ideas, and creativity are documented here. Researchers are also reminded that privacy and publicity rights may pertain to certain uses of this material.

This collection includes materials from the "All-American Quilt Contest" sponsored by Coming Home, a division of Lands' End and Good Housekeeping. The quilt contest winning entries from 1992 to 1996 are displayed with the permission of Coming Home which retains its rights.

Researchers or others who would like to make further use of these collection materials should contact the Folklife Reading Room for assistance. 

Credit line

Please cite the source collection title, collection number, and repository, for example:

Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project collection, 1977-1981 (AFC 1982/009), American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Lands' End all-American quilt collection, 1992-1997 (AFC 1997/011), American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Rights assessment is your responsibility.

More about Copyright and other Restrictions

For guidance about compiling full citations consult Citing Primary Sources.