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Audio Recording "Experience teaches you better than anything."

"Experience teaches you better than anything."

About this Item


  • "Experience teaches you better than anything."


  • Johnson, Geraldine Niva, 1940- (Interviewer)
  • Todd, Zenna, 1916-2012 (Interviewee)
  • Todd, Zenna, 1916-2012 (Creator)

Created / Published

  • Sparta, North Carolina


  • -  Quilting
  • -  quilt tacking
  • -  quilt tops
  • -  hand quilting
  • -  machine quilting
  • -  artistic hobbies
  • -  Ethnography
  • -  Interviews
  • -  United States -- North Carolina -- Sparta


  • Ethnography
  • Interviews


  • -  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: And, so, from that, I kept cutting out different, different, you know patterns and doing 'em, and I think that I have really made progress, because I do so much better job now than I did then. Course, experience learns you how to, teaches you better than anything. But I have been quilting for I guess thirty-two years. And I've made an awful lot to sell. And I really don't need 'em now, but it's something to pass the time off in the wintertime and to do. / GJ: So your first quilts that you made were made for what reason? / ZT: Well, I made it to keep the beds warm. [laughter] / GJ: And how did you go about making them? / ZT: Well, I cut my pattern out. And then I sewed it together, and it was all done by hand. I had a sewing machine but I didn't use it too awful much. Uh, I, it was one of these that you treadle, you know, with, treadle machine, they called 'em. You pedal it with your feet. And it wasn't too good, and so I'd just sew with my fingers, you know. And, you had to make, you didn't have warm homes to live in like you do now. And you had to have a lot of quilts when wintertime come. And a lot of times, you'd think, you didn't have time to do fancy quilts. It had to be in a hurry, you had to do 'em in a hurry. Tack 'em? A lot of people tacked their quilts. I've tacked an awful lot, but I didn't like it as good as I do quilt, quilting. Well, the quilting, I've got, uh, I guess that, I kept that quilt, that first quilt. I kept that thing till I don't know, it must not been over ten year ago, and I recovered it. It begin to wear, you know? And I, I'd say that if you would use real good material, course, the material in that wasn't too good, because it was mostly feed bags, and very little cotton, well, it was all cotton, but I mean percale, calico and stuff like that, because you just didn't, you didn't have the money to buy material to make it with. And I guess if you'd take care of a real good quilt now, if it was made out of the right material, it would last you close to a hundred years. I mean if you wouldn't, you know, give it too rough treatment. Cause, I know that one, it's been about eight or ten year ago, I recovered it. I just got material and covered the top. Put a top to it and a bottom, and just put it in between.
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  • Sound tape reel : 7 in.

Call Number/Physical Location

  • AFC 1982/009: BR8-GJ-R99

Source Collection

  • Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project Collection (AFC 1982/009)


  • American Folklife Center

Online Format

  • audio

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Credit line: Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project collection (AFC 1982/009), 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, Zenna Todd, and Zenna Todd. "Experience teaches you better than anything.". Sparta, North Carolina, 1978. Audio.

APA citation style:

Johnson, G. N., Todd, Z. & Todd, Z. (1978) "Experience teaches you better than anything.". Sparta, North Carolina. [Audio] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Johnson, Geraldine Niva, Zenna Todd, and Zenna Todd. "Experience teaches you better than anything.". Sparta, North Carolina, 1978. Audio. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.