Nell Izzi




Nell Izzi




Nell Izzi


Clarisse Pitto

Interview Date


Interview sponsor

Nancy Bavor


Medford, Oregon


Christine Ploitkin


Clarisse Pitto (CP): My name is Clarisse Pitto and today's date is November 4th, 2005, at 11:30 a.m. I'm conducting an interview with Nell Izzi in--at our November DAR meeting in Medford, Oregon for the Quilters' [S.O.S.-] Save Our Stories Project. We are doing this through the American Heritage Committee of the Oregon State Society, Daughters of the American Revolution. Nell is a quilter, and a member is a member of the Crater Lake Chapter of NSDAR. Okay, and then these are the questions that they have. All right, this is first section is discussion of the informant's quilt. All right, tell me about the quilt you brought today. Well, there are two quilts. Let's do one at a time. You choose the quilt you want to start with.

Nell Izzi (NI): The red or the pink and green one was made by my grandmother. She finished it in 1937.

CP: And would you describe it?

NI: I don't know the name of the pattern.

CP: Okay we don't know the name of the pattern, but it's a--it is a Depression quilt.

NI: Yes, that's when they made a lot of them.

CP: And you don't know the pattern?

NI: No, I--

CP: What about the material?

NI: Well, it's just cotton material. Grandma usually--now this doesn't have batting in it she would use a sheet blanket and because batting will mat up.

CP: Now please tell me what a sheet blanket is.

NI: Just a blanket. You know thin blanket.

CP: A thin, would it, what, and what would that blanket be made out of?

NI: Mostly it was cotton.

CP: Cotton.

NI: You can feel by feeling it, you can feel that there's not cotton there.

CP: [pause.] So, do you think all the quilts were cotton?

NI: Back in those days that what unless you made a which you call a patchwork quilt and then that would be any materials. Some people made ‘em out of silk and things. Regular quilts were made out of cotton.

CP: What special meaning does this quilt have for you?

NI: Well Grandma said she would give it to me for my graduation out of high school, but it was about three years later than I graduated.

CP: Three years after you graduated?

NI: Graduated in '34, she has the date on it it's '30, 1937.

CP: So, you got it later because it wasn't finished?

NI: Um-hm.

CP: Well, and then the next question is why did you choose this quilt to bring to the interview?

NI: It's the only one I had. [laughs.]

CP: And how do you use this quilt?

NI: Well, when I need extra bedding [laughs.] I use this. I don't have it on my bed now [inaudible]. I used to have quite a bit of company, and I figured everything--bedding.

CP: Okay, and what are your plans for this quilt?

NI: I don't know.

CP: You haven't thought if you're going to pass it on, who gets it?

NI: I guess whoever wants it.

CP: And who do you think that would be?

NI: I don't know for sure. It might be one of my granddaughters might want it. I don't know or my one daughter you know. I'm not going to worry about it.

CP: Oh! Okay. All right. Tell me about your interest in quilting.

NI: I haven't quilted for almost—several--oh over seventy years. I just did it when I was a teenager, and my grandma would have a quilt she'd put in the frame and her friends would come into quilt. And I got so I quilted to, so I got four fingers sore-- then I quit. [background laughter.] I would always stick my fingers. [background noise.]

CP: So, I think you've already answered the next question. That was: What age did you start quilting.

NI: My teen years. I don't know just what year.

CP: And you've answered the following question, was: Who did you learn to quilt from? And that--

NI: My Grandmother.

CP: And how many hours a week did you quilt?

NI: I don't know. She had the quilt set up and people come in helping. I said I'd quilt too ‘cause I wanted to. Except [inaudible.] all my fingers sore, then I quilt. [laughs.]

CP: What is your first quilt memory?

NI: Oh, my word. Well, I guess my grandma making quilts. I guess. And the only thing they could do during the Depression. And my mother also made some quilts. And--

CP: So, you've answered the next question: Are there other quilters among you family or friends?

NI: Not anymore.

CP: But you said you mother did.

NI: She did some, yes, she did some. She sent it away and had it quilted by machine ‘cause she didn't have time to do it. I had another quilt that I made but I can't even find the remnants of it. It's--was in blocks, embroidered and my mother put it together for the baby. But three kids and grandchildren--I don't--I looked the other day and thought maybe I might find it, but I couldn't find it. So maybe it's long gone.

CP: Well perhaps it will turn up. How does quilting impact your family?

NI: Not anymore. Nobody left.

CP: Tell me if you have ever used quilting to get through a difficult time.

NI: No.

CP: What do you find pleasing about quilting?

NI: Looks pretty when it's finished. [laughs.] Now this was quilted in pink thread.

CP: Beautiful. What aspects of quilting do you not enjoy?

NI: Well. [laughs.] sticky fingers.

CP: What do you think makes a great quilt?

NI: Well [pause.] the pattern, it's an awfully pretty pattern. And Grandma, I don't think we ever did any appliqué though. I don't recall doing it.

