Betty Eyman




Betty Eyman




Betty Eyman


Norma Belt

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Cherrywood Fabrics (Karla Overland)


Greenville, Illinois


Norma Belt


Note: Betty Eyman is not a member of the DAR. And while this is a DAR quilt documentation project, membership within the DAR is not required for participation.

Norma Belt (NB): Today's date is March 14, 2007 and I am doing an interview for Quilts Save Our Stories [Quilters' S.O.S. - Save Our Stories.] with Betty Eyman E-Y-M-A-N. And the time is 10:10 a.m. Betty, good to have you here today. Would you please me a little bit about yourself?

Betty Eyman (BE): I am 74 years old. I've have lived on a farm all my life. I retired when my husband did and I've done a lot of quilting since I've been retired. I like working outside. I enjoy my grandchildren. I like to play cards. I go regularly to church. I enjoy a good movie.

NB: Tell me about the quilt that you brought in today.

BE: The quilt I brought in today I did not piece, my grandmother did. I would say it's in the 40's when she quilted it. Her daughter had it which is my aunt and she said that there is no way that she would ever quilt it. That if I would quilt it, I could have it so it's very special to me.

NB: What was your grandmother's name?

BE: Flora Greimann. [NB asks her to spell it which she does.]

NB: What kind of pattern is the quilt?

BE: A nine patch [pause.] a variation of a 9 patch.

NB: Is it all cotton fabric?

BE: What she pieced is all cotton; the back that I put was a sheet and the trim is not all cotton. [Added: It has a prairie point edging and I put those on all my quilts, but not on the top edge.]

NB: I take it that this quilt is real important to you because it was your grandmother's?

BE: It has a special meaning because I was the first grandchild. She was special to me and I was special to her.

NB: I suppose that is why you brought this quilt today.

BE: That's the reason I chose this one.

NB: Thank you. Do you use this quilt at home?

BE: I just took it off my bed.

NB: So it's on your bed all the time?

BE: I do switch around. I keep it on more in the winter time. I have a lighter one I use in the summer.

NB: What will happen to this quilt when you're no longer here?

BE: I'm assuming it will go to one of my daughters.

NB: How many daughters do you have?

BE: Four.

NB: [laughs.] That might be a problem. [BE laughs.] Tell me about your interest in quiltmaking.

BE: I didn't quilt. My grandmother had always quilted and I knew basically how she did it. I had never quilted until my husband retired. My daughter loaned me a quilt book that she had. I started picking it up since then I read and went to quilt shows. I belong to Creative Stitchers [in Greenville.] and I found out the old ways to make quilts have gone and there are a lot of new ideas. I am not sure I will follow all the new ones.

NB: A lot of the tools that they have now days for quilting sure makes it easier to do.

BE: I still like the hand quilted quilt. That's my favorite way to see them.

NB: Do you cut the pieces with scissors or do you use a rotary cutter?

BE: I use both.

NB: About how old were you when you started making quilts?

BE: I was probably about 58.

NB: How many hours a week do you do quilting?

BE: That varies. In the winter time I do more. In the last month, I have probably quilted as much as 60 hours, but when summer comes I won't quilt that much.

NB: What is the first memory you have of quilts?

BE: I remember my mother--of course back then when mom got married the women would always have quilts. She had two that I can remember. One was an embroidered one that she had done and the other was the wedding circle.

NB: Are there other quiltmakers in your family?

BE: My oldest daughter has quilted. She doesn't have a lot of time because she's a mother. But I have a daughter-in-law who wants to learn.

NB: Great so it sounds like you're passing the talent on to some other people.

BE: Another daughter mentioned this is something that she would want to do so I thought well--

NB: I'm going to turn this off for a second. [tape is turned off then turned back on.] Have you ever used quilts to get through a difficult time?

BE: I can remember that my grandmother gave me a quilt when I had been married about 5 or 6 years. I didn't save that quilt but I used that quilt because I needed to because the kids were little and I used it. I absolutely wore it out. I think the less you wash a quilt the better, the longer its life is.

NB: So true. What do you find pleasing about quilting?

BE: Very relaxing and its sense of reward. There's no end to what you can create with blocks.

NB: What aspect of quiltmaking do you not enjoy?

BE: I think that enjoy most all of them.

NB: Do you?

BE: Maybe laying it out when you put the back, batting and top together might be the hardest to get that right.

NB: [laughs.] Why is quiltmaking important to your life?

BE: The first quilts I made I used scraps of things that I had. I had so many pieces from the girls when they were little and some from the grandchildren and that made for a very special quilt. My very first quilt I made after my husband retired, I hand pieced the blocks and hand quilted the quilt and at time I never thought about giving it away. Then my son and daughter-in-law had been married 25 years and I thought 'What am I going to give them?' I ended up giving them the first quilt I ever made.

NB: That was nice. What do you think makes a great quilt?

BE: The time you put in it has to mean something. Something that you spend a lot of time on has value.

NB: What makes a quilt artistically powerful?

BE: I think color probably stands out as one of the most and some of the hand quilting is very unique.

NB: What makes a quilt appropriate for a museum or special collection?

BE: I think most all of them if they are done nicely.

NB: What makes a great quilter?

BE: Patience. Being precise particularly.

NB: How do great quiltmakers learn the art of quilting, especially how to design a pattern and choose fabrics and colors?

BE: The books are out there to read. It helps to see what other people have done. But that doesn't mean that's the way you have to do the quilt. The quilt can be you.

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

BE: I prefer the hand quilted.

NB: That does take longer though.

BE: I think you have a more special product when you're finished.

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

BE: Mine are countrified and that's where I'm from country.

NB: Do you have embroidered quilts?

BE: I have a couple. I have one that my daughter embroidered for my mother so when mom passed away they came to me. I have a couple others that have embroidery.

NB: What do you think about the importance of quilts in American lives?

BE: I think they go way back. When they first started, quilts were a necessity. People quilted do have covers to be warm. Now quilts have become more of a fancy art maybe.

NB: Do you think quilts have special meaning for women's history in America?

BE: Yes I do. I think they have special meaning to every family that has quilts.

NB: How can quilts be used?

BE: Some display them. I know one woman that has several really displayed well in her home. First of all they can be used as a cover on a bed.

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

BE: I do know that quilts are better off to be no put in plastic. They are better off hung on a quilt rack or on a bed then stored away in the closet or a tight place. They need air and they need to be refolded occasionally and the light kept from them.

NB: What has happened to the quilts you have made for your family and friends?

BE: So far I've given five away and I have four more to do to give away. Most of them I still have.

NB: Do you have anything to add to this, Betty?

BE: I think I've said enough.

NB: Thank you.


“Betty Eyman,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed July 18, 2024,