Inez Crystle



Inez Crystle




Inez Crystle


Elaine Ventre

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Nancy O'Bryant Puentes


Stanton, Delaware


Lori Miller


[beginning of interview did not record.]

Elaine Ventre (EV): ...Save Our Stories project, and we're in Stanton, Delaware. Inez, can you tell me where you're from?

Inez Crystle (IC): Chester, Pennsylvania, originally.

EV: Can you tell me about the quilt that we have in front of us today? Explain it and describe it for people, and [inaudible.].

IC: [inaudible.] 1945, graduated from high school [inaudible.].

EV: How long did it take you to do?

IC: I guess it was close to five years before it was really finished. [inaudible.] quilting frame down in our basement [inaudible.].

EV: [inaudible.].

IC: I just made it [inaudible.].

EV: Can you tell me about your interest in quilting?

IC: My grandmother was a quilter. I can remember seeing her [inaudible.] putting the little pieces together. [inaudible.] I know that [inaudible.]. My mother did not do that. [inaudible.] I always liked [inaudible.].

EV: [inaudible.]

IC: I don't really remember. I think it was [inaudible.]. It was not a true quilt frame. I have a real one now, in the attic.

EV: Did your grandmother teach you to piece?

IC: No. She died when I was quite young. I just remember [inaudible.].

EV: What is your first quilt memory?

IC: [inaudible.]

EV: What lead you to quilting [inaudible.]?

IC: No.

EV: [inaudible.]

IC: In the beginning, I just did it to have something to do all those hours when I was home. [inaudible.]

EV: Does quilting impact your family?

IC: [inaudible.] In fact just the other day, my granddaughter [inaudible.]. She would like to learn to quilt too.

EV: Have you ever used quilting to get through a difficult time?

IC: [inaudible.]

EV: [inaudible.]

IC: [inaudible.]

EV: What do you find pleasing about quilting?

IC: It's always nice to finish one. But that doesn't happen as often as [inaudible.]. I like [inaudible.] put them all together and then you have something really pretty. [inaudible.] doesn't matter as long as [inaudible.].

EV: What aspects of quilting do you not enjoy?

IC: [inaudible.] It takes a long time to hand quilt quilts. And I'm always ready to move on to the next one before I get that one finished.

EV: [inaudible.]

IC: That really varies. [inaudible.] I don't quilt at all. Some weeks, I'm really anxious to do something, I quilt maybe 40 hours [inaudible]. But it's not a [inaudible.] thing that's steady [inaudible.].

EV: [inaudible.]

IC: [inaudible.] a lot of memories in it.

EV: What do you think makes a great quilt?

IC: Eye of the beholder, I think. [inaudible.] if someone thinks it's great, it's great. [inaudible.] if not all the stitches are in [inaudible.] your own self that you put into it [inaudible.].

EV: What makes a quilt artistically powerful?

IC: [inaudible.] very, very pretty. [inaudible.] colors and patterns.

EV: In your opinion, what makes a quilt appropriate for a museum or a special collection?

IC: [inaudible.] meaning behind it. The old ones, like everything old, they're collectible.

EV: [inaudible.]

IC: [inaudible.]

EV: [inaudible.] wearable art? What kind of wearable art did you make?

IC: I used to make a lot of [inaudible] sweatshirts, and t-shirts. [inaudible.]

EV: [inaudible.] jacket or vest?

IC: Yes, I've made several vests. [inaudible.] jacket without a pattern and it was a disaster. I never did another one.

EV: I see that you belong to a guild, and you belong to a sewing bee, or group. Can you tell me a little bit about them?

IC: The guild is the Lady Bugs. When I lived in Pennsylvania, I belong to Under Cover Quilters, and that's the [inaudible.]. [inaudible.] guild meetings and enjoyed them, and when I came to Delaware I joined the Lady Bugs. [inaudible.] big groups, I really enjoy all the speakers [inaudible.]. And the bee has been really, really nice, everyone who [inaudible.] called the "Bee Buddies." We keep making many little quilts, quilts for kids [inaudible.]. We've all been very active doing that. And then, [inaudible.] projects for ourselves [inaudible.] and we go on little trips. It's a really nice group, we enjoy being together.

EV: [inaudible.]

IC: Lancaster, a couple weeks ago.

EV: The Lancaster quilt show?

IC: No. [inaudible.]

EV: How many are in the bee?

IC: We're down to eight of us now. It has been up to twelve. We'll have to get more members. We really need a few more to keep the projects moving along.

EV: When you said you make quilts for kids [inaudible.] for children in need?

