Friday, April 25, 2014

Portland Modern Quilt Guild, 1970s Quilts


Yesterday, I presented a trunk show about 1970s quilts for the Portland Modern Quilt Guild (PMQG). I have not been doing many lectures this year because I am focusing on writing a book about New York Beauty quilts. In fact, I have turned down a at least a dozen invitations to speak over the last six months (sorry, folks!), but when PMQG President MaryAnn Morsette asked me if I could come do a talk, it was impossible to resist. I adore MaryAnn, by the way. :)

Portland Modern Quilt Guild is a dynamic group. I am a member, and last night I learned PMQG is the largest Modern quilt guild in the U.S. with 175 members! Phenomenal, especially considering the guild is just a few years old. So many talented people belong. For the talk, I wanted to offer a preview of the quilts I am planning to display at QuiltCon in Austin next year. The theme was "Modern Materials, Quilts of the 1970s". It was a lot of fun, and I hope everyone enjoyed the quilts as much as I enjoyed sharing them. Thank you to Susan Beal (westcoastcrafty) for the Instagram pictures.


I started with an old quilt, to offer some perspective on where I came from as a collector. For the first 20 years collecting quilts, I would rarely look at anything that was less than 100 years old. So I opened with the "Start the car!" quilt, the 1860s appliqué masterpiece found just this week in Sellwood. When I said how little I paid, there was an audible gasp from the audience- that's what I love!

Here are a few of the quilts I shared.

"Wild Thing" - the first 1970s quilt I ever acquired, This quilt
was displayed at the International Quilt Festival of Ireland, 2013.
After sharing the old appliqué quilt, I showed the quilt that started me collecting 1970s quilts- the one I call "Wild Thing". Musical interlude...


After that, I showed some crib quilts, including the "Alphabet Quilt" made of calico prints. 

Alphabet Quilt, c. 1970
Then I launched in to the big, dynamic, polyester double-knit quilts. I think the audience loved them. Must thank the volunteers who held the quilts up. It was a workout!! 

"Fans" c. 1975
Diamonds, c. 1975
"Double Wedding Ring" c. 1975

"Woven Pattern" c. 1975
Several people came up afterwards, and said they enjoyed the talk. I was happy they enjoyed it. The quilts of the 1970s may be barely vintage, but they are so exuberant and fun! I am very much looking forward to the opportunity to share these quilts at QuiltCon, next year in Austin, Texas. 

When the first QuiltCon took place in 2013, Roderick Kiracofe displayed 15 quilts in a special exhibit called "Modern Historical Quilts" - I was very envious, but at the same time, inspired. When I saw he was exhibiting vintage quilts, I wanted to follow in his footsteps. Lucky for me, I was able to do that. (Thank you, Rod!!). Looking forward to QuiltCon!

17 comments:

  1. A great collection! I know I would have looked at these quilts 20 years ago and not loved them, but to see them collected is to see the charm of the era. It was a fun evening - thank you!

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    1. The time seems right to be looking at these quilts. It was a lot of fun sharing them.

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  2. Bill, I am inspired by the quilts you shared with us! Wonderful presentation!

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  3. What a great talk! I just picked up my first "collection" quilt, which had polyester double knits and ties with crazy quilting stitches and embroidered circles and daisies. Fun!

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    1. Sounds amazing. I hope to see it some day. :)

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  4. Thanks for sharing some of those quilts with us. I have an old polyester doubleknit quilt top my grandma made in the '70s, stuffed away in the basement somewhere. It's hexagons and hand pieced. I need to dig it out and take a good look at it again. They really are interestingly beautiful!

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    1. My pleasure! A lot of these quilts were tucked away for years, and when they started appearing, I started grabbing them up. There's something really great about them.

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  5. Sounds like your talk was quite a crowd pleaser especially with bringing in so many beautiful items from you collection to see in person rather than just showing pics. I didn't realize there were people holding those up until you mentioned it and then I noticed the few fingers in the instagram shots!

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    1. There were three pairs of volunteers during the talk. I joked with them a bit about how tired their arms would be, and how sore they would be today, but I very much appreciate the volunteers who held quilts. They all did a wonderful job!

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  6. Beautiful! I especially love "woven pattern."

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    1. Good eye! You can see that one a little better in the blog I posted the other day - "the 'Start the Car' quilt" :)

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  8. Your talk was most interesting. But I kept contrasting what you were showing with what the women I quilted with were making in the 70s. Much more sedate, more white background, more pastels. I wonder if there is a geographical divide? (I was in southern Ohio) I wonder if there is a class divide? Age? (I quilted with women from the senior center.) I wonder if it has to do with what is saved as heirloom and what is sold? I'm also thinking of Quilters Newsletter at the time, how it was daring to use large prints instead of small ones, prints not fussy cut.

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    1. There are always exceptions to the rules, and from what I have learned, I would have to say your experience probably was not the norm. Had there been a mass continuation of quilt making tradition, a revival would not have been possible.

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  9. Great post Bill! Thanks for the shout out too :) PMQG loves ya!
    --Mary An

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