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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.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Floral Durham Wholecloth Quilt with Strippy Patterns

I had to laugh with this quilt - the seller described it as a handmade Indian quilt sold in the 1970's
"oversewn with a pattern of stitches, willy-nilly but in a repeated almost shell pattern."

I had to laugh, as this is obviously a vintage Durham quilt. Perhaps it was bought at a charity shop, which took in donated items as well as selling third world goods? Anyhow, it is definitely not of Indian origin.

The quilt has a pinky/beige floral pattern with a mid brown reverse.

The quilting patterns are unusual - although a wholecloth, it has strippy or border patterns. Here you can see half a feather wreath used on the edge, with a running feather and a Welsh twist.

But, a circular feather wreath has been plonked down in the centre of the quilt - similar to the Welsh custom of always having a central "coin"!

Most of the quilt is done in running feathers, in a bellows pattern.

The top is an attractive floral fabric with rosy terracotta background and large brown and tan flowers.

The patterns are not matched (as the extra fabric for this matching could not be afforded) but is not so noticeable...

The floral hides the quilting patterns but the textures are pleasant to see...

The edges are machine sewn on the two longer edges - and - an unusual rolled edge to the two shorter ends. This is original and not a repair. The quilt doesnot look to ave been used much.

Another look at the two edge treatments.

The overall effect is attractive, and I can see why the seller bought the quilt in the 70's (probably for very little)...

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Designed (RBI?) Welsh Quilt

Here is a nice quilt that has clearly been designed, and may be a product of the Rural Industries Bureau, or one of their trained quilters. The colours  of the cotton are a mid brown and a dark green. The thread is green, so it is easy to tell that the green side is the top or right side and the brown the reverse. The stitches are small, so that one cannot really see the green thread against the brown fabric.

This quilt came from a sale of textiles and quilts may years ago at Christies, so has no provenance.

The borders are a nicely set out church windows - there are circular coins in the corners with a rose and a simple twist.

Inner borders are a four lobed design with cross hatching and spiral infill.

The centre coin has paired rams horns/scissors surrounded by a twist. All very nicely marked and sewn.

The stitching is excellent and even.

Here you can see the brown reverse and the green top, rich colours that contrast nicely.

This didn't photograph well - it is a dark green colour. Unfortunately as is very common in Welsh quilts the green has bad fades at the fold lines. The quilts need not be in direct sunlight for this to occur.

Another fade mark. This does not bother me as I just enjoy the quilt and its textures.

The corner - faded again - the edges are neatly hand sewn in the Welsh manner.

The edge, neatly hand sewn.

The Rural Industries Bureau is of special interest this year, as the Quilt Museum in Lampeter has an exhibition "As Good as It Gets" based around the work of the RBI. I look forward to seeing this exhibition in July.  I also have one of the small challenge quilts on display in the smaller gallery.

The elegance of the Art Deco period and the wealthy purchasers of quilted items are contrasted with the ordinary lives of quilters in Wales.

Although the workmanship and design of the quilts from this era are superb, the liveliness and originality of earlier times is lacking, and seem a bit sterile after the extraordinary  and sometimes quirky creations of earlier, local quilters, who all used their own patterns and arranged them as they fancied.


I have had a busy time recently. Most importantly, I have this week paid off my mortgage, a major accomplishment in my eyes! Twenty years of hard work....The extra money each month will now be channelled into sprucing up the house, then possibly downsizing in a few years - but there must be space for a quilt repository in any future home...of course.....

I have also been writing - three projects for a Thames and Hudson book for the V & A, an interview with Today's Quilters on "Quilt as Desired" and finally a lifestyle piece for Popular Patchwork.

I have rebooked the gypsy caravan in Wales for a short holiday in Wales in July - as well as visiting with Jen Jones, I also hope to visit the Tin Hut with Jane Becks quits and blankets near Tregaron.

Plus, the hotel is booked in Solihull for the FOQ in August. A lot to look forward to!

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Striped Norwich Shawl

I am really enamoured of this shawl - I don't know much about shawls - but - this has some lovely colour combinations. What skill to weave this..

This seems to be the right side - bands of blue alternate with a sinuous band in mossy greens and rust.