IC: Yes, they're not all baby quilts. Some of them are baby quilts, and some of them are children's quilts, which we make larger than the baby quilts. For children who [inaudible.] I've never been to [inaudible.] myself, but other members [inaudible.] when people come in with children they're given a quilt and it's their own quilt to keep. [inaudible.] we keep making them.

EV: Now are these children who are in troubled families?

IC: I think they are, yes.

EV: I see that you have won an award. Can you tell me about that?

IC: A medal.

EV: Which you are wearing around your neck.. How lovely. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

IC: I'm very, very proud of that. I made a quilt for my grandson when he was a couple years old, old enough that he knew the things around him. And I made a quilt that pictured all those things. My daughter put in a contest that Good Housekeeping had, and it came out to be one of the ten finalists. I don't have the quilt but it was one of my favorite ones to make. Then I also made my granddaughter one, but it was never entered in a contest.

EV: Can you describe the medal please?

IC: It's just a round, [inaudible.] sized piece with eagles on it. On the back it says something about great quilters of America. It was from 1978, and came on a ribbon but I took it to the jewelry shop and had it encircled and put on a chain so that I could wear it.

EV: How many quilts do you think you've made?

IC: I was afraid you might ask that. Maybe fifty, or more. I've made many, many baby quilts and given them away. And my granddaughter in California, every time she visits she takes home a couple more quilts [inaudible.]. I don't have too many of them at home here, maybe fifteen. But I know I've made lots and lots.

EV: So you give your quilts away?

IC: Yes.

EV: Are they meant to hang?

IC: No, used. A quilt is to cover you up and stay snuggly warm.

EV: But I see that you don't sleep under a quilt.

IC: [laughs.] I tried that and they're just too hot for me. I sometimes rest under a small one but I don't have one on the bed.

EV: What do you think makes a great quilter?

IC: You have to have a lot of patience and I guess a little bit of talent. Not a whole lot, because it doesn't matter how a quilt turns out since it's your quilt and you like it and it's just a beautiful quilt. You just have to have the fire to work on it, because they are a lot of work.

EV: How do you feel about machine quilting versus hand quilting?

IC: [inaudible.] although, last year I had one machine quilted and it's very, very pretty. I really like it. So I guess I'm swinging your direction, but I don't think I'll ever get all the way through [inaudible.] and old kind of quilt [inaudible.].

EV: Why is quilting important to your life?

IC: Since I moved to Delaware, I certainly gave me a chance to meet a lot of people, that I otherwise wouldn't have known [inaudible.]. It gives you something to do on cold winter nights even if you don't sleep under one, you can work under one. [laughs.] It's just a nice calming thing for me to do.

EV: In what ways do your quilts reflect your community or region?

IC: [inaudible.]

EV: They're more a reflection of you?

IC: Right. Community quilt [inaudible.] community or region.

EV: What do you think about the importance of quilts in American life?

IC: Quilts used to be a whole lot more important as something we needed to use. Now there are so many other [inaudible.] to be hung, to be pretty, and not useful. [inaudible.] years ago, very, very useful. [inaudible.]

EV: Do you think they have a special meaning for women's history and experience?

IC: Sure, [inaudible.] a woman could take little bits of nothing and make something beautiful. It showed [inaudible.].

EV: How do you think quilts can be preserved for the future?

IC: Do you mean preserved? How should you--should treat them so they last? Maybe if you can pass a love a quilting on down through your family then that preserves the making of quilts. As far as keeping the ones that you have, I don't know how to preserve them.

EV: So you think that the art of quilting should be preserved through the family?

IC: Yes Through friends, or anybody else you can convince to quilt.

EV: You mentioned that you have given away the majority of your quilts. Do you know what has happened to those you've made, and given to your friends and family?

IC: No, not all of them. I was very surprised. I had given one to a neighbor when she had a child and a few years after that she had another child, so I made another quilt. And she thanked me so much, and she said that the original one had been hanging on the wall ever since I gave it to her, and that was very nice. The last quilt that I knew what happened to it, I made a quilt for a friend who was sick in the nursing home. I gave it to her as a lap quilt and she died a few months later. When we went to the viewing a few months later, they had the quilt in the casket with her. That was very meaningful, and I know what happened to that one. I enjoy working on them and giving them away. I wish I had all my quilts finished, and maybe someday I will. But I wouldn't count on that one. But now my daughter will take over and she'll continue on with my quilts, maybe even continue one with the quilts I don't get finished. That would be nice.

EV: I'd like to thank Inez Crystle for allowing me to interview her today as part of the Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories project. Our interview concluded at quarter to eleven, on April 8, 2003.



“Inez Crystle,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed May 27, 2024,