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Audio Recordings "What makes a quilt pretty?"

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"What makes a quilt pretty?"
Contributor Names
Johnson, Geraldine Niva, 1940- (Interviewer)
Patton, Ila, 1905-2001 (Interviewee)
Patton, Ila, 1905-2001 (Creator)
Created / Published
Galax, Virginia
Subject Headings
-  aesthetics
-  Ethnography
-  Interviews
-  United States -- Virginia -- Galax
-  Geraldine Johnson described Ila Patton's quilts as "not fancy, but very interesting and well made." They include utility crazy and strip quilts, as well as a recent Cathedral Window, which is a novelty construction popular in the 1970s. The variety of Mrs. Patton's quilts, her recollections of learning to quilt from her grandmother, and her primary interest in making quilts for family rather than to sell are some of the key elements brought out in this "very useful and informative" interview.
-  Transcription: GJ: What do you think makes a quilt pretty? / IP: Makes 'em pretty? Well, I think the smaller the pieces that you put in the quilt makes 'em a heap prettier. And uh, well, the different patterns, too, and different colors and match 'em good, it makes 'em say about two colors is awful pretty to use in a quilt. Or say, piece 'em in two colors and then set 'em with another, different color makes 'em awful pretty. And then go around all of 'em, each one, and then they's pretty. You can take the, say, little blocks? Piece 'em in little bitty blocks, and takes an awful lot of 'em, but they're awful pretty pieced that way. And then you can quilt around each one of them blocks. Say about a inch and a half block after you get 'em sewed together, the whole quilt, they're pretty that way. That takes an awful lot of little scraps. Don't waste anything that way. Saves a lot. [laughter] / GJ: What about the quilting? What makes for pretty quilting? / IP: Well, you mean the material that you use? Or the thread you use? Well, the smaller the stitch, the prettier it is, the neater it looks. And then you can use a color of thread that will match your scraps, you, where you pieced 'em together you can use the colors of thread to match that and then take small stitches is what makes it pretty. It shows the quilting a heap better, to use different colors of thread. / GJ: So different colors of thread shows off the quilting? / IP: Yes, it does. Yes, it does. It shows it awfully better. / GJ: So little small stitches are better. / IP: Yes, the smaller the stitch, the better they are. / GJ: I see. What about, should they be straight and even? / IP: Yeah, make 'em straight and even. Every stitch even. And make 'em all about the same length, if you can, makes 'em prettier, too. / GJ: Which is more important do you think, the piecing or the quilting? / IP: Well, I think, the quilting, I believe. Well, the piece it ought to be pieced neat and nice, and then they need to be quilted neat and nice. To make 'em pretty. To make a long time, too.
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Sound tape reel : 7 in.
Call Number/Physical Location
AFC 1982/009: BR8-GJ-R91
Source Collection
Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project Collection (AFC 1982/009)
American Folklife Center
Online Format

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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.

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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

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Chicago citation style:

Johnson, Geraldine Niva, Ila Patton, and Ila Patton. "What makes a quilt pretty?". Galax, Virginia, 1978. Audio. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, (Accessed August 28, 2016.)

APA citation style:

Johnson, G. N., Patton, I. & Patton, I. (1978) "What makes a quilt pretty?". Galax, Virginia. [Audio] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Johnson, Geraldine Niva, Ila Patton, and Ila Patton. "What makes a quilt pretty?". Galax, Virginia, 1978. Audio. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.