Saturday, June 9, 2018

Why Bicentennial Quilts Matter

Bicentennial quilt, 1976 by Barbara McKie
Whenever I say, "the Sestercentennial is coming," people look at me like I have 15 heads. Most of them never heard the word "sestercentennial" before, but soon enough everyone will know it.

1970s pieced star quilt in red, white and blue
The 250th anniversary of the American Revolutionary War will take place in 2026. It may seem like a long way off, but it's really just around the corner. I will be ready.

 1976 Lakota Sioux pieced and appliqued Star quilt

Those of us who have reached a certain age would remember the 1976 American Bicentennial. It was a big deal. The spirit of patriotism was at a high point, and millions of Americans were learning to quilt for the first time.

hand painted Bicentennial quilt, Rebecca Thompson, Boaz, Kentucky

We are in a different place today. During the last two years, a lot of great patriotic objects hit the market for the first time, and it's been a buyer's market. Barely-vintage quilts from the 1970s started to turn up, and some of the most memorable examples were patriotic.

13-star American flag quilt from Florida

The Sestercentennial is eight years away, and I am anticipating the question, "Where are the great Bicentennial quilts?"

1970s patriotic polyester star quilt
Here they are, in my collection. I feel they are important, not just because I grew up in the 1970s and was 10 years old the year of the Bicentennial. They represent a milestone in American history and a turning point for quiltmaking in America. 


  1. Thanks for sharing. I look forward to a curated exhibit.

  2. Yes I agree with you that those quilts are important. I was a very young working Mother during the 70's and I learned so many things during that time. Spinning Weaving Clothing making and quilt making. Still making things and love being retired with great grand children.

  3. Bicentennial needle work matters because that is the year my first child was born and her grandmother hooked a Bicentennial rug for her!!!