Audio Recording "You've got to have a true pattern to start with."

About this Item

"You've got to have a true pattern to start with."
Contributor Names
Johnson, Geraldine Niva, 1940- (Interviewer)
Todd, Zenna, 1916-2012 (Interviewee)
Todd, Zenna, 1916-2012 (Creator)
Created / Published
Ennice, North Carolina
Subject Headings
-  Quilting
-  Ethnography
-  Interviews
-  United States -- North Carolina -- Ennice
-  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: How has quilting advanced? / ZT: Oh, fast. Very fast. / GJ: In what way? / ZT: Well, I think there's more people that's a-wanting to get in on it, and get interested in it and so on. I talk to a lot of people and they've said, well I'm just, I want to, I want to learn to do that. And I think it has, maybe some of the people that, like myself. You know, I started out, I was very, uh, dumb in it, as you might say, I didn't know the things that I know about it. And course, I've been a long time a, advancing, but still, you know, if you keep trying after a while you can, you get better. / GJ: How did you learn? / ZT: Well, just, just by getting in and doing it. I wanted to learn, and I didn't know how to crochet. I didn't know how to knit until after I was married. And, I was very interested in things like that. I've always been. / GJ: Did you like take classes? / ZT: Well, it's like, we didn't have the money to take classes. We didn't have the money to buy magazines. I, I, more or less, I just, well, the first crocheting I ever done, I tried to look at something and do it. I couldn't do that. So, I finally got enough money to buy a ten-cent book. And I think I've still got the old book here somewhere. And that's now how I started my crocheting, and I had to go by directions. And I think when you learn by directions, it's better than looking at something, cause you can't get it true. And that's one thing about quilting and one thing about piecing quilts. You've got to have a true pattern to start with. And after you use that pattern awhile and it gets a little worn, make you a new pattern and have it true. And then your pieces will all just fit together and it just goes so much better. But if you let one side of your pattern be off just a, oh, just a tiny little bit, by the time that you do, well, I'll say three or four blocks, you have got a long end. And to keep your pattern true is the main thing in quilting. In starting you quilt and making your quilt. And if you get it, get your, keep your pattern true and keep it right what it's supposed to be, when you get that quilt done it'll come out perfect. / GJ: Did you teach a class? / ZT: Yeah, I taught a class in '72, I think it was. Well, we worked, I worked through this community college in North Wilkesboro, and you had to get as many as 12 or 15 women in it before you could have a class. And so, I think I had a couple of classes. I got through one and then I had another one. And we kindly, they didn't, they wasn't interested, too many wasn't interested and, we kindly run it as a sewing class and quilting class, and then we got a, we got it kindly in a combination thing, like knitting. You could do what, take your choice. They's a lot of people that wouldn't quilt, or wouldn't have anything to do with quilting at all, where that some people wants to you know take it up, and do with it. Do a good job at it. And I think I taught two classes. The community college.
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Sound tape reel : 7 in.
Call Number/Physical Location
AFC 1982/009: BR8-GJ-R100
Source Collection
Blue Ridge Parkway Folklife Project Collection (AFC 1982/009)
American Folklife Center
Online Format

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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, Zenna Todd, and Zenna Todd. "You've got to have a true pattern to start with.". Ennice, North Carolina, 1978. Audio. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, (Accessed March 30, 2017.)

APA citation style:

Johnson, G. N., Todd, Z. & Todd, Z. (1978) "You've got to have a true pattern to start with.". Ennice, North Carolina. [Audio] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Johnson, Geraldine Niva, Zenna Todd, and Zenna Todd. "You've got to have a true pattern to start with.". Ennice, North Carolina, 1978. Audio. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.