Search This Blog

I am a quilter living in Woodbridge, Suffolk who has made quilts since I was a teenager. I also ring bells! Both are great British traditions....I will try to feature some of my antique Welsh and Durham quilts, the quilts I make myself, my quilting activities and also some of my bellringing achievements. Plus as many photos as I can manage. NB: Double click on the photos to see greater detail, then use back button to return to the main page.

Monday, 20 November 2017

BQSG Seminar - Harris Museum Visit, October 2017

Our BQSG seminar took place in Preston this year, with the museum visit being the Harris Museum in Preston.

The museum has received various items of textiles, always with a local connection...the maker of this quilt must have had access to a variety of ribbons, as there are practically no repeats to be seen...

An appliqued item, perhaps a table cover, well used but expertly made....

This was similar to a soldiers quilt,and has the words Leisure Hours at the top. But the motifs have a distictly naval or maritime flavour. So perhaps sailors made this in their spare hours, or in a hospital while recuperating?

The patches are oversewn from the back, similar to soldiers quilts.

All of the squares are nicely embroidered. Most of the items have scant information for the provenance.

A padded petticoat in Turkey Red cloth...

A detail of the cloth...
The label - Booth and Fox's down skirt..

A bonnet, typical of the mill girls bonnets from the latter part of the 19th Century... very nicely made...

A lovely baby's bonnet....

Small baby's booties, quilted....

Tea cosy in needlepoint...

All the items shown to us were donated to the museum by local people. Many do not have any provenance, however.....

Sunday, 12 November 2017

North Country Cot Quilt with Page Bank Pattern

Here is a little North Country cot quilt, from the 1920's or 30's. It is very nicely quilted, and is of better quality than those usually seen.

The cot quilt is made of cotton sateen; the top is a green/blue and the reverse is white.

I traced the design onto polythene - twice - once for the publishers, but this was not returned to me - so I have traced it a second time. Fortunately, these small quilts do not take as long to trace as the larger quilts. This central design with paired feathers is the classic "Page Bank Feathers" - typical of the quilters in and around one small Durham mining village. The design is also known as "Festoon Feathers". You can see that there are two feathers with a distinct vein.

Also to be seen, a plant in a pot - very similar to a motif used in the commissioned RIB quilt made by Mrs Pirt and now in the V & A Museum.

This pattern is known as Sheaf of Corn.

Notice how the corner has been turned - with a separate rose motif. Also, how the twist has a diamond in its centre....

The original pattern does not divide nicely into four quarters, and the Thames and Hudson editors were presented with a problem, how to fit the quilt pattern onto a small page of a book. To present templates or, as some part of the design? This .pdf shows  how the designer modified the quilt pattern so that the quarters are all the same. You can see the central feathers, the central rose, the twists and the smaller motifs have been changed from the original designs so that there is four-fold symmetry.

However, this is what appeared in the book - not a complete pattern! the central paired feathers, especially, are not complete.

When I make the pattern, it will probably need to be one half the design.....and I hope that it fits onto one A3 photocopy page!

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Turkey Red Wholecloth Quilt from Wales

Here is a Welsh wholecloth quilt in a Turkey red paisley fabric. This fabric was produced in the Vale of Leven, Scotland and is very colourful when unused and unfaded, as here.

There is some nice quilting here, but it is very difficult to see! The patterns are in the usual Welsh format...with a central coin of beech leaves and various borders.

You can probably see here that there is a four lobed design, nicely quilted.

There are also some chevron or wave patterns....

The whole quilt has a cheerful aspect and I do like these paisley quilts, which are getting much more difficult to find these days. Red was considered to be a warming, healthy colour.

A nice texture is created by the quilting stitches, even if the patterns are difficult to spot.

The hand sewn knife edge, traditional with Welsh quilts.

The fabrics are bright and unfaded, and the quilt seems never to have been used....with the Turkey red fabrics, the yellow, green and blue fade with use, so that eventually only the red and white remain in a well used quilt.

No information on this quilt....size is 190 x 194 mm or about 75 x 76 inches.

Sunday, 5 November 2017


Early in October, on the spur of the moment, I went to a workshop by Philippa Naylor, as there were some spare places remaining. The topic was trapunto and cording, with FMQ experience needed. I once had some dissolving thread - but could I find it - no - luckily Philippa had some for sale.

