Phase II Thoughts, Ideas – Margaret Bingham
Research Question:
Even though not supported by the huge commercial enterprises of today, the art and occupation of quilting activities were a vibrant and vital part of women’s lives, practically, recreationally and socially in the 1950’s and 60’s.
 
  1. Survey Questions:
 
Demographics information:
Name:
Birth year:
Gender:
Current address:
Resident state(s) in 1950 – 1969:
1.      When did you start quilting?
2.      Did you learn from:
      1. a relative,
      2. on your own
      3. or did you attend formal classes?
NOTE: multiple option replies (radio buttons)
3.      Did you piece the tops only or did you quilt the layers and finish the piece? 
4.      Were there any specific types or styles of quilts you liked and made?
5.      Specifically after 1950, what were your sources of fabric?
      1. Did you use scraps you already had?
      2. Did you buy new fabric?
6.      Did you share your fabrics?
7.      Specifically after 1950, what were your sources for patterns? 
      1. Did you use shared or
      2. Published patterns?
8.      Did you quilt with a group or alone?
9.      Were there organized quilting functions or events?
10.  What did you do with your quilts after completion?
11.  Why did you quilt?
Second set of questions related to motivations:
12.  How does the process of quilting make you feel?
13.  What purpose does the process of quilting serve in your life?
14.  When you complete a quilt, try to describe your sense of completion.
15.  What purpose do your finished quilts serve?
One of the fundamental research decisions that must be made is whether this research will be strictly historical related to the past activities or current related to current quilting activities or a combination of both.  Distributing a version of this survey to current quilters would use the same avenues.  The questions would be modified to reflect a current time frame. 
By combining survey research of both past and current activities, there may be interesting comparisons possible, valuable to understanding the art and the industry currently supporting it.  This may also shed light on the social aspect of guilds and how they fulfill several needs for the members – the need of belonging, acceptance, sharing their work, praise and evaluation of their handiwork.  My concern is that this would produce such a volume of information as to be beyond the scope of a master’s thesis. 
 
  1. The survey could be distributed in many ways: through guilds, emailed to shops and friends for distribution; setup online survey with newsgroup notification. 
http://www.quiltchat.com/
 
  1. Compilation of the resultant data could be done in a spreadsheet format.  There may be some quantitative data derivable from birth years and locations.  Most, however, would be anecdotal and descriptive.
 
  1. There may be some opportunity to orally interview some respondents to develop even richer data.
 
  1. Literature to peruse:
    1. Title: Quilting as age identity expression in traditional women
Author(s): Cheek C, Piercy KW
Source: INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF AGING & HUMAN DEVELOPMENT 59 (4): 321-337 2004
    1. Title: “It Says You Really Care”: Motivational Factors Of Contemporary Female Handcrafters
Author: Joyce Starr Johnson, Laurel E. Wilson
Source: International Textile & Apparel Association (23) 115-130 2005
    1. Title: Quilts as Material History: Identifying Research Models
Authors: Elizabeth Richards, Sherri Martin-Scott, and Kerry Maguire
Source: Uncoverings 1990 149-163
 
  1. Contact Professor Cheek at Penn State.  While most of her research appears to relate to age issues rather than quilting & handiwork, much of her lit review would be worthwhile to investigate.
 
  1. Participant Observations
With long-standing quilting groups to determine how the group continues to thrive, how it has changed over the years, what the individual members value in the group.  Casually and verbally ascertain some of the survey answers.  This would enrich current data the social aspect of quilting motivations.  From a historic aspect, the life cycle of a group, especially spanning the 1950’s & 60’s, would be a fascinating component to the research.