Sunday, October 4, 2015

First Place Winner

Ribbon Still Attached
One of the quilts I purchased in my travels is a first place winner.

A First Place County Fair Winner!
Macoupin County Illinois 2002

Beautiful isn't it?

Hand pieced and hand quilted - the maker had a gift for color and placement.

Another special feature - it is 100% Polyester.

That's right, double knit top and backing and filled with polyester batting.  I had so many questions I started researching as soon as I got back in the car.

Illinois Map - Macoupin in Red

Macoupin County is in Illinois.  The county seat is in Carlinville, Illinois.
The fair has a Facebook site and they responded to my inquiry within an hour.  Would I be able to access fair records from 2002?   Maybe.
The responder gave me a name and phone number for the Fair Board where I left a voicemail.
I did a little research on the fair.
The county fair has a rich history - 163 years making it the oldest county fair in Illinois history.

The polyester of my youth was never a quilt.
It wasn't a jumpsuit either - let alone backless.

No, it was pull over shirts with stretchy ribbed necklines, mini skirts and stretch pants.

There were colors and textures, polyester could do so much!
I don't think I ever saw a polyester quilt.

The quilt my grandmother made for my wedding in the 1980's had poly blend fabrics and poly batting.  She never would have hand pieced and hand quilted polyester double knit.

The maker of my new found treasure made a work of art out of her polyester double knit - and all by hand.

In subsequent phone conversations the fair board representative was able to confirm it is highly likely the ribbon belongs to the quilt.  It was entered in the 'Hand Quilted - Small' category and the measurement fit the entry description based on her 2002 Fair Book.
The writing on the back of the ribbon provided the numeric code representing the entrants name.  Unfortunately the fair is only able to keep their records for 10 years - they are not digitized and stored.  She also mentioned once an entrant gets a number representing their name, they keep it for life.  The number on my quilt has been retired, meaning the maker is deceased.
The maker remains a mystery.  I've tried the newspapers and found livestock and 4H ribbon winners.  I am holding out hope someone might recognize the quilt. With this skill - this wasn't a first project.

She may have entered her project more than once.

Was the quilt made decades ago when double knits were so popular?
Did she buy yardage or cut up clothing?
What other quilts did she make?

This is another example - why all quilts need labels!

The backing is green, and was folded to the front to create the binding.

I will link this post on the Fair Facebook page hoping maybe, just maybe, someone knows more about this quilt.  My goal is to identify the maker and preserve her name with this beautiful quilt.  Her work in polyester double knit just might last forever and it deserves to carry her name.

Have you made a polyester double knit quilt?
Own one?
Want to collect them?
I'd love to her your polyester story.

Read more about polyester HERE.
Polyester in Fashion HERE.
Wonkyworld Polyester Quilts HERE.


  1. Nicest polyester quilt I have ever seen!
    I grew up about a city block away from a clothing manufacturing plant and my neighbor worked there (my sister did, briefly, too). My neighbor was employed there for decades, and she would sometimes bring home huge bags of fabric cuttings leftover from cutting out the clothing. It was all polyester back then. There were a few quilts produced among the women in my neighborhood with the fabric she was eager to share. They were usually just one-patch, tied quilts. I still have one that was a crib quilt in pastel colors--don't think it will ever wear out!! I never saw one intricately pieced, or hand quilted.

    1. Ha! Janet -just what I was thinking when I read Dawn's query - then yours was the first comment saying just what i was thinking. They got scraps from the mills for those early quilts out east
      - why not again? That's certainly possible but so many people were sewing with PDK's at the time she may have had a full wardrobe , too!

  2. In 1971 they were closing the Jr. High I was teaching in. I decided I would collect a rectangle from each 8th graders project, bonded acrylic, and make a quilt. I still have it. It is tied with yarn. I did have jumpsuits and everything you could make from polyester. It was a sewing teachers dream unless someone put a hot iron on it.

    1. Hi Susan, You are a no comment Blogger so I hope you see this. Thank you for leaving your polyester story here. I forgot about the bonded acrylic! I had a hoodie made of it. I recall the neck ribbing, divided in four equally pinning (hopefully) around the neck opening...In home ec we not allows to use poly.

  3. I used to know a lady who purchased a double knit polyester fish quilt. It was not very good looking. So now people are collecting double knit quilts?

    1. Yes! One of my friends has about 7 of them. All nicely pieced and hand quilted. I will ask her if I can do a blog post about hers.

  4. What a fascinating and wonderful quilt!
    This is the first one of it's kind I've ever seen.
    Amazing what information you are able to research on it - fabulous.

  5. What a great story - sure hope you can find out a few more details. It is, by far, the best polyester quilt I have ever seen! We have one that my husband's great aunt made - just squares and it is tied.

  6. What a treasure! My thought is she may have made this from scraps for dresses, etc. that she made. My mother made one for each of my brothers in the early 1970's from scraps leftover from making all their jerseys. It wasn't pretty, but certainly warm. When I started quilting in the late 1960's it was hard to find cotton batting so all of my early quilts had polyester battings. I hope your research leads to more info on this maker. Thanks for saving it!

  7. Nice jumpsuit! I love the quilt!

  8. I made two polyester quilts out of scraps from sewing most of the clothes for my three little girls and myself as well as pants and a couple of sport coats for my husband. My polyester quilts were just squares sewed together, with polyester batting, polyester yardage for backing and and then tied. They were made for the trundle beds for two of the daughters. They were very warm and wore like iron. One is still here but the second one must have gone off to college and apparently never returned.
    (Dallas, Oregon)

  9. This was just fascinating ! I hope that down the line you'll find the name of the maker.

  10. What a treasure!!! I've seen polyester quilts and they are fabulous - never made one as my grandmother was the only one who wore polyester suits. When she passed, my aunts gave them all away! Wouldn't it have been fun to make a quilt from her clothes!! But at the time I wasn't a quilter and none in my family were either. Oh well!!

    I've seen some beautiful hand braided rugs from polyester clothing - they are fabulous!

    Hope all is well in Colorful Colorado. Not sure when we'll make the trip - sometimes life just gets in the way!!

    Blessings and hugs!

  11. What a great quilt and a great post! I hope you find out more. I had polyester pantsuits in the 70's I was a child so mine all had backs on them too :0) When I was 8 my mom made me a navy polyester pantsuit with red print pockets ad collar. She made me a pincushion out of some of the leftover pocket fabric. The pantsuit is long gone but I use that pincushion nearly everyday! I also have a small log cabin doll quilt that my grandmother made for me with polyester double knits in it. She quilted a lot but didn't usually use double knits in her large quilts. I bet that's a heavy quilt! I can't even begin to imagine handquilting such a project - wow! A real treasure :0)

  12. Well this is all new to me - polyester double knit quilt! and yet it looks so gorgeous and expertly constructed! Must have been tricky piecing that stretch fabric - I can see diamonds turning into squares haha! - but the needle might have glided through quite nicely. I'm guessing it is heavy too...

  13. Your poly quilt is really one of the prettiest I've seen. The maker took great care in the design. I can't imagine hand quilting it and her stitches look very small. I hope you can find out more of the story. I never made a polyester quilt but wore plenty of it. When that style and fabric faded away, I didn't want to wear it or work with it again.

  14. Cool quilt! I agree with your statement about the design.
    I made a polyester suit in tailoring class in the late 70's. Don't know what happened to it.
    Great post! I hope you hear something about the maker.

    1. Maureen, you can be sure it is alive and well somewhere...these textiles will outlive us all!

  15. I have a couple examples Dawn which you can see next week when you visit! Also a classic dress!


Thanks for your comments!