The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Mountain Craft - Daisy Weddle, Quilter

By Susan M. Thigpen © 1985

Issue: May, 1985

daisy weddle quilter 2Four of Mrs. Weddle's finished quilts on display. Note the "saw-tooth" border mentioned in the article.

Mrs. Edward (Daisy Boyd) Weddle lives just off the Blue Ridge Parkway (between mile posts 171 and 172) on the "Black Ridge" Road (state road 726). She lives in the house that was her parents, Cornelius and Martha Pendleton Boyd's before her, in sight of the Floyd/Patrick County line.

The area was once known as "Stamping Birches." There was a school house by that name just down the road, and she remembers hearing her parents tell that they used to hold court - not in a building, but out in the open air - within sight of her house. One of her ancestors, Asa Smith was the Justice of the Peace. The mailmen from Meadows of Dan and Floyd, Virginia would meet at the county line and exchange mail for the other's post office. Mrs. Weddle said that in cold weather, the postmen would come in their house and sort the mail by the fire.

daisy weddle quilter 1Daisy Weddle standing in her yard. Displayed on the fence are a few of her quilts. The Blue Ridge Parkway is in the background.As Daisy Weddle grew to be a young girl in her teens, she started to learn how to quilt from her mother. She said, "My first quilt was a mess. I had a scrap bundle Mama bought somewhere. I was trying to cut out 12 inch squares with a paper pattern. My sister Mary said to go by the straight of threads of the material, but I just laid the pattern out on the material where it looked straight. When I sewed it together, it puckered so, that I never did quilt that top."

Daisy married Edward Weddle around the time she was 21, and through the years, they had nine children - seven girls and two boys. Mrs. Weddle did more than her share of sewing to keep them all clothed. "I had six in school at one time. I bought bundles of Dan River material and made dresses." Her first sewing machine was, "an old treadle job reconditioned. I sewed on it til it wore out. I still have it. My children bought me an electric one."

When Daisy was a girl, she said they mostly made quilts from the best parts of worn out or out grown dresses. Sometimes they were made from feed sacks. Sometimes the backing was made from feed sacks, pieced together like the top. At times, the backing was 36 inch wide material ordered from the Sears catalog.

Shortly before she was 50, she went to work at a sewing machine at the Skyline Sportswear Company in Floyd, Virginia. For the next 13 years, she worked there. She said she was used to a treadle machine and theirs were, "something to get used to." The machines were electric and had a foot bar about like a treadle to run the machine. There was a lever to push with her right knee that lifted the pressure foot and a lever to push with her left knee that operated a knife to cut the thread.

For the last five years, since her retirement, Mrs. Weddle has been working on making quilts for each of her 13 grandchildren. Through the years, Mrs. Weddle estimates she has made around 60 or 70 completed quilts not counting other quilts she has worked on but not completed. Some were sold and some were given away.

When I visited, I was treated to quilting at practically every' stage. There were finished quilts, quilt tops, completed squares - all in different patterns, and finished to perfection, with uniformly tiny stitches. Her choices of materials and colors were beautifully matched. Some quilts she had finished with a handmade bias tape, others had a "saw tooth" series of triangles border. She said her Grandma Boyd used to border quilts that saw tooth way and it must be a very old way of finishing a quilt.

From all her years of quilting Mrs. Weddle has these pointers to pass along to new quilters;

She uses a short (number 7) needle. It makes short stitches easier. You have to have good, sharp scissors too. If you cut a fraction of an inch off from the pattern, it could throw a whole row or block off when it's sewn together. She recommends marking around the pattern on the cloth, instead of cutting directly from the pattern to get the size more precise. Make sure you have the pattern placed straight on the material too. As a square is completed, Mrs. Weddle irons it with all the seams going the same direction. That makes the piece lay flat and is easier to quilt.

Besides making quilts, Mrs. Weddle also makes ruffled, quilted pillows and crochets Christmas balls and angels.

Folks, don't forget that Mrs. Weddle lives on a farm. She has about 26 chickens and sells eggs too. At one time she sold her hand crafts in shops, but now only occasionally sells from her home. Her quilts range in price from $250.00 to $500.00. Her pillows are $20.00. One special quilt she showed won first prize at the Floyd Fall Festival a couple of years ago. When we tried to figure out how much time is involved in making one quilt, we decided that if a person did nothing else, there would probably be about three months work in one quilt - One quilt done right, the way Daisy Weddle makes them.