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Alpine Public School
American Quilter's Society
Appliqué Society of Central Ohio
Columbus Metro Quilters
Irene Goodrich, An Extraordinary Woman and Quilter - Quilting Quarterly, Spring 2006, NQA
Irene Goodrich,I met Irene Goodrich at the NQA show in Columbus last June.She was there to give a lecture - a retrospective of her work.The signage announcing her lecture contained baby pictures of Irenein front of a star quilt made by her paternal grandmother, Mary Rosabelle (Fleming) Surratt, a sure sign Irene was born to quilt.As I walked into the room, Irene was busy greeting old friends and family while directing helpers so they would stack her quilts in the correct order.She is soft-spoken and small in stature, but her quilting talent is enormous. "Every quilt has a story to tell," Irene said, and what a story she has to tell.Irene was born in Wytheville, Virginia, oldest of eight children.She grew up in a home filled with love and respect, not only for each other, but also for a job well done.Their home was filled with quilts and tied comforters.Her father worked as a miner in the West Virginia coal mines, but after moving his family to Ohio, he worked for a short time as a fruit picker then as a carpenter."He was a terrific carpenter," she remembers.Her mother was a quilter and a seamstress and often made clothes by hand when she didn't have a sewing machine.When Irene's mother was a young girl, she and her sisters would hurry with their school lessons so they could quilt for an hour before their bedtime.Irene's grandmothers were quilters as well, but both passed away by the time she was a young girl.Irene was taught to sew at age 4-1/2 by her mother.Irene's mother started her out hand piecing a quilt top of simple patches cut from sugar and salt bags.This was the first top she quilted when she "got serious about quilting" in 1968.Irene's father moved his family to Columbus, Ohio, in the spring of 1939 when she was just 12 years old.She still has lots of relatives in Ohio and Virginia.At age 13 Irene made an Ohio Star quilt top."Mother taught me to sew but not to quilt," Irene says, "I am a self-taught quilter."In addition to sewing, when Irene was in high school, her mother taught her to crochet a lace edging on a 48-inch-square tablecloth."I haven't touched it since," she says.Her mother also taught her to knit a parka hood when she was in high school."I haven't knitted since," Irene admits.Lucky for us she loves quilting!On June 11, 1956, Irene married Albert Earl Goodrich in the Indianola Church of Christ in Columbus, a union lasting 47 years. In 1968 Irene began quilting in earnest.She usually hand pieces her quilt tops, but uses her Singer cabinet sewing machine or a Featherweight if she's in a hurry."I just purchased a Pfaff, but I haven't had time to use it yet," says Irene.She hand quilts her quilts, sometimes using a floor frame or any number of hoops she's collected over the years.She quilts with a very thin Size 8 Betweens needle."I don't like thick needles for any handwork," she says."I prefer to use 100 percent cotton fabric."Irene sent one of her quilts out to be machine quilted once but prefers doing her own hand quilting.Irene GoodrichIrene Goodrich at the 36th Annual NQA Show holding the quilt she made to donate to the Little Quilt Auction.Irene has been an active NQA member since 1972.She is a charter member of the Columbus Metro Quilters and the Quintessential Quilters, both active NQA chapters.She's a member of the Appliqué Society of Central Ohio and the American Quilter's Society in Paducah, Kentucky.She's involved in the Ohio State Fair and active in her local guilds, attending two to three meetings a month."I did it my way," Irene says, using a variation of the pattern."I did Nancy Pearson's grapevine border on it."That quilt is still in Irene's personal collection.So far Irene has won a total of 235 ribbons for her quilts, including one Best of Show and eight First Place.She's been entering quilts in the NQA shows since 1978 and won ribbons at 15 shows."I've entered shows all over the United States, in addition to NQA's," Irene proudly admits.In 1983 she won First Place in a Mountain Mist contest for her "Trumpet Vine" quilt.The contest prize was a cruise for two.Winning the Mountain Mist contest meant a lot to Irene because she got to take her husband along with her on the cruise."He helped me with color problems and often bought fabric for me." Irene's "Lancaster County Rose" quilt was purchased by the American Quilter's Society a few years before they constructed their museum building.Before her husband became ill in 1997, Irene sent her quilts all over the United States to various shows.Now she enters one or two quilts in the Ohio State Fair each year, a favorite venue, in addition to NQA.Irene usually has someone special in mindwhen she's making a quilt, either a family member or a customer.She ran a quilting business for eight years, specializing in quilt repair."It was so rewarding," Irene remembers.She has taught appliqué all over the State of Ohio, but mostly in the Columbus area.She often includes embroidery in her quilts, to add a special touch.Irene works on several quilts at a time.She can complete a quilt in 6 months, but it's stressful for her.She prefers to take 10 months to a year to complete a quilt.Of course, "Wallhangings are done much more quickly," she adds.When she began quilting, her focus was on how to improve her work and how to perfect her quilting stitch."The worst problem I have now, at age 79, is how to refrain from buying all the wonderful new books and fabrics.I have enough of both to open a shop!"Irene declares.Since she's been quilting, she's learned about herself that she's capable of producing lovely handmade items."Quilting teaches patience and has made me lots of new friends that I otherwise would not have had," she says."What lessons did you learn from your mother?," I asked Irene."My mother guided me through the first 18 years of my life in lotsof areas.She instructed me to strive for tiny stitches in my sewing.She taught me how to do all the necessary home chores and shop for groceries.She taught me to be honest, a good neighbor, and respect others.I had a godly mother who lived to be 94-1/2 years old," Irene fondly remembers.Irene's been involved in charity work in her community as well.In 1985 the "Hannah Neil Center for Children" asked to display 24 quilts from Irene's collection at their annual fundraiser.The quilts were beautifully hung from a high balcony for all to see.She was present at the event and demonstrated quilting to fellow attendees.She has taught quilting to first and second graders at the Alpine Public School.One little boy, her best pupil, learned to quilt so well he declared he would, "now go home and repair my trousers.""I've donated many small pieces to various organizations for fund raising," Irene proudly says.Her advice for today's quilter is: "Strive to do the best work you can.Learn all you can.