|1970s polyester Double Wedding Ring, Altadena, California|
one of the first polyester quilts I have had restored
Earlier this year I published my first research article for Blanket Statements, the quarterly newsletter of the American Quilt Study Group (AQSG). It is an academic newsletter, and the article was focused on polyester quilts, the process of collecting, researching, and in some cases restoring them. I was happy when it was featured on the front page as the lead research article for the issue.
It was new territory. When I searched the AQSG Blanket Statements database, there were more than 600 articles, but mine was the only one that came up with a keyword search for polyester. When I searched for polyester in the database of the annual AQSG research journal, Uncoverings, I had to laugh when I saw the search result.
|yes, that's right - no hits on "polyester" in the Uncoverings database|
|the vibrant colors got my attention from the beginning|
|100% polyester double knit|
At the same time, I realized the polyester double knit fabrics were off-putting to people who wore garments made of these fabrics. When I first started collecting 1970s quilts, people thought I was nuts. Up to that point, I would barely look at anything less than 100 years old, and I was the guy with all the great, old "New York Beauty" quilts.
|pieced quilt, c. 1870, Virginia - the type of quilt I collected|
before discovering the quilts of the 1970s
|1970s Pennsylvania polyester Pinwheel quilt, 85" x 106"|
|1970s polyester quilt top, Missouri, 105" x 110"|
|1970s polyester crib quilt, backed with flannel and tied|
Today, I enjoy getting people to look at the quilts of the 1970s. They are happy, optimistic quilts, sometimes a little crazy, free-spirited, and they capture the essence of what we remember loving in the 1970s. These quilts are what happened in the 1970s, for us; and they are here now, revealing the roots of what quiltmakers have discovered since then. Almost half a century later, it is time to consider the quilts of the revival.
An eye-opening group of barely-vintage quilts is currently on display in "Modern Materials, Quilts of the 1970s" at the Benton County Museum in Philomath, Oregon. For more information about the exhibition, location, hours, and other venues showing quilts during Quilt County 2015, click here.