The reverse has a striking magenta colour with darker shades of green - very sophisticated.

You can see how intricate the patterns are!

Shawls fell out of favour in the 1870's, so most of these have been languishing in trunks and lofts for over 100 years - many are not is very good condition - but still lovely. The best are wool or wool silk mixtures so subject to moth attack....

These shawls were used as wraps (coats) over the larger dresses popular at the time.
One can only imagine the social events and concerts that these attended!

The shawls are often very large and were meant to be folded and draped about the woman's shoulders. I am trying to learn more, but unlike quilts, there are few books to read on the subject.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Tan and Cream Strippy from Evenwood

Another strippy quilt, not very expensive and rather worn at one end! Yet, I was interested as the quilting designs stood out and were attractive. Also, the seller was from Spennymoor....Dorothy Osler recently organised a group of BQSG members to look into the Spennymoor quilters visited by Muriel Rose and Mrs FitzRandolph. I thought this might have a it turned out, this quilt is not from Spennymoor, it is from Evenwood which is a mining village Southwest of Bishop Aukland.

The quilt is made from tan and cream strips....

The designs are a four lobed design and a running feather....

I noticed something unusual about the running feather...

Although nicely quilted, the plumes do not all point is "wrong" in that the plumes point forward and backward....not the usual! All the tan strips are quilted with this pattern. The reverse is a faded floral sateen.

This quilt was one of several made by Edith Wilkinson, mother of three. Born in 1888, she lived most of her life in Evenwood. A miner's daughter, she also married a miner. She lived just short of 100 years.

The quilt measures 76 x 90 inches. 6" of one end is very worn where no doubt, it was tucked under the bed springs. I wont trim this off....

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Yellow and Grey Green Strippy Quilt from Bedale with Wave Quilting

Strangely, I bought this quilt at the same time as the previously posted strip quilt. Again, the main point of interest is the wave quilting pattern.

This quilt is from Bedale, which is in North Yorkshire but just across the border from Cumbria. The wave pattern was traditional in Cumbria, the Isle of Man and Ireland.

The colours do not show up accurately in these photos; the colours are yellow and a light grey-green on one side, and a cream and light grey-green on the other. The fabric is cotton sateen.

These strip quilts were easy to sew together, with little waste of fabric, so were the utility quilts of the day. Much needed in a cold unheated house!

As I said in the last post, I have wondered how these waves were marked. In the last quilt, the peaks and troughs of the design coincided with the centre and edges of the strips. As you can see, this is not the case with this quilt.

The quilt has carefully been darned in a couple of spots to repair a tear in the fabric...

More careful darning, a lost skill in our age of cheap, disposable textiles and clothes.... The strips have been joined by a treadle sewing machine...

The edges are hand sewn.

To show both sides of this quilt...

This quilt has a calming effect and must have been a warm covering.

This quilt was brought into the Bedale Post Office (which also acts as an antique store) by a local family for sale. Interestingly, another quilt sold the day before mine was another quilt from the same family in the same colours  - however, that quilt had fairly elaborate North Country patterns.

In the next post, I will briefly compare the two wave strip quilts...

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Pink and White Cumbrian Strippy with Wave Quilting

Here is a Cumbrian strippy in pink and white poplin. The back is of plain white cotton. The main point of interest is the wave quilting, which was traditional in Cumbria, Ireland and the Isle of Man.

I have always been interested to know how these waves were marked! There must be an easy way to do this, such as a cardboard triangle as a template? Or was it just eyeballed?

This quilt has seen better days and is worn at the ends - other than that, in good condition. The fabric is much sturdier than modern fabric.....

It might be that the quilter used the stripes as a guide for the wave quilting design? the points of the waves do coincide with the middle and edges of the strips...

The reverse of the quilt.

The edge is machine sewn. This quilt measures 210 x 210 cm or about 83 x 83 inches square.
The seller said 1940s or 1950s, but of course it is a bit older than that, as not many quilts were being made post WWII.

The quilt was bought at auction in Penrith, Cumbria by the seller so is a true Cumbrian quilt.
I recently bought another Cumbrian quilt, so I hope to compare the two...