Thursday, June 21, 2012

...just wait 'til you see the front!

Detail of back fabric, Quilt #2 from Texas, c. 1970
The back fabric of Quilt #2 from Deborah Ursell of San Antonio, Texas, is an absolute riot! When I saw it, I immediately thought of my friend Nyima Lhamo, aka Andrea Balosky, and her friends, the Pine Needlers of Camp Sherman, Oregon. When Andrea was doing her Small Wonders quilts, she would bring the latest ones to the meetings, and they would all look at the backs and howl with laughter. Andrea often used these crazy fabrics on the backs of her quilts. One of them even has glow-in-the-dark banana fabric!

This fabric is what I would call "70s kissing cousin goldfish" and it would be difficult not to smile when looking at it. The yellow fish are smiling, nose to nose, and they include a row of dots surrounded by harlequin-esque geometric points in red and white, and green and white. Three little bubbles rise from each pair of fish. It would be difficult to top that, but just wait 'til you see the front!

Irregular Nine-Patch On Point, c. 1970, Texas
...sha-ZAM! The front is even more eye-popping than the back, and as a special treat, that wild back fabric is brought to the front in a fat binding that varies from about an inch to several inches wide. The pieced pattern is an irregular Nine-Patch, set on point. It probably has other names, too. The top is pieced with all double-knit polyester. It's stretchy, and that gives it a decidedly warped, wonky look.

As with many of the quilts of this period, this one knocks you over with color. A fearless use of color seems indigenous to the double-knit polyester quilts I've found, and many of those quilts combine prints, solids and textures as this one does. If you enlarge the detail shots, you'll see it was quilted by hand and it is rather crudely done. Lots of "toe-grabbers" and exposed knots. I just love that. It's very human.

So, that's quilt #2 from Deborah Ursell in San Antonio, Texas. She says she has an inventory of 1500 quilts! The three I've bought (so far) are just killer. What a great eye Deborah has!


  1. It's close to impossible to handquilt small stitches in double knit.

  2. Your double knit quilts bring me back to the early 70s when I was shopping and sewing for and infant/toddler, myself and my husband. The local department store carried row after row of brightly colored double knits of varied textures - rainbows! It is no wonder the quilts made are so bright. And at $2 and $3 a yard for 60" wide fabric it was a fabric hoarders heaven. You should see amount I sorted through after my mother and mother-in-law passed away! Someday I will have to share the Gees Bend type quilts my husband's grandmother put together. It may be a southern thing because she came to Iowa from Tennessee with her family.