I grew up in Missouri. In a suburb of Kansas City, Mo. about an hours drive from my maternal grandparents farm. In a small town near their farm a clothing manufacturing operation set up business in maybe the late 60’s or early 70’s. Think back, in garment construction what was all the rage during this time frame? Polyester Double-Knit. This garment manufacturer produced lots of scraps. Lots and lots of scraps. Enough so that when this business took all these scraps to the local dump, the women of the small surrounding towns would gather at the dump to pick through the trash and load their cars up with bags of these free fabric treasures. I remember wearing dresses made from the dump scraps which tells me sometimes grandma would find sizable pieces of the fabrics!
Why did I tell you about polyester double knit fabric scraps? Because most often these scraps became quilts. Mind you, they because heavy quilts. I used to joke that these quilts could be used as body armor. Oh my goodness were they warm! Missouri could get some really cold winter weather but under a double knit quilt, all was good with the world.
But first let me start with this picture, one of my own very first quilts I ever made, most likely when I was in middle school. Every time I see this quilt today I want to start singing Aquarius by the 5th Dimension. This was my one and only quilting adventure using anything other than cotton. I cut out and assembled the top and my grandmother hand quilted in in the Baptist Fan pattern. She used a lead/graphite pencil to mark her arches and to this day the quilting lines remain. No amount of washing has made them budge. That’s ok, they are faint and if I hadn’t told you about them you might not have even noticed.
This quilt travelled with me from home to my college dorm room to my first apartment after graduation, on to cold and windy Chicago and every other city I’ve lived since. It’s also been a warm bed for my sweet black cat Winston from time to time. Today it visited the DortWorld Day Spa (my washer and dryer) because I couldn’t remember the last time it had been laundered. What I’m saying is basically this 76×88” quilt is indestructible.
You may notice there’s no binding. Grandma simply folded over the outside edges and hand stitched them into place.
So after what seemed like a hundred years after I graduated college, I was planning a wedding and grandma asked me what kind of quilt I wanted as a wedding gift. Red has always been one of my 2 favorite colors and I remembering immediately telling her that I wanted a red and white Drunkard’s Path. Nowadays I laugh out loud at myself, a bride to be requesting a Drunkard’s Path for her wedding, but way back then all I remember is loving red and white and being intrigued by that quilt block pattern.
But here’s the catch about this quilt; I had no idea she was planning to make it out of polyester double knit. You think the quilt that I made out of double knit is heavy, well this one beats that one I’m sure by several pounds. Today I absolutely love this quilt. If you look closely there are a few blocks turned the wrong way but it just adds to the charm and what’s not to love about the borders! This quilt measures 92×101”.
Pieced by machine, hand quilted on a wooden quilting frame, the back fabric is a bed sheet and the batting is polyester. She was an excellent hand quilter considering she suffered from arthritis in both hands.
But the polyester double knit quilts that puts the others to shame in number of pieces and poundage is this one, the Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt.
This monster measures in at 92×132”!!! Here’s the thing: I’m not sure if grandma or my mom started making this? I’m thinking Grandma, I’m waiting to hear back from my mom.
** Update from mom: grandma made this. Thanks mom!!
You can see this one’s not finished. It’s machine pieced and hand quilted. If I can, I’m planning to finish it this coming winter. No amount of Houston air conditioning right now during these summer months could compel me to have this draped over my lap to be quilted!
The back fabric is a very large bed sheet or two and the batting is polyester. It just wouldn’t take that long to finish quilting it if I would just get to it this winter! The crazy part is going to come when I try and tackle the binding. There’s a big part of me that’s thinking about the possibility of trimming all the edges to straight lines. Maybe I should consider the “fold over and stitch down” method of finishing the zig-zaggy edge. ** update: I’m going to just persevere and tackle the zig-saggy edges!
So now you know all about my very heavy but very treasured polyester double knit quilts. Do you have a double knit quilt or two? I understand they were the “in” thing to make way back when. Speaking of when, I’ll do another blog post about this Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt when it’s finished 🙂
Blessings to everyone and of course, happy quilting!