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Indianapolis 500 Quilt

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quilt

QUILT INDEX RECORD

12-8-6180

Who documented this quilt?

Michigan Quilt Project; The Henry Ford Collection

Where are the records for this quilt housed?

Michigan State University Museum

Michigan Quilt Project Number:

13.0144

If this quilt is owned by a museum, enter the accession number:

2009.171.18

Owner's name for the quilt:

Indianapolis 500 Quilt

Biography of the quiltmaker?

On May 30, 1932, the day that Jeanetta Pearson Holder was born in Kentucky, racecars sped around the track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway about 250 miles to the north. The timing of Jeanetta’s birth was certainly a hint of things to come: she would grow up with a passion for auto racing, and as an adult, become that sport’s “Quilt Lady.” For nearly 35 years, Jeanetta has combined her love of auto racing and her sewing talents to create unique quilts for winners of the Indianapolis 500 and other auto races. As a little girl growing up on a Kentucky farm, Jeanetta made her own small racecars out of tobacco sticks and lard cans which she “raced everywhere [she] went.” Jeanetta’s childhood creative streak soon extended to sewing. By the time she was 12, Jeanetta began sewing quilts, filling them with cotton batting from cotton she grew herself. As a young woman, Jeanetta started going to the race track. Soon she was speeding around an oval dirt track at the wheel of a 1950 Hudson at Beech Bend Park in Warren County, Kentucky. In the early 1950s, women racecar drivers were uncommon--and so was safety equipment. Jeanetta was dressed in a t-shirt and blue jeans for these regional races. Jeanetta soon left behind her experience as an amateur racecar driver for a career as a wife, mother, and decorator. She and her husband moved to Indianapolis in 1953. Jeanetta--who attended her first Indianapolis 500 race in 1950--remained a racing fan, collecting autographs from drivers whenever she had the chance. In the mid-1970s, a friend suggested that Jeanetta use her sewing talents to create a racing-themed quilt that included these signatures. That same year, Jeanetta presented the finished quilt to 1976 Indianapolis 500 race winner Johnny Rutherford. In the years since, Jeanetta has looked through her pile of fabric and embroidery thread and cut her own quilt design patterns out of newspaper to create over 75 racing-themed quilts. She has presented them not only to winners of the Indianapolis 500, but also races like the Pocono 500, the California 500 at Ontario, the Norton Michigan 500, and NASCAR’S Brickyard 400.

When was the form filled out?

2013

Quilt top made by:

Holder, Jeanetta

Quilted by:

Holder, Jeanetta

If you are a relative of the quiltmaker, how are you related? The quiltmaker is my:

Quilt owner

If you are the quilt owner, how did you acquire this quilt?

Purchased the quilt

Where the quilt was made, city:

Indianapolis

Where the quilt was made, state:

Indiana (IN)

Where the quilt was made, country:

United States

Time period:

1976-1999

When was the quilt finished?

1981

Date estimated by an antique dealer, quilt historian or appraiser:

1981

Why was the quilt made?

Gift or presentation

Quilt is presently used as:

Museum collection

Quiltmaker's gender:

Female

Quiltmaker's city:

Plainfield

Quiltmaker's county:

Hendricks County

Quiltmaker's state:

Indiana (IN)

Quiltmaker's country:

United States

Quiltmaker's birth date:

05-30-1932

Quiltmaker's birthplace, state:

Kentucky

In which kind of environment did the quiltmaker live?

Rural

When did the quiltmaker learn to quilt?

Age 11-19

Estimated number of quilts made by this quiltmaker:

more than 50

This is a:

Finished quilt

Shape of edge:

Straight

Shape of corners:

Rounded

What color is the quilt?

Black; Blue; Brown; Orange; Red; Yellow; White

Overall color scheme:

Multicolor

Quilt's condition:

Good/moderate use

Type of inscription:

Message

What is inscribed on the quilt?

MADE BY JEANETTA HOLDER/ TO BOBBY-UNSER/ THANKS FOR ALL YOU HAVE GAVE/ TO RACING. KNOWING YOU HAVE BEEN/ A JOY TO BE. I'M SURE RACING/ WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN THE SAME WITHOUT/ YOU. SO FROM ALL THE FANS AND ME/ THANKS/ "MUCH LOVE"/ THE QUILT LADY JNET

Describe the quilt's layout:

Block pattern

Number of quilt blocks:

32

Size of quilt blocks:

18-19 in x 21 in

Medallion size:

40-41 in x 39-40 in

Arrangement of quilt blocks:

Straight

Spacing of quilt blocks:

Side by side

What is the shape of the quilt blocks?

Squares

Number of different block patterns used in the quilt:

2

Fiber types used to make the quilt top:

Cotton or polyester blend

Fabric styles used in the quilt top:

Checked; Floral; Print; Solid/plain; Striped

Piecing techniques used to make the quilt top:

Machine Piecing

Applique techniques used to make the quilt top:

Hand Applique

Embellishment techniques used to make the quilt top:

Embroidery

Embellishments used:

Cotton thread

Materials used to make the back:

Other

Description of the back:

Polyester

What color is the back of the quilt?

Blue or Navy

Describe the back:

Solid/plain

Materials used in the quilt binding:

Cotton

Fabric structure of the binding:

Plain weave

How is the binding made?

Separate binding applied

What is the width of the binding (measure on the top only)?

half inch - one inch

What kind of filling is used in the quilt?

Cotton or polyester blend

How thick is the quilt?

Medium

How are the layers held together?

Hand quilting

Thread type used for the quilting:

Cotton/polyester blend

Color of thread used in the quilting:

White

Number of quilting stitches per inch, place 1:

4 stitches per inch

Quilting designs used, overall motifs:

Outline

Quilting designs used, background fills:

None

Person filling out this form is:

Quilt owner

Source of the information on this quilt:

Museum Representative

Ownership of this quilt is:

Private- Nonprofit Organization

Quilt owner's name:

The Henry Ford

Quilt owner's city:

Dearborn

Quilt owner's county:

Wayne

Quilt owner's state:

Michigan (MI)

Quilt owner's country:

United States

How was this quilt acquired?

Purchase

Describe anything about the history of the quilt that wasn't already recorded in a previous field:

Jeanetta Holder met and got to know many racecar drivers, especially Bobby and Al Unser. Bobby Unser’s 1981 Indianapolis 500 win became one of the most controversial finishes in racing history. Unser won the race, but was stripped of his win the following morning in favor of second place driver Mario Andretti. Since Jeanetta was to present the winning driver with a quilt the day after the race, she gave the 1981 quilt to Andretti. Unser was ultimately awarded the win in October 1981, after a lengthy appeals process. In the wake of this dispute and to mark his three Indianapolis wins (1968, 1975, and 1981), Jeanetta decided to make Bobby Unser this special quilt.

Details

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Access and copyright information:

Restricted

How did the quiltmaker participate in the creation of the quilt?

Made entire quilt

Who photographed this quilt?

The Henry Ford

Copyright holder:

The Henry Ford

Cite this Quilt

Holder, Jeanett. Indianapolis 500 Quilt. 1981. From Michigan State University Museum, Michigan Quilt Project; The Henry Ford Collection. Published in The Quilt Index, https://quiltindex.org/view/?type=fullrec&kid=12-8-6180. Accessed: 02/22/24