Thursday, June 21, 2012

United States of America Quilt

U.S.A. Map Quilt, c. 1975, by Faith Thomas, Texas
OK, so I promised to share some pictures of the three quilts from Texas that arrived less than two hours before Tuesday's lecture. I'm still fiddling around with the pictures, and these aren't perfect, but I'm going to share one quilt at a time starting with this one. It's a map of the United States of America, and it came from Deborah Ursell in San Antonio, Texas.

Party in North Carolina?
This quilt is 100% double-knit polyester, and it's a tremendous example of the quilts of the era. I've been collecting these quilts made during the time when I was growing up, which really centers around the 1970s, and I call them "generation X quilts" because each one was born and raised during the same generation as I was. Make no mistake, though, the mothers (and fathers) were mostly Baby Boomers.

Party in Washington? And Oregon should really be green!
The use of double-knit polyester during the 60s and 70s was essentially a return to the roots of American scrap quiltmaking, although with modern materials. Many of the quilts show very basic, sometimes rudimentary technique. This one is tied, and the ties are mapped out in a grid, creating the appearance of a pegboard or graph. It reminds me of the game Battleship. All of the states are raw-edge appliqued on to the background using a machine zig-zag stitch, and considering the stretchy materials, the shapes are surprisingly precise. The knife-edge is also finished with the zig-zag stitch.

Bonus: a name label!
Upon thorough inspection, I discovered the real bonus: a name label! It is one of the woven, satin ribbon labels we sometimes see on handmade textile objects from the period. It says, "Made With Tender Loving Care by Faith Thomas" - and the label is right on the front, for all to see. The quilt came from Texas, and it will be interesting to see if that's where Faith Thomas was from...if I can find her. I need to re-up my subscription!

So, this quilt is the one that almost made me late to my own lecture, but it was worth it. Even though I'd given a few people a quick preview outside the meeting place before the lecture, they all oooh'd and ahhhh'd when I pulled out this quilt during the lecture. I don't blame them. When I first pulled it out of the box, I was doing the same thing. Stay tuned for quilt #2 & #3...maybe tomorrow or this weekend...


  1. A real treasure! I'm so glad you're rescuing these quilts.

    1. A no-brainer as far as I'm concerned. There's a good supply of double-knit polyester out there, but a U.S.A. map quilt doesn't come along every day.

  2. One of the reasons double knit appealed to sewers is that the edges/seams did not have to be finished. It's a perfect fabric for applique where you want a nice crisp edge that will never fray.

  3. I love that it has the name label on it. On the front no less! Woo-Hoo!