Saturday, February 3, 2018

Quilters Through The Generations - Doris Rice

Today Doris Rice is my featured quilter.  Doris and I "met" each other in 2015 when we were selected to be a part of Bonnie Hunter's Addicted To Scraps group (a regular feature of Quiltmaker's publication).  Here is her story...

Let me introduce myself. I’m Doris Rice, quilter, blogger (Quilting Queen Online), designer, longarm quilter, owner of Quilt Queen Designs (home of XBlocks)owner of a quilting retreat house "The Queen's Rustic Retreat", wife, mother of three, and Nana of four. 

 I love the whole process of quilt making; picking the fabric, cutting out the quilt, piecing, and quilting the quilt. It’s my therapy, my stress outlet, my creativity bug, my everything. If I am at home, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t sew or quilt. To say I breath, eat, and sleep quilting is an understatement.

I don’t really consider myself a “generation” quilter, although my paternal grandmother made a lot, and I do mean a lot of quilts in her lifetime. She never taught me to quilt, although she definitely inspired me to quilt. My mother was a seamstress by necessity (money was short and I had 2 sisters). She has made a quilt for all of her grandchildren but it most certainly is not her passion.

I was bit by the quilting bug as a teen. I made my first quilt when I was 13 and received a blue ribbon on it and I believe it was chosen to be exhibited at the Ozark Empire Fair in Springfield, MO or the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia, MO. That was a LONG time ago and the scrapbooks to prove it are in storage and un-obtainable at this time.

My paternal grandmother, Nellie May Daniels Cotten was my inspiration. She passed away in 1999 and would have been 104 today. I remember going to her house and seeing the quilt frame with a quilt hanging from the ceiling over the dining room table. She never let us quilt or even touch the quilt. In fact, her specific words were always “Don’t you ens mess with my quilt”. She always hand pieced and hand quilted all of them, until in her late years she would still piece by hand but would send them out to be machine quilted. 

While asking questions and researching for this story, I learned that my dad made the quilt frame for her when he was a teenager. He recently gave it to me but I had no idea he made it for his mom. He didn’t mention it at the time.

Grandma had a “quilt closet” that I remember quite distinctly. It was quite large, probably about 5-6’ wide and was filled from floor to ceiling with quilts. Plus there were numerous quilts on all of the beds in the 4 bedrooms. Those in the closet were “special” quilts. I remember a few particular ones that stand out in my mind. She had 2 embroidery quilts; one was the state birds and the other one was the state flowers. 

There was also a Grandmothers Flower Garden quilt, which I later inherited. Dad calls it a “quarter” quilt. He said his mom called them that because the hexagons were the size of a quarter.

Below you can see the detail...

My dad would take her large bags of polyester scraps from Nelly Don Fashions Factory. Grandma made countless polyester quilts. I personally didn’t like them. They weighed a ton and would never wear out. My kids today fight over them but I still prefer the cotton quilts.

Here is one of the cotton quilts that Nellie made...

Grandma made each one of her grandkids a polyester quilt. She would give it to them when they married. My sister and one cousin didn’t marry. And Grandma refused to give them their quilt. She said if she went ahead and gave it to them now, what would she give them if they ever got married. We always joked and said they probably needed them more to keep them warm than everyone else. They didn’t have a spouse to keep them warm like the rest of us did. After Grandma passed away, my aunt Doris gave my sister and cousin their quilts. My sister finally did marry and in honor of grandma, we wrapped the quilt up and gave it to her at a shower. Grandma would have been proud.

The polyester quilts were nothing fancy, usually just squares or sometimes a trip around the world type pattern.

Every summer we would go to Lake Stockton to camp. We would stop and pick up Grandma, who would come with us. She had lots of food and quilts. She considered those quilts as “old quilts”. One time I ask her why she was taking all those nice quilts camping. She didn’t consider them as nice. She considered the polyester quilts nice as they were the newest. But not me. The cotton quilts were hand quilted and the polyester quilts were machine quilted.

I only dabbled in quilting until about the mid 80’s. Sadly that was about the time my Grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimers and later passed away. She really never knew I was following in her footsteps.

The quilt I made as a teen in 4-H was a very simple quilt, no pattern, and tied to finish it. (shown above)  When I was 21, I took a quilt sampler class at the local quilt shop.  It was a quilt as you go type class. I quilted those blocks every month and was so proud of myself. My grandmother, on the other hand would have been appalled! 

However, the class didn’t have instructions for finishing the quilt. Since I had recently purchased a brand spanking new serger, I had the brilliant idea to serge the blocks together. Then there were the borders. Again, no one told me how to add them so I “serged them on to the blocks. I sewed all three of the borders together but had no knowledge of what a mitered border was. It was pathetic! 


Then came the binding. I was discouraged, short of time, and we needed to use that quilt to keep us warm so… you guessed it… I serged the edge and threw that quilt on the bed. Oh Lordy! I’ve certainly come a long way since those first two quilts.

Until recently, I had never entered a quilt in a quilt show or competition (other than my 4-H project as a teen). I’ve won a few awards but actually prefer just to enter in a non-judged show.

Some of my most prized quilts are my Texas quilts and my hand embroidered quilts. While living in Brownwood, TX, I would enter a Texas quilt every year. And every year we would have the Mayor come to the show and pick the “Mayor’s Choice” Award Quilt. I won it several years in a row with a Texas Quilt. The last time I entered he didn’t pick my quilt. He later told me he really wanted to pick a certain Texas quilt but he was sure it belonged to me and he didn’t want to be accused of picking mine every year. He was right. It was my quilt. I felt like I received the honor anyway, even if the ribbon wasn’t on it.

The quilt shown above is my most prized possession of Texas Quilts called "Luv'n Texas".  

The one on the right is my design called "Texas Traffic Jam" using my "Traffic Jam" pattern by Quilting Queen Online.  

My daughter Hollie, who is in her early 30’s still hasn’t been bit by the quilting bug but I do hold out on hope for her yet. She made a quilt in 4-H as well. And received the same awards as I did with my first quilt. While she was pregnant, she did make a few quilts but since giving birth to our Granddaughter, she hasn’t quilted. She does frequently call her mother (me) and request a quilt for a gift or for herself.

Through the years, I’ve taught countless quilt classes, made hundreds of quilts, and still LOVE quilting each and every day of my life.

Doris' love for quilting is evident in all facets of her life.  And, oh what fun it would be to enjoy a weekend at her retreat center... here is a brief description from the website - 



Doris has certainly come a looong way from her first quilts.  And I am certain that every "self-taught" quilter could share a story or two of their faux pas... I know I can!  In fact, I shared a story in my "Generations Story" in July last year.  Take a little journey over there if you want.

Do you have a "first quilt" faux pas you are willing to share???
Leave a comment... go ahead, be BRAVE!

Happy Quilting!


1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful family story. Thanks as always for sharing, Melva, and it was lovely to get to know Doris.