About

 
 
 

Welcome to

an interview with

Wanda S. Hanson....

 

Over 50 years of Quilt

Making...

 

 Rectangle Colorwash No. by Wanda S. Hanson

Wanda's Quilts published in Books

Early Years Sewing for Pleasure and Work

Q. How did you learn to sew?
A. At age 14, my Freshman year of High School in Home Ec. class in 1954. Then I started to make my own clothing at home using our treadle machine (human powered foot pedal). The next year my dad realized I was serious about sewing and got me an electric portable sewing machine.  I was in the local 4-H Club and saw in my records that I made 16 garments the next year.

 
 This is a page from my 1955 4-H project book.  This is why we sewed back then; it was cheaper than buying ready made clothes as well as they fit better.  Even though it only cost me $3.47 to make that dress, my babysitting pay was 50 cents an hour so that took me 7 hours of work to earn the money.  There was a page to list how many extra garments we had made that year and I made 15 extra ones.  I had only learned to sew one year earlier.  I spent most of my babysitting money on fabric.

This is a page from my 1955 4-H project book.  This is why we sewed back then; it was cheaper than buying ready made clothes as well as they fit better.  Even though it only cost me $3.47 to make that dress, my babysitting pay was 50 cents an hour so that took me 7 hours of work to earn the money.  There was a page to list how many extra garments we had made that year and I made 15 extra ones.  I had only learned to sew one year earlier.  I spent most of my babysitting money on fabric.

 On the left is the first skirt I made at home after learning to sew in the 1954-55 home ec. class my freshman year.  I used our treadle machine and made the view with the ruffle out of a red print.  This pattern preceded printed patterns.  There were just series of holes punched in the tissue for identification.  The western shirt pattern was used many times for shirts for my dad.  It is from 1956.  On the right is my wedding dress pattern.

On the left is the first skirt I made at home after learning to sew in the 1954-55 home ec. class my freshman year.  I used our treadle machine and made the view with the ruffle out of a red print.  This pattern preceded printed patterns.  There were just series of holes punched in the tissue for identification.  The western shirt pattern was used many times for shirts for my dad.  It is from 1956.  On the right is my wedding dress pattern.

 

Q. When did you make your first quilt?
A. At age 17, my mother said, "Your cousin is going to have a baby. Could you make a quilt?" I said yes and began researching how and used information from a McCall's Needlework and crafts magazine.  I machine quilted from the start because I didn't know about hand quilting.  I quilted it in the same pattern as the mattress pad on my bed.

Q. Prior to becoming a professional quilter, you had a variety of foundational sewing experience. What was your first job in sewing?
A. I worked as a Designer's Sample Maker at Kaufman Dress Factory. I made the sample garments for clothing designers.

 
 I spent a few hours yesterday afternoon going through a hall closet.  In one box were the paycheck stubs from my first job in 1958.  I sewed for a designer at a dress factory.  I started out at $1 and hour and worked up to $1.17 before I left for a higher paying job that I hated in an office.

I spent a few hours yesterday afternoon going through a hall closet.  In one box were the paycheck stubs from my first job in 1958.  I sewed for a designer at a dress factory.  I started out at $1 and hour and worked up to $1.17 before I left for a higher paying job that I hated in an office.

 

Q. You got married, had children...how did you keep sewing alive while being a stay at home Mom and bookkeeper for your husband's company?
A. When my oldest was 2-3 years old I began my own business as a seamstress making custom clothing, draperies, as well as alterations for a local menswear store and for individuals... I made wedding dresses, bridesmaids dresses, home decor items... The kids respected my work and played quietly beside me.

 In addition to sewing, I also have always loved knitting and continue to knit simple items for enjoyment while watching television. A lot of my readers are knitters and I used to be one too.  Back in the 1950s and '60s the most popular needlework magazine was McCall's Needlework and Crafts.  My mother had a subscription to it because she liked to do crafts.  I got my own subscription after I was married and got a lot of my patterns and advice for quilting and knitting in them.  A few other crafty magazines started up in the early '60s and the little sweater above was in one of them.  It may have been in a Workbasket magazine.  I knitted it for my son in 1961 or 1962.  4 ply knitting worsted was the most popular yarn of that time period.  This is the only sweater I kept.  I passed the rest on to other little ones as my kids out grew them.

In addition to sewing, I also have always loved knitting and continue to knit simple items for enjoyment while watching television. A lot of my readers are knitters and I used to be one too.  Back in the 1950s and '60s the most popular needlework magazine was McCall's Needlework and Crafts.  My mother had a subscription to it because she liked to do crafts.  I got my own subscription after I was married and got a lot of my patterns and advice for quilting and knitting in them.  A few other crafty magazines started up in the early '60s and the little sweater above was in one of them.  It may have been in a Workbasket magazine.  I knitted it for my son in 1961 or 1962.  4 ply knitting worsted was the most popular yarn of that time period.  This is the only sweater I kept.  I passed the rest on to other little ones as my kids out grew them.

 I made this little dress in the mid 1960's with the iron-on transfer of blue dots for the smocking.  This is one of 3 dresses I made with smocking.

I made this little dress in the mid 1960's with the iron-on transfer of blue dots for the smocking.  This is one of 3 dresses I made with smocking.

Going Pro

Q. When did you begin to make sewn products for sale? And what types of things did you make?
A. I had my first booth at a Craft Fair in 1974. I sold my items at The Sandwich Fair as well as Art/Craft/Gift Stores in the region all the way into Chicago.  In addition to pillows I made quilted wall hangings and baby quilts.

 
 These were a couple of the pillows from my daughter's room in the 1970s.  I made dozens of the Holly Hobbie pillows and sold them to an antique store in the Chicago suburbs.  I also did craft shows during the 1970s and 80s.

These were a couple of the pillows from my daughter's room in the 1970s.  I made dozens of the Holly Hobbie pillows and sold them to an antique store in the Chicago suburbs.  I also did craft shows during the 1970s and 80s.

 

Q. As the children were becoming independent, did you step back into sewing related work outside of the home?
A. Yes, I taught sewing classes as well as worked at local sewing machine stores and later opened my own Main Street shop called Quilting Treasures where I carried a large supply of quilting fabrics and supplies as well as offering regular classes on quilting.  From there I worked at a few other quilt shops and assisted in the fabric buying sessions with the owners.  I also taught quilting classes at many local quilt shops for over 30 years.

Q. At what point did you begin as a speaker for Quilt Guilds and other sewing organizations?
A. I was one of only a few people in the area who did trunk shows at that time and in 1987 I spoke for the first time at the Rockford IL Quilt Guild. I continued doing the trunk shows and workshops on a regular basis for 20 years.  

 
 Most recent Trunk Show at the Fair City Quilt Guild in Sandwich, IL 2018

Most recent Trunk Show at the Fair City Quilt Guild in Sandwich, IL 2018

 

Q. You started the Exuberant Color Blog in 2007, what made you decide to start a blog?
A. A good friend who had her own blog suggested it and helped me get started. Since then I've been blogging daily ever since. 

Growing up on a Midwestern farm in the 1950's.