Audio Recording "This cotton filler comes in a big roll."

About this Item

"This cotton filler comes in a big roll."
Contributor Names
Johnson, Geraldine Niva, 1940- (Interviewer)
Choate, Donna. (Interviewee)
Choate, Donna. (Creator)
Created / Published
Sparta, North Carolina
Subject Headings
-  Quilting
-  Dyeing
-  quilt frames
-  batting (textiles)
-  feed sack quilts
-  Ethnography
-  Interviews
-  United States -- North Carolina -- Sparta
-  Donna Choate is an African-American woman who learned to quilt from her mother who was taught to piece quilts by the white family who raised her. Although at the time of the interview Mrs. Choate had not made quilts for several years, she describes the process, both as her mother practiced it and as she had done it herself. Mrs. Choate had made both utility and fancy quilts, for the use of her family, not for sale.
-  Transcription: GJ: What did you use for the filler in your quilts? / DC: Uh, cotton. You can get a big roll of cotton, that's just rolled up, just like a sheet. It's even made in a sheet, just a big, large sheet of it. And you unroll it and spread it on your lining, put the lining down. Now you have to have frames. You have to have a quilting frame. So long, it's two and a half yards long and two yard wide. That's the average quilt. So you have frames of that size, and you put your lining on this framework. You do this with tacks, shoe tacks you might call em. And draw it just as tight as you can. And then you open this, this cotton comes in a big roll, just a great big roll, and you unroll it and spread it out, it's just a sheet of cotton. Put it on top of the lining. Then, you put your quilt top on top of that, of the cotton. And fasten it down with little shoe tacks. Then you get your needle and thread and start quilting. / GJ: Did you ever use, like old clothing or things like that for the, old blankets? / DC: Well, yes, yes. A lot of people have used that, and I'm sure my mother did. I'm sure my mother did, but I haven't used any. Never have. But you can use a blanket that's getting worn. You can use that for a filling. Now this cotton is for filling. But, it'll keep you warm, but it doesn't have a lot of weight. But older people they used anything they had, could get, to make quilt tops, as they called the. And you used to, you got your flour in bags, 25 pound bag, that's a good size bag. Maybe salt, you'd buy 25 or 50 pounds of salt. And it would be in a bag. Well, they'd make hand towels out of those bags. And I have seen people that have made sheets out of 'em. Now my mother never did that. There were ten of us children. But they were all married and gone, the first I knew of them. But I'd hear my mother tell about how she made sheets out of salt sacks and flour bags and so on. Made the girls' petticoats, as she called 'em. / GJ: Did she ever use the feedsacks as quilt linings? / DC: Yes. / GJ: Did you ever do that? / DC: Yes, I have. I'd, these feedsacks are white. And you'd get you some dye and color them. I never did have a white quilt lining because they will get soiled. And you can't wash your quilts like you can a lot of things. They, they will lump up, if they're not quilted very close together, they'll lump up. That cotton will wad up, you know? So I've never used anything like that.
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Sound tape reel : 7 in.
Call Number/Physical Location
AFC 1982/009: BR8-GJ-R94
Source Collection
Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project Collection (AFC 1982/009)
American Folklife Center
Online Format

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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

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Johnson, Geraldine Niva, Donna Choate, and Donna Choate. "This cotton filler comes in a big roll.". Sparta, North Carolina, 1978. Audio.

APA citation style:

Johnson, G. N., Choate, D. & Choate, D. (1978) "This cotton filler comes in a big roll.". Sparta, North Carolina. [Audio] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Johnson, Geraldine Niva, Donna Choate, and Donna Choate. "This cotton filler comes in a big roll.". Sparta, North Carolina, 1978. Audio. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.