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Research Lines

Getting the Word Out


Women's Creativity

I first began to study midlife and older women in the US who quilt for fun for my dissertation research. I examined contemporary US women's quilting activities as a gendered form of cultural production, attending to family tensions.

I continue this line of research with colleague Theresa M. Winge (Michigan State University), as we study North American crafters engaged in handwork broadly defined.

I also do research in quilting, knitting and embroidery comparatively between the US and western Europe.  In the US in particular, I have found that leisure activities can take up space within the home, with makers stockpiling raw materials, calling it "fabric stash" or "stash" and behaving in deviant ways around their chosen leisure pursuits.

Making PPE During COVID-19

Globally and locally, COVID-19 is a challenge for us all. Partnering with Braden T. Leap and Kimberly Kelly at Mississippi State University, we examine how and why sewists and quilters and 3D printing enthusiasts chose to devote time and effort to making much-needed PPE (face masks, ear guards, and face shields) to address the PPE gap. Online groups formed, volunteers devoted time, skill, effort, money, etc., to put together sophisticated systems matching those is need with those who could make and distribute.

Red Hat Society

​​​With colleagues Annette Lynch (University of Northern Iowa) and M. Elise Radina (Miami University), we examine the global phenomenon of the Red Hat Society (RHS), exploring how midlife and older women embrace and negotiate gendered aging. In our multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary approach, we work to understand the RHS from Dress, Leisure, Gender, Aging, and Family perspectives. We purport that the RHS is positive for aging women, providing a legitimate leisure space for women to have fun, where women establish new friendships and find social support for the challenges facing aging women at this stage in the life course.

Sociology Annex Podcast
What the Study of Leisure Teaches Us About Families November 12, 2019

“PPE Maker Impact: Study Examines Grassroots Response of Local Makers to Pandemic.”  2020

Interview with Shannon Smith, WBIR 10 News, Knoxville, TN, Friday, October 9, 2020

Marybeth C. Stalp, Braden Leap (Mississippi State University), Kimberly Kelly (Mississippi State University). Aired Monday, October 12, 2020 (shared with multiple affiliates in the Southeastern US)

Artistic Communities

The creative process is shaped by the economy for those engaged in making art.  In a multi-year and multi-site ethnographic endeavor, I spend time with US artists in their local communities, learning about how artists balance the creative process with the economy.  Many artists negotiate traditional definitions of "success" based in solely economic terms by using subjective career notions including quality of life, happiness, artistic reputation, and other work components that do not always coincide with economic success.


Student Research

I have been fortunate to work with fabulous undergraduate and graduate students, sitting in on their interesting projects.  Student projects include research on guerilla knitting, fat studies, popular culture, transgender couples, feminist blogging, health care, athletes,  and masculinity.  


“Quilting: A Creative Activity with Multiple Meanings”

Arctic Indigenous Virtual Artists Network (AIVAN), ARCTICenter, University of Northern Iowa, April 28, 2021 (online due to COVID-19). 



“Quilting: Then & Now” #WomenKnowStuffToo

Iowa State University

Margaret Sloss Center for Women and Gender Equity,

and Ames Public Library.

March 28, 2021 (online due to COVID-

“Embracing the Fabric Stash and Other Things I’ve Learned While Studying Quilters”

Prairie Piecemakers Quilt Guild 40th Anniversary Celebration,

Fremont, NE, March 28, 2022.

“Presenting the Professional Quilting Self: A Sociological Take on The Business of Quilting”


The Professional Association of Appraisers, Quilted Textiles. (PAAQT)

Paducah, KY,  April 26, 2015. 


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