Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Introducing Inspiration.......Evelyn Nall



Today I am honored and proud to introduce you to my very special friend, Evelyn Ridgeway Nall.
I first met Evelyn when she requested a quilt appraisal many years ago. The very first time we met, we just 'clicked'. There was something special about our relationship and we both felt it. We always ended our time with a hug. Over the years I looked forward to getting a call to appraise yet another of her masterpiece quilts. The more I got to know her, the more she inspired me.

The  Save Our Stories program of the Quilt Alliance, is dedicated to documenting, preserving and sharing the stories of American quilters. I knew that Evelyn's story must be saved, too!
I asked her if she would be willing to sit down sometime and let me interview her. Last December I went to her home with my little hand-held cassette tape recorder (I taped over an old Linda Ronstadt tape!) and after a wonderful soup and salad lunch, complete with apple pie, all homemade by Evelyn, we sat down to talk. With her permission I am pleased  to share with you just a bit of her story. (link to full interview transcript at the bottom of this post)



Passion:
In her eighty-nine years she has made both pieced and appliqued quilts - she estimates over two hundred. She likes traditional quilts best - quilts made to be used on a bed. She does fine hand applique and hand quilting. She especially loves appliqued borders - on either pieced or appliqued quilts. Failing eyesight does not stop Evelyn from having several projects going at a time. She has rigged up a magnifying glass that helps her with machine piecing.




She started making quilts by making a cardboard template and tracing around it; cutting with a scissors. There was no rotary cutter. There were no quilt shops. You bought your fabric at the Five and Dime. Today she calls herself  a 'gadget person'. She told me she recently bought a Precision Trimmer and some papers to make half-square triangles without stretching your fabric. If there is something that makes it easier she says, "Why not?"
She taught her daughter, Sandra, to quilt. They attend retreats together several times a year attend quilt shows, including the big show in Houston, Texas.


Bed Turnings:
She  showed many of her quilts in a bed turning at a local quilt shop and a crowd of over eighty people came. It was so popular that she received more invitations and traveled to several other cities and guilds across the state for encore presentations.
She begins her talk with the quilt she is holding in this picture. It has a very special place in Evelyn's heart as it is one of the few surviving quilts made by her dear mother, Bessie Lee Tanner Ridgeway. She was a an excellent seamstress and quiltmaker and a major influence and inspiration to Evelyn as she was growing up.
Then she shows her quilts, starting from the first quilt she made - a Sunbonnet Sue - which she laughs about. It was not at all square! She paid a woman $25  to quilt and bind it. She describes how the binding was tucked at the corners and how the family loved it but 'knew something was wrong! Even so, her granddaughter Erin loved that quilt and used it for many years. Evelyn laughs as she tells the story. She calls that quilt a 'hoot'!
Showing her quilts from the earliest efforts to her most recent creations allows her to share her philosophy about this craft that she  loves so much. She tells her  audience, "...in quilting there’s always something to learn...and you grow by doing it."



Not Anonymous!
Evelyn makes a label and takes a photo of each quilt she finishes. Unlike the fate of so many quilts, future historians will know who made it and where and when. She is proud of her work and believes it is important for people to know who made it.
All of her four children have quilts she has made. She has fourteen grandchildren and twelve great grandchildren and believes that all of her quilts will be passed along and cherished by her family in years to come.





A few examples of her beautiful work:
















I hope Evelyn as been as inspirational to you as she has been to me. I believe she personifies the creative spirit of quiltmakers everywhere; learning, growing, sharing and loving the whole process.

 I intend to follow her footsteps and still be learning and quilting when I'm 89!



Have you compared your earliest quilts to more recent projects?
How have you grown and evolved?


To read the entire interview Click here

17 comments:

  1. Evelyn seems to be a delightful woman, and her work is magnificent! Thanks for giving us a glimpse of her talent.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a lovely inspirational women. Thoroughly enjoyed reading about her and her quilting life.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for sharing Evelyn's story. She is an amazing lady and her quilts are beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you Jean for sharing Evelyn's inspiring story and I couldn't agree with her philosophy more. Take care.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Such exquisite applique and quilting! Thank you so much for sharing Evelyn's work with us. What an inspiration she is, and yes, I hope to be learning and quilting when I'm 89 as well.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I enjoyed reading about Evelyn, and her quilts. An amazing body of work! She is an inspiration and I think the quilting community and her family is fortunate she is so giving of her time and art. Great she's been a featured quilter and traveled to continue sharing her story.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Loved hearing Evelyn's story and seeing her quilts! Even if it made me remember a beloved neighbor, many years gone, who was also a life-long quilter. Or maybe because it did. And I wonder: why can't those of us in the Land O Lakes Quilt Study Group get to meet Evelyn and see her quilts in person? Is it too outside our mission of learning about quilt-making in the past? You just know those lovely pieces are going to be valuable artifacts someday!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great idea, Linda! I do hope to arrange getting her quilts documented by MQP. One thing we study group members could do is offer the official documenting team assistance. There are a lot of quilts and it's a big job to get them out, do the documentation process and then refold and put away. This would be a great opportunity to meet her and not only see her quilts but help them become part of The Quilt Index!

      Delete
  8. I love Evelyn's creations. I am drawn by the colors and patterns she has selected. She is a true inspiration for all quilters and it is wonderful that she continues to create and share her gifts. Saving Our Stories is a wonderful project. Many thanks to you for your efforts in assuring the past is documented for the future generations.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Her quilts are stunning, just my style - how I wish I could achieve such beauties. My first quilt was a cot size Sunbonnet Sue so maybe I will be as good as Evelyn one day. I do hope so. Many thanks for sharing her story, I found it so encouraging. Elaine (England)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Love to Mimi, she always holds a place in my heart and one of her table runners graces my home. I think of her often and always wish her well! The quilts pictured above are amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank you, Jean, for this article about my mother, Evelyn. When my mother moved to Minnesota from Oklahoma in 2006, I asked if she would teach me to quilt - I was ready and loved her work - so I wanted to be a part of that. Well, did she ever teach me! Jean, you even appraised one of my first quilts. She is a marvelous teacher, very patient. I was terrified of the rotary cutter when we first started our lessons. Now, I've graduated and I cut for my mom along with the help of a dear friend, Jill. We keep my mom's "next" project ready for her to pick and sew. I remember also a problem I was having cutting a 45 degree angle and I called my mom on the phone for help. She patiently told me what to do and in my confused beginner mind, I asked how if I was to cut through the ruler.....she still laughs about that. I am still learning from my mom. She is a master of her art but most if all she is a beautiful woman who is also my friend.

    ReplyDelete
  12. What a lovely tribute, Sandra. I consider myself very lucky, indeed, to have had both of you come into my life!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Evelyn has taught many ladies the art of quilting! We love her for it! Vickie B.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I'm a friend of granddaughter Erin and I'm a novice quilter. Drooling over the photos of her beautiful works!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Her influence spreads far and wide! So glad you left a comment and keep quilting - as she says, we all learn and grow in this wonderful hobby of quilting. Enjoy and observe your own progress!

      Delete
  15. What a great write-up. It's easy to tell how much you enjoy and respect each other.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for adding your comments!