Q.S.O.S. Spotlight

I only have one quilter in my family, and I only own one of her quilts. It’s a huge (no, really, I mean HUGE) Texas Lone Start quilt made of impossibly tiny pieces. I admire it every time I see it, and have often thought about how wonderful it would be to make a quilt, by hand, of the same pattern, but with color choices and quilting that’s all mine. It seems like a perfect way to honor my great-grandmother, and understand just how much work she poured into creating that beautiful family heirloom!

Today’s Q.S.O.S. Spotlight is on two quiltmakers who did just that–re-created quilts made by their grandmothers and great-grandmothers. Darlene Reid and Valli Schiller re-made these family quilts with their own additions and flare, creating a gift for the future that reflected the past.

Darlene Reid shared with interviewer Lenna DeMarco the story of how she came to re-make a crazy quilt her grandmother, great-grandmother and great aunt made:

“Well, I went to visit an aunt that I hadn’t had much connection with and saw the original hanging on her dinning room wall. And what I saw was that each of these ladies had made their own block on the quilt and had signed their name and that the quilt was dated as well. And I went from being a person who wasn’t that interested in crazy quilting to someone who said “I’ve got to make a quilt like this.” So it took me two or three or four years before I really–talk about self-taught. I was self-taught as far as crazy quilting….

I love–now I teach crazy quilting and, of course, crazy quilting is very, very flamboyant and gaudy and so it will make a great photograph.

Lenna DeMarco: So what do you think this quilt says about you?

Darlene Reid: It says that I am a woman and a quilter who’s very interested in my foremothers and my quilting roots. When I first became a quilter I didn’t think I had any quilting people attached to me and then afterwards as the years went by I gradually realized that my paternal grandmother, who had taught me to sew on an old sewing machine and taught me embroidery, of course, had a great influence on me a well. And then when I found this quilt I felt so thrilled that I had foremothers who were making these beautiful quilts.”

Valli Schiller re-interpreted a quilt made by her great-grandmother, Josie Adams. She shared the story of her quilt, and her grandmother’s, with interviewer Karen Musgrave. 

The quilt that I brought with me is called “Mamaw’s Puzzle” and it is a quilt that I made earlier this year. It is a reinterpretation of the quilt made by my great-grandmother, Josie Adams some time between the 1920’s and the ’40’s. I brought the original quilt […]

I just discovered, this year I think, that my great-grandmother was a quilter. My mother is a quilter. She started in the bicentennial, and my grandmother, her mother, was a sewer and when my grandmother’s house was sold, my mother
was poking around in the attic trying to find whatever was worth saving and she found a box of about six quilts that she remembers from her childhood and she said that these quilts were made by my great-grandmother, Josie. This is one of the quilts. She [my mother.] sent them to me so I could photograph them and kind of document them for our family heritage, and they were sitting around on my cutting table for a while.

Not to cut, just because that was where they were sitting and I was looking for a project to do, and casting around trying to find something to keep me busy, and this particular quilt that is made of lots of little flying geese caught my eye, and I decided that if my great-grandmother could do a quilt like that, I would do one also. The thing that is unique about Josie’s quilt is that, judging from her other quilts; she liked every color as long as it was pink.

The quilt that I brought with me is typical of her quilts. It is a scrap quilt. It is made with clothing scraps, but this particular quilt is made with mostly blues and grays, kind of shirting and dress fabrics. She has got a few little patches of pink thrown in, she couldn’t resist, but I imagine a lot of the chambray was probably from my great-grandfather’s shirts, and she had some scraps saved up and I guess decided to challenge herself with a color scheme that she didn’t use very often. The blues and grays and tans are a color scheme that I don’t use very often either. That was my inspiration for my own quilt called “Mamaw’s Puzzle.” “Mamaw” was what I knew Josie as. […]

I don’t think I am going to use it on a bed. I think I’m going to save it and I’m going to save it along with Josie’s quilt. I feel like both of these quilts are documents of my family’s history. Although with all of my quilts–I haven’t had a chance yet to sleep under this quilt, but I will sleep under it once, put some DNA in it. Josie’s quilt, I think you can see from all the stains, probably has a lot of family DNA in it also. That just adds to its uniqueness.

You can read more quilt stories on the Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories page on the Quilt Alliance website.


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




My mother had nine children in a six room apartment, and did no sewing. Her best friend was a seamstress. My maternal grandmother was from Montreal and, as far as I know, did no sewing as she also had nine children to raise. It was my mother in law to be who taught me to sew, guiding me through a Simplicity pattern of a double breasted blazer and skirt made of kelly-green paisley linen … if linen wasn’t challenging enough by itself. it turned out poorly (imagine that!) but when we were married, and then had a daughter, my husband bough me a sewing machine and i began to make all of my daughter’s clothing. Later I had less time as i was a teacher, and stopped sewing for her and for me – until she graduated from college and asked me to sew her wedding gown! I did … and then went on to make small quilts as gifts. Today, retired from teaching, i have my own shop called Quilters’ Quarters. You’ll find a link on the international “Row by Row 2014” website, under Massachusetts. It’s a whole new life, one never expected, and one thoroughly enjoyed! I wrote a book about my quilts, too, I’ll give you the link or send you the PDF free if you would like to read it. It is a mystery (first in a series, perhaps?) of an octogenarian couple running a quilt shop and a wooden toy shop in their barn (a pre-moire of Rick and i fifteen yeas ahead.) I am a HAPPY QUILTER projecting a long and happy retirement!

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