Friday, April 28, 2017

from bargain bin to museum walls

1970s polyeter quilt from Georgia
Today, polyester quilts from the 1970s are generally accepted as part of quilt history. They represent a period worthy of serious academic study, but only a few years ago people were not as open to that idea.
1860s pieced quilt from Kentucky
When I first started getting excited about polyester quilts, some folks gave me a really hard time. I was mostly known as the collector with all the New York Beauties-- high-end antique quilts. Polyester quilts were "less than", and I must have completely lost my mind to be interested in them.

2015 exhibition at Benton County Museum, Oregon
Polyester quilts were unworthy and unwanted, but it paid off to collect them and explore the period. Today, all roads lead back to the 1970s, the most relevant period of 20th century American quiltmaking, and the decade that led the quilt industry to where it is today.

International Quilt Study Center & Museum
Some people still make the dookie face and joke around when I start talking about quilts made of polyester double knit material. Silencing them with the news of my upcoming exhibition of polyester quilts at the International Quilt Study Center & Museum never gets old. The exhibition opens in less than a month. For more information, click here.


  1. I got very interested in quilting in the 70's. I was in high school during the bicentennial. My mom's magazines started having articles about quilts and I fell in love. I didn't even realize my aunt and grandma made quilts until many years later. My four sisters and I cut squares of double knit scraps that my mom had from making dresses for us. We made twin bed covers for our beds. None of the tops were sandwiched or finished. The edges weren't finished off but didn't need to be. Four of us still have our bed covers. They wear like iron. Dogs, picnics, kids, etc don't seem to phase them. I've been told to not keep it in my car and to save it but I think using it is better than hiding it in the closet. I enjoy your finds and they are treasures!

  2. Back in the late 80's/early 90's I lived in Texas. While driving through the hill country one spring I chanced upon a local quilt show in what had once been a grocery store. It was a fairly large building, about the size of grocery chain stores in the 60's. I'd estimate that there were 100 quilts or so there, and at least 75 of them were completely polyester and made by the same lady. I wish you could have seen it, I think you would have been in heaven.

  3. Congratulations! I'm sure it'll be a colorful and talked about exhibit.