Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Patriotic Polyester Patchwork

Most sane people don't really appreciate polyester, especially in quilts. The synthetic fabric seems like a better choice for swimwear than quilting. We remember it from leisure suits and bad prom tuxedos, and the sight of vintage photos with people wearing polyester is always good for a chuckle. 

It's the strangest thing, but lately, some of the 1970's polyester quilts and tops have begun to catch my eye. This humungous quilt top from a rural Missouri estate sale, courtesy of eBay, is one of these examples. Just arrived yesterday, so I thought I'd share a few pictures of it.

I'm not sure why, but I really love this patriotic polyester patchwork top. It's bold, vibrant, and has an interesting take on the traditional Nine-Patch block. In absolutely perfect condition, I'm sure it will live longer than any of our great great grandchildren - as long as we keep it away from open flames.

It must be difficult to work with polyester when piecing a quilt top. The material is very stretchy. But the maker of this top did a nice job, with uniform, 1/4" seam allowances throughout, and fairly straight lines. 

Maybe it's the bargain hunter in me that likes this piece. It was just $9.99 - and it covers the largest wall space in my home. It is 105" x 110" - as big as some of the very old quilts from the early to mid 1800s. 

Right now it's up on a quilt stand, but if I can think of a reasonable way to display it, I'll probably hang it in my loft. I don't usually hang quilts in that spot because it gets a lot of overhead daylight from a ceiling skylight...but if polyester swimwear won't fade from chlorinated water, this top probably won't fade in the sun. So, there's something to be said about the durability of polyester. We may not enjoy wearing it, but I have a feeling the polyester quilts and tops will somehow endure. 


  1. I'm amazed at how well polyester quilts hold up! I was at an estate sale and there was a box of quilts - both cotton and poly. My friend bought the box but when we pulled them all out there was a lot of mold and bug damage to the cottons...but one turn in the washing machine and all the polyester came out like it was just milled yesterday!

    My worst polyester memory - a mint lime US Army woman's "summer" uniform that was at least 1/4 inch thick polyester. It felt like it was melting into your skin in the summer sun...fortunately the uniform was only in use for 1 year....

  2. I was always more of a denim jeans and cotton t-shirt kinda guy. At one point, there was a little rayon and velour in the mix, but only until 1974.

    It is remarkable how the poly quilts seem to hold up. There is no fading, staining, deterioration, moth damage, or popping of the seams. Except for the dated - dare I say "vintage" - style, it looks like it could've been made yesterday.

  3. You can hang a poly quilt outdoors forever, and not get any fading. I have a friend who is working on a research project with poly.

  4. Part of the thrill of collecting anything is rarity. In addition to there being fewer of them in the future because of their ick-factor, in ten years these items will assume bona fide vintage status. Quite possibly you may have the distinct pleasure of cornering the market on poly quilts.

    Have at it, Bill!

  5. That's the plan, Nyima. It's getting harder and harder to collect New York Beauties because, as I said on stage in Sisters, "I bought 'em all." :)

  6. Only $9.99 and you'll have it forever! I've enjoyed your blog very much.

  7. I've actually fallen for poly quilts too. you can actually use them to decorate without worrying about them. this is wonderfully graphic. marvelous buy!

  8. Hi there
    I know you collect New York beauties. I just stumbled across this New York beauty-like quilt called a Whig's Defeat. It is gorgeous. I have no affiliation these people but I just saw this quilt and thought of you.
    I hope enjoy looking at it.