Philippa with one of her prize winning quilts. Her attention to detail is amazing, and I think not many would be able to put so much effort into their work. I was interested to see that all her seams are pressed open...

...And that she uses polyester thread exclusively. Coming from a background in design and clothing manufacture, she likes the fact that polyester thread is elastic and nestles into the fabric and wadding better than cotton. She feels that cotton is not as strong. Quite a breath of fresh air after those who would "pooh pooh" the use of polyester threads.

I also have acquired a Treen (wooden) thread holder. It is very useful for quilting thread. I have no idea of the age of this....but a nice item.

I was also interested to see this photo of an exhibition of Hawaiian quilts in Japan. If you look at the red and white quilt  on the right behind the  ladies, you can see that it is the pattern that I am currently working on!

I have completed the applique on the outer lei, and the two outer edges of the middle lei - I am now working the inner spaces there. So, getting along well. (I still have my monster green and white top to will be tricky to handle as it is so large.....)

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Durham Cot quilt - 40s or 50s

Here is a little North Country cot quilt, probably from the 1940s or 50s. The top (green) is an artificial material, not too sure what it is exactly. The reverse is a pink cotton. The size is 28 x 38 inches - probably the width of the fabric dictated the size...

As is usual, the cot quilt has received some wear and is a bit misshapen due to washing.

The top has a hole or two where the fabric has worn. The quilting is good, and the quilter has filled the space well with the large feathers. I like the way in which she has filled the extra spaces with spirals and a trefoil design. As is usual in later quilts, the designs are larger and less intricate, but cover the area nicely.

Cat inspection....

I have traced the quilting design onto polythene, a first step in patterning the cot quilt.

Cot quilts were made in some numbers and were popular as a small gift. Not many survive, however.

Cot quilts present a problem in design, as the space is limited. Often, the design is a simple one with a small central motif, infill and an outer border. Here, the quilter has filled the space nicely with large motifs and no infill is needed, except for the spirals in the centre edge  and semicircles in the corners.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

V & A Book - Patchwork and Quilting - 3 projects

Last Autumn, I was approached by Thames and Hudson to submit three projects for this book, based around textile items in the V & A collection.

The cover of the book...

Interesting to see a part of my quilted cot quilt on the reverse of the cover...

I was asked to produce a quilted item project at very short notice, which was obviously not possible given the short timescale, but having just received a very nice little North Country cot quilt, I suggested that as an item to pattern and it was accepted. I traced the quilting onto polythene and this was the basis for the pattern, although it did have to be modified for one quarter to fit on one page.

My Amish Centre Diamond wallhanging was accepted as another project - I have taught this for many years and it always "works" provided that you sew slightly oversize triangles onto the central square and then trim. The instructions in the book are limited in length and rather concise, so it was a slight struggle to get the really important steps included.

The Hawaiian quilt was the inspiration for this traditional applique block; again I have taught this for many years and it is achievable....

It is nice to see the book in print, in time for the holiday period - I have dealt with academic and magazine editors before, of course. But this was the first time that I have had patterns and instructions published - and I'll admit, I did find it stressful!

There will be a launch event at the Village Haberdashery in Hampstead, London on November 25 which I hope to attend. We have to speak for 5 to 10 minutes which of course will be no problem for an ex-lecturer!

Friday, 20 October 2017

Patchwork Cot Quilt from Cumbria

Here is a small patchwork cot quilt from Cumbria. It is not quilted, but contains some nice everyday fabrics. Many are repeated, so are probably recycled dresses and clothes fabrics.
The pattern is a simple one, with a centre of white cotton and turkey red squares. The turkey red fabric was more precious and colourful, and was therefor placed in the centre.

The other fabrics are repeated several times in varous places. The whole is hand sewn.

These fabrics probably date from 1875 to 1900, but it is always difficult to tell exactly. The purples were not available until 1860. Sometimes known as "half mourning" fabrics, these were also condsidered suitable for everyday house dresses and servants dresses.

Most of the fabrics are roller prints.

The reverse is a white plain weave cotton. this quilt came from an old trunk in a South Lakes attic, from the Miller  and Posnet families. The size is 25 x 33 inches.