1) How do you prefer to be described as, within the
field of textile history?
If you have a business, please tell us
"Primarily, I am an Antique Textiles Dealer, but also consider
myself a Quilt Collector and aspiring Quilt Historian. I say
aspiring because although I may know more than the average person
about quilts, my knowledge dwarfs in comparison to the Quilt
Historians I know.
“I own and operate Material Pleasures, an online store for antique
and vintage textiles. I carry a wide variety of antique and vintage
textiles including quilts, fabrics, lace, linens, and more that
delight collectors, quilters, and crafters."
2) When and where did you begin your serious interest in the
history of quilts?
"I had started quilting in 1994 and immediately my tastes turned
toward the Depression Era reproduction fabrics and traditional
patterns. That started my quest and research of the ‘real thing’. I
began collecting vintage and antique fabrics and would try to
research the fabrics to date them. Antique fabrics naturally led to
collecting antique quilts.
"I was a stay at home mom, so most of purchases were from yard sales
and estate sales by the box. I would get those boxes home and would
go through the fabrics I loved and put them aside. Being the kind of
person that can’t throw anything away, I discovered selling on eBay.
I was able to sell the fabrics I didn’t want, and with that money,
buy more! That was in 1999. When I discovered auctions I would
purposely buy for reselling. And my little pin money hobby has grown
to a legitimate small business. Gradually, my inventory expanded to
vintage sewing items, linens, laces, and ladies accessories like
aprons, shoe clips, handkerchiefs, compacts, and purses. I’ve made
the progression from selling eBay to an online antique mall, to my
own website and selling in person at local antique shows and quilts.
"It’s been a wonderful opportunity to take my passion of quilts and
textiles and develop a business where I can work from home and be
there for my children and watch them grow. It has been a great
experience for them as well. They love the quilts I have brought
home and have learned how to respect them. Every auction I bring
them to has a history lesson. It is not unusual to see my eight year
old daughter pawing through racks of 18th century costumes with
white gloves on (which little rubber bands on the cuffs to keep them
from sliding off)."
3) What “known” individual (or group) influenced you most and why?
"There are so many ladies who have influenced me because of their
careful research, or business savvy: Nancy Kirk, Mary Koval,
Elizabeth Kurella, but Barbara Brackman has been a major influence.
She is constantly searching for answers and has a way of making
Quilt History fun. I have purchased all her books, listened to her
at lectures, and have taken classes with her. She is truly
Who became your personal mentor as you began your learning?
"There are two women I consider my mentors. I have learned so
much from Judith Grow regarding quilt history. She is a wealth of
knowledge. Judy was also my first quilt history friend and
reinforced my feelings that quilt history is important and other
people have an interest in quilt history aside from myself. When my
hobby grew to a business, another Antique Textile Dealer, Edna
Moran, began to mentor me, and still does, in many aspects of the
business of antique textiles. As I grow, I aspire to merge Judy’s
perception of quilts as history with Edna’s perception of quilts as
What aspect of study were you most passionate about at first? How
has this changed over time and why?
"When I first started collecting, I threw myself into studying
how to date fabrics and patterns and quilts. Not just for my own
personal satisfaction, but it is hard to build a reputation of being
a reputable antique textile dealer if you don’t know what you have.
But recently, after coming face to face with a school bulletin board
in one of my district’s elementary schools based on the subject of
“Secret Signals in Quilts in the UGRR”, I have been working on
educating the teachers (and any quilter interested), on dispelling
that myth. I was able to have a meeting with the Superintendent of
Curriculum to discuss historic myths and offer my service to any of
the teachers who wanted to discuss the subject of quilts and their
use in the UGRR.
"There are so many children’s books that are works of fiction on the
subject, and some teachers will develop a lesson upon it as if it
were based on fact. I think it is wonderful that teachers are
bringing quilts in the classroom, and quilts can be used as tools in
art, math, and history. But to propagate the myth that slaves used
quilts to relate secret messages for use in the UGRR is doing our
children a disservice, quilt history a disservice, and African
American History a disservice."
6) What is your current “Pet project"?
"Between 2 kids, a husband, unending housework, and a business, I
barely even have time to quilt anymore. I do have the very early
beginnings of a book outlined in reference to Quilt Ephemera. I have
been collecting Quilt Ephemera for a number of years. Ephemera is a
great resource and valuable tool. And I’d like to be able to put
that information into a format that will be interesting to quilters,
collectors, and historians."
Dana with her two daughers, Sophia (left)
and Catie (right).
7) What aspect of your research or contribution to
textile studies has satisfied you the most?
"I get the greatest satisfaction helping other people with their
quilts and other textiles. Most people who contact me know very
little about their vintage quilts, some passed down to them from
Grandmother or other sentimental relative. I like being able to help
them date their quilt, identify the pattern, and give them
information on how to care for their quilts."
Within this arena, what would you like to do, but haven’t done yet?
"I would eventually like to become a Certified Quilt Appraiser. I
hope to start taking classes next year. Besides wanting it for my
own personal satisfaction, it would be a wonderful service to offer
Any further comments are invited.
"Label your quilts!! I often gaze at a quilt wondering who the
quiltmaker was and where she was in life. When you make a quilt,
realize you are important enough to put your name on it. Your
children, grandchildren, and hopefully great grandchildren, will
Please list the contributions you have made via
books, presentations, exhibits, and links to your website
Material Pleasures www.materialpleasures.com
Thank you very much,
Dana, for sharing your self with us and for the insights we have gained because of your efforts in this field. Continued success to you.