Audio Recording "My mother-in-law made batts out of wool."

About this Item

"My mother-in-law made batts out of wool."
Contributor Names
Johnson, Geraldine Niva, 1940- (Interviewer)
Todd, Zenna, 1916-2012 (Interviewee)
Todd, Zenna, 1916-2012 (Creator)
Created / Published
Sparta, North Carolina
Subject Headings
-  recycled fabrics
-  batting (textiles)
-  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: GJ: What did you use as a filler? / ZT: Well, you could buy cotton, that regular quilting cotton, you know, batting. And, uh, I did make, I think, one or two, just, you know, to be a-doing something. My mother-in-law, she made quite a few. She would buy this wool, when people would shear their sheep? They, she would go and get this wool, and wash it. And then she had cards, what we, she called cards. I hadn't ever seen any till after I was married. And she would card this wool and it would be about a three-by-six inch little batts. She'd lay 'em in a box, when she got ready to fix her quilt, she'd get them out and put 'em on there, but it, oh, it just made one of the wonderfulest quilts you've ever seen. It would be so soft and so warm, you know, that real sheep wool. But it was a lot of work in it, but you know people had more time than they had money at that time. They didn't have money to go out and buy whatever they needed, they had to, you know, fix ever what they had available to do this. / GJ: Did you ever fill a quilt with old clothes? / ZT: No, I never did do that. I have now with a blanket, you know. Let the blanket get a little bit old, or something, and if it had a, maybe a kindly of a thin place in it, I'd patch it and fill this quilt with it. That makes a real good quilt. You can wash it, launder it good. Makes a real good quilt. But they don't have, didn't have as good filling for a quilt back, I'll say, up to '50, 1950 or something, as they do now. They've got this cotton and polyester blend, and it makes a real soft, nice quilt, light quilt. I don't like a heavy quilt. I like a light quilt. Well, I don't know. The heavy quilts is just. I just don't like 'em. I like a real light-weight quilt. And I really like quilts better than I do blankets. A lot of people uses blankets instead of quilts, but I think you get a lot of lint, and all from blankets that you don't from quilts.
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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

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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, Zenna Todd, and Zenna Todd. "My mother-in-law made batts out of wool.". Sparta, North Carolina, 1978. Audio.

APA citation style:

Johnson, G. N., Todd, Z. & Todd, Z. (1978) "My mother-in-law made batts out of wool.". Sparta, North Carolina. [Audio] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Johnson, Geraldine Niva, Zenna Todd, and Zenna Todd. "My mother-in-law made batts out of wool.". Sparta, North Carolina, 1978. Audio. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.