CP: What makes a quilt artistically powerful?

NI: I guess its looks.

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

NI: Well, I suppose--way they're made and so on and so forth.

CP: What makes a--what makes a great quilter?

NI: [laughs.] Willing to do it.

CP: How do great quilters learn the art of quilting especially how to design a pattern or choose fabrics and colors?

NI: Guess--some patterns were real popular at the time. One was the big star. That's a pretty pattern. But I don't know, I don't know whether Grandma made one or not. She gave some of the quilts away and I really don't remember. I left there when I was twenty-one. Well, I had the other quilt, I had quilted. [pause.] One that was pink.

CP: How do feel about machine quilting versus hand quilting?

NI: Well--it's a lot easier. Also, I think the hand quilting is prettier, it's a lot more work.

CP: And then the next question is: What about long arm quilting? And I don't know what that is.

CP: [speaking to Carolyn Monaco.] Do you know what long arm quilting is?

Carolyn Monaco (CM): No.

CP: Okay. Why is quilting important to your life? [noise in background.]

NI: Just one of those things.

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

NI: Well, I don't think do.

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

NI: Well one time they were a necessity but--nowadays it's just I think for pleasure [noise in background.]

CP: What do you--in what ways do you think quilts have special meaning for women's history in America?

NI: Not quite sure about that. I mean that was a popular thing in the old days was quilting. Nowadays it's some people make ‘em I guess.

CP: How do you think quilts can be used?

NI: For quilts [laughs.] For covering. For warmth and things.

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

NI: Not just too often. This one is, this one isn't in very good shape.

CP: What has happened to the quilts that you have made for those of friends and family?

NI: I didn't make anything [inaudible.] I took up crocheting after that,

CP: After that--let's, bring out the other quilt, and let's have a few questions--let's maybe go through all of them again with the other quilt. Or I'll pick out some. Or would you just like to talk about--why don't you just talk about this one and you making it. And which is the right side of it?

NI: That's the wrong side this is the right side--no I quilt, --it's all one piece of material--no it isn't either--border's sewn on. I quilted all these. I can't remember about the border. It's the same kind of pattern but we I know we put it in the frames and put these in. And I don't remember whether I did the border or whether I put it on, and the ladies helped me quilt it. [pause.] I can't tell--I think somebody else did some of it because it's the stitching--it's not quite the same as mine. I know I remember taking a yardstick and it because it's the stitching--it's not quite the same as mine. I know I remember taking a yardstick and--

CP: Oh and measuring.

NI: No, marking it.

CP: Marking oh marking it. Mark it in pencil you think? Or a special marker?

NI: Pencil. And I remember laying a [pause.] yardstick down and drawing all these lines. ‘Cause that's the way I wanted it. [inaudible.]

CP: Now then what did--did you use than a pattern for--

NI: Yes, I had a pattern and I you traced--

CP: Traced.

NI: And then when the quilting, the quilt was done, then I did the center. So, it would stay down.
[CP hums agreement.] I put a center in it.

CP: I see okay.

NI: This was pale blue, and this was pale pink.

CP: Oh.

NI: It was awfully pretty when it was new.

CP: And then did someone do the binding on the edges or do you think you did that as well?

NI: Oh, I think Grandma did it probably.

CP: So.

NI: I don't know I don't remember that far back.

CP: And I'm thinking too, during the Depression that co--there were certain colors and maybe they were colors that faded more.

NI: Well, I don't know about the pink.

CP: It faded so.

NI: I don't remember whether she had both colors and what, but I remember she gave me the blue. [CP hums agreement.] Well can't remember everything 75 years ago.

CP: You're doing very well.

NI: This, this one's wearing out.

CP: Well, did you use it on your bed then? After you made it.

NI: I have at times, I guess. But it's not--it has a blanket in it. It doesn't have--I'm pretty sure it has [pause.] I don't know.

CP: Looks like you've used the batting maybe in yours. What do you think?

NI: Oh. Nope. Nope.

CP: Well, it's beautiful. Well thank you for sharing and thanks for all of this. This is special and it's a beautiful quilt.

NI: It was a beautiful thing when it was new.

CP: Well to be this worn I think you must've used a little bit. [laughs.]

NI: Yes, I think so [laughs.] over the years.

Unidentified Person (UP): The cotton is very fine cotton.

CP: Yes, it is.

NI: Well, they had the cotton wasn't bad in those days so--

CP: There is a different texture. You said this was from out of the country. There is a different texture--

NI: This was from Cuba.

CP: To that fabric from Cuba than there is for the pink on the top. It's softer finer a weave.

NI: And you see I had to--see it's sewn.

CP: Pieced.

NI: Together right here. [pause 10 seconds.]

CP: Well, thank you so much for sharing all of this and I'm going to punch stop.

[interview ends.]


“Nell Izzi,” Quilters' S.O.S. -- Save Our Stories, accessed July 16, 2024,