Bettye Kimbrell and Indian Leaf Pounding

Many years ago when I first took up quilting I met a quilter who unknown to her became a mentor of such to me. Her name is Bettye Kimbrell.

Bettye was the president of the North Jefferson Quilters Guild that met at Mount Olive, Alabama at that time in the old community center that was the big old white school house. It has since been demolished. Bettye is a no nonsense type person, but will help anyone. That’s my kind of person. As the Good Book puts it, she’s no respecter of person – in other words everyone is treated with the same respect.

At the time I was kind of a rarity. I had taught my ex to quilt and he was a rare bird – a man that quilt. Today, that’s not so rare – many men quilt, including my current husband, who yes, I taught, but, he was very eager to learn. He had been an art student in college, so you can see why quilting appealed to him.

So, here I was this half of a quilting couple with a “qubby” that tagged along. Bettye wasn’t phased by that unlike some of the other little ladies who did adjust over time. Bettye incorporated a “men that quilt” exhibit into one of the quilt shows because eventually more men began to trickle to the surface and admit they quilted.

Bettye is an exceptional quilter in her own right. Her quilts have been exhibited at home and abroad. In 1995 she was awarded the Alabama Folk Heritage Award and in 2008 she received the National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts. 

A few years back I took a class a class of Bettye’s called Indian Leaf Pounding. Every once and a while you can catch her demonstrating it on Alabama Public Television. Here’s a YouTube video of Bettye and her grandson doing a little leaf pounding.


Bettye made a whole quilt using this technique and it is stunning. I thought you might enjoy seeing that today. Also, if you get a chance, read the book Out of Whole Cloth: The Life of Bettye Kimbrell, by Joyce H. Cauthen. It’s a great little book and Bettye’s leaf pounding quilt is on the cover.

Enjoy the videos!

And, by the way, Bettye, I’m still a hand quilter!

© 2016 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.



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