While browsing the Q.S.O.S. archive recently, I noticed that many quilters’ earliest memories of quilts and quilt making were of time spent playing or hiding under a quilt frame while it was being quilted. I found almost 30 interviews that recalled long afternoons under the “tent” of a quilt-in-progress (and almost as many that recalled the delicious snacks that would come with these quilting bees!).

Here are a few of those early memories of playing under a quilt frame:

Virginia White Quinn: Oh, my earliest memories are of my mother’s quilting bee. And they used to quilt in the winter. I would come home from school, I cannot remember earlier than that, but I would come home from school and my sister and I would play under the quilting frame. In the morning before we went to school, my dad would set up the quilting frame on stanchions with clamps and he would help Mother set that up in our small, little house. And then all the women would come, I guess, after I’d gone to school. And then when we came home, we’d play under there. And my mother always made Jell-o, fruit Jell-o, and donuts for the dessert for the women and so that was just fabulous.

Betty Black: Well, I remember my mother didn’t quilt, but she belonged to a women’s sewing circle and every once in awhile they’d get together and do a quilt; and I can remember as a very small child, when you have a quilt frame it’s just like a tent, and I can remember being underneath that quilt and having two or three of us underneath that quilt. Did you ever get hit on the head with a thimble? And have somebody gong you when you weren’t behaving? [laughs.] But I remember that it was such a neat place to play under there.

Rachel Clark (right): My earliest quilt memory is actually my grandmother quilting. Mygrandmother had a quilt frame set up in the living room at Big Mama’s house and she would quilt–smoke her pipe–and we would play under the quilt frame and that’s probably my earliest quilt memory.

Virginia Angers Kuglar:
My interest in quiltmaking began when I was just a small child and my mother quilted and at that time there were friends in the community that got together and quilted. And, I can remember that the children would always play under the quilt frames, or the quilt, because the quilt then hung from the ceiling. And, as they would roll the quilt and roll the quilt, then when it got down so far to completion, they would run the kids out from under there and we would have to go play someplace else. That was my first memories of quiltmaking. 

Nadj Pankey
[M]y father raised me and my aunts that helped take care of me during the daytime, well, my father was a farmer and they took care of me during the daytime and they always had quilts hanging from the ceiling and you’d be surprised how many times I’ve heard that story in my shop, you know, I grew up with a quilt hanging from the ceiling. But I did the same thing, they would put the quilt down in the daytime and they would work on it and they’d raise it back to the ceiling at night for people to sleep in the bed that was in that room and that’s kind of how I got introduced to quilts, and of course, I slept on a quilt always.

Even quilters who didn’t grow up playing under a quilt-in-process mention it in their interviews, such as Sherry Boram:
I don’t know that there were really any other quiltmakers in my family that I was exposed to. I was never able to sit under a quilting frame as a child like a lot of quilters were able to. I never had that experience, but I just like fabric. I can’t keep my hands off of it.

Carlie Nichols, who makes quilts for the Quilts of Valor program, says that many 
of the veterans she gives quilts to have shared their “playing under the quilt frame” stories:
Well, it’s been really interesting, especially with these older veterans–well, not even the older ones, the younger ones have told me these stories too. When we go out and display our quilts and tell them what we’re doing, most of them will say, “oh, my mother had a quilt and the ladies all came over at least once a week and they all worked on it and in between they rolled it up and it hung up on the ceiling and it just was up there and they told us and they’d bring it down when the ladies would come–we just loved it when all the ladies would come and work on the quilts because we got cookies and snacks and we could play under those quilts and we could pretend they were a tent and everything”…

Interested in reading more stories about growing up under a quilt frame? Check out Q.S.O.S. interviews with Ona Porterfield, Nadine Kennedy and Betty Boehm–and many others! You can always find more quilt stories at the Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories page on the Alliance’s site.


Posted by Emma Parker
Project Manager,  Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories

How To Trim Flying Geese Without A Specialty Ruler

If you don’t have a Bloc-Loc ruler, you may find trimming these flying geese challenging. But by following these steps, you should be able to get four accurate geese in each color!

First, line up your ruler so the point of the flying geese unit will be trimmed exactly ¼” above the point. Try to line the unit up as straight as possible on the other three sides.

Next, flip the unit over. Line up the edge you just cut on the 2” line of the ruler as shown below, and trim the excess from the top.

Flip the unit right side up again. Line the lower left corner up with the 3 ½” mark on your ruler as shown above. Trim the excess on the right.

Finally, flip the unit over again so the point is pointing towards the 2” line. Align the left edge of the unit with the 3 ½” ruler mark as shown above and trim the excess on the right. Your flying goose unit is now ready to be pieced into your block!

Quilt Documentation Tip

 Andrea’s block story is all about the importance of quilt guilds. Quilting can feel solitary, but guilds bring us together. It’s a topic of conversation that was discussed with two Birthday Block of the Month Designers in a recent Textile Talk where the participants all shared emotional stories about their love for their guilds. 

Did you know that your guild can document your quilts as a group? Consider hosting a quilt documentation day in your guild! Follow these instructions and have members share three minute stories about one meaningful quilt in the Quilt Alliance’s signature Go Tell It documentation program. You could even host a screening so all of your members can see the videos! Get in touch at: qsos@quiltalliance.org

See You in October for Month Seven!

Thank you so much to everyone who has participated in the Quilt Alliance’s Birthday Block of the Month so far! Our designer for next month, the seventh block we’re making together, is Bonnie Hunter herself! 

Be sure to tag @quiltalliance and @3rdstoryworkshop on Instagram with your block photos this month, and use the hashtag #QuiltAllianceBOM. And leave any questions about this month’s block in the comments below!


  1. terrysthoughtsandthreads

    What a wonderful collection of “growing up under the quilt frame” stories. There were no quilting ladies in my mother’s circle, though they did get together for some handwork now and then, and yes, the cookies were always in abundance on those days! I still have a few of her tea saucers that were saved for ‘the ladies'” visits, and I treasure them and bring them out when my special friends come by for tea.


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