Helping communities across the state connect their heritage arts and traditions to local development, education, and active citizenship
Manson, Vance County, NC
Peggy Stocks cannot remember a time when she did not know how to sew. Growing up in Wilmington, she learned from her grandmothers, who were both skilled seamstresses. Of her paternal grandmother, she says, “I remember sitting in the swing with her, and she would let me make my daddy’s handkerchiefs.” Her mother’s mother made quilts, and on her treadle sewing machine would stitch fabric to torn-out pages of the Sears-Roebuck catalog and join those together in a string quilt. “The only thing I was allowed to do was pull the paper off the back,” says Stocks. Though she was very interested in learning how to make quilts, her mother and grandmother decided that she wasn't ready. “They said I was too restless, I couldn’t sit still long enough. So I grew up wanting to learn.”
Years later, as a young mother in Greensboro, Stocks sewed often for her two daughters. But it was not until her younger daughter left for college that she decided the time had come to learn quilting. She still had a while to wait, though, as the quilting class she wanted to attend at Guilford Tech was so popular that it had a one-year waiting list. When a spot opened up, she learned how to make quilts at last.
In the years since, Stocks estimates she has made between 100 and 125 quilts. Though occasionally she pieces on a machine, she greatly prefers hand-sewing for the greater control that it affords her. The majority of her work is both pieced and quilted by hand. Also, she says, “the thing about hand piecing is that you can put it in a bag and take it with you, and sit there and watch a ballgame.”
Since the mid-1990s, she has taught quilting at Vance-Granville Community College. Through her class she has made a significant contribution to the renaissance of quilt-making in this part of North Carolina, teaching many students who have gone on to become expert quilters as well, including members of the Warrenton Heritage Quilters Leo Kelly and Wallace Evans, and Debbie Powell, owner of Miss Lou’s Quilting Studio.